The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday March 29th

Column: From not to hot – the evolution of thrifting

Shoppers browse the racks at Rumors, a thrift boutique on N. Graham St., on June 9, 2022.
Buy Photos Shoppers browse the racks at Rumors, a thrift boutique on N. Graham St., on June 9, 2022.

Y'all are fake. And the easiest way to prove this is through the evolution of thrifting.

When I think of thrifting, I’m brought back to my late elementary and early middle school days when I dreaded being seen in someone else’s hand-me-down clothing. I don’t picture the cutesy and petite girls on the hunt for “vintage” finds that match their perfect aesthetics. Instead, I only see myself sifting through racks and racks of odd-smelling clothes with my entire family on a Saturday afternoon, hoping to find clothing that would help me fit in.

Back then, thrifting wasn’t cool. If you weren’t wearing brand-name clothing and keeping up with the trends like everyone else, you stuck out like a sore thumb. In an era all about status, thrifting was only for people with low incomes that had no other option. Kids who had no control over their financial situations felt a lot of unwarranted shame. If you didn’t want to be bullied, you quickly learned to keep where you bought your clothes to yourself.

I find it funny that now thrifting is all the rage. Thrift store prices have gone up, too. I’m amused every time I see a thrift store haul video come across my timeline. They’re always enjoyable, but my experiences were of sticky floors, dull lighting and children running around without their parents. Not to mention being close to tears because I couldn’t find anything I liked or ending up with a bag full of outfits my parents picked. 

Some of the same people making it their personality now wouldn’t be caught dead in a thrift store just a few years back. For some, it’s about affordability, but we all know that for most, it’s just about following a new trend.

In an age of self-proclaimed originality and finding your style, it’s still evident that how we dress is influenced by others. We want validation, to be liked and for people to think we are stylish. It all boils down to taking fashion inspiration from older eras and thinking things are new when they aren’t. 

No matter how different we consider our sense of style, we’re still piggybacking off of one another in some shape or form. That is why trends die faster than they take off and why something like thrifting can be out one day and in the next. Our generation desperately craves to be the next big thing, yet we hate to admit that everyone else is thinking the exact same thing.

People switch up how they feel about clothing all the time. But not everyone has the luxury of renovating their wardrobe every 5 to 10 business days. Therefore, I want to say kudos to the kids that used to thrift when it wasn’t in style — I see you and you deserve an apology. 

It’s okay if shopping at thrift stores is a means of survival for you versus a hobby for the next person. It takes skill to know how to dress with limited options. I’m saying this very lightheartedly, but I’m glad that thrifting doesn’t come with a stigma — for now.

Soon enough, thrifting will not be a craze anymore because someone will come around and decide it is uncool again. The same thing happened with brands like Champion that you used to be able to find in Walmart (which people tend to forget). Wearing Champion gear looks expensive nowadays, but it was considered cheap in the early 2000s.

For the most part, how we dress is just a cycle of social acceptability and none of it truly matters.


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