Old is the new 'new'

Reason to thrift

Buying second-hand items is a very common practice.
Above all, many young people, especially students, adopt this solution in order to be able to afford a few treats without placing an exaggerated burden on their own or their parents' wallets. In fact, you can find beautiful clothes at extremely low prices and it’s even better for the planet, because you avoid contributing to the waste of fast fashion and the textile industry. You just need to know where to look and know the tricks, because the great thing about second hand is that you can find top quality garments as they were made before the advent of fast fashion!

There are many reasons to buy second-hand, but not all of them are valid for everyone. There is, however, one reason on which most of us will agree on, which is that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting in the world, and by recirculating our clothes - by buying, wearing and donating second-hand items - we can help reduce the demand for new clothes. And this in turn could help reduce the damage to our planet.

Below, we have decided to list a couple of good reasons that you should take into account when deciding to switch to second-hand.

Lower price

1. GET HIGH QUALITY PRODUCTS AT A LOWER PRICE

Some do it for ethics and some do it for the wallet, a more than valid motivation! Many people prefer to buy clothes, bags, furniture and books etc from second-hand shops. The reason is very simple: many brand new items, especially fast fashion clothes, are made of lower quality materials and sold at higher prices.

On the other hand, when you buy second-hand items, you can find rare and unique good quality items at affordable prices that are lower than if you bought them new.

Some second hand shops specialise in selling by the kilo, for example, you can buy 1 kilo of clothes for €15, which is usually the minimum you spend on a fast fashion t-shirt. If you choose 1 or 2 kilos of clothes consciously, you could revive your wardrobe with a few euros!

Isn’t it amazing?

2. YOU CAN FIND LUXURY BRANDS

There are several of luxury items in thrift and specially vintage shops just waiting for someone to rediscover them. You can often find high-end designer clothes and bags as well as a rare vintage or luxury objects or furniture that you will love, and still pay less than you would have paid for it at the time and less than you would pay for it new nowdays!

However, the difference between second-hand and vintage is not always obvious. Yes, of course vintage is also second-hand, but what distinguishes them?

Well, technically something is vintage if it is at least twenty years old, especially if it is recognisable and typical of a specific era, such as a high waist, boot-cuts, crochet lace tops, wedges, pearl earrings...(let's say iconic). Second hand, on the other hand, can also mean a bag that is also brand new.

Buying vintage can help us discover our own identity, precisely because we will be more inclined to mix clothes, accessories and styles from different historical periods; without following a precise fashion or trend, but instead creating our own, made up almost exclusively of unique pieces.

Vintage luxury
Vintage furniture

3. STANDING OUT WITH SOMETHING DIFFERENT, UNIQUE AND RARE

Imagine going to a party and discovering that you are wearing the same clothes as other people. The consumer society we live in induces in us needs and desires for unnecessary things that we buy just for the sake of buying something. This is what happens when you buy fast fashion.
You are not buying anything new and interesting, you are buying a trend that will go out of fashion in a few months.

When you buy in second-hand and vintage shops, you can discover unique items that you’ll love, and that’s one of the best things about shopping for second-hand clothes, that is to say: the opportunities it provides to discover rare, if not unique items that no one else has. Part of the fun is in the hunt, searching through one-of-a-kind items until you find the perfect one for you! Buying second hand fashion will help you add a unique twist to your wardrobe rather than having hangers filled with the same fast fashion items that everyone else is wearing.

And who knows, maybe in some time it will be a trend again! Just think of low-rise jeans that went out of fashion years ago and are now coming back!

This is also a great way to find your personal style because you may have to try out different styles that embrace past trends. For those skilled with a sewing machine or who are feeling particularly creative, used clothes can be a great basis for upcycling projects to give these pre-loved items a new life.

4. TAKE PART TO CIRCULAR (FASHION) ECONOMY

Often, the feeling that an object is no longer good and should be replaced is not dictated by actual wear and tear but by the desire to own a new model on the market. This is because, in the linear economy, a product is created to be consumed and then thrown away as waste. In the circular economy, on the other hand, each product is conceived and designed to last as long as possible, which, for example, allows it to be traded, resold, shared, repaired.

Buying second-hand means choosing circular and environmentally sustainable purchases. Second-hand does not affect the consumption of resources needed to produce new items. In this way, you extend the life cycle of that garment or product, which is an incredible way to save the Planet's precious (and not infinite) resources.

Circular economy
Progetto senza titolo 1

5. REDUCES ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION, SAVES RESOURCES AND DOES NOT EXPLOIT WORKERS

The impact that fast fashion has on our planet and on the lives of the workers who produce it is now well known. Yet someone always overlooks it, so we would like to remind you once again!

When we buy something we have to remember that no one should pay what we do not pay, neither the people nor our planet. And we must be aware that modern slavery is not a job!

As we already mentioned in our previous article ‘the Fashion Industry is the second most polluting industry right behind the oil industry.’

  • Climate: According to the Fashion on climate report (McKinsey), the fashion industry was responsible for 4% of global emissions in 2018 and approximately 70% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the initial stages: fibre production, yarn preparation and processing. These operations require enormous amounts of energy. In addition, the high demand for fast fashion has also increased the manufacture of fibres of fossil origin, such as polyester, nylon and acrylic. According to stand.earth in the Fossil-Free Fashion Scorecard report, the production of these synthetic fibres accounts for 15 to 20% of the fashion industry's climate emissions.
Atacama
  • Waste: Regarding the issue of waste, we mentioned in our previous article that the waste problem arises from the fact that ‘clothing has become a highly disposable product. Since synthetic fabrics such as polyester can take up to 200 years to decompose, only 15% is donated or recycled. Thus, most waste ends up in landfills or incinerated.’
  • Water consumption and pollution: To manufacture a single cotton T-shirt requires 2,700 litres of fresh water, a volume equal to what a person would have to drink in two and a half years! Not to mention that washing synthetic garments releases 0.5 million tonnes of microfibres into the seas each year. A single load of polyester laundry, for example, can result in the release of 700,000 microplastic fibres which, as science has already shown, can end up in the food chain and consequently, in our organisms.

And maybe you will ask yourself: so what? Even the clothes I find in the thrift shop have undergone the same manufacture.

True. But the clothes you find in a second-hand shop have already been manufactured, transported and sold to a first customer. By giving them a second chance, you prevent a new garment from undergoing a new production cycle. Remember that the lower the demand for fast fashion is, the lower the production and sales will also be.

Microplastics
Sustainable cloth

We have given you five good reasons to start (or at least consider) the circular second-hand market.

However, we would like to remind you that the most sustainable purchase remains the conscious one, as any purchase (yes, even second-hand) becomes unsustainable when one impulsively buys every season a large quantity of garments that will never be worn.

So even in the case of pre-loved item shopping, it is important to buy no more than you really need!

Dalila Ferrari

Born in Brazil, Dalila has Italian origins and lived most of her life in Italy before moving to Ghent as an ESC international volunteer last October.

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