Today, people are buying more clothes than ever before. They’re also keeping those clothes for less time. Shopping for consignment and secondhand clothing can ease the burden on both your wallet and on our planet.
We all want to look and feel our best and — for better or for worse — fashion is a part of that for many of us. Unfortunately, the fashion industry takes a major toll on the environment, and the problem is only getting worse. But what if we told you there was a way to express your sense of style without compromising your regard for the planet, and to save some money in the process? We’re talking about shopping for consignment and secondhand clothing, an approach which is simultaneously chic and kind to the planet. Still need convincing? Look no further than our recent Style and Sustainability fashion show.
Consignment for the Environment
As awareness grows about the impact of fashion on the environment, many studies have taken a closer look at what whether reusing clothing can make a dent on the damage being done. The findings are heartening. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production reveals that quadrupling the average lifespan of clothing results in 75 percent savings in freshwater usage, while research conducted by UK nonprofit WRAP indicates that extending the average life of a piece of clothing by just three months leads to up to a 10 percent reduction in carbon, water and waste footprints.
While these are just two examples, the takeaway is clear: Used clothing can make a profound difference when it comes to minimizing environmental damage caused by the fashion industry.
Not Your Mother’s Secondhand
Unfortunately, used clothing often gets a bad rap. Sometimes with good reason, too. Of course, not every piece of consignment or secondhand clothing out there is something you’d want in your closet. (Nor is every piece of new clothing, for that matter.) However, if you’ve got the heart for it, shopping at a thrift store can turn up some real gems while saving you a pretty penny — at least 75 percent off retail, to be exact. If you’d rather choose from a cultivated, thoroughly vetted selection of items, meanwhile, we’ve got one word for you: consignment. The best part? You can still expect to pay 40 to 50 percent less than you would retail.
Fashion’s Impact on the Environment
Fashion photographer Bill Cunningham once said, “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” When compared to industries like healthcare, technology and education, fashion may not seem especially vital, but it does serve an important purpose. But it also comes at a cost. According to Business Insider, fashion produces a full 10 percent of the planet’s carbon emissions — more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.Fashion is also the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply, and returns the favor by polluting the oceans with microplastics.
Today, people are buying more clothes than ever before. They’re also keeping those clothes for less time. As fashion brands produce more clothing to keep up with new demand, the result is an unhappy one: Billions upon billions of textiles flood into landfills every year to the tune of one garbage truck full of clothing ending up at the dump every single hour of every single day. We can do better.
All of which begs the question: Where can you find the best consignment clothing?
We’re also lucky to have two high-end consignment and secondhand clothing shops in our own backyard: The Collective and Double Take Consignment. However, wherever you are in the world, a quick web search should turn up consignment boutiques in your own vicinity. Additionally, there are also many luxury consignment and secondhand clothing shops on the internet just waiting to be discovered, including thredUp, Poshmark, and Designer Revival. For even more options, make sure to check out Harper’s Bazaar recent roundup of the best online consignment sites for getting your hands on vintage designer fashion.
I am a fashion person, and fashion is not only about clothes — it’s about all kinds of change.KARL LAGERFELD
Iconic fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld once said, “I am a fashion person, and fashion is not only about clothes — it’s about all kinds of change.” We can think of no better way to embrace this sentiment than by changing up our approach to fashion and embracing the secondhand trend for the sake of both style and sustainability. Your wallet, closet, and the planet will thank you.
An added bonus of shopping secondhand? You won’t see any of these pieces in stores — or worn by one of your friends out and about town. Essentially, by the time that amazing dress or cute top gets to your closet, it’s a one-of-a-kind. This is one of the things that draws many celebrities to secondhand shopping for sustainable fashion. Indeed, choosing consignment clothing puts you in the excellent company of A-listers like Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Shailene Woodley, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tracee Ellis Ross, Debbie Harry and countless others.
Our recent Style and Sustainability fashion show at the Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, New Jersey showcased some seriously amazing secondhand pieces from top designers including Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Vince, Rag & Bone, St. Roche, Giambattista Valli, Ramy Brook, and many others. From formal gowns to casual jean shorts, the show featured an extraordinary lineup of gorgeous clothing that is more than worthy of a second life.
While pulling together the show, we were lucky to have two amazing resources on board: sustainability stylish Lauren Engelke and producer Leslie Patrizio. These dedicated dynamos helped us suss out the best pieces and pull off an elegant event which truly embodied everything that secondhand clothing has to offer.
A special thank you to our co-sponsors; Reeves-Reed Arboretum, The Regeneration, Melissa Spurr, Point View Financial, & Ciel Power LLC
STYLE & SUSTAINABILITY FASHION SHOW
REEVES-REED ARBORETUM, SUMMIT, NEW JERSEY
Check out the Style & Sustainability sustainable fashion design competition held on the grounds of Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, New Jersey featuring sustainable clothing designs by fashion design students from Montclair State University.