In Discussions, Money, Shop Quality Series, Shopping, Style

Shop Quality Series: Rich people shop secondhand: Thought & What we can do as consumers – Part Two

This is part of the Shop Quality Series.

So now that we know fast fashion is bad, what can we do?

Wait – but don’t you also buy fast fashion?

Yes. I absolutely did. I used to buy fast fashion by the HORDE when I was younger because I was poor, I had no money, and I wanted to be stylish.

I spent so much money and got so many items, and was so incredibly happy.

I stupidly, foolishly, felt RICH. To have tees in every colour and style imaginable? A dream.

I loved it.

But as I got older, I became wiser.

I stopped buying from these places (can’t recall the last time I bought anything in these stores at retail to be honest with you), and I started becoming pickier about the fabrics I buy, as well as where.

In recent years, I have really scaled down. In the past few months, I have almost completely stopped.


All of my clothes now come secondhand via thrift stores or shopping online, and I am very picky about the fabric of them as well, being conscious of the microplastics going into the waterways when I wash them.

Am I a perfect paragon of virtue for fast fashion?

NO.

I AM NOT.

But what I am doing, is trying. I am working on avoiding shopping in general.

The less I buy, the better. It’s better for my wallet, my closet, the environment… the benefits are endless and I don’t need much more.

If I do buy something, I am working on making sure it is a piece that will last in my closet (not some fast fashion throwaway even though it is secondhand), and I will actually love it and wear it.

I am working on it. I truly am. I am hoping to become better and better, and it is all within my control, as it is within yours.

I know it is fun to have clothing hauls and to get excited over new pieces, but this is not sustainable.

I buy secondhand as much as possible (99% is my mandate going forward) but the plan is not to to buy as much as before.

Take this outfit for instance: It was worth $11,000 but I only paid $730.

Isn’t secondhand just as bad?

It isn’t perfect. Not buying at all is perfection. That’s the true way to avoid waste and trash, and fast fashion in general.

But it isn’t realistic.

Buying secondhand is second best (and as little as possible), because of these main reasons:

  • The item is already made – you aren’t contributing to a cycle of new items
  • If you donate it back – it just goes back into the cycle for someone else to thrift and buy it

You aren’t contributing to NEW items being made.

You’re feeding the supply, yes, but you are also creating the demand in a sense.

Opt out of the cycle, and go secondhand.

You can find really beautiful designer pieces secondhand for more money than some cheap fast fashion piece at retail (of course), but wouldn’t you rather wear a beautiful $2000 coat found for $800 from someone’s closet, than eight $100 coats that look terrible after a few wears?

Low quality items look like crap, period

Regardless of price, if it is not well made, it looks terrible. I don’t care what name is slapped on the item’s label.

Low quality, LOOKS like it.

I wear a crappy coat, no one comments on it because they can see the weird wrinkling, the crappy pilling, the way it bunches up and doesn’t drape properly, the way the collar doesn’t sit properly, and the shoulder pads bunching up in an awkward manner.

I wear a beautifully made coat, and people come out of the woodwork to tell me how much they love my coat. Their face falls when I tell them it is Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Burberry, Smythe… but then I tell them I got it secondhand and they’re amazed.

I even got a D&G coat for $100 off eBay. Perfect condition from a few seasons ago, but even after numerous wears, it looks fantastic. And it always will.

This is the coat!

Can you say that about your Zara or H&M coat? I daresay not, because I have been thrifting and I come across those coats all the time – they look like crap. Point blank, the fabric looks like you’ve rubbed against sandpaper for an hour, and it just doesn’t look as nice as it did on the hanger.

Know why?

They put chemicals in these clothes to keep them wrinkle-free, shiny, etc. Once you wash them, the chemicals come out, pollute the waterways and then your item looks dull and not as shiny as before.

It isn’t in your head — it is actually happening!

Secondhand clothing isn’t for poor people

Secondhand clothing gets such a bad rap, I don’t know why, but it is such a great way to get pieces (and resell them back into the community), and enjoy fashion and style the way I do, without all the other effects.

You’d be surprised but a good chunk of people who buy resale, are people with money, like millionaires.

36% of the resale shopper base, are made up of people who make $250K – $1M a year.

Why? BECAUSE IT IS CHEAPER.

Millionaires know the value of a dollar, and if they can save some, and still rock a fantastic outfit, they are going to do it.

Who’s going to know?

Heck, look at me. I make $260K a year, and am almost a millionaire at the time of this post, and I shop secondhand 99% of the time. I only draw the line at underwear and underclothing, to be frank with you.

I don’t even consider a piece any more if it isn’t secondhand. I think long and hard before I buy a piece at retail, considering the cost, the workmanship, the wear I will get out of it, how it will fit into my closet, and only then, if it matches all of that, will I buy retail.

It is a long, exhaustive process but it has cut down significantly on my shopping which is MAJOR progress for someone who was a former, recovering shopaholic who loved fast fashion, and someone who is STILL really into style and fashion.

I used to spend thousands of dollars a year on clothing.


That budget is much smaller now, and I am hoping to get it down to $1000 a year or $0 (ultimate goal).

What can you do?

You know what you can do.

Here’s a summary:

  • Shop your own closet
  • Buy secondhand – thrift stores, consignment (here are my Montreal and Toronto ones), from individual sellers like me, Kijiji, Cragislist, Garage Sales, Ebay, Poshmark
  • Buy less but of higher quality – think one $500 coat not 5 $100 coats
  • Don’t just look at the price – it kills me. Look at the cost-per-wear, the quality, the fit into your style & closet…
  • Avoid fabrics with synthetics in them – polyester, and anything that has microplastics that wash out of our washing machines and into the water
  • Avoid cotton if you can – this is difficult, but it is so water-intensive and terrible for the environment
  • Be kind to yourself – trying is better than doing nothing

If you’re trying, it is good enough…

Truly. If you are trying, and thinking about it, and being conscious, it is GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME.

NO ONE needs people to be perfect, we just need millions of IMPERFECT people trying, rather than 1% of us being “perfect” about it.

Extra Reading

Thank you for caring <3

Want more? This is part of the Shop Quality Series.

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have paid my $600K home in cash (my half was $300K), my $180K casr in cash, worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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