Topic du jour of 2020 has most certainly been COVID-19 but the highlight of the year has been the change in the shopping pattern of the Indian consumer. 

“One in three young women, the biggest segment of consumers, considers garments are worn once or twice to be old” – The Guardian, 2019

The fashion industry is responsible for 8% of carbon emissions right from sourcing the material to the fast-fashion supply chain. 

Any steps taken to combat carbon emissions is a step in the right direction.The segment of thrifting, vintage and second-hand shopping took Instagram by storm and we’re nothing but stoked about it. For a platform that encourages conversation about sustainability, climate change and personal finance, the growth of thrifting has gotten us enthusiastic, to say the least. But we didn’t want to make this about a single opinion. So we spoke to two eccentric personalities, who run their own thrift stores and advocate a slower sustainable lifestyle. 

Why slow fashion: Need of the hour

“Clothing production is the third biggest manufacturing industry after the automotive and technology industries. Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined” – Read here.

Thrifting is good for the planet, not just your wallet.

Even though the slow fashion movement of ethically and sustainably made clothing has been gaining traction over the past few years, not everyone can afford to spend INR 2500 on a pair of leggings made from recycled plastic water bottles.

Consequently, as more and more people have learned about the negative effects of the fashion industry, more people have turned to thrifting leading to dramatically increased popularity over the past year. However, this huge shift towards more second-hand shopping can’t only be attributed to environmentalists.

“Low prices and unique vintage finds attract people who end up unintentionally helping the environment.”

Shruti on the other hand says the reason for you to switch to a sustainable shopping routine has to be from within you and not because of the people around you, she continues, ‘It can be really difficult to stop the temptation to buy from fast fashion brands. Honestly, anything you don’t need is bad – for you and for the environment! Anything that has been sitting in your cupboard for more than a year is bad. We need to understand that overconsumption is bad.’

Fixing Fashion: How does thrifting work?

While massive thrift stores such as Value Village, Goodwill and digital platforms such as ThredUp, Depop and Poshmark exist abroad, India lacks a thrifting marketplace. But in 2020, Instagram filled that gap.

We asked Shruti what pushed her to pursue her thrift store full time. She responds, ‘Retro Days was started in 2015 as an offline store from my house in Chandigarh. I started it as a hobby project to do on the weekends while I was still working full time as a content writer and then later as a UI/UX designer. I had completely stopped doing it in between because of my work schedule. In 2018, my boss decided to shut down his company. I really enjoyed working there, I think that was the first job I ever loved and after working there, I couldn’t work anywhere else because I realised how good it feels to work with passion. So I decided to take Retro Days full time and then there was no looking back!’

Thrifting and trends

When we asked Anya about the trends in fashion and if thrifting can keep up with that, her response was nothing but food for thought.

She says, ‘I have to be honest, if you thrift, you’re likely to have a TRENDIER wardrobe than if you shop fast fashion. The problem with fast fashion is that everybody looks the same. And for me, that’s the complete opposite of fulfilling the “purpose” of fashion – which is a form of self-expression mixed with art. Thrifted clothes bring with them a completely different style and vibe and different themes. Whether it’s the corset trend or oversized blazers or butterfly necklaces everyone showcases their own style.

On the same lines, Shruti replies, ‘I sell mostly shirts/blouses/tops in summers and sweaters and jackets in winters. But my clothes are very colourful, with a lot of print and pattern. So it’s not for everyone. My clothes are heavily inspired by music and street style from the 60s, 70s and the 80. I am not a trendy person myself. I like classics and I like to mix them with modern pieces.’

We asked Anya what her biggest takeaway was from running her own thrift store. And apart from a personal response, she even has a stat to back up the power of thrifting! Anya says, ‘Second-hand shopping is hands down the FUTURE. So far, we’ve circulated close to 300 clothes back into the market. The way I see it, Aura Thrift Store has been responsible for AVOIDING 300 NEW purchases! A huge personal achievement for us.’

There are some basics that fast fashion companies do really well and maybe you can’t find it elsewhere or thrift it. What do you do then? Shruti says, ‘The last pair of jeans I bought was from Zara because I just couldn’t find a good thrifted pair of jeans. But I make sure I buy what I REALLY need and take care of it and use it well. I guess it’s much better than thrifting because then it’s just overconsumption.’

Is thrifting the answer to all our problems?

“Fashion shouldn’t cost us the earth.”

Absolutely not. Simply switching to thrifting isn’t magically going to solve all our problems with the fashion and textile industry. But it does help reduce our carbon footprint, make better steps towards the future and become a conscious shopper. After all, everyone needs a pinch of slow retail therapy.

“I was sad but then I bought something online secondhand. I feel better now.”

Check out Shop Retro Days and Aura Thrift Store here.

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