Thrift stores provide budget-friendly fashions
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 21:02
“I wear your granddad’s clothes” is one of the memorable lines from the hit new song “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore. According to sophomore fashion major Danielle Civil, the rapper may be on to something because she says looking through grandparents’ clothing and going to thrift shops are the best places to find vintage items, which can spice up a wardrobe filled with brand name, mass-produced clothing.
“Fashions get recycled,” Civil says. “So you’ll find stuff that’s in fashion but just from years ago.”
Civil has found everything from jewelry and T-shirts to a pair of red pants, which only cost $3 and regularly get complimented, she says. For her, vintage items tell a story, which she likes.
Right now, Civil says she sees many college students taking advantage of the low prices and finding big, comfy sweaters from the 80s to make them trendy again, she says. She has also altered her finds to create special items no one can replicate.
Sophomore Alexis Jankowski, says she enjoys the reactions she receives when she wears her vintage advertising sweaters, featuring characters such as the Morton Salt Girl and the Pillsbury Doughboy. She looks for the sweaters on eBay and in thrift stores to add to the collection her parents inspired.
While shopping at thrift stores, or thrifting, she discovered items such as an authentic African afghan, a quirky jacket with a cat print and a Nicole Miller dress for $15, she says. Jankowski says she sees many people going to thrift stores for costume pieces but, at the same time, she has noticed people tend to be willing to pick up a piece if it is interesting, since shoppers do not have to splurge as they would have to at the mall.
“When people shop at thrift stores, they become more open-minded,” Jankowski says. “They’ll buy riskier things because they don’t have to fork over a lot of money.”
Jankowski, who studies apparel design, finds one-of-kind pieces like her sweaters on the Internet and in thrift shops. She says she first started shopping at stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army in high school. Once she came to the university, she says she was excited by the quality of clothes for low prices at the nearby Goodwill.
She found a men’s Pearl Jam shirt, which she sewed into a crop top and added lace to, so it would fit her body and her personality. Even though she works at Urban Outfitters, Jankowski says she prefers these vintage items because they help her stand out.
“I only own a few things from there,” she says. “And when I wear it to class, I’ll see five other people with the same shirt.”
Civil also repurposes her thrift store finds, putting personal touches on them, she says. She began looking at thrift shops for high school competitions and costume garb but kept going back after finding discovering she could use the vintage clothing to mix old and new styles, she says.
“You have to get creative,” Civil says. “You try and pick through to find things that will work. Sometimes it’s a hit and sometimes it’s a miss.”
Fashion graduate student and teacher’s assistant for design classes, Martha Hall, says thrift shops not only offer fun styles, but also promote sustainable fashion. Hall and fashion professor Kelly Cobb will be hosting a clothing swap in April for Earth Week, where students can trade in used clothes to help bring attention to environmental-friendly and socially-aware fashion. She says it is similar to thrifting but brings a larger message to shopping.
Many fashion classes emphasize thrifting as a way to establish a style and reduce waste in the fashion industry, Hall says. She says reworking thrift shops items, as Jankowski and Civil do, is also part of a trend called upcycling.
“By going to thrift stores, you’re investing in things that have already been made,” Hall says. “So you’re not creating demand for new products.”
Buying mass-produced clothing can also add to unfair labor conditions places such as Africa and Asia. Hall says shoppers may not realize how their buying decisions can affect people on the other side of the world and may be adding to problems they are unaware of. Buying from swaps or thrift stores avoid that situation and Hall says buyers can be pleasantly surprised at the quality of clothes they find.
Many clothes today are not made for longer than one season, whereas items from the 50s or 60s have a better craftsmanship and were made to last, making them better than items found in the mall Hall says. The story behind the clothing also adds to the value and intrigues shoppers, she says.
“Those clothes have had a life, there’s a lot of memories built into it,” she says. “So there’s something really cool about keeping those clothes out there and creating new memories for those clothes. You’re kind of creating an heirloom.”