Second Hand September: What is Thrift Shopping? How is it Good for Everyone?

Published: 24 September, 2020 16:26 IST | Maitrai Agarwal | Mumbai

Sana Khan, co-founder of Bombay Closet Cleanse discusses pre-loved goodies, pandemic thrift shopping, and top tips

A shopper at Bombay Closet Cleanse's pop up event.
A shopper at Bombay Closet Cleanse's pop up event.

The Fashion industry is among the biggest pollutants on the planet. Coupled with our mindless consumption of fast fashion, it has been causing alarming damage to the environment. According to the United Nations, the industry is responsible for 10 percent of the total annual global carbon emissions and 20 percent of wastewater worldwide. 87 percent of the total fibre used ends up in a landfill. Second Hand September is a pledge which asks consumers to buy only second-hand goods for a month. The social media challenge aims to make us rethink about compulsive shopping and explore second-hand clothing for the sake of the planet.


What is Thrift Shopping?

Thrift Shopping involves buying pre-loved (second-hand) items. Thrift stores have a carefully curated list of unique items you can pick from. Thrift shopping from stores, flea markets, and garage sales has been extremely popular in western countries where shoppers are constantly on the lookout for quirky and vintage clothes at an affordable price. Thrift shopping also enables us to get rid of our clothes which we do not want anymore but are in perfect condition to be used by someone else, prolonging the life of each garment.

Cleansing Closets in Mumbai

The trend is gaining traction in Mumbai as well. We spoke to sisters, Alfiya and Sana, who run Bombay Closet Cleanse, a Mumbai-based thrift store, “When Alfiya and I were cleaning out our closets we realised how many clothes we had been hoarding, some that were barely worn. Most of them couldn’t be donated to NGOs (dresses, miniskirts, etc.), so we decided to have a fun pre-loved clothing charity sale. We received a fantastic response and were able to raise enough funds to organise a medical camp for women and children for Salvation Army. That first event was monumental for us, we realised that there was a real need for a healthier way to discard clothing as well as consume mindfully. In a year since then, we have been able to hold multiple charity sales, collaborate with celebrities and hold seven successful pop-up sales - all because of the love and support of our wholesome thrift community.”

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A post shared by Bombay Closet Cleanse (@bombayclosetcleanse) onSep 1, 2020 at 5:41am PDT

Changing Consumption during Covid

The lockdown has made us take a long hard look at our own wardrobes, what do we do with the excess clothes we have?  Do we really need to buy expensive new clothes?  While a trip to the mall seems far-fetched now, online shopping has kept shoppers afloat. Sana explains,” We have seen a huge shift in the way Mumbaikars are shopping in lockdown. With increasing awareness about climate change and the emergence of online hip thrift stores, pre-loved fashion is trending amongst the younger generation and has led to people embracing the joy of thrifting in the city.”

How does Thrift Shopping help?

When you shop second-hand you are saving an item of clothing from ending up in a landfill by prolonging the life of each garment. Every time you buy a second-hand item, not only do you save money but also cut down the demand. Never before have we had access to such an extensive network of sustainable shopping alternatives. You can spot some of the rarest, one-of-a-kind pieces that can set your wardrobe apart. It is possible to shop and be stylish without being an environmental hazard. Sana told us they have tied up with local NGOs for the excess clothes they end up with, “Our thrift store mindfully segregates clothing according to the needs of the NGOs so we send them only what they need and not burden them with excess clothing that is of no use to them.“

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A post shared by Bombay Closet Cleanse (@bombayclosetcleanse) onAug 20, 2020 at 2:16am PDT

Tips on Thrift Shopping

Sana shares with us top tips on thrift shopping:

Ask yourself do I really need this?
It's tempting to indulge in thrift shopping because of the great deals and variety, even if it’s second-hand. However, it is important to avoid hoarding. Perhaps, clean and de-clutter your closet before starting your thrifting adventure.  

Buy less, choose well
Invest in versatile, durable pieces that will last you for years; those that will stand the test of time and trends.  

Statement Pieces
Invest in a few statement/styling thrift pieces so you can mix and match with clothes you already own. For example a corset belt, a pair of chunky earrings, patterned scarves, etc.

Do your Research
Is the item listed really vintage? A quick search on the internet can help you assess the true value and worth of the pieces on sale. 

Limit Yourself
Remember we are trying to cut the demand and consume mindfully. Set a limit for the number of pieces you can thrift in a year (and stick to it!)


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