Thrifting – An Art

Thrifting – An Art

Thrifting is an art. Whether it’s the search for summer sizzlers or winter warmers, it’s an activity that became popular amongst Gen Z (and now beyond) in the past few of years. Essentially, thrifting is buying gently loved clothing from at flea markets and such places at a discounted price. You should try it – often, you’ll find high-end and vintage clothing for much lower and affordable prices. In the past, the idea of buying second-hand clothing carried the taboo of uncleanliness and poverty. However, the rise of middle and upper-class consumers who have switched and begun thrifting, and have contributed their amazing no-longer-worn collections to the mix, has prompted this once unpleasantly-seen activity to become a widely-accepted and lucrative (for your wallet and wardrobe) trend.

No doubt, the idea of thrifting as a go-to option for clothes amongst the wider public was started by teens or members of Gen Z. Research shows that Gen Z consumers believe that companies have a responsibility to address environmental and social issues. In particular, clothing companies are targets of this, especially those considered fast fashion, which contribute largely to clothing waste and pollution. As a result, thrifting has become an eco-conscious method of shopping for clothes, while still being able to keep up with fashion trends (especially with the recent popularity of vintage fashion). Ultimately, the switch to thrift shopping can be attributed to wanting to make a difference in the fight against climate change and the increasing pressure to stay up-to-date with social media trends.

It is evident that gently loved clothing shopping is an ideal activity to help our environment. But it’s also important that thrifters who are thrifting as a privilege and not a necessity can do it consciously, in order to help the environment and not put anyone else at a disadvantage. Here are 3 main strategies to ensure you are thrifting consciously this chilly season:

  1. Don’t do huge hauls: shop mindfully and only purchase items that you know you will love to wear. Buying massive amounts of clothes undermines the real reason people thrift in the first place—to shop ethically and eliminate the cycle of disposable fashion.

  2. Choose your thrift venues wisely: look for vintage markets or thrift outlets in your local areas that are often there for the purpose of thrifting as a hobby and to help with your wardrobe overhaul bottom line.

  3. Only buy if finding the outfits makes you feel good (ethically) and adds to the ‘you’ you want to portray. Have a look through your wardrobe and determine where the gaps are – only buy to fill those gaps so you don’t find yourself with an overloaded wardrobe; having bought on a whim and after the shopping high fades, you realise you need to onsell (or heaven-forbid, dump); or overwhelmed. A well choreographed (or a capsule) wardrobe is surprisingly easy to manage on those busy mornings!

Extracted from an article by Asima Hudani (Oct 2020)


2020: A reset the fast-fashion industry needed

2020: A reset the fast-fashion industry needed

What’s been happening since March 2020 in the world of clothing…and where to from here?

Let’s start with the time of social isolation. Pyjamas bottoms were a go-to look. Many a zoom attendee admitted that while the top seen on screen was smart, the bottoms off-screen were PJs. Comfort was what we craved, and it was great for our wellbeing. We still shopped online, with some brands reporting up to an 80% increase on normal sales. But what we bought reflected our new reality. We wanted to pamper ourselves.  Shoppers ordered cosy pyjamas and slippers. The e-tailer also saw increases in relaxed activewear and effortless pieces that have been comfortable to wear around home, from loose pants to hoodies.

But what’s happening as we transition back into the world beyond WFH? Will we pick up the sort of shopping habits that we did before – that drove buyers to purchase 80 billion garments a year? Or will that I-need-a-new-dress-for-Friday-night thing, the shopping-for-entertainment thing, the idea of an “It” bag or a “must have” feel frivolous, unimportant, and unnecessary? It seems investment items will be high on the list, whether a great coat, a pair of timeless boots or a statement piece. It’s now about access to beauty, longevity, integrity and things that are meaningful.

The question is, how do we invest in better pieces with tighter budgets? The economic slowdown is affecting our wallets. The answer, is it’s now very chic to repeat! With all the time we had on our hands, we got to survey what we owned, and put it back into circulation – in our lives, or someone else’s life. Imagine the collections coming your way!

If you haven’t already, think about smartly whittling down what’s in your wardrobe, keep what you cherish, and move on what you’re ready to part with. The notion of wearing something only a few times is old-fashioned, and it’s clear in everyone’s consciousnesses that purchases should have a longer life. It makes sense to spend more on a quality classic, unique piece that works with much of your wardrobe, than on the one-occasion dress. The dollar per wear wants to be low. The new context is: wardrobe curation replaces trends.

As we all know, clothing can bring pleasure, but it shouldn’t be a passing moment of pleasure, it’s time to make more memories in the things we own.

There has been a “quarantine of consumption”. And, the big realisation has been that we need much less than we ever thought we did, and we need to think harder about what we do consume — including what we wear. We’re not even halfway through 2020, but the new decade has so far demanded a radical and urgent rethink of how fashion is manufactured and consumed. Ambitious efforts to tackle waste, from renting clothes to shopping sustainable labels only, were already driving change pre-COVID19, but this reset has been the waste-conscious wake-up call we’d all been waiting for.

Fashion was broken even before the pandemic, and a reboot is just what it needs. They say, fashion, as a business, has been an unsustainable lie. Not all of it, but much of it. It didn’t start that way, but observers say that’s what it ultimately became. It’s been an industry of smoke and mirrors, where, for years, designers spun whimsical garments to tantalise the imagination that mostly didn’t sell. It was their more pragmatic styles that did. Bricks-and-mortar retailers opened outlet after outlet, and e-commerce expanded its reach, all while discounting merchandise that customers refused to buy until it was discounted even more, because…

Most everyone had learned to shop by the mantra: Never pay full price.

Now, for so many domino-effect reasons, the fashion cycle has come to an abrupt halt and the industry is trying to work out what needs to be discarded and what can be salvaged. Some big-picture remedies under consideration include reducing the number of runway shows and the volume of clothing that’s produced, delivering garments to stores in-season rather than months early, marking down merchandise only twice a year and even abolishing the discounting feeding frenzy of Black Friday.

What’s been happening in Australia? The Australian fast-fashion industry has inevitably been hit by COVID19, forcing it to look at a slower future. The crisis struck at a time of growing concern about the environmental impact of fast-fashion and Australian designers were already up against lower consumer spending. And, this change has required a fast-fashion re-think – a reset. Besides consumers reducing their shopping activity due to social distancing, negative consumer sentiment and declining discretionary incomes are discouraging them from spending, even online.

The fast-fashion industry is struggling. This was shown in the results of a survey released recently by the industry’s peak body, the Australian Fashion Council (AFC). AFC found only 1 in 3 of its members was confident of riding out the COVID19 shutdowns, and 84% had been left with excess stock.

The AFC represents 182 companies (boutique to high-end design houses), and it found 43% said they were not confident they’d rebound financially, 34% were confident they would bounce back, and the remaining 23% were certain they would never recover.

So, what will this wake-up call look like in terms of clothing? Many labels are poised to embrace seasonless collections, and for a generation who have prioritised low-cost secondhand clothes over low-cost new clothes, modern fashion’s clock has been beautifully scrambled.

All those variations on vintage themes on social media, from ’80s silk scarves worn as tops, home-knitted cardigans, and the return of the flared jeans, mean fashion trends are far more abstract. In reality, the blend of meaningful handmade and hand-me-down pieces, alongside considered quality preloved purchases, offers a future where individual curation carries more weight than any must-wear trend. When markets get to reopen, it’s going to be a fabulous time for preloved clothing shoppers!

A magical mash of articles by: #getyourgreens BY Dana Thomas April 2020; Michaela Boland and Mary Lloyd April 2020; Julia Hobbs May 2020; and Robin Givhan June 2020


The good, bad and ugly of preloved shopping

The good, bad and ugly of preloved shopping

Sort the good from the bad and ugly when buying secondhand and preloved clothes with this handful of fast tips:

1. Pick your time. A change of season is when people usually have a clean out of their wardrobes – there are generally great bargains to be had. You’ll also find some terrific bargains at clothing markets by visiting an hour before everyone starts packing up. Stallholders don’t want to take their clothes home with them! And, on days with inclement weather, or on blistering hot summer days, stallholders don’t want to lug their collections back to their cars so are likely to be more open to negotiation and can offer (like 3 for 2… etc) great deals!

2. Pick your area. On the one hand, out-of-town community markets may have particularly good bargains, whilst at city markets near more affluent suburbs you might just find some amazing designer or ordinarily-too-expensive-to-justify labels going for a song.

3. Think outside the box. Find out what’s happening in your area. Pick up clothes from fetes, garage sales, op shops, consignment shops, car boot sales, vintage shops, clothing markets, and swaps and friends. 

4. Scan. If you get overwhelmed with the quantity of collections and stalls, try scanning. Know what piece is missing from your wardrobe and look for that black fitted T or infinity scarf. Focus on finding particular colours that you know suit you or patterns and fabrics that pop. This way you’ll get to traverse a market more quickly and effectively.

5. Buy it right, buy it once. Having an eye for quality is key to scoring great unique pieces. A classic designer trench, tweed jacket or handbag may be something you can’t afford new, but it will always be in style. Apply the thought… ‘I’m too poor to buy cheap’.

6. Take style risks. If there is a new trend you’ve been eyeing but not sure if it’s you, buying it secondhand is the perfect way to give it a go.

7. Don’t be afraid to haggle. Most stallholders at markets just want to see a little money back from their initial investment; this puts you in the perfect place to have some convivial fun haggling. This form of haggling is usually reserved for markets. Bargain with a smile yields the most successful results, but don’t start too low.

8. Go with an open mind. If you don’t mind the slow wander and the market’s open for a few hours (and you’ve nowhere to be in a hurry) keep your options open and don’t be specific about what you’re hunting for – you’ll likely find gems.

9. Prepare to rummage. If you have the time, have patience. There’s so much fun in rummaging through over-stuffed racks and bargain baskets. Look for fabrics that catch your eye.

10. One in, one out. When you buy something new, pass on a no-longer-loved piece – simple as that.

11. Always try it on. Sizes vary widely between brands and eras, and the label won’t always tell you what you want to know. If it looks like it fits, give it a try.

12. Inspect it. Missing buttons or a small tear can be tidied up. If that’s not for you, though don’t be tempted unless it a must-have piece. There are local seamstresses that will do their magic even if it adds a few dollars to the bargain. It’s likely to be well worth it in the long run.

13. Upcycle it. Seen something amazing that you can’t live without, take it to a local seamstress and they’ll revitalise it to create your unique piece. It’ll most probably still be much cheaper than buying the piece new.

14. Look for vintage. Clothing from the 60s and 70s hold their value and were often well made. You can release your inner wild hippy or stick to classics. They’re great for onselling too once you’ve had your fun!

15. Go online. Facebook buy/sell groups, eBay and Gumtree are fertile ground for secondhand clothing.

16. Get clothes swapping. A group of friends, a bottle of bubbles or two and a bit of a laugh…perfect for a clothes swap. Bring all the clothes you haven’t worn in a while and use this as your currency or collateral to swap for someone else’s unwanteds. Anything left can be donated or sold at a market stall.

Adapted from an article by Penelope Quinn, Lifestyle.


Should you buy preloved or ethically made?

Should you buy preloved or ethically made?

When you shop secondhand, you’re doing a great thing because you’re diverting clothing from landfill, using up resources that are already available, giving a garment another life and decreasing the demand for fast-fashion. But the thing is, says Kate Hall, of EthicallyKate, secondhand shopping relies on other people to buy fast fashion. She suggests that if you ask yourself when op-shopping ‘what if everyone was living life like this, would it be sustainable?’, the answer is likely to be no.

There’s no doubting the many positives of buying and selling preloved clothes and this is often more practical than buying 100% ethically made clothing (although it may depend on where you live). Apps like Good On You can help you find what you’re looking for in Australia. If you’re struggling with your conscience though, Kate Hall uses the analogy of traffic lights when shopping. Op-shopping is orange fashion, or fashion neutral.Then there’s green fashion which is buying ethical clothing. This is clothing designed and made mindfully with minimal negative impact on people and the planet. If you go this way, you have the power through your buying choices to encourage a greater demand for ethically made garments. Ethical fashion companies also often tend to trade differently to those in fast fashion, meaning the ‘ethicalness’ is not just about the clothes; they may release only one collection per year, instead of one per week; and they might donate a certain percent of profits to charity.

What is red fashion in this analogy? Well, naturally, it’s fast fashion.

So when it comes to keeping your conscience in tact when going for a shop, what do you do? Easy, you get your preloved-shopping fix by shopping orange fashion. Then, add-in whenever you can, and the prices aren’t prohibitive, your ethical green fashion to supplement your basics wardrobe.

Staying in the orange light of fashion is a happy place to be and not unreasonable, and if you choose to do this 100% of the time, it’s great because you’re avoiding the red fashion zone! No matter where your ethics lie, Kate suggests that the next time you want to buy a garment, ask yourself a few things to keep in the slow lane.

  1. Do I need it?
  2. Will I wear it 30 times or more?
  3. Can I buy this at an op-shop or preloved clothing market?
  4. Does my budget allow me to invest in green fashion right now?
  5. What is my traffic light balance, and am I happy with where it is?


Stress-Free Market Day

Stress-Free Market Day

You’ve decided what items of clothing, shoes, accessories, and so on, to move on. Fantastic – that will feel quite cathartic. The next step is to ensure your transition to stall is smooth (aka stress-free) and doesn’t undo all the great feelings that come with having made some amazing progress.

The difference between a smooth bump in or a struggle-start can affect how you feel as the market doors open on your big day.

Over the years, I’ve observed stallholders arriving at market venues and setting up. I’ve also been that person myself on countless occasions. It’s fabulous to watch as stallholders create their space, their collections coming to life with colour, texture and frivolity. But it can also be painful to see some struggle, traipsing multiple times to and fro from their cars – weighed down with an eclectic mix of stuffed bags, random items, boxes, and bits and bobs piled high in their arms. No rhyme or reason to the whole affair. Why does it matter, one may ask? It can.

The difference between a smooth bump in or a struggle-start can affect how you feel as the market doors open on your big day. If you’re exhausted and feeling under the pump before the day kicks off, or you feel like your stall’s not quite ready as the doors open, this invariably shows on your face.  It can also have you not coping with the small hiccups (realistically, there are bound to be a couple). And, this can then go on to affect your market experience – which is a shame, as your market day ought to be great fun! There’s absolutely no need to spin out of control.

So, how do you breeze through to market day setup like a pro?
It’s tempting to start off with the usual and irritatingly obvious first tip – Be Prepared! But I won’t because this may mean very little and can be equally stress-inducing if you don’t quite know where to begin.

One:Taming your pile of clothes
Hang as many clothes as possible. Choose hangers that won’t let your clothes slide off in transit. Displaying quality items on a rack is appreciated by shoppers who want to see what you’ve got at a glance.

If you are selling items at individual prices, label everything before the day. Your customers will generally be more comfortable knowing the price without needing to ask. This also gives them a starting point to bargain with you. Choose labels that are least likely to fall off or come unstuck in transit. Safety pins and jute through hole-punched cardboard works wonders.

If you’re hanging clothes in price brackets, tie grouped hangers together or place each group in the car so they’re easily identifiable at your destination. Make your signage at home so it’s one less thing to have to prepare before the doors open.

Sort loose items into $5, $10 and $15 lots (or whatever prices work for you). Again, prepare any and all signage at home.

Place these items into individual containers – ideally whatever you’re going to display them in on the day. Or, if they’re being displayed on a table, place them in individually marked containers ready to unpack efficiently.
Look cool, calm and collected (even if you don’t feel it)!

Two: Getting clothes from A to B
a) Clothes on hangers can be placed in a suitcase or simply laid in the back of a car (wrap in cloth such as a sheet to protect if necessary)
b) Place containers of other items in next, and to one side if possible.
c) Locate your rack, table and props in the car so they’re first out.

Three: The 30-minute setup
Check in with the market organiser and find your spot. Whilst you’ll have selected your stall off the venue floor plan and may know roughly where it is, it’s advisable to check in just in case it’s been moved for any reason and you want to avoid wasting energy moving your gear from place to place! Your name will be on the chair in your space.

Unload and set up your rack, table and props first. If you need to move a car away from the venue straightaway, set up racks as you bring them in and then hang all your clothes straight onto the racks (in price groupings if that’s how they’re sorted) as part of the unloading. This avoids double handling. Finally bring in your boxes of accessories, etc.

Now have some fun shifting your props around in your spot until you feel you’ve made the best use of your space whilst being mindful of, and even complementing, your neighbours’ display.

If accessories etc are in pre-labelled containers display them ready to go. If not, place containers to one side (such as under your table) for now. Remember that preloved clothing markets are primarily about the clothing so think an 80:20 or 90:10 ration of clothing to accessories.

If you are grouping your hung clothes into price brackets, do this now if you couldn’t earlier and attach your previously made signage, accordingly.

If all your hung clothes are labelled, they’re done and ready for market opening. Now relax…you’re in control and looking ready.

Make sure your money belt is on and full of some coinage. You want to be well ready to accept those sales!

Four: The home straight
The last bit can be done at your leisure and it won’t matter too much if the market opens and shoppers are looking because they have a fab rack of labelled items to check out already, and possibly self-explained containers on tables to rummage through.Give yourself a mental high-five as you’re all set with change in your money belt and looking cool, calm and collected!

If you’re unpacking loose items do this now, and place related signage as you go.

Five: Finishing touches
Finally, have fun dressing your props (mannequin etc.) and laying out smaller items like jewellery, shoes, belts, bags and hats.

This can all take less that 30 minutes. Believe me, I’ve got it down to 20, tops!