Shopping your values in secondhand style
We all love a good secondhand style bargain. It helps keep textiles out of landfill, doesn’t break the bank, and allows us to gloat about our bargain hunting prowess without stepping foot into a fast-fashion store. I am a huge fan of shopping secondhand for fashion (the outfit above is thrifted but mostly just an excuse share a photo of a giant cactus), but sometimes feel a bit at odds with the whole process. While secondhand shopping does have the eco benefits of keeping items out of landfill and often (depending on where you shop) supports charity, there is no getting around the fact that secondhand clothing items are still part of the fast fashion supply chain. When we choose to shop secondhand we are still indirectly supporting the labels we buy from. Sometimes its in a completely obvious way, like having a brand name emblazoned across the front of the item, other times it’s a little more subtle. Perhaps you scored a very beautiful item from the thrift shop that was designed by a chain store that’s made headlines for their unethical practices. Every time someone asks you about the item you will likely end up relaying the brand name. One of the most powerful marking tools is Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing. We trust our peers to give us good tried and tested advice, and if our neighbour looks good in that chain store item we are more likely to shop for it than we would be seeing a catwalk model in it. Real life stories and advice is more trustworthy and translates to advertising gold. Which is why many labels connect with bloggers, social media figures, and other key ‘relatable’ every day people with influence to be brand ambassadors. Real people and real reviews equal real sales. So when you wear a secondhand fashion item you are not excluded from the system that made it just because you purchased it secondhand.
Taking Secondhand Shopping to New Eco-Levels.
It can be nice to include new items in your closet that come from brands that support the future you would like to be a part of. Whether your shopping motivators are animal compassion and kindness, zero waste, or just having a minimal and functional closet to work with. Unfortunately for us real fashion costs more than a burger and fries meal. Over the past two decades we have been slowly conditioned to believe that fashion should be cheap. In some cases it’s now cheaper to buy a new outfit than it is to get a meal and a beer. Sadly this conditioning has made the idea of ‘true cost’ fashion (the kind of fashion that pays all the parts of the supply chain and/or environmental spillovers) seem totally unreasonable for most of us. If you do have the income to shop first hand for these items please do so. The designers need your support if we want to ‘win the war’ on fast fashion. If you really can’t afford to shop first hand for these items try to find them secondhand. That way, when people ask you about your item you have the opportunity to launch into a discussion about the do-good message of your clothing creating a positive feedback loop for the items designer. You can shop secondhand for these items the same way you would for any other items. Just read tags to check for organic cotton, vegan friendly, or even just look for the conscious labels you like on shopping platforms like eBay.
Bead & Reel make it easy for you.
If you can’t be bothered doing any serious research then Bead & Reel’s new endeavour The Rescued Collection takes the hard work out of the search by providing you with conscious secondhand clothing at the click of a button. Globally, 80 billion new pieces of clothing are made each year. This is 400% more than even just a few decades ago, and it leads to an average of 82 pounds of textile waste per person each year – that’s 11 million tons of textile waste from the U.S. alone. The Rescued Collection is a carefully curated selection of pre-loved fashion, emphasizing organic natural fibers, vegan shoes and handbags, and independent designers. The entire collection is free from fast fashion brands and animal products. Prices range from 60% – 80% off retail prices and include labels such as People Tree, EcoSkin, Cri de Coeur, and Amour Vert, with easy shopping, free return shipping, and a 15 day return policy (for store credit). If you purchased some eco-goodies that just don’t quite work for you Bead & Reel also buy your gently-used ethical fashion for cash or store credit.
What do you think about secondhand shopping? Do you sometimes feel a bit funny when you have to share that your clothes are fast fashion labels purchased secondhand? Would you shop second-hand ethical? Share your thoughts below.