Lilyana Khoshaba is 19 years old and lives in Vaughan, Ontario. She remembers falling in love with thrifting when her brother got her a pair of bright, blue Doc Martens. She was only in grade 6 at the time and everyone made fun of her boots. Lilyana knew from then that she wanted to dress differently to please herself and show others what she can do with certain clothing pieces. She finished high school and went to Humber College for Fashion and Business. She explained that there were a lot of business aspects and the fashion part would only come near the end. Lilyana decided that she wouldn’t go back to the program but instead immerse herself in the fashion industry through networking and social media. She has been thrifting clothing for a while now and believes everyone should get into thrifting. When Lilyana goes thrifting, she looks for pieces that she is able to re-work. This allows her to take any clothing item, like a t-shirt and make it into a dress at a fraction of the cost. Thrifting has become more popular in the last couple of years.
"Trends are always coming back and it doesn't hit the same when it isn't actually authentic."
Thanks to social media platforms, especially Pinterest and TikTok. On TikTok, viewers are connected with people all over the world showcasing different trends. Lilyana also emphasizes that fashion is limitless and so is thrifting. "Everybody is embodying the 80s era, so I will find coloured sweater vests, trench coats and more when I go thrifting," says Lilyana and she explains why authentic clothing is better. When you buy these items, many have lived long lives. If the item is a knock-off or re-branded, it doesn't hold the same weight as an actual authentic item. Thrifting has many benefits such as saving money, is good for the environment and you can get more for your dollar.
"I think that buying used and old clothes is putting your foot down towards fast fashion."
Places such as Value Village and The Salvation Army are now giving shoppers the opportunity to buy clothes at an affordable price. According to Value Village’s Thrift Proud Impact, 50% of Generation Z and Millennial shoppers are expected to purchase more second-hand clothing. Though Value Village sells second-hand clothing, people who donate clothing to the store can donate new items as well. In 2018, the recycling rate of textiles is 14.7% with 2.5 million tons being recycled. The average person buys 60% more clothing items and keep them for half of the time period in contrast to 15 years ago. Therefore, generating unnecessary waste and a household’s clothing is equivalent to filling 1,000 bathtubs. Lilyana emphasizes the importance of sustainable fashion. With the industry always changing and new trends emerging, a lot of consumers are finding it hard to keep up to date. According to Statista, in 2019, the average Canadian household spent $3,340 dollars on clothing items. During the current pandemic, many households do not have the finances to spend on clothing like they did before.
"If you don't find a way to wear it now... you will eventually."
Fashion consistently recycles itself. Whether the trend is Gucci flip-flops or Prada bags, if it isn’t in style now, it will soon be. What does that mean for shoppers who just bought a new wardrobe? Since fashion is everchanging, wasting money on new clothing every season will start to drain your pockets. The next best alternative is thrifting. Thrifting is the act of buying used and second-hand clothing at affordable prices. The rise in thrifting came from the late 19th century after the industrial revolution.
"Be creative, don't limit yourself to what piques your interest."
During this time, buying used goods and services still carried an association with poverty. The Christian ministries during this time were looking for funding for their outreach programs. In 1897, the Salvation Army launched their "salvage brigade" out of a basement. The residents would go around and pushcarts asking for used clothing in exchange for food and shelter. In 1902, Rev. Edgar J. Helms created Goodwill which hired poor people to collect goods and clothing and then repair them.
By the 1920s, thrift stores were now organized as department stores. The term "thrift" was no longer paired with junk but now reflected the housewives' feelings during the time period. By the Great Depression, over 100 Goodwill stores were open and made up half of the Salvation Army's annual budget. During the Great Depression, many people were unable to afford brand new clothing and goods. This caused Goodwill and Salvation Army's businesses to boom as people wanted to re-decorate and refresh their wardrobes. Thrifting is now a part of a 14.4b billion-dollar industry.
For many, thrifting is not just about saving money, but about creating their ideal fashion look.
"Over the past year we've been to ourselves... people have been expressing themselves through fashion."
Big stores such as Value Village and Salvation Army are not the only way to buy second-hand clothing. In Toronto, Ontario, there are 10 smaller scaled thrift stores that many recommend consumers to shop at. Lilyana explains that some of these thrift shops only appeal to certain fashion styles. As hers is more edgy and alternative, many appeal to vintage 90s. She says it's still important to support these small businesses, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. At these stores, many of the items are handpicked so the consumer can get the most authentic second-hand clothing. Now that thrifting is becoming more popular, what does that mean for the big clothing brands? "They have that sort of DIY look to them without being DIY," says Lilyana, while explaining her thoughts on big brands. In order to adapt, these companies are starting to creating clothing in a form that appeals to consumers. For example, a fast-fashion website called Shein, has created a DIY colour-blocked pair of jeans. This would be time-consuming for someone who re-works their own clothing to do. This company has made these jeans to appeal to those who do not re-work their clothing but also to those who want the item. This poses a problem with credits and rights to artists' designs and smaller business owners.
As the cycle continues, we are unsure whether thrifting will be around forever. It doesn't matter if you just started or have been doing it for many years, thrifting allows expression, saving money and also saving the environment. It is helping to bridge the gap for many in providing an essential service.