Do you get excited about piles of clothes just waiting to be rummaged through? Does the smell of mothballs get you just the tiniest bit excited? Are you constantly on the hunt for bargains and can’t fathom paying full price at commercial shops? Or are you perhaps interested in reducing the amount of clothing and other variables that go to waste every year, due to big industries tapping into consumer culture? If you answered yes (or in internet culture, made a metaphorical nod with your head) then you’re ready for some no-holds-barred, hardcore thrifting tips and tricks.
The rise of the thrift
Whether Macklemore’s catchy tune started the movement or not, thrifting is growing exponentially. The World Economic Forum reports that the “second-hand clothes market in the United States has grown 21 times faster than retail sales of new clothing over the past three years [with] it’s current worth in the region of $24 billion”. Where previously there was a noticeable stigma attached to buying and wearing someone’s pre-loved clothes, it has now been normalised to the point where so-called “thrifting vloggers” take up a significant portion of YouTube content.
The apparent general adoption and mainstream acceptance of thrifting, however, is focused almost solely in Northern America with chain stores like Goodwill, Savers and Value Village growing in numbers, and therefore, in popularity. Most cities in the US and Canada now have at least one thrift store per suburb. Shops look and function like normal retail stores, further separating the “second-hand” part from commercial retail. Unfortunately for us in South Africa, this norm has not been established with “thrift stores” operating as charity, vintage, or online stores.
The where, how and why
I started buying second-hand when I realised that the Pinterest looks I want to emulate are more complex than merely walking into my nearest Cotton On. And while my budget was tight, my unwillingness to spend R250 or more on any item of clothing was stronger. Over the past 6 years, as my style has changed and my resources have doubled, I’ve learned quite a bit about thrifting. The real fun, however, started when I realised the massive possibilities in thrifting home decor. As my style is quite eclectic, my local charity shops filled with old framed cross-stitch works and ceramic mugs became a literal gold mine.
While we don’t have the “luxury” of Goodwill or Saver’s chain stores, South Africa has quite a bit to offer in terms of thrifting opportunities. This series will seek to provide useful insights in where, how, and most importantly, why, you should buy second hand, pre-loved, or vintage. I aim to update the lists regularly when I find new gems and discover new spots.
Read the first installment here.