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The Rise of Secondhand Shopping

Today, Aug. 17, happens to be National Thrift Shop Day. Thriting is a fun way to find unique items and shake up your wardrobe, but it's also an eco-conscious way to purchase clothing.

People have bought secondhand clothing for years in large part to major retailers like Goodwill and Savers and local mom and pop shops. But with a burgeoning online marketplace in full swing and a social media-developed fever to build an “aesthetic” based closet, it’s created a trend and consumerist shift.

Fast fashion is a term coined to describe inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in a response to new trends. Brands like Zara, H&M, and Forever 21 are synonymous with this type of production and were able to achieve major success in the 2000s. But a flaw in the system occured last year when Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy.

It’s a model that seemed too big to fail. But consumers caught on. They expected and wanted better quality for their money and to feel socially responsible in their spending.

That’s when the second online marketplace began to gain more traction. People developed the urge to “hunt” for deals and find something special.

Poshmark and Depop are among the popular curated apps and sites that have found ground with a young audience and built a sustainable, exciting way to shop. Depop breaks clothes down by categories, or even style, to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. And you can easily interact with sellers and have a personal experience online.

Another site is threadUP, which claims to be the world’s largest online seller for secondhand clothes. They take the sustainable initiative even further by shipping their stock in mailers that are 100 percent recyclable and reusable.

While all of these perks are great, the secondhand marketplace has its downsides.

It's important to keep in mind the value of what you’re buying online. Occasionally, someone will buy a piece of clothing at Goodwill for $8 and turn around and sell it for $30 on Depop. It's unethical to say the least, but it's to be expected in a competitive new business sector.

While thrift shops are up and running, COVID-19 has steered a lot of people away from in-person browsing and buying.

Things are so accessible online, but just because something is there doesn’t mean you should buy it. You still have to be ethical buying secondhand and assess if you really need something or if you’re just buying it because it's a good deal.

While transitioning out of fast fashion is important for the environment, it's not easy or even accessible to many. The process of thrifting and finding the right items takes time and can end up being costly depending on what you buy. Fast fashion offers low prices and is dependable to those that have a busy schedule and can’t be bothered to hunt for items.

Buying second hand online or in person is something to consider if you want unique pieces that don’t rely on unethical business practices. But it's not something that can be done in a day.

Let the hunt begin.

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