Posted on

Is Vintage The Solution?

On the blog this week I wanted to repost a paper that I wrote for my English class last year that’s relevant to Loose Threads Vintage. I am a vintage clothing dealer, and here’s why vintage clothing is the solution to the textile waste crisis. By definition, vintage is “of old, recognized, and enduring interest, importance, or quality”.

I have been collecting and reselling vintage clothing for just under two years now, and one reason why I started is for the opportunity to wedge my way into the fashion industry and build a name for myself while creating absolutely no waste. The vintage and second-hand clothing niche has been around for a long time, but it’s only in recent years that it’s become trendy, and now there are websites and social media accounts solely dedicated to selling (or showing off) vintage and second-hand clothing.

View this post on Instagram

#1 rap t.

A post shared by F AS IN FRANK VINTAGE (@fasinfrank) on

For example, F As In Frank has been an active Instagram account for over 8 years now. F As In Frank is a vintage clothing store owned by brothers Drew and Jessie Heifetz, and the brothers have been big advocators for sustainability in fashion. By selling vintage and second-hand clothing they are able to run a business in the fashion industry while creating no textile waste and fighting back against fast fashion. Textile waste is any textile that’s thrown out, and these textiles are at risk of ending up in a landfill or being burned, and fast fashion refers to cheap clothing produced to follow the current trends at large amounts and sold for low prices.

The textile waste crisis is caused by fast fashion in North America, and vintage and second-hand garment stores are the most immediate and impactful solution. Fast fashion contributes to both the short-term and long-term impacts of textile waste. In their Business Of Fashion article titled “These designers want to fight climate change. Just don’t call them sustainable” Sarah Kent & Cathleen Chen state that the solution to the textile waste crisis involves less production in the industry along with encouraging the consumers to invest in only what they need.

The evidence here illustrates that overproduction affects everyone, especially the younger generations, and although the model of buying more than one needs is encouraged in fast fashion, this model is not healthy, or sustainable. To add to Kent & Chen’s point, cheap and low-quality clothing promotes the idea of buying without consequences, but there are consequences even though we may not directly see them.

In the article, the authors are speaking to arguably the biggest target market in fast fashion: teenagers. The two write this article to let them know what we need to do as a collective, and that is lowering the demand of fast fashion in order to slow down production. I believe that teenagers, especially, need to start buying vintage and shopping second-hand because as a demographic they have a lot of disposable income. While buying sustainably, there is also fun, unique clothing as well, and it allows for a person to develop their own style…why follow trends when you can start them?

Evidence of overproduction and overconsumption can clearly be seen in a news video from CBC, as in the last few years there has been a 15–20% growth in the amount of textiles being donated to thrift stores around Toronto and the GTA. Many of the textiles donated are low-quality garments resulting from fast fashion.

This is alarming because many fast fashion garments are being donated, and because of the low quality as well as how fast the trends change, those garments can be hard to sell in a thrift store. In this video, Charlsie Agro is giving the viewer statistics as well as a look into the mountains of clothes that ultimately become textile waste because the thrift stores cannot even sell them. I have donated to thrift shops before, and after watching this video I want to know, how many of my donations actually went back into the community? The relationship between short-term and long-term impacts, such as the growth in textile waste and overproduction, is a result of fast fashion’s business model.

As a solution to the problem, vintage fashion is a major contributor to the industry’s sustainable movement as well as prolongs the life of textiles by encouraging consumers to be more mindful of what they choose to purchase. In an article from The Guardian, the author, Ellie Bramley states

“resale has grown 21 times faster than apparel retail in the past three years”.

This example implies that resale allows small businesses to thrive and takes away business from the industry of fast fashion, and now we can see that resale is beginning to grow rapidly. This snowball effect leads me to believe that as consumers realize the classic trend, and the sustainability, of buying vintage and second hand that the next few years will only grow and eventually outpace retail.

A useful example is Drew Heifetz’s video titled “Vintage 90s Eco Fibre Recycled Cotton Waste Clothing”. In this podcast posted on YouTube, Heifetz, the co-owner of F As In Frank, informs viewers about one of his parent’s entrepreneurial ventures manufacturing garments using recycled fibres. The business was named “Eco Fibre” and sold product to companies such as Nike, Roots, and Reebok in the 1990s. Heifetz also mentions that vintage is the most sustainable industry within fashion because a new life is given to a second-hand or vintage garment, therefore lessoning the demand for more.

I found this podcast to be interesting not only because I agree with Heifetz that a lower demand will cause less production in the long-term for fast fashion, but I know that F As In Frank is a great example of what vintage clothing in Canada can ultimately become. This podcast implies that textile recycling is possible at a large scale which is significant because although creating garments from recycled textiles can be a challenge, large companies such as Nike, Roots, and Reebok are willing to make the switch as they did in the 90s. Heifetz clearly advocates for the sustainable fashion industry in this video, and emphasizes that vintage is the most sustainable industry in fashion and that there is a solution to the textile waste crisis…Vintage! Purchasing vintage and second-hand reduces textile waste and prolongs the life of a garment that would otherwise end up as textile waste.

Fast fashion and textile waste have a closely-knit relationship, and in order to reduce one, both need to be addressed. Vintage and second-hand clothing is a better choice as it promotes sustainability in fashion rather than a throwaway mindset. By doing extensive research in online articles, videos, and podcasts, I am able to conclude that the popularity of vintage fashion is still growing, and in order to slow down the amount of textile waste produced by fast fashion we need to consume less and begin incorporating vintage and second-hand into our closets.

Thanks for reading! New articles and recommendations are posted weekly, and new items are listed to the shop every Sunday at 5 pm EST.

-Shop vintage save the planet