My final topic on ethical fashion is buying vintage as it is a great way to add to your wardrobe while taking out of the existing pool of goods. Probably all of us have also donated our own castoffs to charity shops. But it's important to be aware that clothing donated to charity and thrift shops often ends up sold by the pound to the second-hand market in developing countries. The proliferation of this second-hand market, fueled by our fast fashion and goodwill, often contributes to the demise of local textile industries. I'm sure this is not what we intend when we choose to donate rather than trash these items, but the sheer amount of clothing donated each year makes it an unfortunate reality. The solution? Buy quality items to last, keep what you have, refashion it, or buy vintage/second-hand for yourself. Vintage (meaning items more than fifteen years old) is a smaller market and is often sold by individuals or in marketplaces. Below are some of the sites where you can find awesome vintage and used clothing for sale online.
The marketplace is a section of asos where individuals and businesses can sell their own brands, other brands, or vintage items. Keep in mind it is a UK site and priced as such. But there are so many boutiques to choose from and they are all so beautifully styled, it's pure pleasure to shop there.
Everybody has most likely heard of eBay, but I often forget that the site contains such a wealth of treasures (often at very low prices). I prefer the "buy it now option" as the auctions are anxiety-inducing, but I know many people get a thrill out of it. To get the most out of the site, set up saved searches and watch lists in your account settings. Also, check out the Top Ten Tips for Buying Clothes on eBay from Moral Fibres.
3. Etsy Vintage
Etsy has a little bit of everything. From handmade to vintage, you will find many ethical options on the site. I generally search for a specific item within the search function, but I also have some shops saved in my favorites. Below, I've included some of those shops so you can check them out too.
I just recently found farfetch and their vintage section is fan-freaking-tastic. It is not cheap, but if you are looking for immaculate designer vintage and the ability to return the item (for free!), this is it.
If you are even mildly interested in this post, you probably have your favorite local Goodwill store that you stalk regularly. What you might not know is that you can also shop their online auctions through shopgoodwill.com. There's always new merchandise and, of course, revenues from the sales fund Goodwill's education, training and job placement programs for people with disabilities and other barriers. Good shopping for a good cause.
I'd never been to a Housing Works Thrift Shop until I moved to New York. They are a social enterprise business and profits fund their mission to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS. The online site is auction based and items can be arranged to be shipped or picked up (if you are in NYC). However, large items like furniture are only available for pick-up.
Not only does ModCloth excel at vintage-inspired clothes, they also sell actual vintage clothes and decor. Since their new and vintage stock are so similar, be aware that it is easy to click away from the vintage section. And unfortunately, you have to look at one big list of everything (at least I couldn't figure out a way to look at categories within vintage). Use this link before October 2nd to get a $20 credit!
The online retail site of Sophia Amoruso, which began as a vintage shop on ebay, made just shy of $100 million in revenue last year. I'll let that sink in for a minute. Yeah. The site now includes new products, but still retains a vintage section that is well-stocked and styled. Check it out.
I'm sure that there are many many more vintage/second-hand sites online. Please do share any that you run or frequent in the comments so we can all benefit. It's becoming so easy to "thrift" online that we can probably all make an effort to source some items secondhand. Next, I'll be sharing my new way of thinking about shopping and the questions I ask myself before I buy.
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