Second-hand Shopping: Checking Privilege

Lifestyle Editor Megan Tarbuck takes us through the personal challenge of trying not to buy any new clothes for the entirety of 2020…

Since the start of 2020 I set myself the challenge of not buying any new clothes. It’s now coming into March and I’m yet to purchase anything new or from a charity shop. I’ve started to stop browsing on fast fashion sites and what may be in fashion. When a night out is planned my thoughts immediately go to ‘what do I already have?’.  This way of thinking has extended further than my wardrobe, I’ve stopped purchasing make-up items and skin care products. Not just because I’ve wanted to limit my plastic waste, but because when we take a step back, you’ll realise how much you already have waiting to be used.

Second hand shopping and slow fashion movements have exploded over social media, the Depop community is ever-growing and Instagram has a whole host of inspiring thrifting influencers. A conversation I was privy to made me think differently a couple of days ago. Why are some charity shops increasing in price? Is the slow fashion movement driving the price of second hand fashion up? Vintage clothing has always been priced higher than charity shops, usually big name brands sold in quirky themed stores. Yet, charity shops have notoriously sold clothing and home-wares a lot cheaper than brand new items. Are charity shops catching on to the slow fashion movement? But equally can we ever be critical of a charity shop increasing prices? After all, the money we spend is going to great causes.

There are many different angles to this argument. Whilst we are doing our best for the planet and buying second hand I think we must still remember to check our privilege. Some of us involved in the slow fashion movement can afford to buy brand new, and we are not buying fast fashion because of the disastrous implications the industry has. While second hand shopping is definitely the way to break fast fashion, we need to be mindful of who relies on charity shops regardless of the slow fashion movement. So to link this back to the beginning,  carry on boycotting fast fashion but I think as individuals we also need to start thinking about what we really NEED. Buying several jumpers or dresses in a charity shop is great because your money is invested into charity, but did you really need all of that? Or might there be someone else in your community that was relying on finding those items in the charity shop. 

Slow fashion and the sustainable movement is great, but we need to be mindful and considerate of making it inclusive for everybody in our communities in order for a sustainable future.

About the Author: Megan Tarbuck is a student at the University of York, and current Lifestyle Editor for WILD Magazine.

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