Until recently, the thought of vintage clothes reminded me of being an awkward teenager. Oh, those fragile years in middle and high school, spent desperately trying to both fit in and stand out from the crowd. I used fashion as a way to establish my identity, and just like my identity at that time – my fashion choices were a bit all over the place. Vintage shopping back then usually involved a lot of plaid, paisley, and studded leather. Not to mention terrible haircuts and heavy eyeliner to match.
While my style as an angsty teen might’ve missed the mark a bit, it was during this time I fell in love with the act of rummaging through dusty clothing racks, bins, and garage sales for one-of-a-kind treasures, a love that has followed me through to this day. It was a pastime I lost touch with for several years until a recent rekindling brought it back into my life. I took a break from thrifting for most of my twenties for the very reason that it reminded me of being that blundering, insecure girl. Plus, the vintage clothes I was rocking back then were just not chic, let’s be honest.
It wasn’t until I noticed some of my favorite bloggers starting to showcase insanely cool vintage looks about a year ago, coupled with some pretty scary discoveries about the fashion industry, that I really started opening up to the idea of thrifting again. It didn’t take long for me to realize that vintage is oh-so back, but in a much more sophisticated and purposeful way.
Now, I’m hardly an exemplary eco-warrior. I travel by air often, I don’t always say no to single-use plastics (I know, I’m working on it!), I have partnered with fast-fashion companies, and as an Angeleno, I drive a lot. But as someone whose heart and career is in the fashion industry, it’s really difficult to be faced with the undeniable harm that it can have on society and the environment. As someone who doesn’t strive to be perfectly zero waste (have you heard of the girl who produced only a mason jar of trash in 2 years??), but absolutely desires to do more, I’ve realized that I need to make better choices when it comes to my shopping habits. I love Zara just as much as the next fashionista (I mean hello, I’m wearing the infamous 2019 white sandals here), but my goal is to be more intentional about my purchases. Less impulse buys, more investing in pieces that ‘spark joy’, things that I know will be loved for years and worn a million different ways.
Here are some scary statistics to consider:
-1 garbage truck full of clothes are burned or landfilled every second, enough to fill 1.5 empire state buildings every day.
-It takes 2,700 liters of water to produce one cotton t-shirt, enough for one person to drink for 2.5 years.
-Making a single pair of jeans emits as much greenhouse gases as driving a car more than 80 miles.
-Primarily female garment workers in Bangladesh make about $96 per month, while they need about 3.5 times that in order to afford a decent life with basic necessities.
-The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of the carbon footprint of the world, as well as being the second greatest polluter of local freshwater in the world(source).
In contrast, there are many benefits to buying second-hand clothing:
-Reusing clothes helps to prevent new C02 emissions, water usage, and waste because the clothes have already been manufactured.
-Pollution due to transportation is reduced, as the clothes are more likely to be sourced locally.
-It’s easier to see where your money is going by paying charities or owners directly for your items, rather than large corporations who may have sketchy manufacturing practices.
-Plus, I feel that the quality of vintage items is just better! If they were made before the early 2000s, the pieces were less likely to be mass-produced with lightning-fast turnaround (meaning better materials), and if they’ve made it through several decades and into your hands, they have probably been well cared for.
So lately, my absolute best friends have been Etsy, Depop, Poshmark, and good ‘ol local thrift stores. Plus, I love shopping with brands like Reformation that are committed to reducing their negative impact on workers and the environment. The more we support sustainable and responsible brands, the more pressure there will be on others to follow suit. In my opinion, it’s not about being perfect, and I hardly plan on transitioning my entire wardrobe over to vintage items. I’m sure you’ll still be seeing a few Zara must-haves on this blog in the future. But if we can do more to lessen our footprint and to improve the industry, why not? Would you guys like a post on how I find and choose my vintage? Let me know!
Dress | Vintage from Etsy
Heels | Zara
Bangle | The Gild Jewelry
Photos by Gabriel Bienczycki