Second Hand September is over, but that doesn’t mean that we should go back to our old habits of buying new. Textile waste is a big problem in the fashion industry. Doesn’t matter if we are talking about leftover materials or clothing that’s never even seen store shelves and end up on the landfills or burned. There are many ways to not buy new: second-hand, vintage, redesigned and upcycled. But what’s the difference between all of them?
Second-hand means it was previously owned. In fact, it could be third-hand or fourth-hand; we’ll never know. Second-hand clothing encourages and develops a recycling community. In addition to that, it’s also the most eco-friendly way to shop. A lot of water and chemicals go into manufacturing our garments (read more here). Approximately 1800 gallons of water are required to make one pair of blue jeans (read more here). It is also one of the best ways to deal with textile waste as an average lifespan of a clothing piece is only three weeks. Buying second-hand extends the lifespan of the garment.
Lots of people think that vintage is just a fancy, made-up name for used, second-hand clothes. However, there’s a big difference. Vintage refers to clothing that was manufactured in another era, specifically in the 1920s to 1980s. Back then people made clothing with love, often by hands, with an incredible sense of detail, out of high-quality materials… It was produced to last. Vintage clothes are much more than just old used clothes…it is history, art…the stories of those who lived long before us.
Upcycled means reused in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. The term is often mixed up with “recycled”. Textile recycling refers to the process of recycling any textile– clothing or otherwise– into new material (read more here). Upcycling is described as reusing a material without degrading the quality and composition of the material for its next use. Upcycling reduces the amount of waste and the need for virgin material.
There are also brands and designers that give old clothing a new life by redesigning them. This is also something that most of us can do. There are endless DIY ideas on Pinterest (don’t forget to follow us) and other sites. So if you are a fashion designer in heart, but don’t know how to do clothes from scratch, this is a great way to express yourself. Or you can find a tailor that can do the redesigning and adjusting for you.
Having said all that, here are some brands and stores that we have scouted out and want to recommend to you. And don’t worry, even the second-hand stores ship globally, so feel free to follow them all!
Natural Fibers Vintage
As their profile says, they only drift and sell items from natural fibers. We totally dig that, because natural fibers are just so comfortable on your skin! They are also biodegradable and don’t generate microplastics, like polyester and other synthetic fibers do. (Read more about the properties of natural fibers here and here). We think it’s a great concept exactly because not only they give new life to used clothes, but the clothes’ impact on the planet is also minimal.
All The Wild Roses
At All The Wild Roses they create new designs from upcycled and vintage fabrics and also restore and repair vintage finds. They are based in Northern Beaches Sydney, NSW Australia. Their mission and goal are to use fashion as a force for change, creating designs that empower and connect women who wear and the women who make the designs for a better future for all.
Variety Second Hand & Vintage
Variety is based in Helsinki, Finland. They are very much inspired by the youth & marginal cultures that have in turn inspired fashion throughout the decades. When we asked about their inspiration and style they said: “Style can’t be bought; we’re interested in people and their stories.” And with that we have to agree. Their Instagram feed for sure tells their own story, but in a very rad and stylish way. You might not be able to buy style, but still they’ve got you covered. In addition to very stylish items, they also give style tips on Tuesdays. #tuesdaystyletips
Nolongerminee was built by 2 women – Dira and Lika. They live in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. In 2017 Dira founded @nolongerminee and a year later she asked Lika to join. As of right now, they are trying to expand to Southeast Asia and Australia. They are already collaborating with one online vintage store in Melbourne, by sending them several items to sell on their Instagram. Most of their customers are in Indonesia, but more and more often they ship to Singapore. The furthest shipment is to Italy.
Their mission is reviving the 80s-90s fashion by appreciating vintage clothing. They are very much inspired by people who are not afraid of expressing themselves through fashion, not afraid of wearing colors, and also by the freedom of being themselves. At Nolongerminee they show people that they can look really cool and unique by wearing secondhand clothes.
RELOVE and Roses
“Relove and roses” is a beautiful and sustainable universe of vintage silks, patterns and colors. The fine vintage textiles, mainly from Indian silk sarees, are recycled and transformed into new designs and accessories.
At “Relove and rose” you will find everything from long kimonos, dresses and jackets, to bags, cushion covers, hair bands and much, much more. The focus is on recycling, beautiful natural materials, and also on creating good jobs for women in India as well as Denmark. Every single item tells a story and the story goes on with you – REmake, REuse, RElove. Click here to check out their website.
Reet Aus is truly an Estonian pride and glory. She’s taken sustainability to a whole another level. In Estonia, there is literally no one who hasn’t heard about her, even people who don’t know anything about fashion. It’s because her upcycled cotton tote bags are even sold in a major hypermarket next to plastic bags, to remind people of a more sustainable alternative.
Reet Aus and her team created software called UPMADE®, which enables brands and manufacturers to apply industrial upcycling methods and turn textile leftovers from cost to value. The software has already been noticed worldwide.
Designer Reet Aus is dedicated to slow and ethical fashion. Her industrial upcycled collection is entirely made from production leftovers. She keeps proving that clever design can salvage mountains of unused textiles and the natural resources spent to produce them. Read more about her here.
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