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The Stakes of Fast Fashion: Thrifting

By Emelie Cuellar

VAN NUYS, CA - With fashion trends changing every month, clothing companies produce loads of clothing that find there way into thrift stores. “Fast fashion” companies like Shein, Rowme, and more are mixed with good– vintage– quality clothing at stores that are a main clothing source in low-income communities.

Photo Credit: Emelie Cuellar, Chance Vintage

“Over time, I've seen that there are a lot more fast fashion clothes in thrift stores compared to five years ago,” said Sara Fernandez, a fashion stylist.

With the pandemic, the hashtag #SHEINHAUL was a trend where people bought large quantities of clothing quickly. Social media platform Tik Tok reports that the hashtag has over 8 billion views- and is still growing. Prices at the Shein company start at less than a dollar, marking it affordable clothing. Business of App reports that the company generated $30 billion in 2022 alone. Although the purchases are digital, the consequences are real.

“Fast fashion companies follow micro-trends and young people take notice on Tik Tok or Instagram,” said Sophie Gow, a fashion student. “And they buy it with fast fashion, but in a few months, they throw it away and it finds its way to thrift stores and Goodwill and eventually to sellers.”

The history of thrift stores begans in the 1800s, where immigrants needed clothing without the department costs. With social changes, the stigma changed, resulting in a trend with consequences.

“There are two problems, there is the problem that it is taking much longer to get clothes that are durable,” says Fernandez. “ Or it is someone who cannot buy parts that are already in the store for cost reasons and they buy a part that lasts two months.”

However, there is a solution: buying second-hand clothes. Buying sustainable instead of buying fast fashion can help. This can be in the form of thrifting– even as far as buying fast fashion products in a secondhand store.

“We sell fast fashion brands, but we remove the company labels,” says Souren Ohanian, the CEO and owner of Chance Vintage, a sustainable thrift store. “ We prefer that the client benefit from the clothes.”

The Shein company has not responded to the comments, but their website says they are committed to protecting the environment.

Emelie Cuellar video report

By Emelie Cuellar

Contributions: Tik Tok, Business of Apps, The New York Times, NSS Magazine

Photo: Emelie Cuellar

Video: Emelie Cuellar


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