It’s obviously good for your budget: Previously owned clothing is substantially cheaper than new. And in the current economy, that’s a big plus.
It’s also a lot kinder on the environment. The manufacture of just one T-shirt uses the same amount of water an average person consumes over a 3 year period, so buying 2nd hand doesn’t come with a guilty price tag either.
Then there’s the fact you will find unique items, so you are far less likely to end up in the same outfit as someone else. And if you like to stand out from the crowd, you’ll appreciate the singular satisfaction that comes from knowing you have unearthed something truly extraordinary.
But while I can’t deny that I get a thrill from finding that amazing one of a kind garment at a bargain price, especially when I am able to spoil myself with a clear conscience when shopping at a charity store, but I have to confess that there is something more that draws me to a rail of previously loved clothes.
Its not just the anticipation of ‘the find” but there is something slightly illicit (and strangely exhilarating) about rummaging through what was, until recently, some-one else’s very personal belongings. It’s the equivalent of sneaking a peek inside the bathroom cabinet. Except the owner has given you permission, sort of, by putting their goods up for sale.
It’s not like their sartorial possessions contain the very secrets of their soul, but I do think clothing says a lot about people, whether they are wearing it or not. When I spot a second hand garment of interest I habitually find myself nosing around for clues as to its origin and history and the possible life of its' previous owner.
Each vintage gem is a Polaroid of a life, a snapshot in time, a selfie of sorts, before a selfie became a thing.
Because clothing is not just an inanimate functional item. It is a belonging, chosen by a person, worn intimately as an expression of themselves. And so, 2nd hand clothing has soul and character that is only earned by going at least once around the block.
Like the jeans in the film The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, there’s a little bit of magic in the clothes we wear. The magic is in the familiarity of a treasured item, the connection that we all share to one or two precious possessions, the reason things are passed down generations. Its not about material value, its about memory and times past, the same stuff of which relationships are made.