Thrifting is the process of reusing pre-owned and pre-loved items of clothing and accessories. With the pandemic still active, many people have been championing the idea of shopping locally, supporting small and homegrown businesses. Although it is not a new concept, thrifting is relatively unheard of in the Indian market.
So, we invited Sujala Newar, Fashion Stylist and Founder & Creative Director of The Local Vintage to host an Ask Me Anything session on the Girl Tribe by MissMalini App on "Thrifting & Shopping For Vintage Clothes". She answered all the questions the Tribe had on what thrifting means and how does one go about thrifting, what are the advantages of wearing and owning vintage clothing, how can one identify true vintage, how to make an educated guess on which era of these pieces came from, how to care for your vintage garments, how to style vintage pieces and more!
Q. What era's clothes does one call vintage? Like how does one define vintage?
So, clothes that are more than 20 years old would be considered vintage. So anything before the 2000s era is now vintage.
Q. What are the common mistakes to avoid while buying vintage?
Some of the common mistakes that I think a lot of people, especially first-time buyers make are:
- Not having your measurements. Vintage sizing is very different from modern sizing so it's always better to go by measurements instead of sizes.
- Not reading the product description. Most stores will mention defects if there are any.
- Buying something just because it's vintage. Always consider how you can incorporate it into your existing wardrobe.
- Confusing second hand for vintage. Vintage is almost always second hand but secondhand is not always vintage.
- Letting go of a beautiful piece because of small defects. In most cases, these defects can be easily overlooked or fixed.
Q. How can you tell if a vintage piece is overpriced?
There is no industry standard for accurately and fairly priced vintage clothes given the uniqueness of each and every piece. The prices really depend on many factors like the uniqueness and availability, how it's sourced, the era, the work put into it (repair and restoration), the quality of content the seller makes for the pieces amongst many others. Every store is different and has its own aesthetic that may appeal more to some than others. So I think it ultimately comes down to what the customer is willing to pay.
Q. Can you clarify the difference between "thrift" and "vintage" and how we can spot the difference?
'Thrift' literally means to spend less so thrifting would entail buying anything secondhand at a highly discounted price. Thrifting is also not only limited to clothes, one can thrift anything from furniture to home decor to books, etc. Think of it as a garage sale of sorts. Vintage on the other hand is buying secondhand but something that's at least 20 years old. The value of thrift pieces can also go up if it's vintage. So to conclude, vintage is inherently second-hand/thrifted but everything secondhand/thrifted is not vintage.
Q. Could you please share some of your favourite places to thrift clothes/buy vintage from physical and online stores?
For vintage, I love Vinage Vintage for jewellery, Bodements for designer vintage pieces and shoes, Gon Vintage for Italian vintage, 90s Something for dresses, Carol's Shop for their vintage picks from all over India. And of course, my store The Local Vintage. I do mostly 70s/80s vintage and source from people's private collections.
Q. Could you share Instagram pages where I can sell my pre-loved items?
There are quite a few of them. Some of the ones I know are @allthingspreloved, @therelovecloset, @nostalgialabel, @bombahclosetcleanse, and @indiaclosetcleanse.
Q. Are vintage clothes always used?
Yes, in most cases they are. But there's also something called 'deadstock vintage' which means that the garment is found with tags and hence never worn. If this is the case, the vintage store will usually mention it as deadstock vintage.
Q. How do you maintain a pre-loved garment or accessory?
Well, that depends on what the pre-loved garment is. If it's a vintage garment, I always suggest mild handwashing with cold water or dry cleaning in case of finer fabrics. High street pre-loved garments will usually have a washing guide. In terms of accessories, it's always a good idea to keep them away from water and moisture in general and store jewelry in jewelry boxes, bags in dust bags, and shoes in cotton bags. Also, using a dehumidifier for your storage area really helps.
Q. What does one look for when thrifting? And how do I properly wash thrift store finds?
I think that totally depends on what you need. If you're looking for unique pieces, vintage stores are your answer. If you're looking to buy clothes at a highly discounted rate then thrift stores are the place for you. Most thrift and vintage stores wash and sanitise their products before putting them up for sale but if you'd like to double wash it I would suggest checking the wash care tag. If there's none, a mild hand wash with cold water always works unless it's a heavier piece like a jacket or a coat, then definitely dry-clean them.
Q. What is something we should definitely know before we thrift?
One thing to know before you start thrifting is that the clothes are pre-loved and have been worn by someone else before unless mentioned otherwise.
Q. Would you say thrifting is a better way to shop?
Definitely. Apart from being an eco-friendly way to shop, it's also a great way to find unique pieces. If you're lucky, you could score a vintage piece at a thrifty price or even find old season's high street stuff that has been discontinued.
Q. How can you tell if something is vintage or well...trash? And also, how to steadily start thrifting?
Anything more than 20 years old will be considered vintage. So anything pre-2000s. A good way to tell is by researching the trend of the eras before the millennium. Also, scrutinising other factors like tags, the quality of the make, and fabrics will help you spot a vintage amongst secondhand clothes. There are a plethora of Instagram thrift stores so that's a good place to start!
Q. How to be sure of quality when online thrifting? And most importantly, how to be sure about the size?
The thrift stores will usually mention the quality of the clothes, size, and damages if they are any. Keep your measurements handy as most of these stores will give the exact measurements too, if not you can always DM them to clarify.
Do you have any questions about thrifting? Please share them with us in the comments below!