Old Threads, New Life - An Eco-Friendly Approach to Fashion with Thrift Store Finds
I love thrift shopping, and over the past few years, it’s become my primary mode of obtaining “new” clothes. With all the packing and moving around I’ve had to do for work, I’ve gotten a lot better at severely cutting back on the amount of things I own; it’s very annoying to lug too much stuff around. Luckily, I’m fortunate enough to often be surrounded by lovely, kind people who let me borrow things that I don’t have luggage space to travel with. I’m not bringing a fancy dress across the ocean! But when that formal birthday party rolls around, sometimes it’s nice to dress up a bit. Enter…thrift shopping. Or op shopping. Whatever you want to call it. That way you can primp up with the best of them without damaging your wallet or the planet.
Why Thrift Shopping is the Bomb.com
Thrift shopping is a very eco-friendly, and budget-friendly, approach to fashion. I first fell in love with it because my mom is absolutely obsessed, and together we realized we loved the thrill of the hunt. We can spend hours in a thrift store, sifting through the not-so-great clutter to find some real gems. A perfectly worn-in denim jacket. A vintage maxi skirt. The world’s most comfortable motorcycle boots.
But the part that has started to appeal to me more and more over the years is how repurposing someone else’s “junk” helps break up the cycle of fast fashion. If we stop buying things new, we’re not contributing to the fast drain of resources that is unfortunately caused by the fashion industry. And just in case you’re not entirely sure what fast fashion is and the negative impact it has on the planet and our psyche, I’ll give you the spark notes. The blogger Savvy AF created a lovely free infographic that helps sum things up. Take a look at it below and check out her awesome blog for more info.
The Problem with Fast Fashion
What is it? Fast fashion refers to big brands that push runway styles at consumers way too quickly, so that stores are constantly refilling shelves and restocking online inventories with new styles at ridiculously low prices. That means consumers are continually bombarded with new, cheap fashion options, and it becomes affordable for them to buy something new, wear it a few times, and then get rid of it and replace it with the next season’s big thing. I’m looking at you, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Walmart, Target, Cotton On, Primark…
Here’s the thing: it may seem cheap, but SOMEONE is paying the price. Whether it’s horrible labor conditions or a completely unsustainable, planet-deteriorating manufacturing process, there’s a reason these brands are able to deliver these clothing items to consumers at such a cheap price.
This is why it’s so important to know where your clothes are coming from. Some brands are much more transparent with their manufacturing process. That’s why I am so in love with Patagonia and Prana. They do an awesome job of describing where their clothes are produced, what materials they are made out of, and how most of what they make is created either from recycled materials or an easily-renewable source.
OR - you can just buy repurposed clothes at the thrift store and know that you are repurposing something that already exists.
To raise awareness about the dangers of fast fashion, my lovely friend Fi and I set out on a collaborative project to capture some of the cool fashion looks you can design with access to a local op shop and a bit of creativity. She is an incredible photographer, and I asked if she would accompany me out to a few of our favorite scenic locations to get photos of some of my favorite local thrift-store finds. Our friends Maxx and Tio joined us for the shoot - I think the photos turned out amazing!
Fashion Finds, Photos in Beautiful Places with Friendly Faces
The stunning scenery never fails at the Kaikoura lookout. Maxx is rocking an epic leather jacket he found at a thrift store in Christchurch. I’m wearing a brown Country Road maxi skirt on with a Glasson’s peasant-y top, courtesy of a Wellington thrift store from some birthday weekend adventures. Fi’s shots!
These shots are from the beach in front of Sea Change Eco Retreat on Uoleva, Tonga! I loved finding these Roxy boyfriend jeans for 50 cents at the Kaikoura “dump.” I decided to breathe some new island life into them, fresh out of an ocean swim. These were Fi’s shots.
Alicia and I met up for lunch in Coeur d’Alene while I was visiting home and told me her gorgeous dress and denim shirt were both thrift store finds - bring on the impromptu photo shoot! She killed it. I took these shots on my new Sony α6500.
I got way too excited about finding these Carhartt work shorts at a thrift store in my hometown last year. They’re super durable and enjoying a cultural revival here in the Northwest! Or maybe I’m behind the times and the Carhartt obsession is long gone - too bad I don’t care. They’re comfortable and can withstand my adventures. I had my talented mom raise the hem a bit so I could roll the bottom. What do you think of the hat? Found that at Goodwill! Treasure hunting has never been so sustainable. Mom played photographer here.
Want to Get in Touch?
If you like our work, say hello! We’re always looking for fun collaborations and ways to raise awareness about sustainable living and eco-fashion.
Look, the moral of the story is: we can have a lot of fun with the way we dress ourselves while sending big hug emojis to Mama Earth. Fashion can be a beautiful form of self-expression, or just a vague attempt to dress ourselves for the day’s activities, but however you want to view it, we all wear clothes, and we might as well reduce our impact while flaunting our threads.
Let me know what you think of the shots! Fiona and I will have more collaborations up in the near future, and we can’t wait to hear what you think. Comment below, subscribe to my blog newsletter, and say hi! I promise I don’t spam - I maybe get out two or three blog posts a month.