Thrifting fast fashion, what do you think?

Fast fashion is the mass produced clothing made by the likes of Zara, H&M and lots of others. They sell their own designs (often heavily borrowing from the latest runway collections) and bring out new merchandise on a weekly or even twice weekly basis. Generally speaking the quality of fast fashion clothing is lower than more traditional retailers and there are a lot of questions about what this astounding rate of clothing production does to the workers that make these clothes and the environment of our planet. Indeed, in protest to the tremendous human, environmental and economic cost of fast fashion, a slow fashion movement has been developing. Many people see second hand shopping as part of this anti-consumption, pro-green movement.

So, if you don’t generally shop at fast fashion stores, is it ok to thrift fast fashion? On the one hand, there is a sense that it is wrong to buy second hand what you don’t want to buy first hand for ethical reasons. And by wearing fast fashion you are arguably giving the appearance that fast fashion, and all that it stands for, is ok with you.

On the other hand, once a piece of clothing is produced there is no real benefit to getting it to a landfill faster. It seems unlikely that the resale market is going to have a huge effect on production rates; with the exception of (some) designer collaborations, no one is buying fast fashion for its resale value. And it is a bit abstract to consider the potential impact your clothing has on the people around you and the shopping decisions they make.

In any case, I don’t agree with the common recommendation not to thrift fast fashion because of inferior quality. The idea seems to be you can do better. Well perhaps you can but I have certainly found worthwhile pieces produced by Zara, Topshop, Mango and the like.¬†Remember – if it has survived all the way to the thrift store in wearable condition, it is pretty durable.

thrifted Zara leather jacket

I will sometimes buy fast fashion at thrift stores that support charities but I don’t generally buy it at consignment shops. I am somewhat conflicted about fast fashion – it is only in the last year that I have made a concerted effort to avoid it.

Do you ever buy fast fashion items on the second hand market?



  1. Bonnie

    I haven’t bought anything second hand but your informative article has convinced me that I should try it. The comment about clothing having to be durable to make it to a consignment shop was interesting.

    1. Jaime

      Hi Bonnie, Thanks for your comment! Sweaters in particular show their true worth at a second hand shop. Glad you enjoyed the article and good luck second hand shopping!

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