Many consumers who are concerned with the problems of fast fashion, are choosing to buy second-hand as a sustainable alternative, however the days of finding a fashion gem in your local op shop are almost gone. Having recently visited several op shops in Tauranga, I came away feeling depressed, not so much for the disappointment of not finding anything remotely interesting, but because the fabric quality was so poor, (given as it was mostly fast fashion in worn condition) the items were not worth buying or even upcycling. In addition, I knew that this was the best 10-20% of donated garments and that 80% of the garments had already been deemed unsaleable. Ironically the rise of second-hand shopping had provided savvy fashion consumers with an opportunity to purchase a garment with a degree of exclusivity, as the retro and vintage pieces were no longer available in store, and there was always the chance of finding a well-priced designer item, however these pieces have pretty much all been snapped up. It is obvious that the charity stores are being used as a dumping ground for poor quality items and while many charities have done quite well from the rise in second-hand shopping, the reality is the good quality stock seems to be drying up and the revenue that these charities rely on will be at risk, if the stock and quality keeps declining.
Research shows when we buy cheap, we don’t treasure items and cheap clothing is not made to last, so it is quickly disposed of. So, next time you buy an item, choose a good quality one ( preferably made in NZ) and make it a conscious purchase, not a spur of the moment decision. If you choose well, you should have clothing in your wardrobe for years, not months or weeks, and then if you do decide to move it on, it will still have some worth and can be enjoyed by someone else.