Even a few years back, retail stores worldwide would release new clothing collections in accord with summer, fall, winter and spring - four times a year for the four seasons.
But now, in the age of fast fashion, the clothing retailers release new collections more frequently.
Fast fashion retail megabrand Zara offers 23 new collections every year while another giant H&M offers 12 to 16 each year.
As a result, customers are tempted to buy cheap faddish attire that will be out of fashion soon, more frequently.
As the clothes are not meant to last longer than a season, customers are conditioned by its marketing to view clothing as a disposable commodity.
However, slowly consumers have started to reassess what is meaningful in their lives.
For many of them, that means investing in pre-loved items and shopping more locally and sustainably.
There has been an increase in alternative shopping options for teens and youths nowadays. Along with thrift shops, second-hand or vintage clothing have become more and more accessible.
This allows the lifetime of our clothes to be extended. As a result, our clothes last longer and we contribute to the sustainability of the fashion industry.
In our country, a group of determined and fashion-conscious young people are gradually building a thrift community.
Bangladesh Thrift, Colors Dhaka, Aesthage.bd are some of the prominent online based thrift shops. All of their products are second hand, recycled or upcycled.
These online shops also sell ornaments, bags, and other accessories at a very reasonable price.
By making second hand clothes and accessories more accessible to consumers, these shops are giving sustainable fashion movement mobility.
Naureen Kamal, a business student at North South University, said, "I love buying clothes from online thrift shops. It is easy on my pocket. Sometimes I am amazed by the unique clothes I can find here. When I can dress it right, my friends often ask me if I got it from any reputable brand."
Harisun Ashu, an English Literature student at the University of Dhaka, said, "I have been thrift shopping for a long time. I used to spend a lot of time looking for vintage clothing. But now, some of the online pages already showcase the finest of finds. So it is easier to pick from them. It is a lot less hassle for me."
The Business Standard spoke to Marjia Hossain, a young entrepreneur who has been in the thrifting business for quite some time.
Marjia is a freshman at the Department of International Relations at the University of Dhaka.
Being a fashion enthusiast, she started her business in 2020. As a thrift shopper herself, she wanted to promote and advocate thrift shopping against fast fashion among young people.
She said, "Being 'sustainable' does not directly translate to exclusively shopping from high-priced ticket sustainable brands. It is about wearing what you have, mending what you have, buying less and buying better, being aware of what your money is supporting, being a voice in this industry of silenced workers."
Marjia took an initiative to promote the idea of thrifting to young generations by selling them second-handed, which she handpicks from various sources and sells them at a very reasonable price on her Instagram page 'Vintagebaby.bd'.
"I want to inspire others to develop a distinctive wardrobe without harming the environment. The goal of Vintage Baby BD is to promote a sustainable lifestyle at an affordable price. From thrifting second-hand clothes to making sure that our packages are biodegradable, we promote a greener lifestyle through and through," Marjia said.
She opined that garment factory owners should rethink the amount of waste they are producing for rapid production and consumption.
Marjia added, "This process harms the environment and contributes to global warming. That is why it is important that we consider and make a practice of reusing our clothes."
She also informed us that most women wear only 20% to 30% of their clothes and the reason is fast fashion.
"We make sure that the clothes have been used before and are not from any brand that promotes fast fashion. Since most of our customers are teenagers and do not have extra income apart from their pocket money, we try to price most of our pieces under Tk500. Our most-loved items have to be vintage shirts and cottagecore-inspired midi dresses," Marjia said.
Marjia's ultimate goal is to promote thrift shopping on a larger scale. She remarked, "Although my business is still very small, I am trying to work harder every day to reach my ultimate goal. I want to work hard enough to establish a physical thrift shop.
Benefits of buying thrifted or reused clothes
- It is a great way to recycle
- You save money because they are cheap
- You get a unique wardrobe
- Fewer resources are used/wasted
- In case of vintage clothes, you get to take a trip down memory lane!
This online shop carefully hand picks their items and the owner tries to promote sustainable fashion through the products. You will find a nice and affordable range of mid-length dresses, shirts, and skirts here.
Along with thrifted clothes, Bangladesh Thrift also sells books, show pieces, cushion covers etc. They post new items almost every day on their Facebook page and often bring out cute summer frocks. However, you have to be extra alert if you want to buy from them because their products get sold quite quickly.
Colors Dhaka is a popular online shop that posts one item at a time on their IG page and mentions it as soon as it gets sold. Mainly focusing on a variety of shirts and tops, you will also find many skirts to your liking here.
Aesthage.bd has a slightly different collection than the others with a number of vintage silk scarves. But if you keep scrolling through their IG page, you will also see other thrifted vintage pieces like chiffon shirts, skirts etc.