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Thrifted Vs. Vintage: Which Do You Prefer?

I think it is safe to say that a majority of college students are familiar with thrift stores and thrifting. It makes sense in that we, as gen Z, are one of the most climate-conscious generations and see thrifting as a more environmentally friendly way to shop and build our closets. 

But do you know the difference between thrifting and shopping vintage? Although the two have been mixed up by many who are unfamiliar (aka me when I was just getting into thrifting), there is a distinct difference between the two: one way to see it is the difference in time and money. 

When I plan to go thrifting, I make sure to set aside at least an hour or two to make sure I have time to go through every single item that is on the racks at Goodwill, Savers, Eco Thrift, etc. By giving my time to look at the clothes, I know there is a chance I can find a gem at an unbeatable price. When it comes to vintage shopping, the clothes on the rack have already been hand-picked by the vendor, saving you time. With that, the prices are slightly higher than what you may find at Goodwill. 

The culture around thrift stores and vintage shops is also so different. 

Thrift stores are similar to any other clothing store; they simply put clothes that have been donated by anyone on the racks to sell. The culture is very corporate: the clothes are just clothes, the cashier is simply a cashier working, and the customer is simply the customer hoping to find something good. 

When you look at vintage and resellers in the vintage world, you can see that many vendors actually operate solely online through Instagram accounts and/or online shops. When they do sell their clothes in person, it comes in the form of a flea market style, where many vendors come together to sell, meet other vendors and have a good time. 

I recently visited the World’s Worst Expo in Sacramento and was amazed by the bustling and vibrant culture of vendors talking about clothes with their regular customers, the back and forth of haggling and negotiating prices, and music blasting throughout the block. Some of the booths had their own personal flair to it, in the way the vendors displayed their clothes, the music they played, and even the way the vendors themselves dressed was representative of the taste and style of their collection of vintage finds on their racks. 

I think when it comes to refining your personal style, thrifting is a great start. But once you really get a sense of what kind of wardrobe you want to build, take some time to check out vintage shops online. If you ever get the chance, shopping at local vintage conventions is a really gratifying experience, where you can get even more inspiration all while getting some amazing pieces to add to your style!

Emily is a third-year at UC Davis, pursuing a bachelor's degree in Communications and Cinema & Digital Media. She is currently Design Director for VITA at UC Davis and Digital Media Director for Her Campus UCD. She enjoys thrifting and getting coffee with friends.
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