Once a modest subculture of aficionados and bargain hunters, the resale of vintage clothing has exploded into a huge market that is growing exponentially faster than retail.
Fueling that market are young, savvy shoppers, many of them millennials and Gen Xers who are shaking up the fashion industry by digging out their parents’ cast-offs and raiding the aisles of Goodwill in search of vintage treasure.
Workers at Goodwill Central Coast’s Santa Cruz store report a frenzy of activity surrounding vintage clothing. They are seeing a whole new customer base, mostly younger shoppers seeking out the cool, often one-of-a-kind items.
“It is so exciting to see this trend,” said Santa Cruz store manager Evelyn Matthew. “Younger people want their own personal style and Goodwill helps them with that.”
Matthew said she notices mostly girls (age range 16 to 21) searching for vintage clothing, and their experience seems to be better when they shop in a group. The only common thread with the variety of skirt, dress and shorts combo seems to be Doc Martens boots and shoes, Matthew said.
“I am really grateful that they are looking for their fashions at our store,” she said. “It is really fun to see the selection process.” Younger generations value the individual and consider fashion as a way to express their own personality. Thrift shopping ensures them the uniqueness of their own style. Many of the pieces found at Goodwill are one of a kind, and they allow for endless possibilities of matching and styling in creative ways.
Until recently, younger shoppers did not embrace second-hand fashion. But now it seems they are waking up to the fact that vintage clothes can be adaptable to the latest trends, and that timeless classics can become a staple of any wardrobe.
Fashion is today the second most polluting industry in the world, followed only by big oil. It is also known for its often-unethical practices regarding workers’ conditions.
Younger shoppers have a collective awareness of these issues, and are discovering the benefits from buying ethical and sustainable brands.
They also understand that by buying something second hand, we can extend the life cycle of the items and reduce their environmental impact. This practice ensures that products circulate in the economy longer before hitting the landfills, helping justify all the raw materials and labor deployed in the manufacturing process. To get a bargain in the process, these shoppers head to Goodwill Central Coast stores, where we offer seamless, sustainable, social-focused shopping. This enables customers to acquire anything from limited edition streetwear and vintage luxury to thrifted pieces.