When this decade began, there was no such thing as “conscious thrifting”. It was far from being a popular topic let alone be trending. All we wanted were Juicy sweatshirts, Abercrombie shirts, VS underwear and endless pairs of Uggs. Fast fashion was the in thing and brands like H&M, Forever 21 and Zara were just starting to become extremely popular amongst young teens and young adults. Fast forward 10 years and things have changed entirely. Thrifting has suddenly become mainstream, with many more young people opting for upcycling and secondhand “re-commerce” to update their old wardrobes. According to a study, it was revealed that Generation Z has a strong preference for switching to brands who are sustainable in their ethos.
These initiatives take preference over cost when it comes to consumer behaviour. Sustainable fashion is now experiencing a rise not seen ever before. Even though these things might seem extremely promising, it is of utmost importance to be cautious now. There is always this fear that if something becomes hugely popular it could possibly be taken advantage of, and would lose the purpose it had originally.
Why Thrift Hauls don’t make sense
An understandable criticism can be made for “haul” videos featuring fast fashion brands: overconsumption of fast fashion. I can only be worn for only one season and is highly wasteful. It contributes to clothing being one of the greatest polluters of the planet. But can the same thing be said for second-hand clothes? After all, thrifted clothes are secondhand, which means that their lifespan would be shorter than normal clothes.
There is a possibility of this phenomenon going overboard. Even though thrifting means that you might be contributing to less creation of new clothes, going on an excessive thrift shopping spree could prove to be problematic. Buying heaps of clothing from thrift stores just to wear once beats the purpose of thrifting in the first place. Which is to select and choose unique second-hand clothing to consume mindfully. Instead, those clothes could be bought and worn by someone who will wear it regularly until it wears out. Even when thrifting, the value of shopping mindfully should always be a shopper’s number one preference.
The Generalisation of Thrift Shops
Another critique that has arisen from thrift shops is that they are becoming increasingly popular. Mainstream media is creating a massive fetish or generalisation around thrift shopping. This trend is being gentrified by middle-class young people who don’t really have to be thrift shopping. SImilarly, the popularity of “looking poor” has had some debate on whether second hand stores should prioritise customers who cannot afford to buy new clothes over who really can. Because even before thrift shopping became mainstream, it was the only way the underprivileged could dress themselves. For some, thrift stores are the only places where they can afford clothing, as opposed to those who choose to thrift out of environmental consciousness.
The debate on if people who can afford new clothes should or should not be thrifting put aside, it is hard to deny that in some places, there are real consequences of the mass-popularisation of thrift shops. One of them being that prices have begun to rise in some thrift stores, much to the chagrin of original customers who shopped there out of financial necessity.
Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2020-03-26