In 2012, hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis popularized thrifting with their song, “Thrift Shop.” Now in 2020, thrifting is still sweeping the nation, but this time through social media outlets. Tik-tokers and Instagram users are proving that this sustainable practice is in vogue by showing off their thrifted treasures to create outfits and art.
“Social media has definitely turned thrifting into the new craze,” said Jamal Smith, a UNC sophomore studying exercise and sports science. “It’s kind of like a movement.”
Smith said that thrifting isn’t new to some populations.
“Black people have been on this trend," Smith said. "We used hand-me-downs before it was even a thing. But now it's kind of turned into this thing where when you go thrifting, you’ve gotta walk out like you're in the New York Fashion Week.”
Mikayla Cunningham, a UNC junior studying psychology, held a similar position on the origin of thrifting.
“I feel like it’s given people like minorities, who come from impoverished backgrounds a chance to be fresh,” she said.
Cunningham is passionate about thrifting — she uses it as an outlet for stress-relief and freedom of expression rather than to follow social media trends.
“It’s a creative source for me,” she said. “I can get something for cheap, tear it up, mash stuff together, and see what works.”
Tajahn Wilson, a UNC junior studying media and journalism, said that this sustainable practice allows his inner creative to thrive.
“I don’t really go for clothes at all. I go for objects that I can use or do something creative with,” he said.
Wilson said he goes into thrift shops with an open mind and no preconceived intentions.
“I usually just go and look around to see what will speak to me,” he said. “It’s more fun that way and it makes it like an adventure.”
While thrifting is simply an outlet for creating and repurposing for some, others have a necessity for these reduced-priced items due to financial limitations.
Many commercial thrifters are weary of how their thrifting habits can be harmful to low-income communities.
Paige Hathaway, a UNC junior studying public policy, said that she prefers thrifting from consignment shops and boutiques.
“I don't go to Goodwill and I don't go to rescue missions or anything like that because that's intended for the population that really needs it,” Hathaway said.
She thinks that though the trend is interesting and innovative, she hopes the practice isn’t getting taken advantage of.
“I think the social media rise of thrifting is awesome,” Hathaway said. “I just wish that people would also give to their thrift stores that they're buying.”
Cunningham also said she replenishes shops that she thrifts from.
“When I thrift heavily, especially in between seasons, I go through my closet and compile all of the stuff that I don’t wear and give it back,” she said.
Thrifting serves as a way for fashion to be passed from generation to generation. This cyclical practice only works if consumers give back to the shops that they purchase from. According to Cunningham, this tradition of sharing inspires and connects individuals to one another.
“It’s great because it opens up the floor to more creativity and new ideas and I think it meshes the community."
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