Closing the loopSlow fashionUpcycledVintage

Why is Second Hand September important? All you need to know: this is Vintage shopping 101

Why is Second Hand September important? All you need to know: this is Vintage shopping 101
By Emily

Emily Stochl is a writer, journalist, and podcast creator, with expertise in the vintage and secondhand fashion industry, sustainability, and labor rights activism. As guest writer, she is sharing with us her thoughts on Secondhand September, vintage shopping and some tips and tricks for thrift shopping.

This is Emily Stochl. Producer and host of Pre-Loved Podcast, a progressive and intersectional weekly interview show exploring the vintage, thrift and secondhand industry: all its stories, and all its angles. She’s also Remake’s Advocacy Manager, helping lead ambassador engagement around advocacy and campaigns, such as #NoNewClothes. Fun fact: Remake has recently joined Renoon as a new sustainability advocate and you can check out their profile on the app!

Image: Bedford St (left) and Verona Farrell (right)

Secondhand can mean so many different things

“It can mean buying used from vintage shops (clothing that is over thirty years old), or thrift shops. Choosing secondhand can also mean wearing hand-me-downs, or swapping clothes with friends. The goal is simply to reuse clothing that already exists, without producing more!

Sustainability, Vintage Shopping, and Secondhand September
Image: Emily Stochl (left) and Remake (right)

Like every September we celebrate Secondhand September, which is a campaign by Oxfam Great Britain to spread awareness for choosing secondhand. The campaign’s messages are about quitting fast fashion, reducing waste, and extending the life of our clothes. It has become an opportunity to spread awareness about choosing secondhand, sharing tips and advice for beginners who might be trying out secondhand for the first time, and educating on bigger picture topics about the secondhand industry.”

The way people talk about vintage reminds us that clothing means something – and it should!

“I love all things about vintage clothing. I love wearing vintage, selling vintage (I work in a local vintage shop on my town’s main street), and speaking with people about vintage. It has so many incredible stories. When people tell you about a vintage garment, sometimes their story will be about a person who owned the piece before, or memorable moments the piece has seen.”

I always get asked questions about vintage shopping and the ones that I’m asked about most often fall into a couple of categories: access to shops, sizing, and material.”

Thrift shopping is now an online affair

“Not everyone has a great secondhand shop in their area, so I think more people are getting into choosing secondhand via online routes. You’re often able to be a lot more specific about what you’re seeking than you are when you wander into a thrift shop and you’re limited to the items that are there that day. You can also search for specific brands, reference size charts, and do a bit more research into your pieces.”

Sustainability, Vintage Shopping, and Secondhand September
Images: Ensō 

The struggles of thrift shopping for your size

“Within the fashion industry, I would be considered mid-sized — not quite “straight-sized” and not quite “plus-sized.” So, I understand it can be a very frustrating experience to search for items and not find what you’re looking for in your size. Size inclusivity is a major issue within the fashion industry on the whole, and the secondhand offerings will not improve until the first-hand offerings do, unfortunately.

I recommend knowing all the measurements you can — not just your bust, waist, and hip measurement, but also measurements like the rise you prefer in pants, or your “pit to pit” measurement (armpit to armpit). It can also help to know a thigh measurement or a bicep measurement. Then, when shopping online, you can search for, or request these specific measurements from the seller, which will make it more likely for you to select items knowing how they will fit you!”

Sustainability, Vintage Shopping, and Secondhand September
Image: Lindsey Rem (left) and Beyond Retro (right)

Ask how the garment can be changed to fit you, not the other way around

I also highly recommend having pieces altered or tailored for your desired fit. Of course, this comes with additional cost, but it is usually not a significant expense and worth it to make the item something you feel comfortable and confident in. Tailors are talented and a lot is possible!”

Let’s talk about materials

“When shopping online you are able to seek out your materials of choice. And with enough experience thrifting, I think most people start to understand the differences of material by the feel of the fabric as you scan the rack.”

Offer to be your friend’s guide when thrift shopping, to help them get into it

“I usually ask my friends what it is about buying vintage that intimidates them, and then try to help them feel more comfortable with that issue. If they’re not sure about how to style vintage, for example, I might show them a couple of ways they can modernize pieces to style them in ways that feel current and contemporary with the items that are already in their closet. Offer to be their guide to the vintage shop and have them try on some pieces — even if it’s just for fun! I think by showing how fun the experience is, you’ll usually win people over.

Sustainability, Vintage Shopping, and Secondhand September
Image: Emily Stochl (left) and Panache Vintage Store (right)

And if they’re really not sure about wearing vintage, perhaps you could get them to try choosing secondhand in other categories of their life, like: books, home decor, gardening, tools, school supplies, etc. Show them the variety that is available secondhand and the impact they can make for the planet and their own wallet by choosing used.

I advocate for secondhand clothing because we are facing a massive overproduction problem within the fashion industry

“Fashion brands make too many garments, customers are enticed to buy more new things more often, and we have stopped caring for our clothing. I choose secondhand for myself to make a statement about driving down demand for new garments, and instead reuse what is already available.

And personally, I feel more myself when I choose secondhand. Styling secondhand clothing allows me to feel more original, creative and inspired. I truly feel that I found my sense of style for the first time when I became passionate about secondhand fashion.”

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