Updated: May 24
A second-hand shop is a place with lots of possible connotations given throughout time.
Times when a piece of clothing, a pair of shoes, or an accessory from a second-hand shop meant the only thing – that it was worn by someone else – changed. Now we are waiting for “the new collection” to arrive just so we could snatch some brand “gems” and later use it in some stylish combination. But probably we never questioned ourselves where these clothes come from and how they end up in these big chain second-hand shops.
Don’t need it? Sell it!
How many of you remember times before all apps for selling clothes such as Vinted, eBay, Facebook Market, etc. came into a trend? Do you still remember or even used the services of consignment shops? Even if you have never been to these places or never heard of them, this is one of the ways how second-hand clothing shops get their inventory. If you are keen to try it or you already did this but were disappointed that you did not earn a lot of money even though you had some great pieces to offer, you can still improve your chances by using some useful tips. And yes, this way you are also contributing to the variety of second-hand clothing options, so don’t throw it out – sell it!
Where donated clothes end up?
Imagine a situation when you open your wardrobe and you feel as if you have a whole shop in there but you still feel as if you don’t have anything to wear. Probably you feel anxious and “full of it”, and you have only one thing in your mind – how to get rid of clothes you don’t longer need. Fast and without a fuss. Fuss? Well, those who try to sell their clothes using an app, know that this is also a piece of work, only posting an item takes some time of your day. If this sounds familiar, probably you will think about simply donating your clothes. Doing a good deed and making some room sounds like a perfect way out of the situation. But did you know where your clothes end up?
There is a high chance that they will end up in second-hand shops. Simply looking, donated clothes are usually sold by charities. Of course, this money helps to keep up with their good work and these clothes are “resurrected” for a second life. However, if we look at this “business” up close, we will understand that all of this is not so simple. So, what are the problems?
Business from zero
Going (thrift) shopping is fun. Fashion is fun. Finding “best things” from the rack is fun. But what is less fun is to see what are the behind of scenes of this business. To understand what is going on behind our innocent thrift shipping, we recommend watching a documentary called “Second Hand” (2019). The movie shows some hardly understandable and unusual way for used clothing to appear on the shelves of second-hand shops. Donated clothes end up being stolen from collection points and sold for personal profit.
If re-wind a little and think again about how the industry of second-hand clothes works, we can see one more problem arising. Some companies use second-hand clothing business for money laundering: since some companies are registered as non-profit organizations, according to the law, they pay lower taxes, and those who are registered as profit-seeking businesses are usually suspected of tax evasion.
For most of us donating means doing something good, having more, and giving it to those in need. But is it always the case? In the article issued by Fashion Revolution, the creative director of Fashion Revolution Sudan, Hadeel Osman talks about the recent problem that African countries are facing. These countries are provided by second-hand clothing “donations” from the US and Europe. However, these donations are not always given out of good incentive but rather to get rid of a surplus of clothing that is no longer needed in mentioned continents. Not only the article emphasizes problems such as mass production and consumption but also digs up even deeper-rooted issues such as racism. This situation only shows how instead of tackling these serious problems that the fashion industry faces, we are sweeping the surface and hiding everything under the rug.
If you ever wondered, how a second-hand shop looks like from “behind the scenes”, it is no longer only about the selling and buying, swapping and exchanging. If you thought second-hand clothing meant a rather more conscious and sustainable way of consumption, it also hides its secrets and problems. The system is made not only for the good cause, for example, fighting against mass consumption and sharing things with those who have less, but it also shows that if there is a way to make some kind of profit, certain people won’t miss the chance.
The fashion industry faces some serious problems and these kinds of problems do not have simple solutions. And if someone is providing you with one, ask yourself if it’s the right way out. And if you are keen to know more - stay tuned for our upcoming posts!