Second-Hand Shopping Is Trending, And Here's Why.

By Emma DeMarco

When I visited Regeneration on May 22, I immediately noticed their gorgeous jewelry display. They had a variety of colorful pieces made of many different materials. Everything in the store, especially the jewelry, was perfectly intact and sustainable.

When someone looks down at the clothes they’re wearing, they don’t want to think about the fact that it was created by underpaid and horribly treated workers, sometimes even children. Unfortunately, this is the sad truth for many clothing brands. Fast fashion brands and online shops that sell you all the new trends for incredibly cheap prices use unsafe working conditions and pay low wages to their workers. These businesses are incredibly unethical, and it is best to avoid these shops and make sure the brand you’re using is sustainable. When you shop at used clothing stores, you are boycotting illegal working conditions and wages, along with promoting the environment by reusing. This means buying your clothes second hand is not only environmentally friendly, but also morally right.

There’s a stigma about thrift stores, and it’s that the clothes sold are ugly, dirty, or of terrible quality. After visiting and shopping at many of these last few years, I can say that my thrift store finds have been the base of my entire wardrobe. Thrift stores are large open shops with racks and racks of clothing, along with shelves of decorative items, dinnerware, and purses. Some stores sell even a larger variety of items, ranging from furniture to old records. They also include dressing rooms, but many are currently closed for COVID safety reasons. I've shopped mainly at the Salvation Army in Royal Oak, the Goodwill in Dearborn, and another Salvation Army on Dequindre Road, and I recently tried Regeneration. Regeneration is similar to a thrift store, as they sell used, upcycled clothing. They sell many vintage items, matching their retro interior. Almost every item I have bought there has been of great quality and many thrift stores even sell expensive leather jackets and designer purses for usually around seventy dollars. For any germaphobes, every item I’ve bought was entirely clean and smelled like detergent, although everyone should still wash any new clothes before wearing them.

At a Salvation Army in Detroit off W Fort Street, I found a long, black, fuzzy coat. The cost was only twenty dollars, and it is incredibly well made. The coat's length and furry exterior makes people believe it's a fancy, expensive coat; when really I just bought it from the Salvation Army.

Another upside to thrift shopping is obviously their low prices, with shirts and tops usually ranging from two to five dollars, and pants commonly being six to nine dollars. Thrift stores sell unique and different items made up of many different styles and materials. Why wear that Pacsun top that has already been worn by everyone when you can find clothes nobody has?

A lot of the time when I go to thrift stores, I’m not only looking for clothes that I like, but also clothes that I can transform into something better. You may think that the brown top you spotted is super ugly and unflattering but with a pair of scissors and some creativity, you can make it into your ideal shirt. Many of the items I’ve bought at thrift stores I have altered to make it into something I’d actually wear. For the creative people who want to try and create their own clothes, my pro tip would be to go into the store with an idea of that super expensive item you want to remake, and then look out for large shirts, dresses, or scarves of the same color. This is so you have lots of fabric already stitched together to make your piece. Currently, I’m working on a halter tank top that I created out of a scarf and old fabric.

Cook was also able to find unused, quality condition red Jordan mids at another thrift store. The shoes are very expensive when bought in-store, and are from a very famous brand. To find them in a secondhand shop for under forty dollars is truly a shoe lover's dream come true.

For some, a moral issue arises when shopping at thrift stores, and it’s that they don’t want to take away cheap clothes from those who really need them. Thrift stores were made for people who can’t afford pricey clothing items, whether due to their economic status, or perhaps for people who are just beginning their lives on their own with no money. However, I would not let this deter you from shopping there, as you are very much allowed to do so, but I would suggest that you avoid items like winter coats, children’s clothing, and limit yourself to one or two pairs of jeans. This is because these items are essential to those less fortunate, and it would be best not to take these away from them. Although this issue of morality may discourage people, it’s important to keep in mind the evil that comes with the alternative: fast fashion brands. Their poor working conditions and impressive amount of environmental waste make buying used clothes all the more meaningful.

Thrift stores also sell purses and handbags, many of them being great quality and from well known brands. Cook has purchased many bags, and now has a collection of colorful, stylish purses. To add, they are also mainly inexpensive.

For those who still choose to follow the stereotypes about dirty thrift shops, online personal seller stores, such as Depop or Poshmark, are also a great way to find unique clothing for a cheaper amount. Some of the clothes are quite pricey, but almost always the expensive clothes are less than the original price. You can also find plenty of designer dupes (or real designer if you have that money) that look very real and are still very fashionable. Personally, I’ve only shopped at Depop, but the three items I’ve bought are great quality and all shipped quickly to me. I purchased a very stylish blue and red FILA sports bra, an authentic Stüssy graphic tee, and a tan corset top that all fit perfectly. The app makes it very easy to contact and message your seller if any issues arise, all you need to do is directly message them through the app. The clothes are super simple to buy, it’s just a quick click of the « Purchase » button, and then enter your shipping and payment information like usual. However, some sellers request in their account bio or in the caption of the item you want to purchase that you message them before buying, so watch out for that before buying something. This also may be why the item seems priced at an incredibly large amount in the thousands, which is to usually deter anyone from purchasing it before messaging them.

I cannot stop those who choose to give hundreds of their dollars to unethical, unsustainable fashion brands, but I can encourage all to try second hand shops and buy used clothing. In all fairness, not all second hand items are used, many give away clothes they’ve never worn before with the tag still intact. I can also safely say that I have not contracted any diseases or sicknesses from the clothes, as some people assume you can. It is imperative that you give up any of your previously held suspicions about second hand clothing, and look at all the benefits of variety and morality that come with it. Keep in mind the awful things some workers must endure when creating the clothes that you wear. Plus, you will save a ton of shopping money.

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