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From Gucci to Goodwill

Back view at young woman browsing clothing racks in boutque or second hand shop, copy spac

By Kanyah Green

If you mention "thrifting" to your grandparents or parents, there's a good chance they will think you're talking about buying items that other people would typically throw in the trash. In their generation, it was looked down upon—no more.  Today,  thrifting, which involves buying and selling secondhand items, has become a significant trend, gaining popularity on social media platforms. To say the media and consumers are spellbound by this market would be an understatement. For example, the U.S. used clothing market topped $43 billion in 2023, according to ThredUp.  And it is just getting started.  By 2028, many analysts believe it will top $350 billion.

With statistics like that, it's hard to deny the current growth in interest for thrifting. But where did this uptick in demand come from? The answer may surprise you.  Many people, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, are increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of their consumption choices, prompting them to seek out sustainable alternatives to fast fashion, a process whereby retailers rapidly produce high volumes of trendy clothing at low cost. This has led to the need for an environmentally friendly alternative- thrifting.   

In addition, thrifting can be less expensive than traditional shopping, and the vintage look thrifting can provide is very much in style.  People view thrifting as a way to express themselves without breaking the bank. Due to the unique self-expression that thrifting can provide to the consumer, it also leaves room for a sense of community within the space of thrifting. An example would be Terrell Brown, also known as Tdotbdot on the TikTok platform. Terrell has built a TikTok community of over 300,000 by sharing his experience with the thrifting community. According to Terrell,  thrifting creates a community where people can celebrate their shared experiences.  Furthermore, thrifting can be a source of income, with some individuals earning a few hundred dollars per month through reselling thrifted items.

However, despite its benefits, the increased demand for thrifted goods has led to rising prices, challenging the perception of thrifting as a cheap shopping option.  Some loyal Goodwill customers definitely agree!  Yahoo Finance compared prices between Goodwill (one of the biggest store names in the thrifting industry), Target, and Walmart. The article discusses a Reddit user's comment about the prices of Hanes underwear at Goodwill. According to the commenter, one pair of used Hanes underwear (the fact that we are talking about used underwear is a topic for another article) was $4.99, but you can get a new pack of three Hanes underwear at Walmart for $10.98. ($3.66/ pair)

Ultimately, the future of thrifting as a popular trend remains uncertain, as fluctuating prices and evolving consumer behavior continue to influence its trajectory. Nonetheless, for now, thrifting continues to hold a significant place in the lives and wardrobes of many consumers.

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