Buying secondhand or vintage shopping is growing in popularity. Nice, unique, affordable and sustainable, right? That turns out not to be entirely the case, say experts.
Scour flea markets, apps that make it easy to find new clothes without having to touch the fast fashion and of course if the weather can the vintage shops. This way of buying clothes is becoming more and more popular. In 2020, more second-hand stores were added, we went from 2,252 stores in 2019 to 2,415 stores in 2020, reports Fashion United.
Addicted to vintage shopping
It seems like the solution for the polluting fashion world. But it turns out to be not as perfect an idea as we think. The website PopScience talked to a number of experts who pointed out some unexpected problems. The main message? We need to get rid of our shopping addiction.
Part of the problem is that second-hand clothing is getting more and more expensive. People with a small wallet who normally buy second-hand clothes can no longer afford it with a bit of bad luck. More demand than supply causes the prices of a product to rise, and that is also the case with second-hand – or vintage – clothing.
In addition, the quality of clothing continues to deteriorate. Because we want to buy clothes as cheaply as possible – we usually want a well-stocked wardrobe. A sweater costs less than a hundred euros and lasts endlessly, nowadays you pay around 30 euros and you can get rid of it after two seasons because of the poor quality. Not ideal for scoring second-hand.
Always something new
The reason clothing is so cheap is because we can produce it cheaply (and often not fairly and sustainably). If it costs nothing, it is also worthless emotionally. You are often more economical on that one hundred euro sweater than the variant of a few euros. We have also started producing more clothing: around 17 million tons of textiles were produced in 2018. Fifty years ago that was about 2 million tons.
In addition, on average about 15 percent of the materials required for a garment never end up in clothing. Because it has to be cut in the right shape, for example. In addition, a lot of water is needed to make a garment.
Donating and exchanging clothes and buying vintage clothing doesn’t contribute much to a more sustainable future, says Anna Fitzpatrick, a Ph.D. candidate at London College of Fashion’s Center for Sustainable Fashion PopScience. “We still feel that we can always buy new clothes,” she says. “Second-hand shopping stirs up that feeling.” We don’t buy less, which would be the most sustainable solution. We’re basically shopping away our guilt wall, she says.
Less cheap clothes
The second-hand clothing market would also be a lot smaller if new clothes weren’t so cheap, Fitzpatrick says. It’s literally worthless. Add to that the fact that your donated clothing often does not even stay in the Netherlands or the fabric is recycled – if it is already being recycled. Both options are anything but environmentally friendly because the clothes have to be shipped. In short: we should mainly produce a little less if we want to keep it sustainable.
The tip for shopping a little more sustainably? That is uprooting your own wardrobe and trying new combinations or changing clothes. And wonder with every purchase whether you really need it.
Whine! Bride orders a second-hand wedding dress and gets something horrible
Spotted a mistake? Mail us. We are grateful to you.