The combination of hustling millennials, fashion, and growing environmental consciousness has resulted in a steady rise of online thrift stores. These stores offer unique, pre-loved fashion to a consumer base that’s looking for a fast fashion fix with the added bonus of contributing to the sustainable fashion movement.
“When you purchase an existing piece, you are giving life to something that could have ended up in a landfill. By thrifting, you make a vote for sustainability, good prices, and great style,” says Arushi Sabharwal, founder of Wrinkled Thrift. Sruti Ashok, founder of The ReLove Closet, agrees and adds, “This is definitely a part of the circular ecosystem in recycling items within the community and diverting them away from landfills. According to statistics, when you buy pre-loved, you reduce the usage of resources, water etc. while lowering your carbon footprint as well.
The most sustainable option would be to shop within your closet, but if you really need something to add to your wardrobe, thrifting is definitely better than buying brand new.”
Along with the benefits to the environment, thrifting is actually an economically booming industry. According to a report published on popular thrifting platform ThredUp, the global secondhand market is projected to double in the coming five years, reaching $77 billion. This reflects in the burgeoning number of thrift shops online, each offering unique styles that you can choose from. But the sheer number of thrift stores means that you have a wide range of options to wade through. “It helps to understand what your personal style is and then find the thrift store that matches with it,” says Himani Vijayran, co-founder of Delhi-based thrift store AAINA.
While this can seem daunting, we got some thrift store founders to spill the best tips on how to navigate the world of thrifting and always get the best out of it…
Keep Your Measurements Handy
“Always keep your measurements handy since a lot of the pieces are vintage. There is no standard sizing,” says Sabharwal. Since the products listed in these stores are often vintage or from brands that you might not necessarily wear on a regular basis, it’s important to be aware of your measurements so that you can pick the right size.
Do Your Research On Brands
If you’re going luxury vintage shopping, then it’s especially important for you to be aware of the brand and its history before buying. “Read up a little bit about what kind of symbols that brand uses. For instance, a lot of brands mark their products according to the year and season. So if it’s a Chanel item from the autumn of 1996, it would say ‘96A’,” reveals Mehek Agarwal, co-founder of Viange Vintage. “This will help you find authentic luxury vintage pieces for your collection.”
Ask For More Pictures
“Don’t be afraid to ask for more pictures of the product from different angles,” says Sabharwal. “This will help you check the product for any defects before purchasing it.” Vijayran reasserts the importance of asking for more pictures of the product you intend to buy, adding that it’s especially useful if you’re a beginner at thrifting and want assurance about the product. “Aside from damage, you can also check the product for cleanliness, especially if it’s a clothing item,” says Agarwal.
Don’t Shy Away From Asking Questions
It goes without saying that you need to ask as many questions as you have about the item you’re buying before completing the transaction, says Ashok. This is also helpful in weeding away any fake sites or scammers. Ask about the brand, where it has been sourced from, how it has been sourced, and whether or not it has been restored after being sourced or not. All this will give you a deeper understanding of the product.
Don’t Buy It Just Because It’s Cheap
“Buy only what you need,” says Sabharwal. If you carelessly purchase something you’re not one hundred percent sure about, then you risk crowding your closet with unnecessary items that you would discard after some time. This defeats the purpose of making sustainable fashion choices. You could also be robbing someone else off a chance to own something that they might love and cherish. So be mindful of your choices while thrifting.
Invest Enough Time
While it saves a lot of money and, potentially, the environment, thrifting can cost you a lot of time. Doing extensive research on the brand and sifting through items to find ones that you really need can take time. So before you start thrifting, be aware that you might need to invest a lot of time in it. “If you’re going for a luxury vintage item from a high-end brand, especially jewellery, then you need to be patient and look for a piece that is perfect for you,” says Agarwal.
Thrift shopping is a great way to be sustainable with fashion and it’s heartening to see it slowly gain popularity in the country. Just follow these handy tips to get the best out of your thrift shopping experience.