Honestly, I used to be the one who didn’t like secondhand stuff. I didn’t want to take a risk, and had a sense of distrust in the quality of clothes from a stranger. Also, in my hometown South Korea, many people feel uncomfortable with using secondhand items because there is a superstition that sort of spirits (ghost-like beings) may be written on things used by others. Since no one knows what happened to those clothes in the resale market, people create a lot of creepy stories. Even though I don’t believe in such stories, I feel ominous when I hear stories of scary things happening in clothes that others used to wear.
Even so, I always had a secret longing for thrifting. Especially since 2000s fashion started booming, I wanted to get Y2K style clothes that are no longer officially sold, and I couldn’t find new stuff that has the vibe either.
When I tried buying secondhand clothes the first time, I felt I could never find super unique funky goods through vintage thrifting, like other trendsetters. After repeating successes and failures in treasure hunting, I developed my thrifting skills, and I’m proud of doing it now.
On the other hand, there is a lot of controversy over whether this is just a trendy act or an economic and environmental benefit. I think this is a very sensitive subject. Some people say thrifting is a contradiction, I agree with that.
But I’m so attracted to secondhand deals where clothes are almost thrown away and reborn by someone because I’m fed up with the chemical-based clothes that pour out at the factory every moment and the fast fashion in a system that’s mass-disposal after the season. According to Green America, an organization that promotes environmental awareness and ethical consumerism, only about 14 percent of the clothes donated to the thrift market are successfully traded or recycled, and the rest are sold again in countries within the Global South or sent to landfills. Besides environmental aspects, I highly recommend you to try thrifting because you can find a treasure from it.
To start treasure hunting, the first thing you need to do is to choose where to thrift either online or offline.
Online thrifting is just as easy as regular online shopping. There are so many different styles of secondhand online stores.
Depop is one of the top fashion apps for Gen Z. It is a very trendy online thrifting platform featuring each account owner’s fashion sense and lifestyle. Anyone can easily create an account and start buying and selling clothes. Poshmark is a social marketplace that encourages people to participate in buying and selling events and interact with the community. Many fashion items are already traded there internationally.
Vinted is more the people who love vintage. The advantage of Vinted is the price is much lower than Depop or Poshmark because there is no fee charged by Vinted for the deposits. I think it’s the best app to sell clothes. The transaction process is very quick and simple. thredUp is my favorite online thrifting market.The layout is very simple and easy to navigate. All clothes are already selected and verified, so that makes me feel like I’m getting brand new clothes. Despite the excellent quality, they still have the sense of secondhand clothing. Another reason I like thredUp so much is that they have everything. You can simply search for a brand you like and tons of items will be listed. They also do a double discount very often — I’m sure you do not want to miss that.
Thrifting is one of the most fun shopping experiences. However, when you arrive at the store, you may be overwhelmed by piles of clothes. Before heading out, it would be helpful if you think about what kind of clothes you want to get. The first thing you should consider is the time period: you’ll have to think about whether you want vintage clothing or contemporary clothing. The next step is to choose the location. If you want more vintage items, try thrifting in an older part of town. One way to choose the location is to think about what kind of brand you want to get. If you want luxury vintage items, you can check out either a luxury vintage store such as The Real Real. There are always opportunities to get a real treasure.
Goodwill has a great system, in terms of recycling clothes that almost got thrown away. It’s more affordable and it’s nice because you can go to the store and try it on yourself. The items are very different depending on the neighborhood, so I recommend looking around in different areas.
Buffalo Exchange is the best place if you are a Y2K lover like me. They have various unique old-fashioned items, though some clothes might look too tacky or corny. Some of you might have heard of Reformation. It is an upcycling brand rather than a recycling store. They collect lots of vintage items and wash them — some of them are fixed or reformed and tagged as brand new.
Besides the lists above, there are so many different vintage stores that you can thrift in. Once you find something that fits you, it’s like discovering hidden treasure. Happy thrifting!