Thrifting has become increasingly popular in recent years, specifically among teenagers who desire unique fashion, affordable clothing and eco-friendliness.
“I go thrift shopping because it’s so cheap. But I also love it because you get to purchase clothing items that others have worn before, each with a nostalgic story, that you add to by wearing it again,” said sophomore Melody L.
The vintage aesthetic, which takes elements the 80s and 90s, has inspired many teens to engage in thrifting.
“The vintage look is definitely a trend. However, you see that [it is more evident] the closer you get to [New York] City. Here in Commack, clothing is very brand-based like Hollister or American Eagle, whereas on social media, I tend to find many city kids wearing unique clothing, while still being fashionable. A lot of their clothes are thrifted,” said Melody L.
There is a variety of thrift stores around Commack and nearby towns. A few are: Savers, Plato’s Closet, Helga’s Choice Consignment, Goodwill and Salvation Army.
Plato’s Closet targets the style of the teen demographic.
“Plato’s Closet is directed for teen casual style. In our buying policy, our workers must be informed and updated on what is currently in fashion, so that our clothing on the racks will appeal to the younger teens that shop here,” said Plato’s Closet manager Megan H.
Popular brands such as Pink and Free People are common to find in this store. Other thrift stores like Goodwill and Savers appeal more to families and carry a wider range of items.
“Although Savers sells furniture, kitchenware, house wear, music and shoes, our clothing sells the best. We cater to everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are, there is something for you. We carry popular brands, but often there are unique vintage pieces that sell,” said Savers manager Adria D’A.
Thrift stores accept all clothing based on quality. This requires minimal to no holes, stains or other discrepancies compared to a new article of clothing.
Many stores operate solely on donations. However, Plato’s Closet and Helga’s Choice Consignment give money to everyone who supplies them with clothing.
“Plato’s Closet is a consignment thrift store. We give cash up front for clothes people give to us to sell. This encourages the idea of recycling because if you want to get rid of your clothes, a percentage of what you paid is returned to your pocket. Also, thrift stores may not accept a return policy, but Plato’s does,” said Megan H.
Each thrift store is unique in the clothing it sells, as no two stores may ever have the same article of clothing. Many people head to thrift stores for cheap, long lasting denim. However, thrift stores can be beneficial for many other occasions.
Savers sells Halloween costumes and ugly Christmas sweaters for the holiday season and Helga’s specializes in unique vintage clothing.
“Vintage clothes do not sell well at Plato’s. They are often too highly priced for the people who shop here. Vintage clothing has become more popular and other thrift or consignment stores have excelled in selling these items, which is great,” said Megan H.
Excluding high-end vintage pieces, most stores have price ranges from $2.99 to $50. Every item is for sale at a fraction of the cost in retail stores.
“Teens love shopping [at Savers] because the prices are so cheap. They know how to find the hidden gems of the store[…] It is amazing that teenagers do come in here, because without even realizing it, they are helping an environment that does need a lot of saving” said Adria D’A.
No matter how an individual contributes to thrifting, they may still have a positive impact on the environment. The process of thrifting allows for clothing to be recycled rather than thrown in landfills.
“If you are buying new clothes from retailers every year, at some point, you’ll be throwing away old clothing. Thrift shopping makes sure old pieces can find a new home. It also minimizes our effect on the trash emergency we are facing,” said 2019-2020 adviser of the Environmental Awareness Club Debbi Berke.
According to posters on the wall at Savers, it is estimated that 80 pounds of clothes are thrown away per year by one person. Thrift stores recycle 650,000,000 pounds of this annually.
“Even if you do not want to thrift shop, you can still donate or sell your clothes to a store so that they become recycled. Buying products [sustainably] also helps the process, even if you are purchasing them new from a retail store. Brands that turn unwanted materials into likeable products are very important,” said Berke.
According to Good Housekeeping’s website, sustainable companies use less water to create their products. They do not add or spill hazardous chemicals into the environment and they use natural materials such as cotton. It benefits the environment to buy from brands that do not add to the environmental crisis.
Sustainable brands include Pela, who sell biodegradable phone cases, and 4Ocean who create bracelets out of ocean plastic or waste. These brands are helping introduce items to consumers that are both visually attractive and eco-friendly.
“If people just took the time to see what’s out there, they will find pieces that are special and unique […] If people’s attitudes changed, then the fast fashion problem will reduce,” said Berke.
The “fast fashion” industry refers to clothing that is produced in mass quantities. This clothing is often very cheap and of poor quality. They are made with synthetic fibers, chemicals, and many pollutants. Although trendy, “fast fashion” does not help our environment.
According to CBS news, the fashion industry has an eight percent greater impact on global warming than all international airline flights.
Brands such as Forever 21 or Urban Outfitters contribute to the negative effects of the fast fashion cycle. Many people are unaware of how these companies produce their clothes. Climate activists and fashion YouTubers have encouraged teens to thrift more often due to this problem.
“You do not find clothes [in thrift stores] that are cookie cutter, like they are in [fast fashion]. There’s some cool stuff out there. People just have to want to look for it,” said Berke. 🔳