I’m gonna pop some tags, only got $20 in my pocket… Okay, so Macklemore may have made shopping secondhand “cool” again, but for me, the owner of a consignment shop and avid secondhand shopper, it’s always been a way of life. So why shop consignment? Maybe the question is, why not?
Debunking Secondhand Myths
I grew up on hand-me-downs, the youngest of four, so getting something NEW was a big deal for me from a young age. But then, enter college and peer pressure to have the latest and coolest and newest trend, and I lost myself for a while in the world of fast fashion and credit cards. I thought it was “right” and “necessary” and just the way everyone did the whole fashion thing. Boy, was I wrong.
In my early twenties, I started consigning, and my life changed. It started by me trying to make a little money off of clothes I wasn’t wearing anymore, but it evolved into a now insatiable desire to shop secondhand. Part for the thrill of an amazing find at an even more amazing price, and part for the ethics behind it. But mostly, shopping secondhand gives clothing new life. And I like that. A lot.
So what are some myths about shopping secondhand?
1. The Clothes Aren’t On-Trend, In Good Condition, or Wearable
Lies, lies, lies. Boutiques, like Darling, and shops that take clothing on consignment, resale, or by donation have policies in place to enforce the expected condition of these gently worn secondhand items. This is to ensure wearability and condition. And while, sure, it may be that secondhand clothing shops doesn’t always have the current season’s garment, that doesn’t mean the items aren’t on trend or can’t be edited or altered to be so.
Remember, fashion is cyclical, and everything comes back around. And those who turn their noses up to shopping secondhand for the latest season’s styles are walking clones. True style comes from creative exploration, and shopping secondhand is a great way to explore that skill! Editing your closet is a skill of maturity and experience!
2. Shopping Secondhand Doesn’t Really Make a Difference
More lies! Shopping secondhand may mean still buying “fast fashion” clothing brands at a more affordable/reduced price. However, your purchase of this item continues its journey. You’re not supporting that fast fashion company by buying something secondhand. It’s already been produced, it’s out in the clothing circulation journey, and by purchasing that secondhand item, what you DO is prevent it from sitting in a landfill somewhere. And that’s a good thing.
So Why Shop Consignment?
Why not? Ok, but I’ll give you a few reasons, just in case you need them:
- Be your own style guru. Stop letting the fashion industry define how you dress. We’re constantly feed trends and the latest fashions, but personal style is just that – personal. Take time to develop it, curate it, edit it, explore it, have fun with it! Shopping secondhand, reusing, repurposing, recycling, (gasp) rewearing clothing is a skill to be respected – because it’s not the “norm” of our culture’s consumer mindset. Your clothing speaks. Your personal style leaves an impression. What are you saying?
- Affordable fashion + designer for less. This is why I got hooked on shopping secondhand. The DEALS. If you can’t quite put out the cash to shop sustainable + ethical clothing companies (pricier for very respectable reasons, just anti-consumerism mindset), the next best option is shopping secondhand. And not just for cheaper pieces or trendy finds, but for discovering high-end designer pieces for so much less. (Don’t get me started on all the amazing finds I’ve scored at Darling over the years for a fraction of the original cost.)
- Keep the clothing in circulation. Sounds silly, but it’s true. Shopping secondhand prevents that piece of clothing from becoming waste. Shopping secondhand gives clothing new life. And out of landfills.
- Encourage a slow fashion consumer lifestyle. Buying secondhand is a way to practice sustainability in the fashion industry. It’s a choice to shrink our footprints, to be conscious of our purchases, and be responsible for the clothes we no longer want.
- Choosing to shop “secondhand 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.” (via Fashion Revolution)
If you need more reasons, they’re out there. Or, just stop by Darling or your own local secondhand shops and you’ll find out just why shopping secondhand is a lifestyle worth embracing.
The Fashion Revolution
Fashion Revolution is a global campaign run by the UK based, non-profit organization, Fashion Revolution, to highlight the issues within the fashion industry that we know today. The movement started after the 2013 Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh, where more than 1,134 people were killed and 2,500 injured. Workers had reported signs of cracks in the foundation, and were ordered to report to work anyways. On April 24, 2013, the entire world saw the injustices hiding in the fashion industry – and a revolution began. With fast fashion brands like Zara, H&M, and Walmart manufacturing garments under those roofs, the fashion industry was in the hot seat. Rumored reports of labor conditions could no longer be ignored in the face of devastation. People started to ask for change. Consumers started to ask for change.
Why do we need a Fashion Revolution?
“The revolution starts with thinking differently about the clothes we buy and wear. To love fashion but to question why we feel compelled to shop. To be more mindful of the impacts of our shopping habits and the way we care for clothing.” – @fash_rev
Fashion Revolution Week is an annual global event around the anniversary of Rana Plaza, April 24, to raise awareness about the truth behind the clothing industry and the brands we love. The movement is designed to create change and action. It’s about building transparency in the fashion industry, and stimulating improvements to current conditions and systems. And it’s growing. I encourage you to check out their resources, read about the many issues, educate yourself and challenge yourself, and others, to join the movement.
On a personal note, if I truly believe as a human being, fashion consumer, and retail industry business owner that we are to “clothe ourselves in strength and dignity,” then this movement could not be more important. Not just for my own wardrobe choices, or the customers at my shop, but for the many, many people working in the fashion manufacturing industry across the globe. It’s about them most of all. I may consider myself a novice when it comes to knowledge on the topic, but I’ve begun my journey in asking the fashion industry “WHY?” And I hope you do, too.
Join the Revolution
After all, it’s about social action after education. And the Fashion Revolution has made some clear social ways to for you to get involved.
- Wear your clothing inside out and ask companies, “Who made my clothes?” on social media. #whomademyclothes
- Take a moment to read garment worker stories, available on the Fashion Revolution website.
- Try a #haulternative, the antidote to fast fashion, by swapping with friends, buying secondhand, or doing a DIY project with what you already have.
- Shop secondhand + support consignment shops to participate in slow fashion right in your community. #secondhandfirst
- Share a love story: share your love for an item that you’ve owned for a long time. #lovedclotheslast
- Write your policy makers and your favorite brands.
Some of our favorite local resources:
- Ethical Style Collective – A great resource out of Richmond focusing on intentional shopping and conscious consuming :: Facebook + Instagram
- The Good Wear blog – Another resource out of Richmond exploring ways to be ethical + sustainable fashion consumers :: Facebook + Instagram
- All Awear blog – Another resource out of Richmond striving to highlight socially responsible fashion brands :: Facebook + Instagram
- Style Wise blog – Local to 434, this blog focuses on ethical fashion, fair trade, and sustainability :: Facebook + Instagram
Join Us :: Local Event
Come out for a special event on Earth Day, Sunday, April 22, at Common House where I’ll be discussing conscious consuming with Leah Wise of the Style Wise blog! Find out more and RSVP ::