July 4, 2021 5:25:39 pm
By Rivi Joseph
For the uninitiated, thrifting is the trend of shopping for pre-owned, gently-used items such as clothes. If buying second-hand items was looked down upon in the past, it’s increasingly becoming popular now as a sustainable, eco-friendly choice.
Thrifting has been making its way into the mainstream partly thanks to influencers like Emma Chamberlain who regularly features thrift hauls on her Youtube channel. Since the start of the pandemic, the thrifting scene has grown exponentially with the 2021 Resale Report of ThredUp, an online resale giant, estimating the second-hand market to double over the next five years. The projected growth is a result of more sellers putting products out into the market and platforms like Instagram facilitating the buying and selling of second-hand apparel. In fact, ThredUp has even termed thrifting a ‘new pandemic habit.’
In India, the Instagram thrift scene is a thriving one with more and more new sellers setting up shop. In the buyers segment, it’s finding resonance among students and those starting out on their careers.
Sisters Zu, Im and Aren set up their Instagram thrift store @zuwsiime.circle during the pandemic as a means to support themselves. Based out of Dimapur, Nagaland, they source their inventory from the local second-hand market there. They observed a rise in thrift-buying during the pandemic crediting the growth to affordability and good quality of products.
“One gets to buy clothes that are rare and unusual and not always ‘common’. People are always looking out for odd pieces that’ll make a statement in their outfit,” said Amritha, a thrift buyer. She agreed that thrift shopping allows her to find pieces that one would not expect to see in stores.
Aren noted, “While it varies, anything that is unique and has a vintage vibe and appeal is in demand.” The demand for vintage might be in part spurred by the revival in Y2K fashion trends. Speaking about the booming thrifting culture in India, she added, “People are becoming more aware of thrifting and we feel that it’s going to be a rage and it’s only going to grow in the days to come.”
Many sellers like the Naga sisters account for shipping costs in the selling price. “We use India Post to ship. But in some cases, if a client requests for a faster mode of delivery, we dispatch it through private courier services,” said Zu.
And when it comes to pricing, Im said, “We operate as a thrift store so our prices are pretty pocket-friendly for all our items. Branded items, if it is of international high-end brands we price it a bit higher than we normally do so. We do a little bit of research on a particular branded item and price it accordingly. We also keep in mind, quality, material and rarity of the products before we decide on our pricing.”
Another aspect undoubtedly is the rising concern for the environment especially among youngsters, prompting them to look for sustainable clothing options. Toyir Nyodu, a student at Rajiv Gandhi University in Arunachal Pradesh, stressed that a thrifting culture vouches for sustainable fashion. “People engaging with thrifting are urging more people into buying thrifted clothes to reduce garment wastage,” she said.
Vallie Gawde is another seller who set up shop on Instagram to be financially independent during the pandemic. Her Instagram store @picky.prudent stocks mainly western wear with most of her buyers preferring the style. Corsets, Vallie noted, are very popular among thrifters. “Corsets are pretty and really trendy. Most people are madly interested in them. As a thrift store, I love corsets and bustiers.”
Vallie explained that over the course of the pandemic people have had to deal with sizing issues when it comes to their clothes. Thrifting, they believed, is a budget-friendly way to address the sizing issue, especially in the backdrop of the economic impact of the pandemic.
Recently employed, Anjana Sabu is one of those new to the Instagram thrift scene.
“The thrifting trend got popular last year during the lockdown. I was unemployed and didn’t feel like spending money on clothes. The fact that you can get branded stuff for half the price is alluring. So this April I got employed and looked at thrift stores to see if I liked anything. I bought a couple of pieces which were of good quality,” she said.
(Rivi Joseph is an intern with IndianExpress.com, based in Thiruvananthapuram)