So, ethical & fair trade shopping is defiantly on the more expensive end, this is because the artisans and workers at the beginning of the production chain are being paid a more fair wage than fast fashion workers. But since ethical can be more expensive, can shopping at your local thrift store count as an ethical wardrobe? Some say yes, some say no. I’ve never been one to buy 12 new pieces at the beginning of every season, and after working towards a more capsule-esque closet over the last 3 years. I can tell you it would be a financial disaster to buy 12 new ethically made pieces at the beginning of a season. This is typically why most ethical brands lean towards a more classic sophisticated look. So you can wear them season after season.
Back to the original question. Is shopping at your thrift store a path to an ethical wardrobe? I feel like the best way to answer this is straight on.
NO, I don’t think it’s ethical. I think it’s sustainable.
And yes, the variation in verbiage is important, to me.
It’s sustainable by reducing waste and essentially recycling if not upcycling by transforming what you find. And you are still adding to your wardrobe without creating demand in a fast fashion economy. But on the other hand, you are still wearing brands that abuse workers & promote unfair work environments.
Now the reason some may prefer the use of ethical instead of sustainable is that by buying from thrift stores, you aren’t creating more demand in a fast fashion economy and if you’re shopping at local thrift stores, you are contributing to local charities instead of big fashion Mongols. And yes, there are some incredible finds at thrift stores, especially vintage fashion.
I’m not against thrift store shopping, I just don’t think ethical fashion is the right word to describe it. I’ve done my fair share of thrift store shopping and clothes swaps and I think they are a wonderful way to see what is available and try somethings maybe I wasn’t ready to spend a ton of money on or get a fun basic I need to replace.
Now, if possible buying thrifted ethical pieces is by far the best option, and you can find some of these items on Poshmark, thredUP, and Ebay.