Pairing a white long-sleeved turtleneck with a white tennis skirt, Evalyn Lee ’23 accentuates her outfit with a blue Gymboree vest, a piece that she bought from her local thrift store in Chicago. According to Lee, the mystery of the stories behind thrifted clothing items is one of the reasons she enjoys finding pre-owned pieces.
“I like to think about the thrifted items’ previous owner and the stories and places that the article of clothing had been. I think that the sentiment and history behind these clothes wouldn’t exist if they had just been fresh out of the factory and you buy it from the mall,” said Lee.
In addition to her abstinence from often purchasing mass-produced, brand new clothing, Lee expresses that she does not want to fall into the trap of consumerism. Instead, she considers the environmental impact of garment factories and strives to extend the lifespan of her clothes in order to embody sustainability.
“[Thrifting] is good for the environment, since you are not contributing to landfills or fast fashion. Lowering the demand for clothing [and] utilizing materials that are better for the planet should be a priority that we all are conscious of,” said Lee.
A friend of Lee, Rachel Bong ’23, often sees Lee layering colorful thrifted pieces on top of basic, monochromatic clothing. According to Bong, restyling the pieces Lee already owns enables her to create new outfits.
“Through small everyday actions, I could tell that she was passionate about climate change and a lot of other social justice issues. Her support for sustainability encourages me to adopt a more sustainable mindset in my daily life, not just in fashion and clothing, but in other aspects as well,” said Bong.
Lee believes that thrifting is ultimately a more practical and economical choice compared to fast fashion. From sustainability to stylish selections found through thrifting, Lee encourages more people to adopt this environment-friendly method.
“When you go thrifting, you can get such good deals on clothes that would last you a much longer time. Those items are still around after all this time for a reason. They have a timeless look and they won’t grow out of the quickly evolving trends,” said Lee.