The fight against designer clothes is underway and the younger generations are gaining headway, driving the shift towards thrift stores, vintage gift shops, and antique stores. Whether you saunter into Denver gift shops, or you’re in Venice Beach and happen upon a pop-up market, the change is everywhere.
People aren’t buying new things as often as they used to. Maybe it’s climate change, a desire to stand out, or social media influencers garnering attention with unusual fashion choices. Regardless, people are veering away from shopping malls and turning towards vintage stores for their retail choices.
According to the EPA, 9 of the 11.3 million tons of textiles that wind up in landfills are clothing and footwear. The verdict is out: we wear too many things, we consume too many materials, and there are too many people in the world for everyone’s wardrobe to be made up of new clothing.
Fast fashion is cluttering landfills and damaging the environment. In fact, the EPA also found the fashion industry causes around 10% of global carbon emissions and 20% of wastewater. The simplest way to reduce fashion’s effect on the environment is to keep clothes in circulation longer. Enter, the social media influencer who takes advantage of something pure and exploits it for gain.
Social media has shifted the culture from one of trendsetters and countercultures to one of followers who think they are trendsetters and part of countercultures. It’s hard to stand out from the crowd when every idea you have comes from the crowd.
With social media influencers making a living donning second-hand clothes and convincing their followers they’re different, a younger fan base can feel they are doing their part for the environment while impressing people with their newly found uniqueness. Thrifting is now a $28 billion industry expected to surpass fast fashion by 2029. Generation Z is largely responsible for the shift.
Because thrifting presents more clothing options, it makes shopping more of a recreational activity than a necessity. There’s no telling what you’ll find when you walk into a thrift store.
Thrifting is not like fast fashion: a homogenized experience where you know exactly what the mannequins will look like down to their undergarments. It’s spontaneous and you can gather a sense of the store owner’s personality.
The internet has displayed how robotic and formulaic human shopping behavior can be. People started to notice that large retail brands were treating humans as data points. We caught on to the gimmick.
Generation Z doesn’t want to be the 21-year-old who shops at Forever 21. Millennial moms don’t want to be perceived as the house moms who buy their jeans from Old Navy. The internet introduced a steady stream of advertisements and eventually, we got bored. Vintage clothing ironically satisfies the urge for something new.
Whether vintage shopping is a spurious solution to climate change or if it actually has an effect is still up for debate. It seems evident that thrifting is more sustainable than fast fashion. It reduces the need to produce and keeps clothes in circulation longer.
However, consumers need to be careful where they shop for their thrift clothes. Buying locally reduces carbon emissions. Why should we order something for a trip to Colorado when we can get Denver gifts right from the source? And, as a bonus, support a locally-owned shop! Having clothing shipped overseas from the influencer in Europe can be equally as damaging as fast fashion if everyone catches on to the trend. We don’t need Amazon airplanes taking over the skies and our roads any more than they already are. These elements shouldn’t be overlooked.