Why I Love Second-hand Fashion
The beauty of purchasing second-hand clothing
The movement towards choosing second-hand fashion over brand-new items is growing. According to CNBC ‘by 2028 the used-fashion market is set to skyrocket in value to $64 billion in the U.S, while fast-fashion will only reach $44 billion’. Evidently, we are all realising the challenges with fast fashion and now more than ever retailers, communities, companies and groups are taking significant action.
Fast fashion is the use of unsustainable methods to produce fashion at a rapid pace affecting the planet, people and profits. The fast fashion industry is producing garments at an alarming rate to keep up with current trends created by consumers and retailers. However, slow fashion is an alternative approach, which includes using sustainable methods or processes that is kinder to the environment, people and our wallets. Second-hand fashion contributes to the slow fashion concept by prolonging the item’s life.
I’ve seen and heard comments from people stating, ‘so if I start recycling now, what difference would it make?’ but in reality more and more people are reviewing sustainable options. For example, after Christmas The Times reported sales of beef and pork plunge as Britons choose vegan diet demonstrated that together we can create an impact.
There are a few key reasons why you should choose second-hand clothing over brand-new items will not only benefit the world but benefit your own life.
Better for the Environment
By purchasing second-hand garments, you are slowing down the fashion production cycle. Fast fashion entails rapid production to keep up with demand therefore, if we all reduced purchasing brand-new items, companies will not need to produce on a mass level. Did you know ‘it takes 2,720 litres of water to make a t-shirt and 10,850 litres to make jeans’.
Unfortunately, the water used to produce fast-fashion eventually goes into rivers carrying toxic chemicals that are not only harmful to animals but humans too. In China, the factory of the world, it is estimated that 70 percent of the rivers and lakes are contaminated by the 2.5 billion gallons of wastewater produced by the textile industry. We can assume not everyone is aware the impact that fashion is making on environment therefore we need to make a conscious effort to let others know and once you know, remember the impact that it’s having on the world.
Support a Local Community, Cause or Organisation
The great thing about purchasing recycled or second-hand items is that some businesses will ensure proceeds will go towards a sustainable cause, charity or organisation. Like it or not this may be an incentive to purchase from that particular retailer however organisations are also realising consumers who purchase recycled clothing may also want to be socially responsible. Therefore, more and more sustainable fashion organisations are giving the consumers the opportunity to make a difference and choose who they want to support.
It’s important to mention that just because it’s second-hand doesn’t mean the materials are high-quality or the garment is produced using ethical standards. Vintage is a good example of items created to last decades and be in great condition. Previously, when clothes were made, designers created clothing from high-quality materials unlike fast fashion produced today. Ultimately, it’s up to you to find brands that represent best practice regarding sustainability but overall purchasing any recycled fashion can prolong the items life instead of it going straight to a landfill. I believe, as long as the items are loved and looked after properly, second-hand items can last a long-time saving you a bit of money.
Being a second-hand fashion advocate I have learnt the tricks of the trade and often picked up a bargain. I set limits and only spend £20 or less on garments. By keeping to that budget I have found high-quality brands such as Ralph Lauren and DNKY, for under this amount. Over the years I’ve wanted to find brands that will last a long time, look great for work without spending a lot and recycled fashion has never failed to surprise me. It’s now easy to refresh your closet with recycled designer clothes discounted 50% or more without spending a fortune. Additionally, purchasing high-quality items guarantee a longer lifespan where you don’t have to spend loads to replace them.
About 10 – 15 years ago it may have been a challenge to know where to find second-hand fashion shops or online retailers however now there’s no excuse. Charity shops have been popping up in many villages, towns and cities and online has exploded with different platforms advocating slow fashion and sustainability. Thred-UP has made movements in the industry by focusing on high-quality designer brands, the Depop app focuses on wide range of fashion and vintage and eBay is one of the classics. It’s now easy to access recycled fashion while grabbing a bargain.
The Story Behind the Garment
When I purchase vintage I always believe there is a story behind it, whether it reflects a time period or perhaps a style from a famous celebrity in the 1940’s, its more than just a garment. Wearing vintage gives you the opportunity to let others know where you found it, who made it and why it’s so unique. About 10 years ago I bought a gold pocket watch necklace and I’m always complimented about it. Sometimes I reveal how I found it in a local vintage fair and the seller said it was given to her grandma after the war. I think it’s incredible to carry these stories and find out the items origin, something you can’t do with fast-fashion.
Fast fashion styles are often low quality copies of current trends however finding vintage or recycled garments originating from different eras is creative. Exploring recycled fashion gives you the opportunity to see different textures, patterns and styles that are from a particular time period. There is beauty in second-hand fashion as it doesn’t need to be ‘on-trend; you can mix and match and find styles that suit your taste instead of copying what’s currently ‘in fashion’. You can be unique by reinventing the item and reclaiming the fashion as your own.
Join the movement, purchase second-hand items and say no to fast fashion.
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