Secondhand – the new black

Second-hand shopping is becoming increasingly popular. For example, if you’re visiting Madrid and are interested in finding unique and curated garments, Calle de Velarde is a special place. The street and its surrounding neighbours are lined with vintage and second-hand shops filled with everything from old Levi’s jeans to colourful shirts from the 80s. Rows upon rows of old shirts that look like they came straight out of the Polaroid pictures of yesteryear. In many cases, some garments have been cut or re-sewn to better suit today’s fashion. Many of the stores are run by people with a genuine interest in preserving fashion history and finding gems to style in the shop window. Here you can find grandma’s floral blouse with pearl buttons, or dad’s perfectly worn leather jacket. Clothes that carry stories of the past, that have once been used and loved, and are now looking for a new home.

Global goals and a circular economy

One of the global goals revolves around sustainable consumption and production. Several sub-goals are included here: among other things, reducing the amount of waste, responsible handling of chemicals and waste, and increasing the public’s awareness of sustainable lifestyles. When we choose to buy clothes second-hand, we can save the earth’s resources by ensuring that textiles remain in circulation and aren’t thrown away unnecessarily. If all Swedes exchanged one kilogramme of newly produced textiles for one kilogramme of second-hand textiles for a year, it would result in a savings of at least 8,100 litres of clean water per person (Myrorna, 2018).

Climate impact - extend garments’ life cycle

By buying second-hand, garments are given the opportunity of a longer life cycle. This means that the same pair of jeans can be loved, cared for and used for longer than if they’re just thrown away after the first owner gets tired of them. Just one pair of jeans has a huge impact on the environment (it takes a whopping 11,000 litres of clean, fresh water and 1.9 kilos of chemicals to produce a single pair). The majority of a garment’s environmental impact occurs during its production itself, and the number of years the garment remains in circulation determines how large its impact will be per year. This means that we can reduce garments’ impact by ensuring that it’s used for as long as possible, and when it can’t be used any longer, it’s recycled or remade into something else.

Clothes Exchange Day

Do you have any extra items in your wardrobe that you’re tired of? Why not organise a clothes exchange day? You could exchange that blouse you no longer wear for your friend’s dress or jacket. It’ll also be an opportunity for some pleasant socialising with acquaintances, and perhaps time for some conversation about sustainable clothing consumption.

Take care of your second-hand finds

When you’ve made a second-hand find, it’s easy to refresh and give your clothes new life. Wash in a washing machine and then dry, for example, in a drying cabinet for the least possible wear and tear on your new old clothes. In order not to risk unnecessary wear and tear on, for example, jeans, it might be a good idea to air the trousers instead of washing them.

When your clothes can’t hold it together anymore

Be creative! Re-sew, re-shape or change the function of the garment in order to conserve the textiles. Turn a pair of worn-out jeans into shorts, a pair of suit pants into a skirt, or cut off the sleeves of a long-sleeved shirt for a new look.