I was born second.
So I got the hand-me-downs. Even though my older sibling was a boy. Let’s be honest, my parents were frugal. God, how I hate that word. My dad was a penny-pincher and my mom learned to be really good at shopping at yard sales. I didn’t know my clothes were weird until maybe middle school. From an early age I looked for ways to make money so I could buy the clothes the cool girls had. I stretched my budget by shopping at thrift stores and tailoring clothes I found.
Now, I can buy pretty much anything I want – the newest, the trendiest, clothes, only ever worn by me. Only now I know there’s more involved. A worldwide crisis of over consumption, pollution and human exploitation. No fair. Now I have the money. But now I have a conscience.
I still fall for the “newer, better” trap. But every piece of clothing, or anything really, that I bring into my home, I fret over. How am I contributing to the problem? When I decide I no longer need or want an item, then what? Who will use it and care for it now? I have constant nightmares about the landfill.
Recently I was online shopping on the Patagonia‘s web site. And let me mention quickly, I have always felt like Patagonia is priced out of my reach. Also, I don’t feel like I’m that outdoorsy. I wish. But I dream. So, I was browsing. I’ve become a little obsessed about a particular jacket, the Retro Pile Jacket in the ‘Pelican’ color. It’s $139. So, I’m on the fence, also I don’t need it since I got something similar for my birthday last year. But that doesn’t keep me from looking at it and checking stock. Then I stumbled upon Patagonia’s WORN WEAR. This “Used Gear” link on their web site takes you away from their new product, directly to used stock. I got excited. It pretty groundbreaking for a brand to encourage you to not buy their new stuff, but their used stuff. But not surprising since Patagonia basically invented sustainability and have probably been rolling their eyes every time someone mentions the idea, like they just thought of it.
I LOVE that they are positioning used clothing almost at the same (perceived) value as new. With a stylish web interface within the main site. I mean, it’s a two part benefit: save money, because I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like they can’t afford $139 for a jacket, AND save the planet. Also, how smart are they to brand their clothing as pretty much indestructible? They don’t have to brand it as such, I think it is very durable. So, it’s not too expensive. It’s priced right. If you’ve seen the documentary The True Cost, you know, if it’s cheap, someone is “paying” for it. I also saw that Patagonia (in the before times) hosted pop-up repair… um parties? Events? Festivals? I mean, they are doing it all.
Another brand I’ve been loving lately, COS, also has a buy used feature on their site. COS Resell. How interesting is it that brands are now co-opting used sales instead of leaving it to eBay, ThredUp, Poshmark, Vestiaire Collective… Patagonia and COS both offer to buy your old product and sell it. Similar to ThredUp.
And this leads me to think, you can tell people all you want that used is better for the planet as well as your wallet, but until people feel equally fashionable, it’s going to be a tough sell. The fashion industry has dumped billions of dollars into making you fell sexy when you wear new, and like the second (or third or fourth born) when you wear used. What if we could make used clothes as chic as new? I mean, we pay hundreds of dollars for ripped jeans?? And Golden Goose sneakers… I think the youngest generation is ahead of us. They fully embrace “vintage” and shop thrift stores like it’s the coolest thing ever. Used clothes have the benefit of being rarer. You won’t be wearing the same thing as everyone else. I “knew” this back when I was in high school but still acted like new was better. As soon as I had more money, I turned my nose up at GoodWill.
That’s something to think about when you’re out shopping, or in shopping. Am I being brain washed into buying new? Can “pre-loved” be cooler? Let’s promote that idea. Let’s hunt for unique, stylish, durable, interesting garments. And support those brands that think the same way.