Buffalo Exchange, Texas Thrift, Thredup - which I recently discovered is the world's largest online thrift store (yay go Thredup!) — Are avenues we all can, and should use to help stop excessive clothing waste.
To express how great thrift shopping is, I'll relay a quick testimony. One Saturday after a long hostessing shift, I clocked out and drove straight to Buffalo Exchange, needing something to turn my day around, to treat myself after working six hours of brunch. As I took in the sight of racks upon racks of thrifted clothes, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people with the same inclination to spend their Saturday thrift shopping. Buffalo was packed with families and college kids rummaging around for something stylish, vintage, and cheap. As I sulked through the store, not really looking for anything, forgetting why I had even come, I strolled down the pants aisle and came across a pair of bell bottom Madewell jeans, that were a gently washed, light blueish color. They fit like a glove, and I fell in love with them immediately. And fell further in love with thrift shopping.
Last week at Texas Thrift I found a retro brown suede jacket with massive shoulder pads and a fabulous flare at the sleeves. Immediately in love, I took my find home, cut out the shoulder pads, and pranced around all weekend feeling like Carol King or Joni Mitchell (or maybe 70's Rebecca in "This is Us"). The more I wore the jacket the more I started thinking of all the stories this jacket has, how many closets its lived in, the wardrobes it's adorned. I always find that so romantic about thrifted clothes, some of them have decades of experience, good and bad stories from completely different eras.
For years I've shopped at Texas Thrift and Buffalo Exchange, partly because it's less expensive to buy used than new, partly because it's trendy, and partly because it's exciting to find clothing that is sometimes older than you are. And partly because I knew clothing waste was a problem, but I never fully understood the severity of the issue. That is until today when I got an ad for the website Thredup, the world's largest online thrift store. I'm embarrassed to say how quickly I jumped at the chance to an online thrift shop — something I'm surprised I didn't know existed — and read about the website's mission, and facts surrounding clothing waste. The excessive water used to make clothing, the towering mountains of clothing in our landfills, and the extensive labor that goes into producing new clothes, are all important issues that many of us forget or aren't even aware of. I had known a little, but never really tried to learn more. Even now, I have so much more to learn — but I know enough to know I cannot go on ignoring it.
I don't want to lecture or shame the world about buying new clothes — something I still find myself doing far too often — but rather, suggest that we all work thrifting into our shopping rotation. Thrift stores, Vintage stores, and resale shops are shopping opportunities that are too often ignored or overlooked. Thrifting isn't just for hipsters, it's not like buying antiques just because they're old, it's about buying clothing you need, just gently used. Like buying a used car, or shopping at Half Priced Books — they don't have to be brand new to be new to you.
Fashion should be a vehicle to express yourself, not mother Nature's kryptonite. So lets all thrift, it will make your closets happy, and the planet happy — And maybe your wallets too.