The Many Advantages of Buying Secondhand Clothes

When it comes to purchasing clothing, consumers have a wide range of options. The very wealthy can choose to dress solely in bespoke clothing, and rely on tailors and designers to create their entire wardrobe. Off-the-rack designer clothing is also an option, albeit an expensive one. There are also multitudes of more accessible new clothing options available in shopping malls, boutiques, and even big box stores. One option that has always been popular and is currently garnering renewed attention is secondhand clothing.

What are secondhand clothes

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Secondhand clothing is simply clothing that was purchased and perhaps worn by another person prior to being resold or handed down to another. There are numerous ways to source secondhand clothing, and many who embrace this trend use multiple approaches to building their wardrobes. 

One of the longest secondhand clothing traditions is passing down clothes to younger relatives. Across numerous cultures and eras, clothing that no longer fits or suits one family member was handed down to younger siblings or cousins.

Think about all of the clothing a child goes through during their first few years of life as they grow at an astounding pace. Many parents find they have so many baby clothes there is no chance for their little one to even wear everything once before it's time to move up to the next size. While growth and development slows a bit as they move into early childhood, kids still go through an unbelievable range of clothing sizes before they reach adulthood. 

Another way to source secondhand clothes is by shopping at yard sales, thrift stores, or consignment stores. There are vast differences in the available options, ranging from a bin of old clothing at a flea market to an upscale consignment store that specializes in gently used designer goods. 

What are the advantages of buying second-hand things

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One reason why so many young people are embracing the trend of secondhand clothing is the chance to own and wear something that no one else in your social circle has. Even in large cities with tons of clothing stores, clothing trends seem to follow predictable paths. 

Clothing is designed and manufactured according to current fashion trends. Even the fabrics and finishes used will tend to have a certain "feel" that is unique to that specific period of time. Shopping for secondhand clothing gives the consumer a chance to find something that was made to suit a different set of trends and tastes. 

There is also a clear cost advantage to most secondhand clothing. Of course, high-end designer clothes will still be expensive when purchased secondhand, but the vast majority of secondhand clothing is a steal when compared to buying new. 

People of all ages enjoy stretching their clothing budget, and secondhand clothes are a great way to expand your wardrobe without breaking the bank. Even better, the low cost of secondhand clothes enables people to take risks and try fashions they might not embrace at full retail prices. 

Why is it good to buy secondhand clothes

Another reason to consider shopping for secondhand clothing is the opportunity to do something good for the environment. Most clothing is mass-produced, and there is a real environmental cost associated with fashion. 

Think about the lifespan of a simple pair of jeans. The cotton that makes up most denim fabrics must be grown from the ground up, which requires an investment of water and fuel for the machinery that plants, harvests, and processes cotton bolls into workable fibers. That cotton is often bleached and then dyed, processes that also rely on energy and machinery. 

Fibers are then woven into cloth, then measured and cut into pattern pieces. Those pieces are sewn together and finished with pockets, zippers, brads, and sometimes other embellishments. The finished product is then tagged, packaged, and shipped around the world to various wholesale and retail establishments. 

All of these steps require an investment of natural and human resources. The process also has an environmental impact, from the pollution created during farming and manufacturing to the carbon footprint of shipping and distributing. And we haven't even begun to delve into the efforts needed to design, advertise, and sell that same pair of jeans. 

Buying those jeans secondhand allows them to remain useful without the need to manufacture an entirely new pair. When you consider how many millions of tons of old textiles that end up in landfills, buying secondhand makes even more sense, and begins to feel more like a responsibility than a hobby. 

How can I get started buying secondhand clothes

One of the first things you can do to add secondhand clothing to your wardrobe is to set aside some time to go through all of your current clothing and determine which items are no longer being used. If you haven't worn something for a year or longer, or hate the color, cut, or fit, it's time to give someone else a chance to make that items their new favorite. 

Bag up all clothing you no longer need or want and donate it to a thrift store. If you'd like to try and recoup some of your initial investment, take your old clothing to a consignment or resale store to see if they will sell it on your behalf and share the profits. You can also sell your own secondhand clothing at a tag sale or on one of many online auction and resale sites. 

Now you're ready to head out to look for some secondhand clothing treasures. During good weather, garage sales and local online resale sites can be an excellent resource for secondhand clothing. Someone who is selling secondhand clothes that are your size and style preference probably has other pieces you would also like.

Research which thrift and resale stores in your area have a good reputation. It's far more enjoyable to shop for secondhand clothing from a store that takes pride in displaying clothing according to size and style, rather than digging through mixed bins of unclean or overly worn items. A good secondhand clothing shop will weed out those items that are simply too soiled, worn, or damaged to have a useful second life. 

Is it possible to make money buying and selling secondhand clothes

Many people are making money in the resale clothing business. Some open consignment shops in brick and mortar locations, while others create expansive online retail shops. Others simply have a great eye for fashion, and make money selling their own designer secondhand finds at prices higher than they originally paid. 

One way to make money in secondhand clothing is to take the time to research specific trends, styles, eras, or designers. This allows you to spot a great deal immediately, and helps you choose pieces that have a much higher value than their purchase price. 

Some creative shoppers buy secondhand clothing and then make alterations to create an entirely new piece. Known as "upcycling," this approach not only makes use of secondhand clothing, but also creates pieces that are one-of-a-kind. Best of all, upcycling allows designers to make use of clothing that is partially damaged, since the piece will be altered and reformed. 

Share the love of secondhand clothing

Some people keep their secondhand clothing finds as closely held secrets, never revealing that the dress or suit they get so many compliments on was once owned or worn by someone else. In most cases, however, bargain hunters absolutely love sharing the details of when and where they found their favorite treasures, and especially at what price. 

Invite friends to go out to hunt for amazing secondhand finds. It's always more enjoyable to search for treasure with others, especially if they are looking for a different size and won't be competing with you for finds! Some of the most enthusiastic secondhand shoppers are teenagers who love to find unique and affordable items to expand their wardrobes. 

Wearing secondhand clothing has been in practice forever. While there may have been points in time when secondhand clothing was a sign of poverty or hard times, that is no longer the case. Today's secondhand clothing enthusiasts are choosing this option to create diverse and impressive wardrobes, preserve environmental resources, and to simply have fun. There are even online communities focused on sharing photos and descriptions of secondhand clothing finds that are being given new life.  

Be sure to continue the cycle of secondhand clothing by setting aside time to clean out your own closets and release unworn or unwanted pieces back into the world. Other shoppers just like you will be thrilled to give those pieces a new lease on life, and you can feel great about keeping more textiles out of landfills and helping others find pieces they'll enjoy for years to come. Clothing, while incredibly durable, does have a limited lifespan. Don't allow unwanted pieces to simply fall apart in the back of your closet when someone else could put them to good use.