Written by: Nicole Ellis
Second Hand Clothing May Be The Breath Of Fresh Air Your Wardrobe Needs
I grew up always hitting the mall for new clothes. It didn’t help that my dad was the manager of said mall. For that reason, I may have had more visits than the average teenager. I never even considered buying second hand clothing. It’s interesting to look back and see how the environment we grew up in becomes what we see as “normal” when we’re adults.
When I started having kids of my own I saw how quickly they grew out of clothes and I started getting them second hand clothes exclusively. It wasn’t long until I extended this idea to my own wardrobe. Now, we shop second hand more than we buy anything new.
My original motivation for the change was based on affordability. However, since then I have learned and embraced many other positives to being second hand clothing.
Who Buys Second Hand Clothing?
I looked at some interesting statistics that show consumer willingness to buy second hand clothing is much more common among younger generations. This is a sign that the world is changing. It also correlates with the observance that my parents never bought second hand clothing.
The world of fashion is changing so much. Reports have predicted the second hand clothing market will be larger than the fast fashion market in just ten years. So while young people are embracing second hand clothing, I think it’s contagious.
Why you ask? Because this is about much more than getting a deal on clothes. Let’s look at some of the goals of the second hand clothing market.
Slow Down Fashion
Fast fashion is that urge to buy something new for a season and then move on to the next exciting thing. With consumer habits like this, clothes don’t need to be well made since the buyer isn’t looking for something to last.
Slow fashion comes from buying quality clothes that will last, and when they don’t serve you anymore they still have life left in them. Then they can find a second life at the thrift store. Somebody else can find the garment and start their seasons with it.
Slow fashion and second hand stores extend the life of the garment. Research has shown that simply extending the life of a garment by nine months would save carbon, water, and waste footprint by 20-30% each.
Bring Unique Style Into Your Wardrobe
When you walk into a mall you see racks of the same piece. At a second hand store it’s unlikely that you will find the same garment twice. It’s also likely that the pieces you find there aren’t being made anymore. So, you’re getting a lot of unique options that you won’t find in a department store.
Of course, when you decide to buy something used, you are choosing not to buy something that used all new resources. When you buy used, the resources have already been used to give it its first life (when the original buyer bought it from the store new).
Buying used doesn’t deplete the Earth of any more resources. There are ways to recycle fabric to create something new which is the next best idea to save resources in fashion. This blog on recycled polyester fabric talks more about saving resources when making new clothes.
Second Hand Clothing Lasts Longer
Hear me out on this. Second hand clothing was likely built to last. You know this because it’s already survived one lifetime (lifetime in clothing years). And a store owner thought that it looked good enough to put back on the shelf.
It’s similar to houses. If a 40-year-old house hasn’t settled to where the floors are slanting in some places already, it likely isn’t going to. If a piece of clothing didn’t fall apart after a couple of seasons, it was probably built not to.
A lot of clothing that ends up in thrift stores is the clothing that was made before fast fashion was a big part of the market. My dad has a jacket that he has worn for 40 years and he doesn’t see himself giving that up anytime soon.
Where To Buy Second Hand Clothing
There are certainly big thrift stores and popular online stores like Thred Up. It’s also likely that there are small local businesses in your town with second hand clothing shops that you can support.
With the second hand market taking off, you can even find second hand clothing while scrolling Instagram. For me, the hardest part about buying second hand is the search through piles of clothes on the rack where every single piece is a different style. It takes time to pick out your styles in person.
I don’t love it, but some people do! If you aren’t the kind of person who loves the thrift store search, you can still buy second hand. I found a few small Instagram accounts where you can check out used clothes that are laid out nicely for pictures… similar to what you're used to when you jump online to buy new clothes.
Dani’s Lil Thrift Shop
Danislilthriftshop brings you cute women’s second hand clothing right to your Instagram feed. I’m loving the classy styles that she chooses.
Stylish Thrift Finds
VA Thrifts By Emily
Vathriftsbyemily has lots of casual options but also some nicer dresses and shoes. You’ll find bikinis, shoes, jeans, and some accessories as well.
These shops on Instagram bring personality to the shopping experience. Something that you’d never find in a department store. It almost feels like you get to go shopping with other people, while you’re still at home.
When You Need To Buy New
Okay, so we’re a clothing brand. Glad that’s out of the closet.
We know that when you can buy second hand, you should. But we also know that putting on a brand new hoodie with the perfect fleece lining on a winter day is something that you might not want to deny yourself.
And you don’t need to. You can choose sustainable options for new clothing. While it will use more resources than buying second hand, they still deserve a place in your sustainable closet. A nice blend of unique second hand clothing and the new simple styles makes for a great wardrobe.
Buying new clothes from sustainable companies is also a good idea if you’re looking for gifts. Some people won’t be comfortable with receiving used clothes as a gift and that’s okay.
Buying new makes sense when you know you will be wearing the piece for years. For example, when do you think a simple hoodie will go out of style?
We’re banking on never.