I'm a huge fan of thrifting. HUGE. We live in such a disposable society, so it's important to me that I do my part to incorporate second-hand goods whenever I can. I was approached by the lovely and kind Jordyn Bateman to do an interview on the importance of sustainable fashion and how I have learned (and am still learning) to incorporate the concept into my everyday life. Jordyn and I had the best time goofing around in one of my favorite thrift stores in Eugene, Oak Street Vintage, while talking about my own journey with vintage shopping.
≫ Tell me about your thrifting journey and how you first became interested in this kind of shopping.
MM: Both my mom and dad have been avid Goodwill shoppers since I can remember. I used to hate getting dragged to Goodwill all the time because I was young, naive, and thought everything second-hand was gross and dirty. As I got older and started to realize how expensive it was to keep up my shopping habits at the mall, I made the switch to shopping second-hand because I really had no other choice. It wasn't easy, but I found that not everything nice had to come with a not-so-nice price tag. I would find items and think to myself, "How could someone possibly throw this away?" My obsession with thrifting grew as I continued to find hidden treasures that stood out when compared to the mass-produced pieces you can find at all the big brand stores I used to shop at. It's so fun knowing you have something unique and won't see anyone else wearing, and it was an added bonus when I began to learn that I was helping the environment by thrifting instead of buying new.
≫ How do you feel about fast fashion? Is it something that drove you to ethically shop?
MM: I used to only shop at places like Forever 21 and H&M because it was super cheap, pretty cute, and I had no income or patience to shop anywhere else. As I got older and more aware of the unfair labor conditions that allow brands to have such low prices, it definitely made me more weary towards purchasing from those types of places. Plus, it’s so annoying to buy a piece of clothing and have it fall apart within a couple weeks due to the item’s low quality. It’s so much more satisfying to have a small amount of great quality items than having a large amount of pieces that won’t last.
≫ Do you have any tips for those looking to transition from a predominantly fast fashion wardrobe to one that incorporates more thrifted or ethical pieces?
MM: Go through your closet and make a list of items that you actually need. Keep that list in mind when you’re out shopping, and if you can resist those cheap impulse purchases, you’ll be able to get something you really want/need from a brand that makes quality items and treats their employees fairly. Try researching sustainable brands that fit your style so you’re aware of what’s out there. It also helps to know the ones you should steer clear from.
≫ What about tips for successful thrifting in general (clothes, home decor, etc.)?
MM: Don’t get overwhelmed by thrift stores!! That’s what I tell everyone. It takes time to go through those racks, and sometimes you don’t find anything, but, when you find that item that you LOVE it makes it all worth it. Since a lot of people tend to scan through the racks fast, I have found that the clothing in the less shopped through areas hold the best finds. This means, head to the back of the store first! Odds are you'll find something no one else has even seen yet. Another tip is to look early, and look often. Plan on going thrifting early in the day and multiple days in a row. That way you get first pick and if you visit frequently you'll see new items are added everyday. If thrift stores aren't doing it for you, try consignment stores! The items are curated so it might be easier to find something you like, and you can sell your clothes there to get some extra cash!
≫ Where does this passion fit into your future plans? Is this something you'd want to base or focus a career on?
MM: I started reselling some of my vintage finds through Instagram (@shopraevintage) last year, and if I could somehow make that into a career that would be *amazing*. I also have been getting the urge to learn how to make my own clothes. I have a sewing machine, I just need to learn how to use it! Maybe in the future I can expand ShopRaeVintage from just thrift finds to selling clothes I make by hand.