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The demographics of thrift shoppers have shifted in the past decade

By Jon Garvin and Eliza Insley

Prep Editors-in-Chief

Throughout the past decade, thrifting has transitioned from being a way to buy affordable clothes into a trend for young people to buy vintage and hip clothing. This new trend brings about lots of environmental benefits since it involves recycling clothes.

Thrifting has become a very prominent trend in pop culture. It can be seen all over YouTube as creators such as Emma Chamberlain highlight clothes she bought on her latest “thrift haul.” Channels such as PAQ and NAYVA often have “thrifting challenges.” The trend is also seen throughout Twitter, Instagram and other forms of social media.

Young people often see their social media icons thrift and feel the urge to participate in this new, hip trend. Thrift shops carry a variety of donated clothes that people can find trendy.

Jaeda Chin is a senior at Summit Prep and an avid thrifter. Chin goes thrifting often: “That’s basically my only form of shopping.” Chin begin thrifting her sophomore year.

Summit Prep junior Lily Yuriar is also a thrifter. Yuriar explained that she has never really thought about thrifting as trendy or eco-friendly; it’s just something she has been doing her whole life because it is simply cheaper and more convenient. Yuriar elaborated by saying, “I look for plain T-shirts that would be $30 elsewhere and $2 at the thrift store.”

The thrift scene in San Francisco is booming with different niche shops throughout the city such as Held Over, Buffalo Exchange and Wasteland.

Held Over is a decent-sized shop located on Haight Street. Caitlin, a retail assistant who asked not to share her last name, spoke about the change of demographic: “It’s been pretty consistent; I just think the demographic has become young.” She also added, “It is the oldest vintage store in San Francisco.”

Thrifting is also positive for the environment. This can be seen in an article published by Unwrinkling, which states: “Producing synthetic fibers like polyester requires lots of energy, as well as crude oil like petroleum; byproducts include toxic gases and chemicals. Sadly, pesticides used on most plants mean that even cotton and linen garments have a negative impact. Transportation-related pollution also decreases when clothing is re-used, as new clothes are much more likely to travel long distances before being sold than are their second-hand counterparts.”

This means that thrift stores are better than direct fashion retailers because they do not support the harmful processes other stores use to make clothes. Thrifting comes with many positive impacts such as decreasing pollution, decreasing energy use and decreasing toxic gas and chemical production.

Thrifting can also be a more socially conscious way to shop for clothes. Instead of spending money on clothes from fast fashion brands that might be unethically making their clothes or spending money supporting harmful practices, thrift store customers know directly where their money is going.

See the video below to learn more about thrifting and its history in the Bay Area:

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