Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pros and cons of purchasing new clothes
vs second-hand and vintage

Posted by Amanda Villaruel | | |
Do you enjoy mixing expensive and cheap clothes, or maybe new and old?

Purchasing brand new clothes can be exhilarating. Like you've hit the jackpot. But what about second-hand clothes?
Nice second-hand clothes
These are second-hands from the thrift store Fretex, and almost look like new :)

An advantage with new clothes is clearly that the garment is new and unworn.

New clothes boost your confidence (well, at least in the short run), give new life to your seemingly boring wardrobe and compared to second-hand clothes, you don't need to worry if the previous owner had skin allergies or had sexual intercourse while wearing the dress that is now donated to a thrift store.

Another advantage is that you can choose clothes from the brand you like, or the shop you favorite. With second-hand and vintage, there's a limited choice when it comes to brand names and sizes.

You get what is in front of you. 
Second-hand coats and jackets
Second-hand coats and jackets (Fretex)

On the other hand, new clothes adds to the load on an already fragile environment.

Cotton is a common material in the clothes you and I are wearing. For the fashion industry it's crucial to have access to water for the production of clothes and shoes, and water is used during the entire process; from cultivating the cotton, coloring the textile and the finishing.

Water scarcity is already a problem globally, and even if water reuse is technical possible, it isn't widely used.

Second-hand and vintage

The clear pro-argument with second hand and vintage is re-use. You're giving the used garment a second chance and extending its lifespan. 

If you're in a tight budget, second-hand clothes are in many cases cheaper than new clothes. If you make the time to hunt, you can actually find nice clothing that are still in good shape.

Read: A beginner's guide to flea market shopping.
Second-hand cardigans and sweaters
Second-hand cardigans and sweaters (Fretex)

Second-hand pumps and boots
Second-hand pumps and boot (Fretex)

Vintage clothes have typically great quality unlike today's synthetic fashion, where materials like acrylic, polyester, spandex and nylon are used. According to Huffingtonpost, today's clothing made by the fast fashion giants is designed to fall apart. In the "good old days" when people needed clothes that lasted longer, the clothes were made from materials with purer quality, like pure cotton, wool and silk.

Synthetic fashion is strongly connected to today's "fast fashion," meaning trendy clothes are designed and manufactured at an accelerated rate, and then sold at a lower price.

So if you buy vintage it's almost guaranteed that the garment is of good quality and you don't need to purchase a new coat for years. It's an investment and it will save you money in the long run.

Another advantage with vintage is that it's unique. Maybe you'll find a nice, beige coat bought in the 1970s, some nice pumps from the 80s or a dotted scarf that a grandmother used during her golden days in 1939. 

The point is: vintage gives your style character.
Trying on second-hand clothes
The off-white sweater and the
mustard yellow scarf
are second-hand (Fretex)

If enough people were buying second-hand/vintage and cutting down on new clothes, maybe this would lessen the demand for new clothes, decrease green house gas emissions and the amount of water used in the production.

Of course, every measure has repercussions. In this case, loss of jobs in the fast fashion industry might occur if people buy less clothes from this part of the fashion industry. Hopefully the demand for second-hand and vintage will increase, meaning that there would be more employees and investment in that particular sector.

Read: Ten easy tips on how to thrift shop for clothes and accessories.

But there's got to be some downside(s) to the second-hand/vintage market?

As mentioned above, there's less flexibility with second-hand garments. Maybe you have broad shoulders or more than an average ass, which might not fit the average clothing. 

Many of the clothes I've seen at thrift stores are also size-specific. Either they're too large or too small. And even if I find something in my size which is somewhere between small and medium, the clothing doesn't have the right fit on my figure.

So, it requires some patience and time when you're shopping at thrift stores or flea markets. Many people don't have the time.

When it comes to vintage, shopping clothes from the 20s or 50s is not cheap. Really old vintage clothes and accessories are in most cases more expensive than regular, modern garments. Coats, jackets and leather bags are examples of garments and accessories that tend to be more expensive.

A comparison between new clothes and second-hand/vintage:
Table that shows comparison between new clothes and second-hand and vintage

Not convinced?

If you only want new clothes, you can still lessen the impact on the environment by shopping for quality, rather than quantity.

Clothes with good quality last longer. For a person with a middle income, shopping for high-quality clothes means shopping less (because you can't afford more clothes). If we shop less, we can maybe reduce the amount of textile waste going to the landfills. And by shopping for good quality, you're not supporting the fast fashion industry.

Yes, clothes with good quality are more expensive, because the materials used are of purer quality and the stitching is usually better.

And yeah, we can't hide the fact that a brand name itself has a price. Some might argue that you're paying more for the brand name than what the garment is actually worth. That's another debate and all I can say is to use common sense, also when it comes to clothes from popular brands.

What are your thoughts on shopping second-hand and vintage? Please share your thoughts below! 

Read: What are the differences between second-hand and vintage


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