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Over the last few weeks I’ve been investing in a few more second hand clothing items and I wanted to share them – buying second hand clothing is something I’ve been committing to more and more over the last 10 years so this is a little dive into how and why I do!
Adding these new pieces
After a 2020 summer not leaving home and another summer very pregnant, as we came into summer 2022 I wanted a few more pieces to make my wardrobe feel more alive. I try to move really slowly on buying new things and first to work with what I have and realise how much I don’t need. Trends in society tell us we need more things to be current and stylish, and it’s really hard to not buy into that – but mostly my goal is to say no to buying.
All of the pieces I added for summer/fall 2022 came from the app Vinted (a second hand resale app in the US and UK), used from eBay, or charity shops. When I’m searching resale apps/sites I search for brands I know and love in the ethical space, and I watch and wait. The other side of second hand shopping from the more positive eco and human impact is it being a lot cheaper – and shopping slowly lets me get the best prices. I watch, wait, check sizes, think about what each new piece would go with, and wait! When I’m looking for anything new second hand I try to spend a few minutes every day or other day seeing what’s available to get the best deals.
My Shopping Goals
When I do shop for clothes my goal is to buy minimally, to buy things that will last (both in how they’re made and in style) and also to shop pieces that are already in circulation. If I can’t buy second hand I either buy ethically created (there’s a list of my faves HERE), or I find a way to not need that thing.
My need for new clothes is not greater than the needs of planet and people to be treated right. That’s my constant mantra to myself and a value I’ve developed really strongly over the last decade of changing my shopping.
Choosing ethical options for second hand (and when I don’t.)
When I first shopped second hand I took used clothes as a pass on looking at where things had come from. In some respects I think it is in that if something is already in circulation, it doesn’t so much matter where it comes from as that its life is extended. According to the The Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF), increasing a clothing item’s lifetime by just nine months decreases its environmental impact by 30-40%. They have also shown that we wear clothing items 40% less than ten years ago. Increasing resale alone won’t change this problem, we need a shift in what we buy and how we embrace fashion and changing style. Which is why detaching from seasonal style is my first move.
Navigating the increase in second hand clothing
Second hand clothes are making up more and more of the market: the Boston Consulting Group reported second-hand clothes are projected to make up 27% of customers’ wardrobes by 2023 which in one sense is good. But as we trend towards buying more items on a lower budget as a society, the other side of this statistic is the increased buying and resale of fast fashion. I don’t want my more carefree purchasing of unethical fashion brands second hand to fuel and spur on the buying of more pieces of the same high negative impact clothing. With the high turnover of clothing items, I know a lot of people sell to fund buying more. So especially when I’m buying from resale apps, I’m careful to buy only brands I’d also buy new.
When I’m shopping in a charity shop, I’m a little less careful. I do want clothes that will wear well and wash well, but they have been passed on with no money going to the prior owner so my take it that they are less likely to be fuelling a seasonal fast fashion buying frenzy.