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Why It’s About Time We Considered Buying And Wearing Preworn Clothes

Updated: Feb 20, 2020

Get into any online garage sale or resale groups, and you’ll find them flooded with people selling their old cars, furniture, cell phones, and other household sundries. Clothes ain’t a familiar sight though. Things are different in the west. Garage sales are a common phenomenon, and clothes are usually an inclusion. There are even large scale retail chains that buy and sell old clothes! I myself have bought clothes at a chain called ‘Buffalo Exchange’ in San Francisco at great prices.

Unfortunately in India, the concept of selling or wearing pre-worn clothes is usually met with some disapproval. Old clothes are usually handed down to siblings, househelp or donated to charity. It’s a different thing that donating clothes to orphanages is less about charity, and more about decluttering your overflowing cupboards and in turn feeling good about having done your bit. It’s another matter that most old age homes or other rehabilitation centres don’t want your old clothes. They’d rather have you contribute money, rations or other useful products than your crop tops and shiny pants.

On the bright side, people are slowly waking up to the wonders of adopting a more ‘reuse, recycle, and repurpose’ mentality. Especially in metro cities, old clothes are becoming more acceptable, and many old fashion sale (Such as Elanic) and rental websites (Such as The Dress Bank, Swish list) and apps have cropped up in the recent past.

Of course the seller should ensure that the clothes are in good condition, washed, ironed, and above all are being sold at a rate that’s commensurate with the fact that they’re pre-worn.

Here’s why it makes absolute sense to sell and buy used clothing/accessories.

1. The “brand new” clothes in the showrooms ain’t all that brand new themselves

An item of clothing goes through average of 5 trials during its shelf life at a store. Sometimes clothes come back returned or for exchange after someone’s worn them for a few hours to upto a day. You’ll never know because they have a tag on them. Compare them to pre-worn clothes. They’re most likely to have been worn for a few hours a couple of times. Especially the heavy party and formal wear. In effect, buying a used Jacket is as good as buying something from a store during a sale season when the said jacket could’ve been tried on a 100 times!

2. We are okay with hand-me-downs from our siblings and cousins

If we can proudly wear the things that have been handed down to us over generations, we can surely buy pieces of clothing from other people, even if they’re not related. People are people whether it’s a top from a sister or an unknown stranger.

3. Buying old clothes can be ridiculously cheap

Clothes that have been preworn ain’t only bought at crazy retail prices by their original buyer, but add to that the cost of transport to get to and from the store. A 1000 rupee top at Zara being sold for Rs. 200 after 2-3 wears is a SOLID deal given its original cost.

4. It contributes to limiting consumerism

Do we really need a new dress for every party or a 2k purchase to wear to a date that might never happen again? Our wardrobes are overflowing with clothes, half of which will never see the light of the day again, until they’re thrown away in garbage or given away to a maid or an orphanage. We need to limit this mindless consumerism, and start thinking about recycling and reusing even when it comes to clothing.

5. You can find treasure in trash

A lesser known benefit of buying old clothes is that you may hit upon a unique item that the seller bought from an exotic place, a designer item, or just something that’s not available in stores anymore but is totally your style. The problem with buying clothes “within season” at a store is that 100 other girls will likely have it. Sometimes going back in fashion, and resorting to an “old-fashioned” top might just be the difference between being boringly fashionable, or being a retro non-conformist.

6. Overconsumption of clothes and fast fashion is disaster for the environment

Manufacturing new clothes take up a lot of resources. Factories that produce clothing generate tons of waste and effluents. Also some of the biggest retail manufacturers make their clothes in third world countries in “sweat shops” usually under deplorable conditions and meagre pay. The more we buy, the more they manufacture and vice versa. The only way to limit them is to start thinking of alternative ways to how we purchase fashion.

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