How and Why I Fell in Love with Secondhand Garments

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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.

Fair OOTD: A Trip to Utrecht

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9s.jpgIf I had to choose what my favorite Dutch city is, it would probably be Utrecht. It’s hard not to love Utrecht, really. Although it has attracted a lot of commercial retailers in recent years, many of its little streets are still lined with local boutiques, shops and restaurants. It’s so easy to stumble upon the coziest cafes and coolest stores while walking around the city centre. It’s also one of those old cities with youthful spirits. It’s filled with many historical buildings, yet its openness to innovation keeps it modern and vibrant.

On Saturday, my boyfriend and I went thrifting at a flea market in a small town near Utrecht, so we decided to drop by. We ended up visiting the Catharijneconvent Museum, a historical museum that showcases the history of Christianity in the country, and having dinner at a cool vegetarian-only Chinese restaurant called Soy.

I decided to wear my new vintage floral crop top, a gem I found while browsing through this amazing Etsy shop called iretro. I also paired it with my favorite denim A-line skirt that I haven’t stopped wearing since the beginning of this summer, a green thrifted shawl and my trusty Ethletic trainers. A silky pink ribbon worn as a choker finished off the whole outfit. I personally think it’s a nice, fuss-free, casual outfit that’s great for the scorching hot summer days we’ve been having here.

What have you guys been up to during the weekends? Do you have any particular go-to summer outfit for day trips to your favorite cities? Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you think!

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3 Things We Should Not Forget as Conscious Consumers

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The moment I decided to become a more conscious consumer around six months ago, one of the first things I realized was how much there is to learn about sustainability.

There’s always something new to discover about it, which makes sense considering how relevant it is right now. Every sustainability-related article you read, every video you watch, every podcast you listen to on your morning commute – they all add to your pool of knowledge, constantly influencing the decisions you make and giving you new perspectives.

There are some things about sustainability, however, that I find really important yet easily forgotten. Here are three of those things.

It’s More Than Just about Our Shopping Habits

When I read Alden Wicker’s piece on conscious consumerism, I was struck why how true it is. Although there are parts of the article that I question or disagree with, I absolutely agree with her main argument, which is that conscious consumption alone isn’t doing much good.

At the risk of merely echoing her views, I want to emphasize that focusing obsessively and exclusively over our shopping habits can’t make the world a better place. There’s so much more that needs to be done.

It’s important to do the things that are hard but necessary. Taking interest in the government’s decisions, including how they’re going to affect climate change, for instance. Or volunteering for organizations that need our help.

To me, this also means remembering that the struggle towards a more sustainable future is not about us. Browsing the internet to find an organic cotton dress is easy and fun, but it does nothing much aside from giving us the affirmation that we are doing the right thing. Difficult but important actions, however, are necessary if we care about others.

It’s More Than Just about the Planet

The phrase “conscious consumption” tends to be connoted with environmental issues and working conditions. Although those are undoubtedly really important, there are other aspects of it that we sometimes forget.

One thing in particular is the fact that conscious consumption is inextricable from the issues of race, gender, sexuality and equality as a whole. An important part of being a conscious consumer is supporting demographics that are so often marginalized by mainstream discourses.

I believe that the first step is to support companies that care about these issues. And I’m not just talking about companies who donate some of their proceeds to social causes. Consider those who actually try to remedy social issues by directly involving those affected by them. Elegantees, for example, support survivors of sex trafficking by employing them.

But beyond such companies, there are also local artists and makers that are worth supporting. Websites such as Etsy and Ethical Market are your friends. Just remember to look into not only how products are made, but also who make them.

It’s More than Just about Which Products to Buy

Imagine buying something fairly-produced, responsibly-sourced and made of a sustainable material, only to wear it once because you don’t really need it or because you don’t think it suits you. It’s wasteful and definitely not sustainable.

We tend to get caught up in researching which products to purchase, only to forget to consider if the product is necessary at the first place. But ethical considerations aren’t limited to materials and production processes. A significant part of it is our decision to buy only the things that we know we need and going to treasure for years to come.

But what if you want to experiment with new items that you wouldn’t normally wear, you might ask. Shopping secondhand is a great option, and so is renting or borrowing items whenever possible. Or, how about upcyling your old items?

What are important sustainability-related issues that you think we tend to forget? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think!

 

 

4 Of My Favorite Places to Find Accessories and Jewelry By Independent Makers

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One of the most important things to me when it comes to shopping for accessories and jewelry is to buy from independent artisans or makers. I believe that most independent makers preserve quality craftsmanship that you simply can’t get from mass-produced goods. More importantly, while most retailers’s focus on quantity and following the trends is one of the causes of unsustainable consumption habits, independent makers’ focus on quality and originality typically makes for more sustainable practices.

Moreover, while many fair brands provide great options for fairly-made accessories and jewelry, my taste in those two categories is very specific. So, sometimes, I just can’t find what I want, even from fair fashion retailers. Below are a few of the places that I turn to when that happens. Hopefully, they can help you when searching for original and responsibly-made pieces you can invest in!

Etsy

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If you’re into DIYs or unique handmade products, chances are you’ve heard of Etsy, an online marketplace that specializes in handmade items, vintage goods and craft supplies. Items listed on Etsy are either handmade by independent sellers or secondhand, and you can easily search for items according to your preferences.

I usually use Etsy when searching for handmade accessories and jewelry, but the website also has a great variety of other items such as clothing, and homeware, which makes it a great place to buy gifts. Not all items are made of eco-friendly materials or according to strict standards of practices, however, so check the items’ descriptions and ask the sellers about how they’re made before purchasing.

 

Pictured above: Just Peachy enamel pin by independent designer Megan McNulty.

Ethical Market

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Quite similar to Etsy, Ethical Market is an online marketplace where you can buy independently-made goods. Unlike Etsy, however, the products on Ethical Market are more curated, despite the smaller array of variety. They also have clearer ethical standards and different symbols that indicate the ethical specifications of each item.

Ethical Market focuses on the fair production aspect of sustainability. In fact, it’s mandatory for sellers who work with them to sell only fairly-made products which production processes do not involve sweatshops and follow ethical standards of working conditions. However, wherever possible, the sellers use also materials that are locally and ethically sourced.

Pictured above: The Bloom Bud Necklace by Wolf and Moon. Dainty, versatile and made of ethically-sourced materials.

 

Wiezewasjes

If you’re Dutch, you might have heard of an online store called Wiezewasjes. A quick browse of their website will show you a wide array of products, from rings with fairly-sourced gems to scented candles made of soy. Personally, I’m quite partial to their beautiful chokers. However, their silver-based products are also quite stunning.

They don’t have any clear standards when it comes to the environmental impacts of the materials that they use for their products, however, so please be aware of that before purchasing. If you prioritize the use of eco-friendly materials above fair sourcing and production in your consumption habits, then you might want to check out other places.

Pictured here: This choker with a moon-shaped pendant.

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Local Markets

If online shopping isn’t your thing, head to your local markets to find independently-made products. You might be surprised at the things you can find there. Most cities have different markets held during different times of the year. I recommend checking your local municipality’s website or online forums to find information and schedules.

Do you have any recommendations for finding independently-made accessories and jewelry? What are your priorities when it comes to buying them? Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you think!