The clothing industry is one of the most wasteful and polluting industries on earth. There are people like Kristine Upesleja, who we interviewed a few weeks back, who are working on lab-grown fibers, which will be tremendous once they are in large circulation. The ugly truth of the garment business is that so much of what is purchased is direct to dump. Fast fashion has given us cheap clothing but at a huge cost.
“Sustainability feels like it’s the new not-smoking”
Progress is indeed being made and we may be on the cusp of a tremendous shift. “We are at a tipping point. There are lots of technologies that are coming together that will change everything and we’re very busy doing even more to go deeper into our industry-leading initiatives around water & chemical reduction and hemp. Sustainability feels like it’s the new not-smoking,” says Jonathan Cheung, SVP of Design Innovation at Levi Strauss & Co. This enormous effort and progress by forward-thinking companies and individuals will pay off in the near future, and we applaud their efforts.
Second Hand September
September is traditionally the big month for splash-out spending on clothing. The September issue of Vogue is a thing for a reason. But this September, Oxfam UK is backing an initiative called Second Hand September asking consumers to refrain from buying any new clothing for 30 days and to shop in second-hand stores, or even better, shop second-hand charity stores.
Familiar Faces From Vogue
The spokesperson for the drive is none other than 48-year-old Vogue model Stella Tennant. She and her 14-year-old daughter Iris are promoting Second Hand September, saying if you must buy, don’t buy new. The visuals on the campaign are styled by Vogue editor Bay Garnett. It’s an interesting and worthwhile subversion of consumer culture by some of the main faces of exactly that culture.
The Joy of Finding Hidden Treasure
A number of our people have always been proponents of buying second hand. Jocelyne Beaudoin and Irene Bilo are top of mind. It requires a certain amount of self-confidence to shop this way, but once you have it, the thrill of finding the hidden treasure is delicious. Who doesn’t thrill at the joy of finding a hidden treasure?
Looking at racks of clothing and digging into bins may not be everyone’s idea of a good time. One idea, if you know the brands you like and the size you wear, is eBay. Of course, if you type in “Gucci” you are not likely to find the bargain of the century. But if it is a brand less known you can get some great deals. This is especially true with shoes, which seem to go for a fraction of their price. Look at the return policy before buying.
If you take care of your purchase, there is every chance you can put it back onto The Bay for almost what you bought it for — you have essentially rented it. Contrasting this with the incredibly wasteful single-use mentality of so much fast fashion, this sort of clothing recycling feels great, and you get cash back.
Shop in Off-The-Radar Places
The best second-hand stores with hidden treasures can often be found in the smaller off-the-radar places where there is more donating than buying — Palm Springs, for instance, or the more posh sections of London. Even in Manhattan, you can absolutely get excellent quality designer goods for Zara prices.
Where to Start
Here is a somewhat random selection of shops to start your hunt:
Wasteland Los Angeles. This is our go-to first stop for any local hunting. LA is where so much entertainment gets produced. Those once-used items from the wardrobe department have to be liquidated somewhere, and it is often here. Men’s suits, womenswear, outerwear, it’s all here, and reasonably well-curated and organized. Go to the one in Studio City — we have found amazing goodies there.
INA NYC consignment stores for men and women. These are not really thrift stores, as the goods can be more on the spendy side, but they are well organized and the clothing is always in excellent condition. We’ve had great luck here.
Toro, Harajuku, Japan. One of the best vintage shops in Tokyo, Toro has built its reputation on a careful curation of seasonal clothes. 1-2-10 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo
Rose Market Vintage, Paris. Denim jackets from Jean Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent, bags and clip-on earrings by Nina Ricci. 19 Rue Milton, 75009 Paris
The British Red Cross, Old Church St, Chelsea, London. Saint Laurent safari shirts, beautiful cashmere, and great 1970s stuff. Maybe because the local Chelsea ladies bring their stuff here after a Maria Kondo move on their closets.. 69-71 Old Church St, London SW3 5BS
Thriftwares at the Artists&Fleas Market. Classic Burberry, bags, outerwear and a good selection of other goodies. Williamsburg and Soho. 70 N 7th St, Brooklyn 11249; 490 Broadway, New York 10012
Housing Works Thrift Shop We like this because of the charity it supports. Clothes, lots of bags and some housewares. 143 W 17th Street
Reciproque, Paris’ largest dépôt-vente (used clothing store) with 5,300 square feet of exploration for your hunt. Here, you’ll shop alongside smartly turned out locals for classic-veering, ready-to-wear evening gowns and a mind-blowing array of scarves. 95 rue de la Pompe, 75116, Paris