The weight of thrifting

Thrift shopping has increased as a trend, but the recent uptick may be pushing out those who depend on affordable fashion.

Opinion by Jasmine Alejandre, Special to the Star

Shoppers explore the eclectic items for sale at Hidden Treasures, a vintage clothing store in Topanga, California that features couture clothing, accessories and more. (Photo by Margarita Garushyan/The Valley Star)

Thrifting is a new trend among teenagers that is helping combat climate change, but it is also hurting low-income families.

Thanks to social media and its influencers, many teenagers are now choosing to buy second-hand clothing. They argue, buying second-hand clothing is less expensive, and it helps the planet. A win-win. Not so fast. As this trend increases, many low-income communities have noticed that prices at their local thrift stores have increased.

“The reasons people thrift is endless, but the intentions should not be to romanticize poverty. That’s not cool,” said Andy Diaz from The Stanford Daily, a website that reports on culture for the younger generation.

The thrifting sensation has taken over the industry. This phenomenon is most popular among teenagers and college students. They find themselves buying secondhand clothing, instead of shopping at stores like H&M, Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters. The reason? Well, it is both better for the environment, and for their pockets. Thrifting offers the chance to buy clothing that is inexpensive, eco-friendly, and authentic.

But those stores offer what is called “fast fashion, items made cheaply with no intention to be owned for a long time. The reason why this is so bad is because it is bad for the environment.

Fast fashion is the highest water polluter, and it amounts to high landfill waste. More people are becoming aware about this, and they are speaking out about it, whether it be on social media, or just casual conversations with friends.

And social media has also become a factor that is contributing to the rise of thrifting. Influencers are posting videos of themselves finding pieces at thrift stores, even doing “thrifting hauls,” videos where they show off everything they found.

There are also those influencers who sell their own pieces of clothing on apps such as Poshmark and Depop. These apps let users buy second-hand clothes online, as well as set up their own accounts to sell unwanted items.

Another thing social media has done? It has set trends, trends that people want to copy but do not have the money to buy the expensive clothes, so people resort to buying second hand pieces.

The rise of thrifting is benefiting the planet, but it could also be hurting those who depend on buying secondhand clothes.

As more shoppers flood the thrift stores, the stores feel emboldened to raise their prices. One thrift store used to sell many items for a few dollars, but now most clothing items are sold by the pound. So sweaters and other heavier clothes are more expensive than before.

“Thrifting no longer carries strong taboos of uncleanliness and poverty as it had in the past,” wrote Nanditha Nair in the Berkeley Economic Review.

Now families who depend on thrift stores are priced out of their clothes or are left with fewer options than before.

Yes. Everyone has the right to shop for second-hand clothes, but the trend could also leave others out in the cold. Something to think about.