Growing up, thrifting was about as familiar to me as, say, skiing. I never did it and didn’t know much about it since it wasn’t something commonly done in my circle of friends. Keep in mind, however, that I grew up in a suburban middle-class environment and we were privileged enough not to have to do it out of necessity. I’m aware that I’m speaking from a privileged perspective.
It wasn’t until my teenage years, when I came across vintage fashion bloggers on the internet, that I became acquainted with thrifting. It took me another one or two years to start doing it myself. I moved abroad to attend college and started thrifting from time to time to save money. However, I have been doing it more often recently, because of several reasons.
Of course, there’s the aspect of sustainability. Buying secondhand items means that you help to minimize waste by not letting perfectly wearable pieces of clothing make their way to the dumpster. It’s also a particularly great way to shop sustainably if you can’t afford to buy items from sustainable fashion brands.
But honestly, what truly made me fall in love with secondhand garments is the fact that, in many cases, they are garments with stories attached to them. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for stories. Call me sentimental, but shopping secondhand, to me, is a way to share stories, both intergenerationally and between contemporaries.
When I buy a vintage secondhand garment, I get the chance to appreciate its stories. I get to hold a piece of history, a product of the culture in which it was created, along with its sociocultural elements surrounding it. A genuine vintage miniskirt from the 60s, for instance, reflects the emerging teen culture and the practice of feminism at that time, among other different factors. But even a non-vintage, relatively young secondhand garment tells stories. It’s a reflection of many things – its first owner’s style, the everchanging trends of recent years, and so on.
Buying secondhand clothes also helps me to tell my own stories. It might be time-consuming and at times quite challenging to thrift, but it allows me to put together unique outfits that reflect who I am with items not easily found on the market. In the particular case of vintage items, it’s guaranteed that they won’t make me look like anyone else when I walk down the street.
Last but not least, not to get all philosophical in here, but I believe that the act of shopping secondhand itself can teach us about the easily-forgotten idea that things shouldn’t be easily disposable. We all live in a consumerism-based world in which things are made to be easily and quickly consumed. Use something a few times or even once, then off to the bin it goes, to be replaced by something better. It’s all a matter of convenience. What we forget is that things, particularly clothes, are made by people. Thoughts and effort were put into them.
Treating them as disposable does a disservice not just to the environment and makers, but also to ourselves. It makes us take things for granted. It makes us forget that the ability to appreciate is a virtue and that it;s part of what makes us considerate towards each other. Personally, thrifting reminds me that this ability to appreciate is important.
How and why did you fall in love with secondhand garments? What makes you think that thrifting is important? Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you think.