Close up of clothes on mismatched hangers on metal rail

Is it wrong?

There's been a lot of chat recently on social media about the ethics of shopping for second-hand clothing. Many of these discussions open up to much larger discussions, but here I'll try summarise the points being made.

Traditionally clothes sold at second-hand shops such as charity shops are sold at cheaper prices, as they have generally been worn and used before. What with a turbulent year of the cost of living crisis, many people are saying that if you can afford to buy full price clothing, you should leave the cut price items for people who cannot afford new retail prices.

There are many social media users who make a purchase of a larger sized item of clothing, then modify it to fit them, in many cases labelling this as 'upcycling'. The argument made here is that you have now taken away plus size clothing from people who needed it in the first instance, when larger sizes are already hard to find / have a limited choice as is already.

Vintage shops, thrifting, and 'upcycling' brands have scoured the charity shops already to find the best stuff then selling it on in boutiques at a marked-up cost. Thus not only taking the donated product away from those that don't have a choice but to shop at charity shops, but also creating a demand for items, for which the charity shops may increase their prices of those products.

So what do we do?
Whilst all these are valid points, as is with all things life, things are not so black and white, and there's plenty of arguments to and for these points. Issues way to big for this little blog! When it comes down to it, I believe that so long as we do things in moderation, we are not taking everything away, which in all the above points will lead to exploitation of sorts.

Living a more sustainable, conscious way of life, the first question is whether you really need that item in that first instance! So in most cases, you would most probably genuinely need it. We need a healthy balance for catering for everyone, and in the business world, that does includes people who can afford to shop, to keep buying, to not only put their money to great causes, but to also keep those charity's retail stores afloat, in order to allow everyone to keep using them. 

And most importantly, remember, we never know what someone is really going through, there is no need for toxic behaviour online to 'call people out' if they are doing something you don't agree with. Starting with a healthy discussion will open up minds more likely than instantly accusing others, in which case is most likely to just create hostility instead, and no one needs that!

People make choices for their reasons. Let's continue being kind to one another!


Photo by: EVG Kowalievska @ Pexels

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