Thrift shopping (often referred to as ‘‘thrifting’’) is a widely popular trend among Millennials and Generation Z, with both age groups adopting the trend 2.5 times faster than Baby Boomers and Generation X, according to the website thredUP. Willamette students are no exception to the rising trend.
Piper St. Julien (‘21) has been thrifting since they started buying their own clothes, with their parents thrifting for them before that for environmental reasons. They also see thrifting as a way of spending less money and finding more options.
“I have a huge wardrobe, so getting new items is like tiny Christmas,”
St. Julien said. “I like the way the clothes look and I like the way they look on my body. I like to get new pieces that I didn’t have before, especially if they’re colorful. You know no one else has those pieces. You can find one of a kind pieces for really cheap.” St. Julien said their favorite find is a denim trench coat cut from real jeans and sewn together.
“It makes me feel like I’m Darth Vader,” St. Julien said. “It’s flowy in a powerful way and heavy in a way that’s comfortable.”
Because pieces are usually homemade or used, St. Julien advises washing clothes before wearing them. They also suggest knowing what you’re looking for ahead of time, not buying extras of basic clothing items and using patches to cover up holes. As for their favorite thrift shop in Salem, they were quick to hail Value Village.
“Value Village is a chain up and down [the] West Coast,” St. Julien said. “There is one in my hometown and it’s a familiar store front. They have particularly good prices, and their layout makes a lot more sense to me than other stores.”
Value Village is also the favorite of Sage Newman (‘22). Newman favors Value Village for its versatility, providing both essentials and interesting items. They have been thrifting for five years now, starting as a freshman in high school after learning about the negative effects of fast fashion.
“Unfortunately, there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism,” Newman said. “But there are ways we can lessen our effect on the world and one way is ethically shopping. Stores like Forever 21 and H&M overproduce clothes and burn the extras. Thrift shopping is a great way not to contribute to that. And as a broke college student, it’s great for the wallet because you’re spending less money.”
Newman plans on thrifting for as long as they live. They note that finding ethically-sourced clothing is harder and usually more expensive than thrifting, which provides a cheap and ethical way of getting new clothes.
Newman also said thrifting is a great way to find unique pieces. Often, they go into a thrift store with no idea of what they are looking for and are able to discover pieces they never would have thought of having.
“My greatest find is a Levi denim jacket that had a white plaque on the bottom and white star buttons,” Newman said. “I got it for $15 and it’s absolutely incredible. I also found six-inch platform Mary Jane heels from the 80s. They’re iconic and go with anything, if you’re confident.”
Newman suggests going in with an open mind and a general idea of what you’re looking for. Having a specific item or a strict set of rules usually makes thrifting more challenging.
“Go thrifting more,” Newman said. “It is better for the environment and better for you.”
They are not alone in their environmentally-conscious love of thrifting. Daniel Garcia King (‘22) also thrifts for sustainability, among other reasons.
“I started at the end of my senior year of high school because I had to start buying my own clothes. I already didn’t like what was being bought for me so thrifting became a way of self-expression,” Garcia King explained.
They also discussed how thrifting can be a social activity. They enjoy being able to find new things for people and provide a perspective that the other person wouldn’t otherwise have.
Their favorite thrift store in Salem is Value Village, due to the fact that they compensate their workers fairly and the donation process is much simple than at other thrift stores. They also like Value Village because it is easy to find new things.
“Once I found three pairs of corduroy pants, three vintage shirts and four rings for only $13,” King said. “Another time I found a tripod, which was marked at $12, but with the daily sales and the student discount, I ended up paying only $3.50 for it.”
Thrifting has many different positive effects that draw students in. From the environmental impact to the fiscal benefits and the ability to find new and unique clothes, thrift shopping seems to be a perfect activity for the college student in need of clothing. WU students see all the pros to thrifting and take advantage of this conscientious activity.
Photo Caption: Daniel Garcia King (middle left), Piper St. Julien (top right) and Sage Newman (bottom right) display items they have found at thrift shops. Thrift shops have many items that cannot be found in regular stores. Since old clothes do not go to waste, thrift shopping can benefit the environment and help you save money.
Credits: Lauren Montana