Why We Should Shop Second Hand

I used to have trouble shopping second hand because I was stuck in a belief that it was strange to wear someone else's clothes and more prominently - that if I didn't have new styles, I wouldn't fit in. Maybe you were like me OR are still thinking this... But who taught us that? With some reflection, it seems like these ideas have to come from somewhere like the major marketing within the fast fashion industry. We are told through campaigns that we consistently need more trendy items and that this consumption is normal because individual pieces are cheap. But it's come to light that this is not sustainable for our wallets, closets, environment and human life.

So enters a new perspective and awareness on shopping hand. A choice that we are able to make towards purchasing clothing that's been produced and no longer worn by the original owner. This style of clothing can come in a variety of forms - consignment, vintage, thrift, hand-me-downs, swapping clothes with friends. Based on Fashion Revolution mag, it provides an opportunity to "recreate your favorite looks for a fraction of the price by buying from local charity shops. This keeps perfectly good clothes out of landfill and supports charitable causes too. Win-win!" And win-win it is - shopping second hand can do so much for our wardrobes and wallets. So here are 4 reasons shopping second hand just makes sense!


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SECOND HAND MYTHS

// THE CLOTHES ARE UNWEARABLE

"Second hand clothes are dirty, worn-out or not on trend"
  • Places that readily take donations of clothing or purchase consignment from you have various policies to ensure that the second hand clothing is wearable. No rips, stains, holes, etc. So when you shop at these stores the items are made sure to be clean and in good condition.
  • Although second hand clothing can be from a few seasons back, they are items that can be repaired and reworked with your current closet. After all, fashion is a cycle and always recurring so it will one day be back in style. If you love the item, don't let trends deter you!
     

// IT DOESN'T MAKE A DIFFERENCE

"You're not making a difference since a fast fashion brand made your second hand clothing."
  • This is one point that is often misunderstood. How shopping fast fashion brands makes a difference with second hand shopping is because the garment/item has already been produced and is in circulation. Someone already created the fabric, garment, and sale therefore it's not preventable for that specific item to be produced. Purchasing an item already in circulation helps prevent this garment, accessory, shoe, home good, etc end up in landfill which is the last place we want fashion to be!
  • Another point, from Fashion Revolution, is that choosing to shop "second hand also loosens the grip of advertising and corporations on shaping our style and identity, and can reconnect us to the joy of wearing clothes and passing them on."
     


Shopping second hand gives clothing new life.

  photo from Fashion Revolution Fanzine #2

photo from Fashion Revolution Fanzine #2


WHY SHOP SECOND HAND
 

  1. When you're shopping on a budget
    Shopping ethical fashion brands can be more expensive than what you're used to because of our consumer habits. Ethical fashion is all about investment pieces in our wardrobe - meaning these are core styles we're purchasing with the intention of wearing for the long run. Shopping second hand will then allow you to shop those cheaper styles that you might want last minute or those pieces that are more colorful + unique compared to your investment styles.

  2. It's a chance to prevent waste
    If we didn't have the options to second hand, most of the clothing (and accessories, home goods, etc) we see out in consignment, thrift or vintage would be collecting dust in our homes or end up in a land fill. Therefore shopping second hand gives clothing new life no matter which fast fashion brands might have created the garment originally - the item is already in circulation and needs to be cared for.

    Globally 20% of textiles are recycled, meaning the other 80% are lost to landfill or incineration. - Alden Wicker, Fashion Revolution

  3. It's a simple way to repurpose items for new life
    When we wear an item that has already been produced, we are giving it a new life. Wearing second hand clothing has had a stigma for different cultures or generations, but it's finally coming back in full swing for the realization that this is a good thing. Being mindful about choosing used over new when possible, we can create new habits and small ripples in an industry that is over producing. And in the long run, repurposing these items will help us slowly diminish waste in our own life.
     
  4. You're reinventing clothing in your own way
    We have a culture obsessed with image and style - and that's not going away any time soon. But we do have the opportunity to impact the minds of the next generation - towards less care about which new style they need to buy but what their personal style can mean + impact the world. If we start habits now to promote reusing, rewearing and recycling clothing, change will trickle down.
    Shopping second hand can allow us to use our own style and send this message that we care about those who make our clothing and how the environment is being affected by waste in our landfills and production around the world.
     


WHAT'S NEXT
 

// OUR PURCHASES MATTER

Our purchases for second hand shopping extend the life of our clothes. If someone else has given up on an item, it's our chance to bring it back to life in our own style and way! And with that purchase, we are choosing not to support the fast fashion brand that created the garment, but a message that we want slower style and consumption.

// IT'S OUR WARDROBE

Buying second hand is a way to practice sustainability in the fashion industry. It's a choice that can shrink our fashion footprints and in a small way help our environmental impact. If we slowly create a priority to shop investment pieces with ethical fashion and choose consignment over new, we'll be putting clothes back into circulation that can be worn again. 

// WE ARE RESPONSIBLE

We have a choice to shop second hand with each purchase, but we also have the power to own our wardrobe and continue to restyle and love the pieces we own. That means rewearing outfits, repairing buttons or holes, and re-loving items we thought we'd toss away.

"Being responsible about the clothes we buy also extends to being responsible about what we do with clothes we no longer want." - Leigh Mcalea, Traid
 


WHERE YOU CAN SHOP SECOND HAND


// POSHMARK - an online market place designed for individuals to sell items from their closet for cash. Create an account and either purchase or sell directly from their app!

// THRED UP - another online marketplace and national store fronts that sell used clothing.

// SHOP LOCAL - shop around your town or city for thrift, vintage and consignment options as well as shopping online through instagram, etsy, and smaller boutiques! This helps us connect to local communities, support local businesses financially and through word of mouth.
 


LOVED CLOTHES LAST

THE NEXT ISSUE TO TALK ABOUT

The second hand clothing industry exists because of our global consumption problem.

While shopping second hand is a better option to buying new from fast fashion brands (like H&M, The Loft, Forever 21, Old Navy, Zara), there still is a global issue with our consumerism of fashion. We buy too much so ultimately, we as a nation, just have too many clothes to recycle, donate and consign. This stems from a purchasing + consumerism problem that society tells us to shop more and more.

Decades ago, there was a view that clothing items were valuable and to be grateful for. But in today's society, clothing has been treated as cheap and disposable. Therefore, a huge problem for our global environment! Even now, most of the recycled clothes we pass on as donations are sent abroad and 70% of clothes donated end up in Africa - causing huge infrastructure problems. So the next subject we're addressing is to take a deeper look at our viewpoints of consumption and the dirty truth of textile waste. - Stay tuned -