I’ve been an avid thrifter since the seventh grade. It began with my Godmother, who took me to a local thrift store when I was 14 to try and find a Ralph Lauren polo. (Trust me, those were all the rage for seventh graders in New Orleans at the time). We didn’t find one of the popular solid blue or white polos I coveted, but instead, found an unsightly navy and pink striped version I treasured not for its looks but because I knew no one else had one like it. Not to mention, it only cost $10 instead of $90 and still donned the proper horse logo — all that mattered to me at the end of the day.
Though my polo-wearing days were short lived, I developed a love for finding something unique and giving new life to a clothing item someone had likely outgrown. Fast forward to today, and I still get most of my clothes secondhand whether is vintage, thrifted, or online. (See below for a list of my favorite places to shop).
It wasn’t until recently with the rise of the Fashion Revolution movement, and in developing my brand, I began to realize how important it is to consume less and invest in/create quality pieces. My love for thrifting was a good start but much more needed to be done to effect real change.
Obviously, it would be ideal if everyone became a minimalist, but with dress as an integral part of self-expression in our society, focusing on our consumption habits is a more realistic and attainable place to start. With greater awareness around the environmental and humanitarian impacts of the fashion industry at large, it couldn’t be a better time to rethink your shopping habits and contribute to this new age in fashion.
Here are some suggestions on where to start:
Love what you have
Because of the low prices driven by fast-fashion, clothing (and accessories) have basically become disposable. Most clothing items now only get 1 or 2 wears before being donated or thrown out, with only 10% reselling in secondhand stores and the rest ending up in landfills.
The first step to a sustainable wardrobe is to love the clothes you already have. You can extend the life of your clothes by taking the time to mend holes, replace lost buttons, remove stains, etc. If you don’t have the patience, that’s fine too — just send them to your local tailor or eco-friendly cleaner.
Create a capsule wardrobe
The idea behind the capsule wardrobe is to reduce your clothing and accessories to quality pieces and outfits that define your style and can be endlessly mixed and matched. This can take some time, but it makes getting dressed a lot easier and helps prevent you from buying things you don’t need. For those items that don’t fit into your capsule wardrobe, try selling them on resell apps like Depop and Poshmark.
I’ve started creating my capsule wardrobe and found that it involves loads of thrift finds, well-crafted goods from friends/artisans, and a whole lotta denim.
When you are ready to bring something new into your wardrobe, consider these options:
Support artisans and ethical brands
We know our stuff ain’t cheap. Fast fashion has made the world lose touch with the true cost of quality items. We aren’t asking you to exclusively buy handmade pieces with high price tags. We just ask that you buy less, buy better quality, and support artisans and ethical businesses if you have the means to do so.
There are so many brands I've discovered over my time here in California, so I'll just highlight a few that I personally own and love:
For a curated directory of USA made ethical brands, check out These Native Goods.
From someone who has frequented her local Goodwill, Buffalo Exchange, and consignment shops for the last ten years, I can tell you, you really can find anything you need or want secondhand. It takes a little more patience, but if you take the time to dig, you are bound to find what you are looking for. If those stores aren’t your thing, I’m also a huge fan of these online thrifting options:
- **Instagram- there are so many women-owned stores selling vintage and secondhand finds either directly on Instagram or through their own sites.
Here are a few of my favorites:
AVILLA (yes, you read that right. I’ll be adding a new section to my site soon with thrift finds and a hoard of beautiful goods hand-selected from the Tucson Gem Show, so be on the lookout for that :). Don’t worry — the jewelry isn’t going anywhere.
The best thing you can do is educate yourself to change your mindset on consumerism and inspire others to do the same. I suggest starting with the documentary The True Cost (currently on Netflix).
“We need to break our addiction to the need for speed and volume. We need to realize the true cost of our cheap bargains. Ultimately, we need to buy less, buy better and keep asking questions about the realities behind what we’re purchasing. We need to love the clothes we already own more and work harder to make them last.”
AVILLA isn’t your traditional modern jewelry brand. We don’t have sales, we are made-to-order, and everything is made in-house in the US (currently, just by me) with the environment in mind.
We made these decisions to encourage conscious purchases and promote the slow-fashion movement. It means we are growing at a slower rate, but we are fine with that. We know change is on the horizon and that great things take time. We can’t wait to see where this intentional, organic growth takes us.
Thank you as always for the support (and for giving a shit).