She Thrifty Apparel, a female- and Black-owned local business, is seeking to divert fashion waste by reusing and recycling.
Founded in May of 2020, the thrift clothing company was started by Alexandria Monet, a 26-year-old Connecticut native. She moved to North Carolina to attend The Art Institute of Raleigh – Durham, where she earned a degree in Fashion Marketing and Management.
Monet founded the company after learning more about circular fashion and the harmful impact of the fashion industry on the environment. According to Green Strategy, a fashion consultancy firm, circular fashion consists of clothing items that are produced to be environmentally friendly, with recyclability and good ethics in mind.
Around 85 percent of all textiles are sent to landfills each year, and this quantity is increasing annually as clothing production rates rise, as stated in a 2018 report from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
“The fashion industry promotes waste culture because its very nature is founded on the next best thing, even though styles and designs come back around every year,” Monet said.
Casey Longyear, who co-owns Rumors Chapel Hill, a local thrift clothing store, said thrifting could have a strong, beneficial impact on the planet.
“There's so much stuff in this world — it's not just clothes,” Longyear said. “There's just so many things that need to be repurposed and reused. There's so many things we don't need to buy new, and thrifting is the easiest way for people to get it.”
Longyear met Monet at a vintage pop-up event in Durham and recruited her to sell her clothing at Rumors.
“We found that by finding reliable vintage suppliers, it's a good way to be able to support local businesses within our local business,” said Longyear.
Monet has attributed her gender and nationality to the way she conducts business.
“Being a Moorish-American in business means liberation from a history that was stolen and burned without our permission,” Monet said. “My nationality impacts my company by constantly being in a state of learning and that goes from business to the legal system.”
Both Longyear and Monet expressed excitement at the changing stigma surrounding thrifting. "Thrifting is particularly growing popular in younger generations," Monet said.
“It is so interesting to have an older or more unique piece that you thrifted,” said Alexandra Peeler, a second-year student at UNC who frequently thrifts. “The coolest pieces in my closet are thrifted, and honestly it feels super fun because it seems so uniquely mine. People can’t just run out to get it at their local store.”
Peeler said that she thrifts for many reasons, ranging from sustainability to affordability.
“Thrifting is a much more sustainable practice than buying clothes new, so people can feel much better about their choice,” Peeler said. “Also, as a college student, thrifting is a much cheaper practice, so you can find a bunch of staple pieces for your closet on a budget.”
While more young people are beginning to thrift, there is also more clothing made and sold than ever before. The fashion industry’s textile production generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined, the UNECE report said.
“The second-hand market is projected to double in the next five years, which means hope for the environment to me,” Monet said. “Secondhand and thrifting is changing the trajectory of pollution and waste.”
Monet said thrifting can truly have a positive impact on the environment.
“Thrifting is a part of building a circular economy and one key piece to circular fashion, and that is why it is important,” Monet said. “Thrifting extends the life cycle of clothing and honestly can extend ours as well.”