When it comes to our clothes and what we wear, I believe it is very important for a person to express themselves through their own, personalized sense of fashion taste. Although it’s debatable, the way a person dresses enables a whole lot about both men and women—who they are as a person and what they love. Ultimately, each century and/or decade throughout world history, not only in America, has had an iconic fashion style that shaped the specific time period – for example; 1960s: Jackie Kennedy lady-like elegance, Eastern-influenced hippie, 1990s: animal print, plaid, denim, 2000’s: low-rise, velvet, yoga pants. But what is our modern day iconic fashion style that generations to come will reminisce about?
With the influence of social media’s admiration for 20th century and Y2K fashion, most of today’s generation’s wardrobes consist of recycled trends from decades prior. Now, there’s no doubt society loves whatever’s trendy. Especially in this day and age, young boys and girls know exactly how they want to dress and express themselves, and it’s usually what everyone else is wearing. The internet takes inspiration from celebrities like Kim Kardashian and label that as the modern day trend. But it’s not even just what the celebrities are wearing today – social media will gawk over old digitals of the Kardashians, Paris Hilton, and Nicole Richie at the club in 2006 wearing velvet Juicy Couture tracksuits. If something was trendy once, it will most likely become trendy again, sooner or later.
Thrift stores have been around for as long as anyone can remember, but they have just recently become socially acceptable to shop at. Leading up to around the beginning of social media, the only people who shopped at thrift stores were the people who actually needed to. For example and for context, thrift stores are where you can find used merchandise, mostly clothes, for alarmingly cheap prices. Although these garments have typically been used and worn, most of the time they are still in good condition, but should be washed after purchasing. All in all, I believe that shopping at thrift stores is totally worth it. For instance, clearly you can bag the latest fashion trends at your local shopping mall in the perfect size and condition, but especially over the past decade or so, inflation has gone up a mass amount, and you would be way lucky to come from the mall with more than 5 pairs of jeans for less than $100. But in all honesty, if you are rich, I would continue shopping at the mall too.
Relating back to humanity’s favorite fashion trends, thrift stores, believe it or not, can actually leave you coming home with a 2010 Victoria’s Secret slip, a vintage Ed Hardy tee, and a 2007 pink velour Juicy tracksuit. Especially after the 2020 pandemic, most of our modern day generation is shopping at thrift stores. Considering the amount of time we’ve spent at home and on social media, platforms like Tik Tok, Instagram, and Pinterest have become obsessed with expressing ourselves through different music, films, TV, and most importantly, fashion styles. The “Y2K” trend was quite the craze during the pandemic, and still is to this day in 2022. Y2K literally means “Year 2000”, referring to the decade from the year 2000 to 2009. This era of fashion included low rise skinny jeans, tracksuits, yoga pants, graphic tees, and of course, big corporations like Victoria’s Secret, Juicy Couture, BEBE, Ed Hardy, and many, many, many more. Our generation proudly took inspiration from our favorite celebrities and TV/ movie stars and characters we grew up with. Like, we wanted to dress like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie from The Simple Life, and even as far as Hannah Montana and her striking wardrobe. Because the generation that were actually old enough to wear these clothing trends when they were in fact the latest fad (millennial generation) are in their mid 20’s now, little do they know young fashion lovers are dying for their 15 year old Apple Bottom jeans. And so, that’s where thrift stores and their, surprisingly enough, “to die for” merchandise comes into play. Just like they always say: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Sustainability also happens to be quite an important factor of thrift shops. Most clothing companies, as unfortunate as it is, are subject to fast fashion. To put it in simple terms, fast fashion is NOT sustainable. Big attire businesses like Forever 21, Shien, Zara, Dollskill, and Nasty Gal produce inexpensive clothing rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. But because these trends come and go, the garments swiftly pile up in landfills around the world. Also, when you are buying from these companies you are giving your money to a corporation that supports the concept of forced child labor in countries like Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The working conditions are horrid – low wages, long work hours, unsafe conditions, sexual abuse, and physical assaults are all present in the fast fashion industry. However, if you come across a Forever 21 coat while thrifting, and you decide to purchase it, you are not necessarily giving your money to Forever 21, but instead the thrift shop itself. As an alternative to discarding your old clothes, shoes and accessories to a crowded, unsustainable landfill, make the donation to your local thrift store, where someone else will fall in love with the same boots and fur coat you once did.
Thrift stores do in fact provide merchandise in a variety of sizes, and for all different types of people with their own sense of style. And, they supply for both men and women, young and old. So, with this said, I personally believe thrift stores will become even more popular than they are today, and although prices may go up because of this, one is still using their money sustainably and wisely. Next time you plan on searching for bootcut jeans, polos, denim skirts, or anything along the lines of what you feel best physically represents you, go thrifting!