By Victoria Lawson | Echo
Colorful windbreakers. Scrunchies. High-waisted retro shorts. It's no secret that vintage clothing is now more popular and widespread than ever - but sophomore Emmanuel Terrell believes vintage fashion is not just a clothing style, but a lifestyle.
Terrell has fond memories of thrift shopping with his mom whenever she needed materials to make costumes for school plays. He now sells vintage clothing part-time on Instagram under the handle @scavenger_thrift after meticulously hand-picking his merchandise from secondhand stores. To Terrell, there are two sides to the vintage shopping coin: self-expression and consumer ethics, which are both significant to him.
On the side of self-expression, Terrell appreciates vintage fashion because he has been told he has an "old soul." He draws inspiration from his favorite era, the 90s - 90s rap and hip hop culture, specifically. On the consumer ethics side of the coin, Terrell believes that shopping secondhand eliminates clothing waste.
"I love vintage clothing because I just don't really like what's being made today," Terrell said. "It's kind of just mimicking what used to be. I think more recently I've found that buying vintage clothing is better because you're not contributing to the demand of 'fast fashion,' which is a pretty big problem considering that most factories are overseas and don't pay their workers nearly as well (as they should)."
"Fast fashion" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers."
Terrell avoids fast fashion because the styles die out every season, while vintage trends will always be relevant.
Thrift stores aren't the only ideal locations for secondhand shopping. Especially for the broke college student, closet sales are another cheap, helpful and convenient alternative to mainstream clothing stores.
A group of students from 3rd West Olson held a closet sale on Sunday, Feb 24. Juniors Naomi Noyes, Maddie Dyer and Lauren Murphy were key players in starting the closet sale so they could downsize their wardrobes.
"I just recently was in Ethiopia for a month for J-term and I think that was a huge eye-opener where I was like, 'I don't really need all this,'" Noyes said. "These kids come to school every day and they're wearing the same pair of shoes every day and the same clothes and I was sitting there in class wearing a new outfit every day teaching. I definitely came back this semester with a little bit more gratitude . . . I truly don't need everything I have."
Murphy hopes to create a "capsule wardrobe" which is a small collection of timeless clothing essentials that can all be matched with one another. Her goal is to assemble 37 clothing items for her wardrobe. To Murphy, taking an honest assessment of what one has and needs is a practical way to model good stewardship.
Dyer also wants to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle. During the fall semester, Dyer took interest in the ethics of the fashion industry and wrote a long research paper on the subject.
"(Writing the paper) was super convicting, just thinking about how what you buy affects people," Dyer said. "So I've been trying - and it's been such a long process because I have so many things - to transition my closet to more ethical things. Just to think about how you affect producers as a consumer."
The women felt their closet sale had an excellent turnout and are proud they made steps to reduce clothing waste, avoid unethically made brands and provide other college students with the chance to buy affordable clothing.
Terrell's Thrifting Tips
- Go with your gut - if an item stands out to you, go for it. It's easier to take risks when you're spending less than $10.
- Make a day of it - thrifting requires patience and plenty of time if you want quality finds, especially if you're going for a specific era look.
- Don't be afraid to look unique and don't shop to match - develop a style that makes you feel proud to put yourself out there.