Second-hand clothes are undoubtedly perceived differently by different people. With so many fast-fashion places producing so many affordable new items, some might even wonder if second-hand clothes are even necessary today.
At Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona though, we can definitively say that second-hand clothes are still very much in demand. Our buyers look for them for all kinds of reasons and we never tire of hearing about the intense creativity that can be found amongst our shoppers. We’ll look at why so many people visit us and five things you can do with your second hand clothes.
Sustainability in Fashion
Adweek-Morning Consult recently ran a survey to get a better idea of what sustainability looks like for shoppers these days. Out of 2,200 Americans (carefully selected to represent different demographic groups), researchers found that 70% of people consider sustainability important when disposing of old clothing items and 65% of people consider it important when selecting new ones.
Nearly 80% of the respondents said they had bought used clothes at some point and 20% of all respondents said they did so all (or nearly all) of the time. Of all the respondents, it was millennials who led the way in this category with nearly a third saying that used clothes were their go-to. This was somewhat surprising information, considering Gen Z is also big on sustainability, yet shopped at second hand stores less often than millennials.
Of all the options listed regarding sustainability and old clothes, it was clear that donations were the most favorable: “More than three-quarters (79%) of respondents said they considered donating clothing or giving it away to someone else to be a (somewhat or very) sustainable option.”
Today we look at why donations are so coveted and how people make the most of them.
#1: Reimagine What Old Clothes Can Be
A shirt doesn’t have to be a shirt forever. It can become a toddler’s dress, a baby romper, headband, etc. Patterns and colors that look terrible on a piece of clothing can look fabulous sewn into a quilt or twisted up in a fabric wreath. There are infinite paths to take here. Some shoppers might buy a men’s T-shirt and transform it into something more feminine, or they might make a toy for their pet or small child. Some people look at a thrift store and see a bunch of old-fashioned, throw away items, but it’s really an opportunity to let your inner artist run loose.
You don’t have to be a sewing master or a design genius either. These clothes are priced so that you have more than enough room for error. As you try new things, you’ll get a sense of how you can express yourself and your personal sense of style through all the projects you take on. The most inspired people may even start their own side hustle or small business with the wares they sell. (And just remember, if something goes horribly wrong, you can always use the fabric to clean up your tub or floors.)
#2: Use Them for Your Halloween Costume
Not everyone needs to alter their clothes in order to switch them up. Whether you want to be a baseball player, Hermione Granger, or a nurse, there are so many clothing options to be found amongst the racks if you’re looking around October. At Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, some customers will go into this mission blind, having no idea what they want to be and letting the items on sale inspire them. For others, they’re willing to dye, cut, or resew whatever they find as a way to transform into someone new.
Halloween gives everyone the opportunity to step outside themselves, if only for a few hours. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with buying a costume off the rack, it’s a whole lot more rewarding to put it together from scratch and give yourself a totally unique look than all those party store ensembles.
#3: Build a New Professional Wardrobe
How you dress at work (even if it’s just on Zoom calls) can send a message to coworkers, clients, and managers alike. This isn’t about being phony, but about showing people that you take your duties seriously. An impeccable appearance is a powerful way to convey what you think about your position and why it’s more than just your average 9 to 5.
The staff at Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona wants everyone to have a professional wardrobe they can be proud to show off. Of course, we don’t want anyone going broke just to flesh out their wardrobe. Second hand skirts, men’s trousers, blouses, and button-downs can be a great way to showcase different outfits or upgrade them without having to give over your whole paycheck. So if you’re looking for used clothes online, consider how a second hand store can be the answer you’re looking for.
#4: Start a Compost
Anything natural, including cotton, bamboo, hemp, and linen, can be composted and turned back into soil. So even if the clothes don’t do much for you in terms of style, they may be perfect for helping your zinnias or tomatoes flourish.
When it comes to sustainability, all of us need to be willing to rethink how we see certain items. Instead of ending up at a landfill, natural clothing fibers can go back to the Earth and become something different. If you’re at Goodwill and want to experiment with what a fabric like cotton can do for your new garden, our staff would love to hear about the results!
#5: Turn Your Old Clothes Back Over to Goodwill
The phrase ‘trash to treasure’ is anything but obsolete these days. On the contrary — it’s become aspirational. Used items can have an amazing life away from their original owners, serving any number of purposes until they’re finally laid to rest. If your second hand clothes are still in good shape once you’re done with them, there’s no reason to keep them around. We would be happy to take them back so they can go on to help someone else.
The fun of Goodwill is that there aren’t a lot of restrictions on what you buy and why. The prices are accommodating enough that if you want to wear a dress for just one party, you can get away with it. After you’re done though, you don’t have to drop it in the trash or let it keep taking up space in your closet. Let us be your second hand store of choice to get that item back in circulation.
Where to Buy Second Hand Clothes
When everyone has their own definition of used items, there’s no reason to let anyone else’s opinion cloud your own. Apart from saving your budget, this is a sustainability measure that can be as good for you as it is for the planet.
Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona has seen how people can turn just a few key resources into everything they need. From costumes to work clothes to side hustles and more, every shopper that steps into a second hand store can find unparalleled opportunities and inspiration in the clothing racks.