Today is National Thrift Store Day! Join donateNYC in celebrating the day by shopping second-hand first.
Thrift Store Day celebrates New York’s vibrant reuse sector while also highlighting the many benefits of buying and donating gently used goods. According to donateNYC, the focus on thrift and reuse stores not only save shoppers money, they also reduce waste, conserve resources, and help create green jobs. Buying second-hand from nonprofit thrift stores also provides the added benefit of supporting those organizations’ important social service missions.
To find locations where you can shop second-hand and celebrate Thrift Store Day, see this map of donateNYC partner stores (and make sure you click through to see which shops will be having special sales). To close out the day in style, donateNYC is organizing a free Thrift Store Day shopping event in collaboration with thier partners including Housing Works, Goodwill, and Salvation Army. For more information and to register for the event, see their Eventbrite page.
We caught up with 15 seasoned thrift shoppers to celebrate all things second hand and hopefully to get you inspired to celebrate shopping used!
Alden Wicker, Ecocult
After much practice, I've cracked the thrift store code. Here's how to be triumphant instead of frustrated when you go into consignment shops to sell: 1. Don't bring in fast fashion. They don't want it. Separate that out and donate it. Better yet, don't buy fast fashion in the first place. 2. Bring in items that are good quality. They don't even need to be a popular designer label the employees recognize. My lovely associate would just Google each thing she didn't recognize to get a sense for its retail worth. 3. Go early in the season, before everyone has cleaned out their closets for the season change. They'll have more room to take things. 4. Wash and iron everything and check for stains. 5. Stay at the counter while they go through it. I told her the story of each item, how vegetable tanned leather is supposed to wear in and get character, how that vintage army jacket is a great festival jacket (even though it has a fur collar and could be considered out of season), how those aren't snow boots, they're rain boots, how those jeans are an Australian brand and organic, plus here's a pic of me wearing them. "Good butt jeans!" She said. 6. Be nice. Make small talk. 7. Make bank!Alden Wicker, Ecocult
Carmen Gama, EILEEN FISHER Remade Designer
I started thrifting at a very young age with the purpose of looking for unique pieces that will make me feel special. All I wanted was to wear clothes that no one would be wearing and with my tight budget, second hand clothing was my only option. Later on in life I've learned about the huge negative impact that the clothing industry brings to our planet and the people who produces it. This strengthened my decision of not buying brand new clothing because there are so many pre-loved garments out there in this world waiting to have a second chance to clothes us for years and years to come.Carmen Gama, EILEEN FISHER Remade Designer
Emma Grady, Past Fashion Future
I have had amazing luck in vintage and secondhand shops. What I love most is that you just never know what you are going to find! I have been collecting vintage fashion for over 15 years and I keep finding amazing things--bags by Christian Dior, Gucci, Balmain and Fendi, dresses by Zac Posen and Isaac Mizrahi, a Valentino skirt, and an Armani blazer, just to name a few of my favorites. Each time I find something that I love it feels a bit serendipitous. I once ripped my favorite pair of black jeans (that I had bought secondhand) and went into Beacon's Closet later that day, only to find the same pair, in the same size yet brand new. They were literally the first thing I saw when I walked in the store.Emma Grady, Past Fashion Future
Elizabeth Cline, Author "Overdressed, The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion"
Thrift shopping is one of my favorite things in life. But I actually levitated yesterday when I had the chance to combine my devotion to buying secondhand, my support for racial justice and the ACLU, AND my obsession with the reality TV phenomenon, The Bachelorette. I landed one of Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay's very own dresses, a gorgeous silk Badgley Mischka shift, off the secondhand site thredUP. The best part: The money goes toward the ACLU.Elizabeth Cline, Author "Overdressed, The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion"
Adam Baruchowitz, Founder of Wearable Collections
From a collector of used clothing and someone who helps circulate the merchandise that travels around the world, I am always amazed by the various types of 'thrift' in different countries. How thrift retailers in Japan create atmospheres that match some of our finest boutiques in America. I think that rebranding our thrift shops could go a long way in increasing demand for used goods in America and play an important role in helping to solve the textile waste problem.Adam Baruchowitz, Founder of Wearable Collections
Brece Honeycutt, Natural Dyer, Textile Artist
Every year my mother worked at the church rummage sale and would bring home Mrs. T’s ‘gently worn’ Scottish cashmere sweaters. Thus, thrifting became a credo for me from a very young age, for I realized the treasures one can find in the rows of castoff garments. I now live near a fabulous thrift store, The Bargain Barn. Their 25-cent rack is a holder of miracles and stories. On a desperately hot summer’s day, I found a Sonya Rykiel Yves Klein blue oversized wool sweater. I wear it on the coldest winter’s days and wonder what life it had before I found it. And to make my thrifting experience all the sweeter, The Bargain Barn supports our local NPR station, Robin Hood Radio. Spending and donating and not buying new all in one.Brece Honeycutt, Natural Dyer, Textile Artist
Orsola de Castro, Co-Founder & Creative Director of Fashion Revolution
I have been addicted to vintage and second hand clothing all my life. I love wearing other people's fragments of life, I love that the clothes I buy carry a secret history, as mine do, when I pass them on. I am also very possessive over my clothes, I have changed my mind and bought back some pieces I had just donated to charity. I bitterly regret that we have shifted into a culture that doesn't value the stories that weave our clothes together. That we let our possessions become a trail of waste and environmental degradation because we are encouraged to throw away and buy again before we care, repair and rewear. Clothes can have a long history, if we let them.Orsola de Castro, Co-Founder & Creative Director of Fashion Revolution
Katherine Steck, The Junkyard Journals
I thrift because I can buy various brands without directly supporting the waste of the textile industry, unfair labor practices, and animal cruelty. If slashing all that guilt isn't enough, another major perk of thrifting is the incredible high that comes with treasure hunting. (I have been known to squeal and hug my cashier at Goodwill...).Thrifting can be kind of an insane addiction, but it's good for the environment, often times provides job training for people with special needs or a rough past, and saves me so much money — so I'm more than okay with it!Katherine Steck, The Junkyard Journals
Sarah Barney, Visual Designer
The typical “Thrift Store” has evolved. Thrift stores look more like luxury boutiques now (and some have luxury prices). After 15 years in fashion and two kids my personal style has evolved from a grunge look to a slightly more refined mix of vintage and designer. My thrifting strategies have changed with the dawn of Instagram and personal lack of “me time”. With the rise of social media as a selling platform I shop from thrift stores in Oakland (Mercy Vintage), LA , Paris and Brooklyn (Pamela Love ALWAYS beats me to the best pieces on the Fox & Fawn Instagram page - Damn you Pamela!). I recently cleaned out my closet for a year long move to Spain with my family. Between my three shops in Brooklyn - Fox and Fawn, Shop Worship and Consignment I garnered around $1,100 in store credit with them. I turned that around into about 15 new (to me) items including Balenciaga sunglasses, a vintage 1970’s zip up denim pantsuit, a buttery blush leather Vince dress, Dries van Noten black silk top, Sophie Thallet perfect patterned and fitted date dress, a score of Opening Ceremony tee’s and some chic vintage cuffs. Plus, with Instagram, there’s an added bonus of seeing your amazing siren red homecoming dress being loved and looking fabulous on someone new.Sarah Barney, Visual Designer
Julia Goldstein, Shoe Designer, Converse
I've shopped at thrift stores since childhood, long loving the thrill of the chase and treasure hunt. I scan for the details, for textiles and buttons to incorporate into cut and sew projects or dyeing experiments. I love to see how the fabric will stand the test of time, how it will move and wear. What you see is what you get unlike the common disappointment I've felt after saving pennies for a big purchase that quickly pills. Today I'm wearing a dress that was handmade in Nepal. It was missing a few buttons that I borrowed from an old union made shirt. I'm drawn to anything hand stitched or repaired. I love all the earnest knots and imperfections wearing something that has been loved.Julia Goldstein, Shoe Designer, Converse
Outi Pyy, DIY Fashion Blogger, Trashionista
I do not want to dress like everyone else. But I also love quality clothes with mainstream pricing. This is why I have shopped second hand for the past 20 years. I love to mix up different styles and decades. Fashion should be fun, and you can do that at a second hand shop. I refuse to be told what to wear by global companies with their 3-6 month selections and trend forecasts. I want clothes that stay in style for 20 years!Outi Pyy, DIY Fashion Blogger, Trashionista
Adrienne Antonson, Founder, State the Label
My wonderful mother started taking me to vintage and thrift shops at a young age. My earliest and most impressionable find was in 5th grade when shopping for a winter coat to take to Washington DC with me to see Clinton's inauguration with my class. I found the most amazing white and black faux fur coat that fit me like a glove. It was love at first sight. While all the other kids had boring winter coats from the mall, I was styling in my fur. The photos of that trip make me laugh and also give me great satisfaction that I knew at a such a young age how important it is to be unique. Vintage always beats new in my book.Adrienne Antonson, Founder, State the Label
Crystalyn Brennan, Founder, Crystalyn Kae Handbags
My first collection of bags that started my company was made from secondhand clothing: 1970's era men's plaid pants. They reminded me so much of the pants my grandfather used to wear. It may seem unconventional but there was something that I found so compelling: "What could I make out of this oddly shaped crazy material?" Since then I have taken on customers old leather jackets, polyester shirts and prom dresses to turn into bags and clutches. But I still have a soft spot for those crazy pants and collect them to this day.Crystalyn Brennan, Founder, Crystalyn Kae Handbags
Kelsie Doty, Fiber Science & Apparel Design at Cornell
I currently purchase 80% of my wardrobe from thrift stores and second hand shops. I’m able to find beautiful vintage garments that are of better quality than what I can purchase new and they have a story built into every piece. From names penned onto jacket labels to mismatched buttons where somebody repaired a beloved linen shirt. My favorite thing to do is to find secondhand white silk, wool, cotton, or linen garments and to natural dye them, obtaining a beautiful array of colors. Sometimes I will dye a garment a solid color and sometimes I will hammer petals and leaves into the textile, each one is a new and exciting experiment.Kelsie Doty, Fiber Science & Apparel Design at Cornell
Faye Lessler, Program Coordinator, Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator
My whole life I've been obsessed with fashion and experimenting with different styles, and since I've always been on a budget for some reason or another I've found that the best way to feed my inner fashion freak is with secondhand clothing. As a kid I would raid my parents' closets and find interesting ways to wear their clothing. Some of my best friendships are actually based on thrifting and swapping items from each others' closets! Secondhand clothing is more than just a way to shop frugally and to lighten your impact on the planet, it's also an easy and exciting way to mix up your style. In New York I love checking out any Housing Works location, 10ft Single by Stella Dallas in Williamsburg, and AuH2O in the East Village. Even better, though, is thrifting online. I'm a recent eBay addict and I've begun following secondhand Instagram shops from all over the world - and I'll be opening up my own very soon so you can shop my secondhand pieces from wherever you are!Faye Lessler, Program Coordinator, Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator