The thrifting movement represents a generational shift built atop five basic tenets: old is new, mixing trumps matching, swapping beats shopping, the best things in life are free (or incredibly cheap), and social responsibility is the new black.
Reduce, Revamp, Rewear.
The slogan of a University of Northern Iowa clothing swap this spring also serves as the perfect description of a fashion trend currently en vogue among students: thrifting.
Students are becoming increasingly vocal champions of this creative and commercial endeavor and the culture it represents. In a straightforward sense, the act of thrifting involves shopping for fashion, accessories, and dorm décor online or at thrift and consignment shops.
And it is at the heart of the rise in students’ do-it-yourself fashion shows and themed parties in which clothes must be handmade– comprised of older, organic or recyclable items.
More broadly, the thrifting movement represents a generational shift built atop five basic tenets: old is new, mixing trumps matching, swapping beats shopping, the best things in life are free (or incredibly cheap), and social responsibility is the new black.
First and foremost, according to recent campus and professional press reports, more students are thrifting so they can remain fashionable during the economic downturn.
They are abandoning brand loyalty. They are also increasingly unwilling or unable to purchase things at full price. Instead, they are seeking discounted ways to stand out stylistically, including making certain vintage clothes and accessories the next big things.
“Unique items are everywhere in thrift stores,” Saint Xavier University rising senior Sydney Bennett confirms. “It’s often hard to find two of the same clothing items in a thrift store. You can leave knowing that the special outfit you are getting for your major event, no one will have. Because a lot of the items in thrift stores are vintage, you will have a chance to showcase a ‘recycled style’ that is just like new for our generation.”
To this end, Bennett calls thrifting “a treasure hunt and shopping experience rolled into one.”
The shopping, swapping, and handmade experience also boasts a creative component, existing for some students as a form of personal expression.
As avowed do-it-yourself crafts and fashion fan Emily Boudreau writes in The Michigan Daily, “So much is mass-produced about what we wear and the spaces we spend our life in. . . . Now, I’m not suggesting you go out and embroider your own bedspread or produce a calico dress with seed beading, but it’s always nice when there’s some kind of a personal touch to an outfit or an apartment– some accessory or an object that actually means something to someone, something that was made with care and has a story behind it. Additionally, making your own crap-you-don’t-really-need is fun. And cheap. And much easier than you’d expect.”
Fun, cheap, easy– and socially aware.
For example, the organizer of an April clothing swap at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse described the event as “a fusion of fashion and environmentalism.” Why? In part because each piece traded and re-worn by students is “another item that doesn’t have to be produced.”
It also helps students support the fair trade clothing push.
As The Racquet, the student newspaper at the school, explains, “Unsurprisingly, a majority of the fashionable or trendy clothes purchased by students are the clothes produced in the worst conditions . . . which makes the clothing swap an easy way for students to become involved in preventing the continuation of harmful working conditions.”
Are you a thrifter, swapper or do-it-yourself fashion fiend? And what are your tips for successfully reducing, revamping, and rewearing?
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