I’d like to say sorry to those who shame interests in shopping or similarly, a “passion for fashion”, as if they are above this “superficial” act, as you, too, need to shop.
One’s relationship to clothes is personal in the way that people choose to represent themselves with such. You can be rich, modern, boho, or even tacky. Deny clothes and shopping of their true purpose and potential is to deny them of their true purpose. People can be who they want to be through clothing and I like to think of the process of shopping as that gateway in doing so.
The exchange of goods, buyer to seller, no matter how that ranges within the fashion industry, is a process that lays the foundation for movements, trends, styles and self-identity. At a young age, I was able to see this exchange first hand, in a second-hand shop. Like a lot of young girls, I grew up on hand-me-downs from family friends or cousins. They were like my big sister, and with each new batch, was a new visit. I found an interest in making my own outfits with clothes that had been once someone else’s and soon found an interest in thrift and consignment. Consignment provided me with a visual aid of what the cycle of clothing looks like before I even had my own money to participate within it. I began a job at a local consignment shop at around fourteen-years-old and still hold the job to this day. It is as if my “older sister” hand-me-downs never stop coming.
This older sister taught me three things:
Fashion, as revolutionary and innovative as it is, repeats itself. To consign as well as donate clothing, you are putting clothing back into the cycle of buying and selling. You are giving your worn clothes the potential to flourish again in someone else's hands. What one generation decided to donate might be the next generation’s new Yeezy drop. One pair of shoes that your parents wore in grade school might be shot and worn by your favorite celebrity. Lastly and probably my most favorite thing; the style of top you have been eyeing in the luxury store you cannot afford could be laying in the consignment or thrift store across town.
Buying used clothing helps save the world. Fashion and sustainability, two words that when combined challenge the way the Fashion Industry makes and produces clothing. By donating clothes, people from lower income classes have more resources accessible to them, clothes that already exist are being reused rather than turned into pollution and different styles of clothing are encouraging new trends and fashion risks. Buying used clothing helps Thrift and Consignment businesses, which often work with food pantries as well as shelters, continue to give back to their communities. When this cycle increases, the need for more clothing produced by unregulated sweatshops, non-eco friendly methods, and harsh chemicals decreases, benefitting the world around us.
Shopping by consignment or thrift should be more normalized in society. This tier in the fashion industry is not nearly discussed as much as high fashion, department, or fast fashion is. There needs to be a greater conversation about the power of consignment and thrift shops. Consignment encouraged me to ask questions about the way companies are producing new clothing. It also taught me that nothing is considered “out of style” forever and that used clothing can be better than new.
Why did the hand-me-down process end when you began to grow up?
Because people became complacent, generations desired “the new”, and the word “used” became a disgrace. The way society shops and views shopping could use a second chance, and possibly it’s second hand.
BY: Chloë Felopulos