this week, some tales (and troubles) concerning thrifts, thrifting and thriftiness:
-according to the NYT, in poland, style comes used and by the pound. apparently, buying and wearing second-hand clothing was once looked down upon by the hip folk in that formerly communist eastern european nation…they allegedly once eschewed used goods with much distain, instead favoring new, designer threads that suggested wealth (when there was little to go around). nowadays young poles, living and thriving in a more burgeoning economy (at least compared to the old days) are following in the footsteps of trendy city dwellers worldwide, and are deigning to dig through the stacks and racks at their local thrift (or thrift store equivalent)…and are sporting secondhand duds with pride. funny how times and perceptions change, when it comes to matters of culture and clothing.
i’m an old gal: i just reached the ripe old age of 33 this past summer. i can remember when secondhand shopping was considered really gross and distasteful, and looked down upon by most. back in the late 80s, early 90s when i was a teen obsessed with vintage clothing, the act of wearing said “vintage” clothing was at the time considered really alternative and subversive, at least where i grew up…in the steamy, sunny, all-american suburbs of central florida. if you wore old, used things, you were considered, at best, a freak…and most people probably assumed that if you bought and wore such garments, you were poor. if you had money then, you bought brand new things, natch!: reebok high tops! guess jeans! bennetton sweaters! it wasn’t until the late 1990s, i feel, that thrifting, and vintage clothing became a more mainstream trend…it’s when i noticed the practice getting lip service in the media (magazines, television, the internet, and so forth). times are so different now than they once were.
so, i’m curious:
-anyone else of a similar or earlier vintage to myself remember when wearing old clothes here in the states was not so chic? why was this so?
-did the bull market of recent years past encourage experimentation clothing-wise in a mainstream sense? in other words, when the economy is good, are people more willing to experiment? do people feel free to eschew expensive items when they have the luxury of choice? if we do indeed fall firmly into a recession or depression, will the wearing of old things again become something disdainful, or will the burgeoning commitment to wearing green (as a worldwide trend) keep the secondhand buying and wearing in vogue for years to come?
on a related note:
those secondhand clothing stores many of us have grown to love to pilfer paw through are sadly no longer packed with racks and racks of nice, quality old threads, ripe for the picking. these days, said stores are brimming with tons of barely worn, chintzy castoffs from discount fast fashion retailers such as primark, wal-mart, target, and the like. such clothes were little more than trash from the get-go, treated as if they were, for all intents and purposes, disposable, by the manufacturer *and* the consumer. but the trouble is, said clothes aren’t as disposable as they seem…they are in deplorable condition almost from the first wearing, and as one might guess, they hold little to no value with regard to recycling and resale.
according to the times online:
textiles have become the fastest-growing waste product in the UK. about 74 per cent of those two million tonnes of clothes we buy each year end up in landfills, rotting slowly (or not at all) in a mass of polyester, viscose and acrylic blends.
a very small percentage of said used clothing is considered sellable in the developed world…but the rest of that crappy, cheaply made clothing is baled up, sold wholesale, and then shipped by the boatload to developing nations (africa, eastern europe, etc.).
some of it gets reborn in products like those made by companies like kilakitu (they fashion fabulously stylish shirts and such out of the aforementioned castoffs that have been sent to africa)…
but what the people of those developing nations cannot or do not use, ends up in the landfills of those nations, basically rotting away (if it’s able to rot at all!). out of sight and mind, then (at least to us), eh? wear it once, ditch it, and never think about it again…on a national, and really, global, level.
makes me wonder:
-why do companies even shill that junky crap to begin with? oh yes, greed. but, why do we buy it? why has quality become a forgotten virtue when it comes to matters of clothing, pushed to the wayside by the desperate pursuit of quantity? hasn’t the notion of more over less, for less gotten old and out of favor yet? or will such persist in the face of further stretching one’s precious and rare dollars/pounds/euros/yen/etc.?
i’m pointing the finger at us all (myself included!) when i question the way it is, and the way it could be:
-why can’t we or why don’t we in the affluent west make a real effort to live with less? why can’t there be more of a widespread trend to try to wear the same thing over and over, but…in a creative way, mixing it all up in a cool way each time so’s it looks different? perhaps those who keep their closets carefully and crisply edited, and cunningly curated should be loudly lauded, in lieu of the current trend to congratulate conspicuous consumption? media (blogs included!), get on that, won’t you?
i really the sentiment behind this quote from the same article (said by a supposed supermodel here in the states):
“female celebrities need to demonstrate that it’s possible to be happy while wearing the same thing,” he says. “it’s where we were 20 years ago. lives weren’t ruined by lack of clothes. it’s a habit that we could break.
if we spent exactly double the amount of money on each garment and bought exactly half as many garments, nobody would be impoverished by that.”
see also: talk is cheap: the new thrift (via the new york times), wherein rob walker questions the “new” trend, frugality, and it’s relationship to the old and allegedly now outre trend, hyperconsumerism.
the quicke and dirtee:
-model elyse sewell is hilarious. her blog is one of my new favorite online reads, mostly because i dig her sick/black sense of humor. she now resides and works in china, and her view into daily life in that country is fascinating. i had no idea who she was until like, last week, having not ever been a viewer (or fan) of america’s next top model…
-thrift town, my favorite thrift store here in SF, has a myspace page. who knew? (not me obviously…)
-for a seasonally appropriate laugh, see this round-up of fugly holiday sweaters over at list of the day. *snort* (thanks to my husband for sending that linky my way!)
-i agree with dreamecho, danish streetstyle site gademode is, as she stated recently, deliciously different than the usual suspects in said blogging category.
-an article on the phenom of street style blogging, and the alleged best of the best in that category, from the new york times.
i wanna ask: do you look at street style sites merely for the eye candy, or do you use the inspiration found within to literally inform what you wear (i.e., do you copy what you see piecemeal or wholesale)? am i alone in just liking to look but not aspiring to replicate what i see exactly, if at all? the trend (from what i see in perusing blogs) suggests most have a penchant for the former…