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New Fashion, Used Clothes: The Rise of Thrifting

Elia Park, Grade 9, Staff Writer


Thrifting, a facet of trending content on social media, has become increasingly popular in Generation Z. Quality clothing, accessories, and even furniture can be purchased for a discounted price second-hand.

Thrift and second-hand stores were originally invented to raise money for impoverished people, as well as provide assistance to those who may not be able to afford quality goods elsewhere. Though people of any socioeconomic background are free to shop at stores, the target market is lower-income families.

Following the rise of social media and fashion microtrends, thrifting has become popular as a way to sustainably shop without buying into fast fashion.

At least 85% of clothing in the United States ends up in landfills or burned, while clothes that are donated to thrift stores are recycled and reused. The production of clothing also involves water waste and the use of dangerous pesticides that contribute to carbon pollution.

The positive effect of thrifting on the environment in previous years is undeniably extremely viable, but the rise of social media influencers is undermining its sustainability.

Many wealthy influencers have come under fire recently for posting videos of excessive thrifting hauls and second-hand consumption due to the items’ cheap price, which encourages their followers to do the same.

Students at the High School of American Studies have conflicted thoughts on the issue. 9th grader Aiden Castro says, “It’s good because the clothes can be recycled, but at the same time, people who are more financially stable shop there, especially in bulk. It may be taken away from someone who actually needs it.”

Increasing numbers of second-hand shoppers have overshadowed the prior motive of alleviating environmental issues, and thrifting has just become another way of creating waste.

Shorter trend cycles propagated by social media have increased the amount of fast fashion brands that end up in the stores as people over consume fast fashion clothes to keep up with trending styles and discard them to thrift stores as they go out of style, leaving those in poverty with items of lesser quality.

Hundreds and even thousands of dollars worth of brands like Zara and H&M come up in influencer thrifting hauls, contributing to overconsumption.

Increases in donations of fast fashion to thrift stores also means that workers have to sort through and organize more clothes to their designated area. This requires both more time and more workers needed, while also paying each one enough for their services.

The rush of “rookie” thrifters has also encouraged thrift stores to raise their prices. More and more underprivileged people are finding it harder to afford good condition or desirable items at thrift stores, defeating the initial purpose of their creation.

Though thrifting is still environmentally beneficial, these negative repercussions should not go unnoticed. If people are able to control how much they consume, thrift stores may be able to gain back their reputable status.

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