Three ways to win at Secondhand September

September is such a wild month. For many, it signifies the end of summer (boo!). Vacations are drawing to a close and the return to school looms. Cue the panic bells! 

While most of your back-to-school (or work) shopping may already be done and kiddos are off on the bus, we’re hoping this post, all about Secondhand September, serves as a good reminder and as a dose of inspiration for your next shopping trip. Why? Because secondhand shopping is the way to go!

If you’ve yet to tackle the idea of back-to-whatever-you’re-going-back-to shopping, this is the post for you! With prices on the rise for seemingly everything, now’s the time to consider secondhand: it’s often cheaper and usually more sustainable than buying new.

What is secondhand September?

Secondhand September is similar to other earthy, planet-loving events that ask us to reconsider how we can be more sustainable and leave a lighter footprint. What’s different about this “event” is that it’s focused on something we all put on, every day: clothes (unless you are a nudist). As you may have heard by now, textile waste (fuelled by fast fashion) is a growing problem facing our planet and is largely unsustainable. We need to change this.

Our goal at The Market Bags is to create products that leave a lighter footprint: that’s why we commit to sourcing upcycled materials and organic cotton textiles for our bags! 

Originally created by Oxfam International, Secondhand September is meant to be a challenge for consumers and an antidote to both Fashion Week and the onset of autumn shopping. (Yes, we had to Google when Fashion Week was...we are so not fashionistas here at The Market Bags!)

“ recirculating our clothes – buying, wearing and donating second hand – we can help to reduce the demand for new clothes. And this could in turn help to reduce the damage to our planet.” Oxfam International

Put simply: Secondhand September is an opportunity for us to re-evaluate our wardrobes and consider if we really do need new clothes. It turns out that there are so many ways to buy good-quality clothing without buying them brand-new! Here, we’ll break down our favourite secondhand strategies. They include:

  1. Thrifting and consignment
  2. Clothing swaps
  3. Outfit repeating

A note on new

Let’s get this out of the way: we are in no way puritans about this concept. In some cases, it is not possible to buy certain garments or accessories secondhand. And, we are also megafans of ethical and sustainable garment manufacturing for new clothing.

We have to say though, that since starting down the path towards secondhand, we’ve found it to be a really thrilling journey. It requires a bit of work and patience but in the end, results in a more rewarding shopping experience.

So let’s get to it!

Thrifting & Consignment

Two sides of the same coin, thrifting and consignment are the basis for buying secondhand. Thrifting is the act of donating clothing that is then resold. The quality of garments is usually mixed and there is often a lot of product coming into thrift stores. As a result, shopping at thrift stores takes a lot of patience to find what you’re after and may involve multiple trips. But, it’s worth it for those sweet finds.

Consignment, on the other hand, involves consumers selling their clothes through a third-party vendor. The vendor will then sell the clothing, and the consumer receives a small cut of those profits. Typically, this results in a more curated collection as shops are seeking higher-quality garments. Often, you’ll see higher-end brands and vintage threads at consignment shops. Shopping consignment is a great way to find quality garments for a cheaper price. And, if you’re someone who loves fashion and you keep your threads looking sharp, it can be a great lil’ money-maker.

Clothing Swaps

Clothing swaps are like thrifting, but better. Why? Well for starters, it’s hard to argue with f-r-e-e! And, they make shopping more fun. Clothing swaps are typically organized through friend groups or other smaller, one-off venues. Friends will drop off their clothing and accessories at a pre-determined location (maybe it’s someone’s house or a church basement) where they’ll be organized by volunteers. Then, at a set time, friends and invited guests are welcome to peruse the piles and find new treasures. Sometimes (but not always) snacks and tea are served. It can be a real social event!

Clothing swaps are a really great way to build community and share stuff, without having to venture too far afield. On a recent clothing swap excursion, we picked up some high-quality wool sweaters and organic cotton bedsheets - fo’ free!

Outfit repeating

We’re sure at one point, high fashion was the cat’s meow. There is something glamorous about new fashion: its newness, weirdness and edginess are all kinds of enticing.

But it has also spawned something we really, really don’t like: the idea that you must have approximately 1 million outfits in your closet. Why?!

When we really got serious about our wardrobes, we realized something startling: despite having an abundance of clothes, we weren’t really wearing much of them! What we were actually doing was reaching for the same few items, time after time.

Revel in repetition

Don’t get us wrong: there is something super fun about that one article of clothing that you only wear for that one specific purpose. Everybody has one. For us, it’s a vintage denim vest that is wildly impractical for anything other than an 80s dance party. And for some, outfit repeating feels boring or stifling.

But wearing the same sets of clothes over and over again can also be really freeing. We’ve found that with a thoughtfully curated wardrobe, we’re able to repeat the same sets of garments without getting bored. And, we’re comfy to boot.

Let’s normalize outfit repeating!

Trying out the capsule wardrobe

For those wanting even more of a challenge this month, consider trying on a capsule wardrobe. What the heck is that? Essentially, it’s like downsizing your house, but for your closet! Touted by the minimalist movement, it’s a great way to see how much space your clothing takes up and how you might be able to live fully with less. But we’ll be the first to admit that it’s not easy and it definitely requires some thought and planning. For more on this, have a look at Courtney Carver’s Project 333 Challenge.

Now it’s your turn!

We’d love to hear from you about your secondhand shopping experiences. What have been some cool finds? Do you have strategies for successful secondhand shopping? Drop us a comment!

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