How to Buy Thrifted Clothes Without Supporting Fast Fashion

How to Buy Thrifted Clothes Without Supporting Fast Fashion

How to Buy Thrifted Clothes Without Supporting Fast Fashion

Buying secondhand and thrifted clothing is an excellent way to avoid supporting fast fashion’s negative impacts. However, even thrift stores can sometimes perpetuate fast fashion’s issues. Here’s how to thrift shop ethically and avoid fast fashion when buying used clothes.

Look for Quality Over Brand Names

When browsing the racks at a thrift store, focus more on the material and construction quality of each garment rather than seeking out big brand name labels. Fast fashion brands often end up in thrift stores after falling apart quickly. Seeking well-made, durable items from any brand is better than buying something cheaply made just for its label.

Some signs of quality in clothing include:

  • Thick, sturdy fabric that feels like it will hold up over time
  • Lined garments and enclosed seams for structure
  • Metal zippers and buttons instead of plastic
  • Natural fibers like 100% cotton, wool, silk, or linen

Avoid Current Trendy Styles

The latest hot trends off the fast fashion runways often end up in thrift stores within a year as people cycle through them quickly. Avoid buying clothes just because they align with this season’s trends. Trendy fast fashion pieces likely won’t stand the test of time in your closet.

Opt for classic, versatile styles in high quality materials instead. Well-made basics and vintage pieces never truly go out of fashion. Focus less on what’s trendy right now and more on what fits your personal style and suits your lifestyle.

Be Wary of Shein and Ultra-Cheap Items

Some thrift stores unfortunately sell brand new items from sites like Shein that promote ultra-fast fashion. Shein produces new inventory at an alarming rate, often using unethical labor practices and poor environmental standards.

Check clothing tags carefully when thrifting. If an item looks brand new with a Shein or other fast fashion brand tag still on, reconsider buying it. Buying these items secondhand still supports fast fashion by creating demand for their continuous high production.

Support Small Local Thrift Stores

Avoid buying from or donating to national chains like Goodwill or Salvation Army. These large organizations don’t focus on community development like small local thrift stores do.

Independent nonprofit thrift stores tend to be more conscious about avoiding fast fashion. The money you spend at small local shops also stays in your community.

Buy Natural Fibers and Upcycle Clothes

Checking clothing tags and feeling fabric directly can help you determine what materials each item is made from.

  • Prioritize purchasing natural fabrics like cotton, linen, wool, and silk when thrifting. Natural materials are biodegradable and less taxing on the environment compared to synthetics like polyester.

  • You can also give used clothes new life through upcycling. Turning dated pieces into stylish, modern garments helps reduce demand for new fast fashion. Get creative by dyeing, embellishing, or altering thrifted finds.

Be an Ethical Donor

When deciding what items to donate from your own closet, avoid passing on cheaply-made fast fashion. Thrift stores often have to discard unusable donations, so it’s better to repurpose low quality clothing yourself.

  • Mend or creatively alter unwearable clothes before donating to prolong their use.
  • For clothes beyond repair, recycle the raw materials by finding textile recycling options in your area.

With some vigilance and purposeful choices, shopping secondhand can absolutely be a sustainable way to avoid supporting fast fashion while expanding your wardrobe. Following these tips will help you thrift shop mindfully.