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The Effect of Thrifting on Streetwear Culture [Op-Ed]

Thrift (n)

1: careful management especially of money (via The Merriam-Webster Dictionary ; www.merriam-webster.com)

Thrifting (v)

2: Shopping in thrift stores for trendy, vintage clothing and/or other items (via The Urban Dictionary ; www.urbandictionary.com)

 

The act of thrifting has steadily become a more significant action in today’s fashion culture. So much so that I felt compelled to share not only my thoughts, but my experience in this realm as well. When all is said and done, feel free to comment on my thoughts and experiences below with your own.

 It was early afternoon on a cool Spring day as I thumbed through a rack at a thrift shop in Brooklyn, NY. “Yo Ralph, pull up over here. I found something, it’s your size bro.” As my friend approached with an inquisitive grin, I pulled a beige Ralph Lauren sweater, with an American Flag knit on the front, off the rack and stretched it out for the both of us to view. Another friend, Miles, approached as well with a friendly laugh, knowing we found something dope. Quickly we checked the price thinking it would be expensive (for the location), but we were relieved to see the price was actually $13.

 

Yes..$13. Now stick with me, I’m not done yet. This was a pristine Polo sweater…for only $13. Yes it was used, but upon closer inspection you can see that any use was very gentle. One trip to the dry cleaner and what was once likely a One Hundred Plus Dollar sweater, would feel like new once again.

In the midst of writing this I actually hit my friend for a pic of the sweater in order to share the find with the SRGA-Web, but he kindly informed me that red wine had been spilled on it.

“Damn, you nearly broke my heart” in my best Rick Ross impression.


Going to the thrift store, let alone frequenting them, was once looked down upon by what most may know as the “urban” community (Blacks & Hispanics). I’m not talking about the people that couldn’t afford anything more, I’m referring to those in the proverbial “in-crowd” or just those that looked at “new” items as the only way to be truly fly.

As the times change, so do opinions on everything including fashion. Other types of crowds may have more history in utilizing thrift shops for street fashion, but our so-called “urban” culture is now capitalizing due to our minds opening to alternative fashion (and alternative means to sourcing garments). This is due in large part to social media influencers as well as the arts becoming more accepted by millennials who have learned tolerance and acceptance at a much faster pace than previous generations.

The thrift spot has rapidly become a place to find something unique that many others may not have. For example, you can get a bargain on a nice jean jacket, find a nostalgic tee or even get a bunch of different looks for a photoshoot from crushed nylon track pants with a basketball jersey to a lambskin shearling and some leather loafers.

 The relatively new frontier of the thrift spot is now a mainstay in street fashion. YouTubers are making a living by simply recording their personal (or group) thrifts. Days are planned around getting to the thrift as early as possible, so as to get the jump on the best items. Thrift spots are heterogeneous in quality as well. They range from “bargain bin” places where no-name clothes can be had for a few bucks to places where you will find typical name-brands that most people covet as essential. And then there are places that delve into more high-priced, limited items; on both the streetwear side as well as more formal and eclectic.

 One can only wonder how these clothes are sourced, especially the most desirable brands (Ralph Lauren & Tommy Hilfiger followed by Guess & Nautica and everything else). Most of the best places for thrifting, do not take clothes in return as donations or sales.

 A fascinating thought occurred to me. It would be intriguing if it was possible for an article of clothing to have its life cycle recorded by a small camera (or other device). From when it was first born (manufactured), to seeing it’s parents for the first time (the retail outlet), to meeting its first love (being purchased new), then falling out of love while having to get over it with other partners (hand-me downs) and finally to a nursing home or rehabilitation center to find new life (the thrift store).

 The process may vary, but a cycle will always occur. Maybe in a slightly different order or under slightly different circumstances.

 What say you? Do you find thrifting appealing or is it something you have incorporated into your shopping routine and why? What was the deciding factor on you getting into thrifting? What’s been your most satisfying find? But more importantly, what’s been your most satisfying experience? Did you introduce thrifting to some of your friends? Maybe you met your soulmate in the same aisle at Urban Jungle. Maybe you’re still on your path of self-discovery and find that some rare threads help you to feel more confident about yourself. That’s something only you can answer. Feel free to let the community know as well.

 

Cheers.

 - Pedro Cruz

 


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  • Wanna Be Thrity on

    I will be looking into trying out thrift shopping again. I become too overwhelmed at where I want to start looking first. I would like to obtain more tips on how to shop in a thrift store when there are tons of clothes hanging from racks for days. Where do I start looking when I really don’t know what I looking for in the first place? I mean, besides knowing I am looking for some clothing that which stands out from others and is dope.

  • Miles B. on

    Great Post! I think what you bring to light really well is the fact that clothing is more than a piece of cotton or nylon; clothing helps to form identities, creates senses of community, and allows for diversity of style and expression to breathe.

    “Maybe you met your soulmate in the same aisle at Urban Jungle. "

    This was a funny statement, but also serves as a great example on how thrifting and the love for clothing and fashion isn’t just this “hedonistic” hobby. It delivers so much more to those who have an understanding of fashion past the superficial and are more critical of what they wear and how much they choose to spend.

    Last, its was refreshing to be able to read an article illuminating the fact that buying great looking and high quality clothing doesn’t have to burn a whole in your pocket. Put the "price tag "ego aside and go thrift!!


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