On a recent trip to New Orleans, I stopped by the ultra-cool consignment shop, Buffalo Exchange, which has many locations all over the US. The strange and beautiful creatures that roamed the store’s racks ensured me that it would be a worthwhile trip, as I was of course on the hunt for unique articles of clothing.
I walked out with hot pants and short overalls, representing completely opposite ends of the spectrum, but both are oh-so-cool. My purchase was under $15 and I was instantly reminded of why I love thrift and consignment shops so much! Where else can you find such gems (that actually do speak to your individuality) for such incredible prices?
A few years ago, I declared that I would boycott retail shopping altogether and shop exclusively used. I have since become increasingly lax, especially when it comes to yoga wear (that’s another article). But my reasoning behind all of this consignment, thrift, and vintage stuff is not to be uber-hipster-- that’s just an added bonus. The real motivation came when I learned of the atrocious consequences of our wacked-out global fashion industry, which is plagued by human rights violations and environmental degradation; overall unsustainable and unjust corporate practices:
Millions of tons of unused fabric at mills go to waste each year when dyed the wrong color. The Chinese textile industry, which produces about half the clothing Americans buy, creates about 3 billion tons of soot each year. A single mill can use 200 tons of water for each ton of fabric it dyes. And rivers run red--or chartreuse, or teal, depending on what color is in fashion that season--with untreated toxic dyes washing off from mills. (Natural Resources Defense Center)
On the plus side, I found the most amazing ponchos, dresses, hats and boots. My clothes came from a happier place; their character was refined like anything else that is old, and they had a story to tell because of it. Wearing vintage is like wearing a piece of history; it revives an era of yesteryear. Finding an article of clothing that speaks to you is like the Jumanji board calling out from the earth, albeit less perilous. It’s a gratifying moment that recurs each time you wear it!
Some of my favorite local spots to browse for day-wear, date-wear, work-wear, Halloween costumes galore, and even yoga tops are actually consignment/thrift stores. I bought a pristine Lululemon top for $3, for example. The best places to peruse in the DC area are:
- Buffalo Exchange (2 locations in DC!):
- 3279 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007
- 1318 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
- Second Time Around
- 3289 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007
- Unique (near our new Spark Mosaic location on Gallows Road!):
- 2956 Gallows Rd, Falls Church, VA 22042
- Columbia Pike Thrift Shop
- 4101 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204
- Eastern Market in DC
- Etsy.com (online)
- ThredUP.com (online)
Some essentials can’t and shouldn’t be purchased used: underwear and socks, for example. Definitely do not try to buy those used, but do try to buy consciously. If you can find a more sustainably crafted pair of undies, then be exceedingly proud to let them hammock your tush!
Grab some friends and head out to a thrift or vintage shop this weekend—if you don’t buy anything, it’s still a fun experience!
Source: Natural Resources Defense Center http://www.nrdc.org/living/stuff/green-fashion.asp