Thrifting Through Vintage Tribulations

Flared jeans and platform shoes aren’t the only crazes coming back in style. Companies are fumbling trying to fit the latest trends into big brown boxes. The minute that these items hit the shelves, customers are entering the dressing rooms. This constant rush to increase supply to satisfy high demand has led to a modern phenomenon we know as fast fashion. 

Despite fast fashion climbing up to become one of the most prominent issues of today, many students fight this forthcoming wave of cheap, yet plentiful goods with the art of thrifting. 

“I didn’t realize that fast fashion was such a big thing and how much cotton it took to just make pants in general,” freshman Ariella Cruz said. 

Ariella Cruz and her thrifted outfit

Thrifting is a great way to ensure the reuse of clothing and to reduce the massive buildup of garbage in landfills. Furthermore, it also allows for people to use their creativity and model it in their own unique ways.

“I have just an obsession for like fashion and clothes,” junior Elissa Carl said.  “And I’m constantly just like, wanting to express myself through clothes and it’s easier because it’s cheaper.” 

This method of environmentally-friendly fashion is widely used to display the personalities of people all over the world, but especially in school.

Carl said, “When it comes to like thrifting with Comm kids, you can tell each one of them really picks up their clothes because it’s who they are, rather than it was cheap, or it was like quick and easy for them, which really helps people just express who they are more.”

An upcycled dress turned into a romper (Courtesy of Elissa Carl)

Companies are largely dependent on these differently-manipulated pieces of fabric, which pushes them to continue fulfilling their consumers’ wishes. In order to do this, these conglomerates will exploit workers. According to The Lowest Wage Challenge, less than 2% of the workers dedicated to earning money from producing clothes pocket a living wage. In order to make even larger profit, according to the Forbes article: Fashion Retailers Welcome The Rise In Clothing Prices But The Industry’s Recovery Remains Tenuous, the consumer price index for apparel has increased by 4.9% from June 2020 to June 2021.

“$60 per shirt is ridiculous,” Carl said, “when you can go thrifting and it’s like $5, as good quality, and you can like, make sure it’s up to your standards.” 

Not only are prices climbing, but so are the means used to make these pieces of clothing. 

According to a Jan. 12, 2022 article, the current supply chain crisis has led to an inflation in the price of goods by 7% in the past year in the US alone. In order to make sure they are still making profit, many business conglomerates and manufacturers are raising the prices of their products.

“I think it’s because with fast fashion you’re supporting something where they’re using child labor,”  junior Ivy Sazera said. “Whereas with thrifting, it’s better because you can support the environment and avoid fast fashion in a way.” 

A current upcycling project from pants to a skirt. (Courtesy of Elissa Carl)

Many people have started to realize that it’s very important to reuse items, rather than throw them away. Despite it being a cheaper option, the clothes people can find can be worn to create aesthetic and environmentally-friendly outfits. 

Contending with this fashion fiasco by rummaging through clothes isn’t a solution for everyone; there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives. Sewing is a great way to hone problem-solving skills, acquire a new forte, and to make one’s own clothing. This piéce de résistance is a great way for everyone to manipulate fabric to fit their own aesthetic without harming the environment and fully appreciate all of the labor that goes into making clothes.

“There’s so many people who spent so much work making things for something to just be thrown out and just be remade and remade and stuff like that, when you could actually take like time and appreciate a pair of jeans,” Cruz said. “And so obviously the person that had these before didn’t want them, so it doesn’t make sense to just throw them out as much as like you could recycle and reuse and it really helps the environment.”