I started vintage shopping a couple of years ago for ethical reasons. Before creating Harly Jae, I found the ugly truth about the brands that were hanging in my wardrobe, so I went through a complete closet detox. I quit fast fashion cold turkey, and while I would have loved to only buy from sustainable and ethical brands, my bank account did not agree. So I started thrifting.
I felt forced into it at first, and consequently, I did not find it super enjoyable. I remember being bothered by the smell of the stores. I thought I was *too good* for that and wished that I did not *have to* shop there. (Who did I think I was, I don’t know).
Fast forward a couple of years later, and thrift shopping has become my absolute favorite pastime. I would go as far as saying that it is necessary to my well being. I find something beautifully calming about finding gems in the middle of chaos. It has taught me a thing or two about finding my inner peace in overwhelming times.
I find it thrilling not to know what kind of treasure I may stumble upon that day. I get butterflies in my stomach when I realize I have discovered a reaaalllyy good spot. I find it empowering to give a second life to what was someone else’s trash. It’s a beautiful thing.
While I have developed a passionate love affair with vintage shopping, there also are some very logical reasons for my choice.
#1. It’s a fact that ethical and sustainable fashion comes with a justified higher price tag. At Harly Jae, our prices are a reflection of the quality of life of the seamstresses who sew each garment, the development costs that come with creating designs that will not go out of style, will last over time, and will become your favorite items in your closet. And it’s the reflection of the quality of the fabrics used and the eco-friendly packaging it comes in.
But it's unrealistic to think that everyone can afford to only buy from ethical and sustainable brands. Vintage shopping is a budget-friendly way to compliment conscious shoppers' closets.
#2. When you buy ethical fashion, you are taught to think long term. You make sure that you can pair your new clothes with as many items in your closet as possible. You want to be able to wear your ethical designs from work to a cocktail party. And that’s really the whole point of sustainable fashion: to be more intentional about your purchases.
BUT, that does not let a lot of room for you to have fun with bold prints and colors you wouldn't wear on a regular basis. No room to experiment new silhouettes and cuts, and different styling tips you've never tried before.
If you are like me, and fashion is your way of telling the world a little bit about your personality, well that’s not ideal.
That’s where thrift shopping comes into play. It’s the occasion to buy that one size too big but gorgeous bright red made in Canada silk blouse that looks like it’s never been worn before. You will make it look your size by rolling up the sleeves and tying it up at the front.
You will adventure into the men’s section to find the perfect pair of vintage high waisted Levi’s that you will hem with scissors as soon as you get home.
You will find an eighties crazy floral pink dress that will be so much fun this Summer, after you’ve cut out the shoulder pads obviously.
Vintage shopping is a great creative outlet.
#3. Adventures to the thrift store bring you closer to discovering your unique style. Not only because you are experimenting with new items you hadn't thought you could pull off before but because when you walk in secondhand shops, you are not blinded by fast-fashion trends. H&M or Zara are not there to tell you what you should buy today.
When you are not limited by what’s in style on the racks of fast fashion retailers on a given week, you have to look inwards. When you are exposed to decades of fashion on messy racks, you have to pick what you are attracted to, which forces you to wonder and discover what it is that you like most.
#4. While others may say that thrift stores are now full of fast fashion clothing, I say, good. To me, it’s a reminder of why I don’t shop at these stores. The number of Forever21 clothing you can find at Value Village with their original tags on is unbelievable! And well, if it wasn’t good enough for the original owner to not even wear it once, why would it be for you?
Now that I have convinced you to get on the thrifting train, I have to tell you one more thing.
It’s not because it’s cheap that you should buy it. It's easy to adopt the "well, this item would have gone to the landfill anyways” attitude when secondhand shopping. If you do so, you will end up, once again, with a closet full of nothing to wear.
So when you go thrift shopping, treat each item you pick as a treasure. It’s already a miracle that it made its way to the rack you’re looking at. Promise this item that you will give it the life it deserves. Be conscious. Have fun!