Finding Joy in Pre-loved Clothes

Reading a book from my grandfather’s vintage book collection brings me immense joy. The tanned pages and the notes scribbled beside paragraphs, add texture to the stories in them. Revisiting those pages, is like experiencing the happiness and thrill my grandfather felt while reading them. With a lot of care and attention, he preserved those vintage classics for us to read and gave us a chance to fall in love with the books he loved.

Just like books, what if we could give life to clothes loved by someone else?

When I go hunting for second-hand items of clothing, I like to to believe that each item has a story. My mind wonders about the person who owned it. I think about the day they found this gorgeous item at the store. The excitement that they had when they wore it for the first time. Oh the compliments they must have got! I also think about why they must have discarded this skirt (from a famous brand) which I found in perfect condition? Found something better? Grew out of size? A gift from an ex? I wonder… I wonder…

Anyway, the important thing is that I look great in it! If that beautiful piece of clothing which looked almost brand-new hadn’t found its way to the second-hand store, it would have ended up in the landfill (like the millions of clothes that do every year). Think about all the resources used up to make that piece of clothing:

  • In the drive to cut costs, fast fashion brands are guilty of exploiting their workers. For some of the lowest wages of the world, workers (mostly women and children in developing countries) are exposed to distressing working conditions to produce clothes for famous brands.
  • Cotton is found in 40% of all clothing and it is a highly water intensive plant and consumes a lot of chemical and pesticides. Synthetic polymers, like nylon and polyester, make up 72% of the clothing and their production generates greenhouse gases like nitrous oxide which is ‘300 times more potent than carbon dioxide’.
  • Dyeing and treatment of garments makes up roughly 17-20% of all industrial water pollution, according to the World Bank.

Isn’t it a shame if we didn’t give a perfectly usable item a chance to extend its life?

Say Yes to Second-hand!

Many people believe that second-hand clothes mean smelly unfashionable clothes owned by a dead person. Once you explore the second-hand shopping path, you realise that this belief can’t be further from the truth. You will be amazed by seeing all the stylish pieces! Get into the spirit of treasure hunting at the store as you can never say what you will find. You will also learn to understand that buying brand-new cheap clothes from fast fashion brands is not the only way to look trendy.

Although, I must say that sizing issues is a problem that you can encounter. You cannot ask a store manager if they have an item in a different size as they are all unique pieces. You also need to be a savvy shopper to inspect the item for wear and tear that is beyond repair.

Second-hand stores are not common in a lot of cities. However, if you are interested in building a community that sends less things to the landfill, you can organise events within your circle. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a buy-and-sell setting. Swapping pre-loved clothes is a lovely tradition to follow with your family and friends. Children grow out of clothes so quickly, so it makes more sense to opt for second-hand clothes. We all have worn hand-me-downs from our older siblings at some point in our lives.

If reading about the appalling labour conditions in the fashion industry and the environmental impact of fast fashion breaks your heart and makes you feel helpless, it’s time to recognise that your actions can make an impact. Choose the Slow Fashion journey and be an active citizen through your wardrobe! 🙂

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