During these tough times, I found myself filling my seemingly never-ending free time with one of two things: going on tiktok or going to my local thrift store. And to my surprise, thrifting is now becoming a new “trend” among teenagers and young adults. In fact, during my most recent trip to Goodwill, I found the store flooded with teenagers browsing the racks in order to get great deals on adorable finds. Most fads tend to fade out, but as a long-time thrifter, I believe that shopping second-hand is a great affordable and sustainable alternative to fast fashion, which is killing our planet.
One of the main reasons why thrifting is very popular right now is because of the low clothing prices. Some of my successes during my thrifting journey include getting a high quality leather jacket for 20 dollars, an adorable Lucky Brand top that was originally $75 for only 5 bucks and–possibly my favorite so far–my junior prom dress. It was a never-worn $200 designer Betsey Johnson and I only paid $20.00 for it! Since thrifting is so affordable, it is a great option to build your closet up on a budget. There are always basics and statement pieces in stock, and all you have to do is know where to look.
It is also important to thrift in order to be more sustainable when it comes to fashion. For people looking for affordable clothes, some go to brands known as being a part of the fast fashion industry. These stores include Forever 21, H&M, and the TikTok phenomenon, SHEIN. These brands constantly make and sell low quality clothes very cheaply. This leads to people buying more clothes, but also those buyers quickly discard their purchases since these items can only be worn a handful of times. Then they buy more cheap clothes, perpetuating the wasteful cycle. Fast fashion is a direct cause of pollution as the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world.
One great thing about thrifting is that people donate their new or used items if they don’t want them. This cycle of donating clothing and buying used items goes against the fast fashion cycle, making the fashion industry a little more sustainable.
With all of that being said, many people criticize thrifting, as it originally was used only to help those from lower income brackets who relied on it so they could provide clothing for themselves and their families inexpensively. I definitely do agree that this new trend can be hurting those in lower income areas. When I went to a thrift store during the summer, the store was so crowded that not only was I concerned for my safety (pandemic!), but I could not look through the racks because all of the teenage shoppers were taking every item in sight. An aspect that is possibly detrimental is that an increase in sales could lead to an increase in prices — the law of supply and demand — which does not benefit any of the people in the thrifting world.
However, second-hand shopping benefits everyone involved. Not only does it make the world more sustainable and provide great options for those in a lower income bracket, but it also supports the thrift stores themselves. Most thrift stores such as Goodwill are nonprofit organizations and frequently donate to charity, as well as hire many people with disabilities. In order to help make thrifting better for everyone, it is important to donate your clothes, too, to help continue the cycle of sustainability.
While thrifting is currently a trend, it should really be a fashion staple. Not only is it great for fashionistas, but the benefits of thrifting are truly wonderful–and what a rush it is to find great deals! So next time you want to go on a shopping spree, make a point to stop by the Goodwill, first, instead of the Gap.