The Gentrification of Thrift Shops

It seems as though the fashion lovers of today’s market are all becoming somewhat obsessed with thrift shopping. All the previous trends from the 80s,90s, and even early 2000s are resurfacing: from low rise jeans to juicy couture tracksuits there is no nostalgic look that is unnoticed. That being said, although many brands are making new clothing inspired by earlier decades of fashion, the highest demand is for older and authentic vintage pieces that come from none other than your local thrift store.

The first time I heard about thrifting as a common practice was from You-tuber Emma Chamberlain. If you are an avid fashion lover, then you would know that Emma Chamberlain has become one of Generation Zs, otherwise known as Gen Zs, most iconic figures of fashion. She is credited with a myriad of trends and consequently is endorsed by Louis Vitton. That being said, YouTubers, as well as fashion influencers, were all part of the gentrification of thrift stores. They of course were the first to hop on the thrift shopping wave and then their audiences followed suit. The fashion market has become a whole new ball game because of Gen Z and the incredibly high want to stay in the loop in terms of trends is pushing them to go to thrift shops in hopes of getting lucky. The thought of maybe finding a vintage 1982 Harley Davidson racer jacket is enough to get trendy fashion lovers out of the door. In other words, thrifting has become a popular culture and is no longer considered an act of the lower class.

Emma Chamberlain’s various youtube videos about thrifting

To be quite honest, in theory, thrift shopping sounds perfect: you can stay on trend but suitably within budget. The only issue is people forget to consider that thrift shopping was previously an act for less fortunate people who could not afford normally priced clothing. Now with the high demand for thrifted clothing, thrift stores inevitably increased their prices, and those who need the thrifted clothing are paying the price. In other words, thrift shops are being gentrified and the sad truth is that nothing can be done about it. That is why gentrification is one of the most out of pocket problems: you cannot pull the stop button on being gentrified, once it starts it seemingly only gets worse. Thrifting has become an activity to do for the thrill of it but may have a positive outcome.

Due to the overwhelming consumption of thrifted goods, people are not only buying more, but people are donating more as well. Of course, at the end of the day, the prices are ultimately raising causing the evil act of gentrification for the sake of fast fashion, but at least there is an abundance of clothing being donated as a result. With that being said, if you are likely to buy from a thrift store for the sake of being on-trend and easy consumption, then you are very likely to donate back to the thrift store once you are tired of certain articles of clothing, again which leads back to where we were in the first place. Local thrift stores are undergoing certain changes, but online thrift stores are a horse of another color.

Depop, a website that is branded as an online social shopping app, is just a fancy way of saying an online thrift store. The app is growing at a rapid rate for the same reason thrift stores are: it is fast fashion at astonishingly low rates. On depop, some individual sellers brand their “online stores” from themes like Y2K to streetwear to gain accolade. Again this is contributing to the gentrification of thrift stores,

and is somehow becoming competition with storefronts. Depop was especially popular at the beginning of the pandemic because people were not able to go outside their homes and shop for clothing. Surely enough the lower class section of thrift shoppers were thrilled with the coming of depop and provided for them during late March and April. Depop has become such a popular site that people from all over the world are using it as just another fashion brand site. Again we see how the website’s initial audience has slowly but surely changed into the trendy fashion market.

It is clear that thrift shopping has become a tactic for more than just lower class people but for fashion lovers too. Over time thrift shopping is becoming gentrified because of such high demand. Yes, thrift shopping was originally made for people who were considered to be “poor”, but at the end of the day, everyone is allowed to spend their income in any way they so choose. I cannot lie I am guilty of thrift shopping for the simple fact of being trendy but I decided there are other ways to do it.

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