Monday, December 6, 2010

The International Business of Thrifting

There was a really interesting article about the vintage clothing industry in my local paper today: On the Front Lines in the Vintage Clothing War.

So many people, when they think about donating clothing, imagine their cast-offs just go straight to the racks of their local thirft shop, but that's not the case any more. The sorting and shipping of second-clothing, especially quality vintage, is a big international business, and something you leave with Goodwill is as likely to wind up in Japan or Europe as it is to make it to your local store.

Although I understand the reasons why this business has evolved, it makes me a bit sad. I've been thrifting my wardrobe for over twenty years now, and the quality of what's available has definitely declined. Stumbling across a vintage Gunne Sax dress or discarded Doc Martens just doesn't happen any more.

It's especially weird, because the sheer amount of STUFF at thrift shops has exploded lately. Most of it's recent, however: I'll have an easier time finding last year's H&M top than I will finding last decade's plaid flannel shirt.

The thrill of the great find has definitely diminished, because the finds are rarely that great, at least compared to what they once were. It's also diminishing my interest in thrift shopping: I hate paying the inflated prices charged by vintage boutiques, but I also have to acknowledge that my chances of finding anything similiar on my own are increasingly slim.


  1. I too have been finding myself that the pickings at the thrift stores have been pretty terrible of late.

  2. Wow I had no idea this happened.

  3. @gothjen - It's so annoying. I get why charities do this, since their goal is to raise money, and they get more stuff in than they can sell directly themselves, but it's still aggrevating as heck, especially for a die-hard thrifter like myself.

    @April - The scope is pretty mind-boggling.