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Thrifting: Fashion or Fail?

Thrifting has become more popular in recent years, particularly among Gen-Z, who are more concerned about making affordable, eco-friendly and sensible fashion choices.

Full clothing rack
Credit: Noémie Roussel/Unsplash

Thrifting has been a popular fashion choice over the past few years, but what is it all about?

What is Thrifting?

Thrifting involves visiting thrift shops, charity shops, and vintage clothing stores in the hope of finding cheap but fashionable items. This can include second-hand shirts, trousers, dresses, bags, shoes, and other items.

Thrifting online has become more popular in recent years, particularly among Gen-Z, who are more concerned about making affordable, eco-friendly, and sensible fashion choices.

Thrifting Influencers

There are growing numbers of sustainable fashion influencers on Instagram and TikTok, and many of them have explored thrifting. They often encourage others to look into thrifting by showing how you can make fashionable outfits while ensuring very minimal costs. Often, they show the greatest bargains they have found or their vintage pieces.

I interviewed two fashion content creators and thrifters, and here’s what they said:

Tiffany, @styledbytifa

Tiffany, 29 years old, has been thrifting for over ten years. She lives in New York City and shares her thrift finds and fashion content on her Instagram @styledbytifa.

“I started thrifting when I was in high school so it’s been at least ten years! As a kid, I loved trying on my mom’s clothing from the 80s and early 90s and when I was in high school she gifted me one of her vintage winter coats (which quickly became a staple in my closet).”

“From that point on, I always had a love for older clothing and hand-me-downs. And once I realized there were places essentially selling people’s hand-me-downs for a dollar a piece, I started going to my local Goodwill more regularly.”

“One of the best things about thrifting is that it’s such a uniquely personal experience. Whatever you find is likely not found elsewhere and serves as a blank canvas just for you. I also love that the pieces you find can feel like a part of history captured in clothing.”

Tiffany added, “Gen Z and younger generations normalizing thrifting can be helpful for erasing the stigma associated with buying second-hand clothing. At the same time, I think younger generations push us to try new things in fashion via thrifting and so I’m excited to see how this evolves.”

Thrift store window fashion
(Image credit: Allison Christine/Unsplash)


Tiffany said, “It’s incredibly important to me [to make sensible, eco-friendly fashion choices] not only because of the impact the fashion industry has on the planet but also because of the way garment workers have been and continue to be exploited.”

“However, I also recognize that fast fashion is more size-inclusive, affordable, and accessible for most people. Not everyone is afforded the privilege of time to sift through racks of clothes or money to spend on sustainable brands.”

“I hope to encourage others to thrift or try second-hand first before buying new, but also to discover their own personal style.”

Top Tips

Tiffany advised, “If you’re someone who suffers from option paralysis like me, go in with an idea of what you’re looking for but remain open to being surprised. Having to sort through a rack of 100 bottoms is overwhelming enough so knowing what color or cut you’re looking for can help focus your search. But don’t close yourself off from trying something that perhaps didn’t initially fit your earlier vision.”

“Know your measurements and bring a tape measure with you! Or even better – measure your favorite pair of pants, bottoms, etc., and use those measurements to help you find pieces that fit the way you want them to. This is also very helpful for thrifting online.”

“When you see something you like – think intentionally about when you’d wear it and what items you already own that could work with it.”

Rosie Okotcha, @rosieokotcha

Rosie shares her thrifting experiences on her Instagram @rosieokotcha. She is the founder of Bite Back Vintage.

Rosie said: “My mum used to take me charity shopping when I was a child so I’ve thrifted my whole life and it definitely helped me develop my own personal style. I think after Covid, I definitely got more into it as it was a fun way to get out of the house and see friends.”

“[The best thing about thrifting is] when you find something that’s been on your thrifting dream board for ages!”


When asked about making sensible, eco-friendly fashion choices, Rosie said: “For me, it was a really easy swap. Instead of heading to my local shopping center, I’d hit up the charity shops. I think it’s really important and even if you’re not buying all second hand it’s an easy swap for the odd thing here and there. So I think it’s achievable for us all.”

“I like to think I already encourage people [to consider thrifting].”

“It would be amazing if this could become the new normal; if people grow up thrifting or just buying second hand it won’t be such a reflex choice to buy brand new.”

Top Tips

Rosie advised: “Have fun with it and don’t expect to find a grail item your first time!”

“Don’t let gender or size stop you from looking through everything, and focus on fabrics and colors. You can always upcycle it if you really love it.”

“Thrifting doesn’t have to be in real life. You can head to eBay, Vinted, or Depop for specific items!”

Learn about more thrifting tips.

Thrift shoe fashion sale
(Image credit: Megan Lee/Unsplash)


The fashion industry is huge and constantly growing, and people are looking for new trends all the time. Although thrifting has been around for a long time, it hasn’t been very popular until the last few years.

According to Gitnux market data, the resale clothing market is growing quickly and may overtake fast fashion in the coming years:

“The global fashion resale market is expected to grow 127% by 2026, which is three times faster than the wider retail clothing industry. This proves that the thrift store industry is growing rapidly, which could lead to more customers and more profits for thrift stores.”

The market is growing due to a few reasons. The cost-of-living crisis has resulted in increased demand for thrift stores because of cheap costs. Concerns about the environment and global warming have also led to more people re-wearing outfits and buying second-hand items.

The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world that contributes to environmental concerns. But by choosing to buy second-hand, consumers can make a meaningful impact on the planet.

Thrift Flipping

You may have heard of this term before, but what is it?

Thrift flipping is the process of buying second-hand and vintage items, and then reselling them at a higher price to make a profit. This is often done by having items like shoes and bags professionally restored to increase their value before selling again, often on Vinted or Depop.

Thrifting on a Student Budget

Thrifting is most popular among 18 to 24-year-olds, many of whom are full-time or part-time students. It’s a great option for students with tight budgets. Not only does it allow purchasing stylish clothes for cheap prices, but thrift-flipping is a great idea for students wanting to make a side income.

Written By

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