Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Vintage Wonderings: Long Term Effect of Fast Fashion

I had a thought a while back that I've been wanting to address here to see what other people think. It's my worry about the future of thrift shopping and vintage clothing.

My favorite kind of thrift shopping is when I can browse the racks for incredible vintage items for next to nothing (like this green dress found two summers ago). Some thrift shops are better than others. Some places are good for secondhand designer items while others are good for picking up vintage pieces. An experienced thrift shopper will become adept at knowing the difference and how to look for those goldmine items.

I'd like to think of myself among the expert thrift shoppers crowd, but this summer I felt a bit like I lost my thrifting mojo. I'm not sure what it was exactly, but I just didn't feel like I knew what I was doing. My favorite thrift shop in Madison had closed down since my last visit so I was in unfamiliar territory, which didn't help. A thrifter's success comes from knowing the layout of the store and having a strategy.

I also had to cut my summer short, so I didn't get the luxury of time to browse through these stores on multiple occasions to look for treasures. A successful thrifter knows that frequency of visits leads to for some really cool finds. Some days are amazing, others can leave you empty handed. You just never know, so you have to go back often. I didn't.

As I looked back at my thrifting lately, I began to wonder if there was another factor complicating my experiences (I'll include the trips to the Salvation Army, etc here in Hong Kong, too). More and more these days in thrift shops, I find myself browsing through H&M, Zara and Forever 21 clothing (and the like). I'm not turning my nose up at this, trust me, I've just made this observation. This is perfect for taking my big girl thrifting with me since these are the kinds of stores that teens like. 

But it did make me think seriously about the future of thrift shopping and vintage clothing, however. Will finding vintage clothing be more scarce? What I've always said that I love about vintage clothing is how the quality lasts. We are being inundated with "disposable clothing" whose quality leaves a lot to be desired. Fast fashion brands are manufacturing clothes at such a pace, that they are intended to be replaced before the end of the season. So much is ending up as textile waste. What will be left? And will what's left be as good as the thrifted/vintage finds these days? I don't know.

I do have a feeling that the future of thrift shopping and vintage fashion will change. I think the brands that will last through the years will be the high end brands. Thrifted finds of the future will include brands that are already embracing the principles of sustainability in the design of their garments right now. If this is the future, then I think vintage clothing will continue to have value. 

I hope at some point soon our clothing consumption slows down and that we return to more sustainable ways of making and buying clothes. And I really hope that the future of thrift shopping and vintage clothing is all a part of a circular economy that has become a normal part of the fashion industry. We're in the beginning stages, but I hope the change we're seeing now will take hold permanently for the future.

Links à la Mode, Aug 30th, 2018


Suzanne said...

As a professional vintage shopper I do know that the quantity of vintage items to be had at thrift stores is decreasing. There is a finite supply of vintage that was created in years past, unlike today when they keep churning out fast fashion and dumping it at alarming rates. I also worry about the vintage well drying up. For now though, I'm still able to find some great pieces if I am diligent about shopping often. We also have better thrift stores in North America. When I shopped for vintage at thrift stores in Hong Kong I found it a real challenge.


Norbyah said...

I agree Suzanne, it's a difficult market here in Hong Kong. And much like in big cities in America, the prices are inflated. I do most of my shopping when I'm back in the States each summer...

Jennifer said...

There will be a total shift with what will become "vintage" but I wonder if some of the fast fashion stuff will be super collectable sort of like with paper dresses. They don't last long so if you can find it it is super collectable? Should be interesting. Otherwise I am sure the stuff that will last will be the high end stuff.

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