Come thrift with me: how thrifting became a trend

As someone who cares deeply about the environment, I have tried to explore how I can buy clothes I love without damaging the world we live in. Just like many people, I have ended up buying my clothes at thrift stores. Thrifting is not only a more sustainable option than fast fashion, but it is also more within the budget of many struggling people. However, it seems that thrifting has recently become a trend on social media, but how did this occur?

Staying trendy on a budget

‘Thrift Haul’, ‘Come thrift with me!’; these are titles you will often see on YouTube. In these videos, YouTubers takes the viewer along with them as they go shipping in thrift stores. From chunky grandpa sweaters to a 90s slip dress, these YouTubers find some of the most beloved clothing items and share them with the world. Nowadays, these types of videos are being published at an exponential rate. But when did this trend start? While thrifting is a vital way of living for low-income families and has been for decades, it has become popular for younger and wealthier generations since the beginning of the 21st century. Thrifting has even become a trend rather than a way of buying clothing on a budget. Sadly, the popularity of thrifting could negatively affect low-income families who rely on it. For example, people of higher incomes that partake in this thrifting trend could potentially rob the low-income families from staying stylish or even warm. The reason for this is because of the popularity of thrifting, the prices in thrift stores has increased due to higher demand. Not only that, but there are also people hording a huge amount of items and selling them at a higher price on resell sites like Depop or ThredUp. The latter is even expecting their resale to increase by eleven times by the year 2025, so it is not a phenomenon that will quickly disappear.

Resale data and prediction of resale site Thredup from 2012 until 2025, GlobalData 2021 Market Sizing and Growth Estimates, accessed December 14, 2021,

Fast fashion and its problems

With the rise of social media, fashion trends have become more accessible, but they have also risen and disappeared at a faster rate. These so-called ‘microtrends’ are trends created by fast fashion brands that include a specific type of fabric, model or clothing item that has become popular. It is brands like Shein that create these trends, not only by inventing them in a mere couple of days. They also produce them as fast as possible, and of course, as cheap as possible. However, as the name might suggest, these microtrends only last a few months or even weeks. As these microtrends fall out of fashion, they also get discarded out of closets and get dumped in thrift stores. Now, these fast fashion clothing articles are filling thrift stores and will likely stay there, due to their cheap and fragile nature. Luckily, the fast fashion industry is on its path to slow fashion. For example, brands like H&M have created transparency regarding their garment supply chains. Still, fast fashion has a long way to go to become slow fashion, or even be considered intermediate fashion.

Thrifting consciously

At first glance thrifting seems like the sensible solution to ending fast fashion. However, as noted in this blog, thrifting could still be harmful to the planet and its inhabitants. Do not be alarmed, there are still ways you can thrift consciously. First of all, you can reevaluate why you go thrifting in the first place. Do I have a limited budget? Am I thrifting solely for the trend? Am I trying to avoid shopping fast fashion? Secondly, when thrifting try avoiding buying in large amounts and try donating your own clothing once in a while. So while you’re thrifting, try asking yourself these questions so that you may help not only your own budget, but also the environment and its inhabitants.