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Modes of Sustainable Fashion: Pre-Owned Clothing Services

Assortment of warm clothing in modern garment store interior

Long gone are the days when we felt like we HAD to buy new clothes each time and looked down on buying second-hand. In this last installment discussing sustainable fashion, we will focus on second-life clothing services – or places where you can purchase clothes that have been loved by others and want to find a new home.

But, before we explore these options, let's recap on what sustainable fashion is. This is the practice that focuses on bettering the world and offering quality pieces that will last you for longer. It is an all-inclusive term describing products, processes, activities, and actors (policymakers, brands, consumers) aiming to achieve a carbon-neutral fashion industry, built on equality, social justice, animal welfare, and ecological integrity, according to The Vou. It’s based on local sourcing and production, transparency across the supply chain, traceability of work processes and raw materials, environmentally friendly raw materials, safe working conditions, and fair wages.

HOW CAN YOU SUPPORT SUSTAINABLE FASHION?

There are countless ways to support this practice, but there are several options for those who would rather browse through pre-loved clothing items, choosing what they'd love to bring home, and ordering it. There are styling boxes and rental services, but today, we are discussing second-hand clothing services.

With this option, you don't need to wait on a stylist to do the work for you or give up a rented item that you loved. You simply browse through a website, find something you love, and order it so it's delivered straight to your home. With this option, you have total control of the items you're choosing and you don't have to engage in this back and forth with a stylist who might be pushing you a little too out of your comfort zone.

WHO IS THIS OPTION BEST FOR?

This option is for those who want total control of their wardrobe and budget. It's for those people who don't want to jump through several hoops to get the pieces they want. And this is especially great for people who will rather keep a clothing item than return it because it was rented.

Here are a few second-hand clothing services to shop from:

RENT THE RUNWAY

Rent The Runway is known for being a rental clothing service, where you can pick and choose several pieces, wear them for a few days, and return them to get a new batch. But they also have a shopping option for the people who fell in love with their pre-loved pieces. The great thing about RTR is that you can find everything from luxury brands like Marni and Peter Pilotto to more affordable pieces like BB Dakota. Additionally, they have sales constantly, which means you can score that one dress you wore for the office for super cheap.

  • Price: Prices range on every single piece, but rest assured, you will never pay full price.
  • Brands: Mainly luxury brands – everything from Tory Burch and Kate Spade to Maje and Ulla Johnson.
  • Sizes: RTR carries clothes in sizes 0 to 22.
  • Occasion: The brand first catered to special occasion clothing options but has shifted to include everyday outfits for work and girls’ night out.

Check out our Rent the Runway reviews for more info.

THREDUP

ThredUp labels itself as an online thrift store, which means it only sells second-hand pieces. Not only can you sell the pieces you no longer wear or no longer fit you, but you can also buy from them. All the pieces they sell have been inspected meticulously to ensure that you're getting quality. According to their website, ThreadUp's mission is to reduce fashion waste and extend the life of clothing through resale, reuse, and responsible recycling.

  • Price: Just like with RTR, their prices range depending on the brand of the piece, but you'll never pay full price.
  • Brands: You can find everything from Hermes and Louis Vuitton to Lululemon and Free People.
  • Sizes: ThreadUp carries everything between XXS and 5XL.
  • Occasion: The brand focuses on all occasions, from athleisure to outwear and denim.

THE REALREAL

The RealReal is another online thrift store, but it targets luxury brands only. Although you can find pretty much anything from sunglasses to shoes, its creme de la creme is handbags. This is a great place for someone who would love to own a Gucci or Chloe bag but doesn't want to dish out the full price tag and is interested in sustainability. But because some of their pieces are so coveted, you have to be willing to dish out some cash to get that one piece. They will hold it for you until the seller approves the sale.

  • Price: The RealReal is probably the priciest service on this list, but again, you won't be purchasing items for full price.
  • Brands: Gucci, Hermes, Chloe, Louis Vuitton, need I go on?
  • Sizes: It's no secret that luxury fashion tends to be limited in its sizing, but you will definitely find things between small and large.
  • Occasion: Because luxury fashion tends to be more elegant, it could definitely be something you use to dress up, go out on date night, or a girls' night out.

MPAZ STUDIO

MPaz Studio is completely different from the rest of the stores on this list. They are basically their own clothing brand which uses recycled clothes. They will put their own spin on a design using clothes from brands like Nike, Louis Vuitton, North Face, and many more. This is a really cool idea because they don't discriminate against pieces since they'll end up chopping them up anyway and creating new ones.

  • Price: The prices range by brand but you won't pay more than $100 per piece.
  • Brands: Nike, North Face, Chloe, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and many more.
  • Sizes: Unfortunately, sizes range between small and medium.
  • Occasion: MPaz is definitely more of a street style aesthetic.

THE TAKEAWAY

Sustainable fashion doesn't have to be hard and it doesn't mean you have to give up the brands you love. It just means being a little bit more conscious about where you purchase things and giving a chance to some pre-loved pieces. If you don't want to rent clothes and use the same pieces others are wearing and if you don't want to deal with stylists, then buying second-hand is your best bet. And no, you don't need to do it from these brands specifically but they are tried, true, and well-loved.

But if you'd rather see the clothes that you're buying and potentially try them on, then you are more than welcome to visit the many thrift stores in cities all over the country.

Buying second-hand and thrifting is actually considered cool these days because people are genuinely interested in taking care of the planet. They want to make sure good clothes don't land in dumps because it's just unnecessary and wasteful. Why throw away a piece of clothes that you no longer use, like, or that doesn't fit when you can give it to a loved one, donate it, or sell it to a second-hand store? Not only will you get some money from it, but someone else will wear it for a few years before passing it on to the next.

So, what are your thoughts? Would you ever try second-hand clothing services? Sound off below!

Sophia Caraballo
Sophia Caraballo
Sophia Melissa Caraballo is a Puerto Rican native living in New York City, writing about everything from beauty and food to celebrities and lifestyle for a living. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez with an English bachelor's and pursued a master's in journalism from Syracuse University.

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3 comments

Marina

I have been thrifting for umpteen years. Started in college with a gown for an inaugural ball. Sure it can be real work to go through the racks or pages of items, but the payoff is worth it. The place I like least is thred up. Their website drives me nuts on a tablet.

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Mary

While I appreciate this post is trying to spotlight more sustainable fashion, unfortunately there’s evidence that renting clothing is actually worse for the planet 🙁 It seems misleading to suggest renting clothing as a more sustainable option given the evidence here: https://www.fastcompany.com/90651753/renting-clothing-is-worse-for-the-planet-than-just-throwing-it-away-study-shows

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CDG

Thank you for the link, Mary! I admit to being anti-fashion; maybe there could be a “Buy no new clothes” week, a Boycott Designers! week; a Vintage Clothing Friday!

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