There is more clothing being sold in America and for a cheaper price than ever before. However, purchasing clothing secondhand comes with many benefits for the consumer and the world as a whole that are often overlooked.
Though it may seem that we are in an age of environmental activism, the fast fashion trend had been increasing rapidly, putting the fashion industry second only to energy harvesting in polluting the environment. The harsh chemicals and appalling working conditions required to manufacture such a vast amount of clothing for the cheap prices seen in stores is destructive to both the environment and the laborers sewing the clothing.
Thrifting is a more sustainable alternative to fueling the fast fashion industry, as buying something second-hand keeps it out of landfills and negates the need to manufacture something totally new. Of course, it can be necessary to buy something new from the store at times, but hopefully, more Americans will look towards secondhand clothing as a viable resource and buy fewer, more quality new items, which will last for a long time and eventually be recycled into someone else's closet as well.
An additional benefit of thrifting is the greatly reduced prices. Although some boutiques may retain high prices for items deemed "vintage" or "couture," many organizations drastically decrease the price of products using various methods.
Two of the most common business models are exemplified by popular chains Plato's Closet and Goodwill; the former discounts clothing based on a percentage of the original retail rate, usually resulting in prices between $5 and $20, while Goodwill has primarily standardized prices, enabling shoppers to purchase both brand name products and cheap clothing at the same rate. Either way, secondhand stores make it feasible to buy quality items for cheaper than the cost of often lesser quality new clothing.
Another cool benefit of shopping in thrift stores is how quirky some of the pieces are! There are plenty of basics and trendy clothes that can be found as well, but some of the vintage and eccentric pieces can only be found in thrift stores without the high costs of boutiques or indie stores such as Urban Outfitters which capitalize on the lack of funky clothing found in traditional modern retail stores. For those active in the resurgence of retro styles coming back into fashion, thrift stores are also a perfect place to shop for legitimate pieces from the past.
Because clothing from thrift stores is so cheap, it is also a great source to get clothing for refashioning projects. With the rise of applications that foster creativity and DIY solutions such as Pinterest, more people are turning to restyling clothes themselves in order to create a more individualized look that cannot be found in stores. Using basic sewing methods or even no-sew hacks for those without a machine, anyone can perform simple changes to make a previously ugly garment into something stylish, and while it may be intimidating to deconstruct a new piece of clothing, revitalizing an inexpensive second-hand piece can be much less so.
Thrift shopping not only discourages the negative effects of fast fashion on both humans and the environment but also enables people to buy unique, well-made pieces for a reasonable price.