Mom jeans, crew socks and leather jackets. Old threads like these are what is sending today’s youth in droves to thrift stores.
Thrift stores are the new shopping malls. Fortune Magazine reports that the resale market is growing at a rate 21 times faster than the retail market. This growth can be attributed to today’s youth, who are predominantly the ones visiting resale stores for their clothing.
Due to competitive prices and vintage styles, young adults are starting to choose thrift stores over department stores. In addition to costing less, reusing clothes benefits the environment, compared to retail stores that have to use new resources to keep up with consumer demand.
Among these booming resale shops is Gainesville’s Outreach Thrift Store. Its vice president, Isaac Vellekamp, has been in the resale business for over 30 years and has recently seen a shift in the youth’s fashion trends.
“Students influence what gets bought or sold,” Vellekamp said. “With that, I have seen a sudden uptake in vintage clothing.”
Vellekamp believes that the younger generation is drawn to vintage clothing because they are “retro” and “all-the-rage.” He has clothing flying off the shelves that were collecting dust a few years ago.
“Back in the 80s, families used to match with these ugly, bright-colored tracksuits,” Vellekamp said. “We could not sell those for the longest time. We could not give them away. Now, people come in asking for them and are thrilled to get them at a low cost.”
Not only are the clothes trendy, but they are also cheap. This factor has appealed to Katie Swartzlander, an 18-year-old UF health science freshman and thrift store goer. With student loans hanging over her head, she tries to cut expenses anyway she can.
“Thrift stores have allowed me to buy top-branded clothes that I would never buy at full retail cost,” Swartzlander said. “I once found a like-new Nike windbreaker that I knew the original price was at least $100, but I only got it for $12.”
For some young adults, vintage clothes are a way they can show off their style. For Halie Barcott, a 19-year-old UF public relations junior and vintage enthusiast, there are no other places she would want to get her clothes from.
“I love the old, grunge look that the 80s and 90s style had,” Barcott said. “They don’t make clothes like that anymore, and the only place that I can find good clothes like this are thrift stores.”
In some instances, it’s not about the price or age of the clothes – it’s the hunt that comes with it. Barcott said that her peers love going from one thrift store to another, looking for gems that may lie within the racks.
“I always love hearing stories about how my friends would find old designer clothing that they find out of nowhere,” Barcott said. “Stuff like that definitely gives you bragging rights.”
As new generations go off to college, Vellekamp hopes that resale shops will continue to be known as places where people can get quality clothing at an affordable price. With the vintage fashion trend at its peak, Barcott does not believe that the demand for resale clothing will diminish anytime soon.
“2020 is going to look like the 80s,” Barcott said.
Contact Jared E. Johnsen at [email protected]. Follow them on Twitter @jared_johnsen.