Let’s talk about thriftin’

I’m definitely a thriftin’ kinda gal. I started when I was a youth/student back in 2012 and had very little money to spare on clothes. I’ve written about how to thrift, where to go and how to save money on clothes. But I’ve started to change my shopping habits.

Why I started thrifting

I didn’t have a lot of money when I was a student or as I started working. Thrifting was a way to score some great, original finds for my wardrobe. Being in uni was finally the time that I could adapt my wardrobe to what I wanted. I went to hospice shops, markets and shopped around in my friend’s closets. I also loved the fact that I was wearing once-off pieces (for the most part) and didn’t have to worry about someone else ‘wearing my clothes’.

Downsizing my life

Over the last 4 years, I drastically reduced my wardrobe and belongings. My clothes weren’t really appropriate for work anymore and I needed to look a bit more “put together”. I also wanted my life to be a bit simpler. I had moved more than 6 times in 4 years and along the way, I lost so many things it made sense to get rid of shit. This year, I attempted my second shopping fast. However, I gained some weight and had to give away a few of my pieces. I’ve had to buy clothes in bigger sizes, simply because I had very few things that still fit me (that’s another story, tbh).

Do I thrift now?

When I started out, it was relatively easy to find affordable stuff that wouldn’t break the bank. It was something that a lot of people might have been ashamed for doing because they didn’t have money. Fast forward to 2018 and it’s become a lot more popular. Whether people have watched The True Cost, want to stop contributing to fast fashion or love hunting for finds, it’s a mainstream thing. However, this popularity has pushed up prices, making it unattainable for people who need it most (mostly working class poc and other minorities). Some people don’t get to choose thrifting as a “fun, quirky” day out, it’s the only place they can afford to find clothes. Growing up, I shopped at places like Jumbo, Clearouts and the like because I had to and didn’t have many other options. Not just because it was cute to find cheaper finds.

I’ve had to examine my own habits as a result. I’m no longer the student who doesn’t have any cash to spare. I definitely don’t have designer threads money just yet, but I’m doing okay.

When it comes to collectives re-selling thrifted clothes at a higher price, I’m part of the problem. Why? Because I’m the target audience for these ongoing markets where you can buy items at a hella marked-up price. Now, re-selling thrifted stuff is what lot of poc do on the side and I’m completely here for that. We’re all trying to live.

However, I went to a market and saw a pair of jeans for R450. Musty (idc if it was washed sis, it’s still old), vintage jeans for that price? I think entirely tf not. This upswing in re-selling has also depleted the cheaper hospice shops, where a lot of working class and poorer people often shop. And it’s been cleared out by people who often can afford to shop elsewhere.

I also watched Rian Phin’s video about thrifting and her points were so valid and helped me understand more about this topic.

So now, I try and shop from my friends wardrobes or collectives that are run by people I know. I don’t want to limit access to other people who often don’t have any other choice but to browse these shops. I’m also able to make choices like this because I’m straight-size and it isn’t hard to clothes that’ll fit me.

Ultimately, the goal is learning how to make my own clothes, but this will do for now. I can’t continue to support businesses who often take from poorer people of colour to profit. And, yes – even buying your clothing can be political.

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