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Shopping Second Hand: Clothes

At Think Zero Home we are always advocating shopping second hand! We will do a few blog posts about how to shop for different categories of stuff. This post is about clothes. In the US, we throw away 14.3 millions tons of textile waste every year! And not to mention the resources that were used to make the clothes – for example it takes 1,800 gallons of water to make one pair of blue jeans.

A great documentary to watch about the environmental and social impact of our retail obsession is True Cost. Watch it if you can as it is eye opening.

Back to some tips on how to effectively shop for second hand clothing.

We love shopping second hand because you can find some real bargains on high quality items that can be out of reach price wise if you are shopping retail. In addition, there is something about the hunt as well as the creative juices that flow in finding items and making them your own!

1. Start with brands you know! If you are shopping online, we recommend buying brands that you are familiar with so that you can be assured of fit, style and quality.

2. Be intentional by making a list – It is best to have a list of what you are looking for so that you don’t get overwhelmed shopping at a thrift store / online where it is not as nicely curated or displayed. If online, we heavily use the filters to narrow down the options of what is shown to us. And if we are shopping in the store, we have a list of what we are looking for so we don’t get distracted by the prices and the insane stuff we find!

3. Pass on fast fashion brands. These brands are not meant to last and we often find that the quality is sub par. If you are buying second hand then focus on brands that are quality brands so you can be confident about the longevity of the item. Also look for items that are tagged as “new”, “like new” or “excellent” condition – this tip is for online buying.

4. Inspect the clothes! If you are buying in person, then do a good inspection especially for whites and light colored clothing. Look for stains in silk and holes in cashmere /wool items.

5. Shop differently online and in person – so we are more likely to take risks with items that we shop in person for as we can inspect it, try it on and see how it fits. But with online options, we tend to stick to brands that we trust.

6. Shop for natural materials instead of synthetic – you can help prevent microplastics passing into our waterways and your skin will love you for it as well.

There are a wide variety of options for buying second hand.

In your local community you will find the local Goodwill or Plato’s closet or a children’s resale shop such as Once Upon a Child. But there are also many boutique stores in almost every community.

Here in NYC we love Second Time Around, Beacon’s Closet, Buffalo’s Exchange, to name a few. Tell us in the comments where you love to shop.

Wherever you are go check out some of the stores in your community so you get a sense of what they carry and how they lay out their stores. For example, some of the stores I frequent are better at curating than others and some stores carry the brands that I am searching for while others are more likely to have fast fashion. And now there are a few retail stores that are carrying second hand (for example, ThredUp and Walmart have partnered to carry ThredUp inventory in store!)

If you prefer to shop online here are a few sites to peruse – there are many different types of second hand stores so it is a good idea to look at a few to see which site would work for you.

ThredUp – it’s the big gorilla of online second hand stores and has a good variety of the mainstream brands. ThredUp has a “clean out kit” that encourages people to send in their items for resale. There are good options on this site and it tends to be the mainstream brands though they also have a designer section. You can like and follow items and their search functionality is pretty good.

Marketplaces where you buy from individual sellers

· Debop – popular among the younger crowd, you are buying from individual sellers

· Poshmark – has a wide range of clothing items

· Markid – kid focused including baby equipment and toys

· Kidizen – kid focused

· FB Marketplace

· Noihsafabazzar - this is reserved for unique indy brands and shopping is done via Instagram

· Also look on Etsy for individual stores – they tend to be more vintage focused.

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