Best Places To Find Used Clothing: a Trend or the Best Option for Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainable Warriors 2021-06-06 11 min

Second Hand Clothing, Used Clothing Stores and Vintage are becoming everyday terms in the Sustainable Fashion world. But, why? Is it a trend? Or is it the best option for those you love fashion items but are truly aware of consumerism? In this article you will learn how to find the best places for used clothing. You can also read What is 'Sustainable Fashion', and why is it important?

When we think about trends we suddenly think about seasonal colors palette, particular patterns and even certain kinds of fabrics. Fashion magazines for many decades have been concerned about delivering the ultimate trends, and fashionist also concerned about following them.

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Printed used shirts.

But, what trends truly are? According to the Oxford Dictionary a trend is “a general direction in which something is developing or changing”. It is a term commonly used in fashion, due to the fact that fashion is naturally in the loop on change. Fashion as an industry, a system and a social and cultural phenomenon is constantly evolving, becoming newness and change. In fact, if we dive into the definition of “fashion” we would say it is “a popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behaviour”. Surely, fashion is closely related to the spirits of time and, because of that, in the loop of trends.

Then, is used clothing a trend? Let's say it can be considered a fashionable trend but also, and particularly preferred, the direction in which the world of fashion is looking for. More and more used clothing projects and used clothing stores are popping up all over the world and that must mean the real change in an industry. The fashion industry is sadly known as an expert in over production and consumerism.

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Used clothing store

Used clothing means a paradigmatic change: the manufacturing of new things is not considered anymore as the only option of the fashion system. There's who say that even if we stop manufacturing things today we have enough for the rest of the century. And although it sounds extreme, it is an opinion far from madness. However, stopping the wheel of this big industry in terms of manufacturing is also far from sustainability, meaning less work for many people in the world.

Surely, used clothing selling and consumption comes to join other paradigmatic changes in the world of fashion. Have you ever heard about slow fashion? And its similarities and differences with ethical fashion? Are you on the topic of circular economy? Is that applicable to fashion? Let´s see!

Slow Fashion

Slow fashion is more than a trend and a method, it is a way of thinking and conceiving fashion from a conscious, ethical and respectful attitude towards the environment, workers and consumers. Knowing its importance and transcendence as a production model is fundamental for the future of sustainable fashion. The concept of slow fashion appeared as a reaction to fast-fashion, placing itself on the opposite side of the mass production model that uses resources without measuring the social and environmental impact that each action generates. Thus, time, resources, inputs and labor force become more important through deceleration, making slow fashion a more empathetic and sensitive practice with the environment.

Upcycled Fashion

Upcycling is a key element of sustainable fashion. Mean the art of finding and revaluing those garments and textiles that have no use. It is the ability to generate something new and aesthetically beautiful from the discard of another. Undoubtedly, upcycling is more than a technique or methodology, it is an action and a strong message that sheds light on the problem of overproduction and textile waste generated by the fashion industry, especially fast-fashion. Although there's more and more upcycled brands, there is the possibility to upcycle our own garment after buying it in used clothing stores.

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Woman knitting.

Ethical Fashion

Ethical fashion is common to be used as a synonym of sustainable fashion or slow fashion. It is specially considered the kind of fashion that contemplates the people behind the fashion items. Artisanal brands that have a profound cultural and social background tend to use “ethical fashion” to name a type of conscious way of doing things.

Circular Economy

According to Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the circular economy is an attractive alternative that seeks to redefine what growth is, with an emphasis on the benefits for society as a whole. It involves decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and eliminating waste from the system by design. Backed by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model creates economic, natural and social capital and is based on three principles:

  • Eliminate waste and pollution by design
  • Keep products and materials in use
  • Regenerate natural systems

Circular Fashion

In that context, circular fashion includes upcycled fashion and new paradigms related to consuming in which used clothing has a really important place. This is because the used clothing alternative makes the life cycle of a piece of garment longer in new users hands or even in new manners of wearing the same items.

So, something tells me that used clothing is the tip of the thread. Just like our grannies used to do, repair old clothes, give them to someone else to wear as a new one and even tell the stories behind that garment are the new black.

Why is Wearing Used Clothing so Special?

Some people used to consider that wearing used clothing means cheap or old-fashioned. Fortunately, now-a-days there's plenty of used clothing stores that make second hand clothing a trendy and sustainable issue. Far from being something with a negative connotation, used clothing can mean a lot. Have you ever thought about how special wearing a piece of garment that other person has worn before is? Maybe your new favorite dress could have been the birthday gift of someone else, your warmest sweater could probably be the knit of someone's granny. Surely, pieces of cloth tell stories of the ones who were involved not only in the manufacturing of those garments but also of the ones who gave useful life to each fashion and textile item. Especially talking about used clothing.

Where can you Find Small (or Big) Treasures?

Treasure hunting can be developed in every place you decide finding gold it's an option. And surely, used clothing stores are places for that. As a seller you can make your useless items circulate. In the place of a buyer you can find vintage garments, second hand designs and even used clothing for sale.

Online sites for swapping, selling and buying

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Online shopping.
  1. In a world in which virtual life it's becoming mainstream, it's not weird to get to know there's a wide range of options for clothes swapping, selling and buying on the net. That's the case of thredUp, a platform that Emma Watson supports in which you can resale women’s and kids’ apparel, shoes, and accessories. They have the aim to inspire a new generation of shoppers to think secondhand clothes first.
  2. Another great option to find used clothing for sale is Etsy. The platform is well known as a place to sell and buy craft and unique items. It also has a particular section for vintage and many tags for used clothing. Commonly you will find basics in great condition and vintage clothes full of stories.
  3. Swap.com it's a platform where you can send your pre-owned, good quality items to their fulfillment center. They offer the opportunity of finding used garments for women, men, babies and kids items, including shoes and accessories. There's even a section for new arrivals and for clearance, just like in regular online and offline stores.
  4. Poshmark is an app that lets people shop from millions of sellers that are searching to offer their personal style and that curate looks for their shoppers. They say their strength is on the community that it is created for, allowing a fully connected shopping experience.
  5. Vestiaire collective is an online platform launched in 2009 in Paris and is now an international community composed of over 7 million fashion savvy members located in over 50 countries across Europe, the United States, Asia, and Australia. They carefully curate items that are included in a catalogue of extremely desirable garments that they receive and are expertly checked to ensure their quality and authenticity. You will find the most luxurious brands in the fashion world.
  6. The ASOS Marketplace platform offers products from small and independent brands all over the world, giving them an online space to sell vintage and independent fashion. Here you will find a mix of vintage pieces sourced by a global community of expert vintage boutiques and unique pieces designed and created by the cool brands.
  7. On the Tradesy platform I quickly understood what to do if I wanted to sell something from my wardrobe. Here, you will find luxury brands, contemporary brands and some special features. Brides looking for second hand wedding dresses will also find many options, an excellent alternative for a one used item. Also groomies can find the platform useful because you even have wedding rings to be circulated.
  8. Refashioner is a place to fall in love of vintage and used clothing. As soon as you access you will read “Loved clothes that tell a story. Best designer & exceptional vintage pieces from private collections”. So, if you are a vintage lover, a story lover or a romantic through textile, this is the place for you.
  9. More than 30 brands of all types of fashion are reunited in Grailed platform. There you are able to sell, buy and also read about used fashion. From sportswear basics to formal tailoring, an universe of second hand wearing that is worth diving into.
  10. If we talk about treasures, here they talk about “prizes”. In French the word "le prix" means "the prize". The platform LePrix.com aims to be the destination that allows people to shop the world's best consignment boutiques in one place, and find the "prize". LePrix.com offers exclusive access to carefully selected consignment and vintage boutiques around the world. Also they have developed a timeless collection together with designers. They offer a special recommendation service from their team in order to adapt the item you buy to your wardrobe. Also, authenticity is guaranteed and free shipping is promised on every order.
  11. The RealReal is an online and offline marketplace for authenticated luxury consignment. It is founded on the circular economy basis. This business sells consigned clothing, watches, fine jewelry, home decor and fine art. It has a big staff of specialists and experts including gemologists, art curators, horologists and luxury fashion authenticators who inspect items for authenticity and value. In a context in which big commercial stores are in breakdown, this kind of projects become market leaders.
  12. E-bay it is also an excellent option for those who are looking to selling and buying used clothes and are all over the world. If you are familiar with this popular marketplace you won't have any problem considering it as an alternative, also for fashion items.

Used Clothing Stores

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Hanged clothes at a store on the street.

Although favoritism by online shopping is evidence, there's still some old fashioned consumers that prefer getting in touch with what they are buying and treasuring. What's great about this kind of shop is that they not only sell used goods below their original prices, but also many of these businesses are associated with charities, which not only benefit their destinations, but customers as well, making thrifting a win-win situation for everyone. For those ones, here some offline options for used clothes for sale.

  1. America's Thrift Stores. Founded in 1984 in Alabama, the store is a fan-favorite flagship store and has 17 locations in Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. The store frequently updates its offerings of secondhand clothing, housewares and other curiosities you might be interested in.
  2. The Bee's Knees is located in a mural-covered building in Arizona and brings together a collection of vintage clothing and local artwork, all carefully selected. The Phoenix-based store is part of a larger artists' cooperative called The Hive. It won't be strange if you find some piece of art between vintage clothes!

  3. Goodwill Denver - Broadway. This thrift store in Denver, Colorado is clean and organized. It sells used clothing at reasonable prices and also has a small collection of vintage vinyl and books; however, the highlight is its men's clothing section. So, gentlemen, it's time to head out on an adventure to find treasures.

  4. Lost-n-Found Thrift Store. The store, in addition to clothing, also carries a vast selection of movies and books. Lost-n-Found Youth, a non-profit organization that focuses on LGTBQ+ youth in Atlanta, raises money through this thrift store. Let's remember that it's always important to help others whenever possible.

  5. Savers. At this Overland Park (Kansas) store, consumers can find a wide selection of clothing and toys. Savers store features exclusive discounts on Mondays for Super Savers Club card holders and on Tuesdays for customers 55 and older. It would be wise to take a look around before deciding if the card is worth purchasing to get the most bang for your buck.

Swapping Experiences

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Assorted-color apparels to swap.

Not only buying used clothes is the alternative to wearing used clothing. Have you ever heard about swap parties? The swap party concept arises to name the exchange or barter of clothes between people. And the possibility of renewing your closet without spending a single dollar is a very tempting idea, isn't it?

One way to do it in a fun and sustainable way is through swap parties, which are parties to exchange clothes, shoes and accessories that are in good condition. Note that old or broken items -that you don't want for yourself- are excluded from this type of swaps. That is to say, in a swap party only those garments that are in perfect condition and whose useful life can be extended. You can organize a swap party between friends, invite social groups that are not necessary friends and even organize it in your neighborhood.

So, if looking for a wardrobe renewal, now you have many options to choose where to look for new garments full of stories. Have you already chosen your favorite one?

Sustainable Warriors

Typewriter, earth warrior and curiosity lover.

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