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Gen-Z and Thrifting - Is it Making A Positive Impact?

Posted on April 22 2022

For the love of thrifting -

Thrifting led, and social fashion trend inspired, today's Generation Z is leading the way for revival and online admiration for second-hand shopping. The popularity amongst online, social platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and Depop have allowed for a new wave of creativity. Gen-Z digital creators are known to express the sense of style, love of fashion trends and growing impact of shopping sustainably through thrifting and second-hand shopping. But why such a sudden shift in where the online generation chooses to shop and find their latest thrifted wardrobe staples? And just how much of a positive impact has thrifted culture and shopping sustainability had throughout the fashion industry? 



Influence of social media and the spike in thrifted shopping -

Social media savvy and fashion trend focused, Gen-Z have sure left a powerful stance involving the rise of thrifting culture, by keeping up with passing trends without resulting in unethical fast-fashion purchasing - but why such a prominent spike in sustainable shopping and one-off vintage item finding within today’s online generation? 


After Covid-19 knocked everyone off their tracks, along came a massive transformation for the fashion industry and the way Gen Z shop. With lockdown looming and the aspect of staying indoors becoming a reality, high-street fashion companies resulted in plummeting sales and store closures, allowing a promising turnaround for your not-so-typical, fashion reselling platforms! Online reselling sites, such as Depop, Vinted and the newly emerged Finds.World have profited well from the lockdown culture. All of which report an increase in sales and online traffic since the start of the virus. According to FashionUnited.com, sustainability savvy and Gen-Z led platform, Depop, tops the charts when it comes to social shopping and fashion trendsetting. From enabling its young audience to buy from the comfort of your phone, to allowing its digital users to express their creativity when it comes to Y2K inspired outfit styling, the online phenomena has hit the mark on thrifting culture and Gen-Z’s impact of thrifting buying and selling culture. The Irish Times mention how ‘since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, traffic on the app has tripled globally and now has 26 million users’, suggesting the power of lockdown keeping Gen-Z at bay has undoubtedly helped in the growth of the thrifting inspired app.

 

 

Figure 1: Depop App (Vogue Business)

Figure 1: Depop App (Vogue Business)

 

But who and what is making these edgy, Gen-Z trends such online hits? TikTok and its sustainable fashion-focused, digital creators of course!

 

‘Woke’ influencers and their impacts of sustainable shopping - 

Now, it’s no secret how Gen-Z are respectfully shown to hold important social, political and environmental issues close to their heart, by demonstrating their activism and ideas throughout online platforms. With this, it is important to mention the influence of ‘woke’ online creators, and their prominent impacts to fast-fashion culture. 

 

According to Fashion Network, ‘75% of British-based 16-24-year-olds have either swapped fashion pieces or would turn to buy second-hand’ as a way of updating or adding to their wardrobe and would be interested in doing so in future.

 

Fair fashion campaigner, Venetia La Manna (@venetialamanna), an honourable digital influencer, uses her online platform to home in on the importance of sustainable fashion and thrifting culture. Raking in a solid 16.2K followers amongst the popular Gen-Z video sharing platform, Tiktok, La Manna expresses the importance of buying second hand, thrifting culture and its positive effects on clothing wastage and ethical clothing consumption. 

 

Figure 2: Venetia La Manna Activism (The Independent)

Figure 2: Venetia La Manna Activism (The Independent)

 

As an online platform, Tiktok and its Gen-Z led following, has the means to inspire and educate on topics such as thrifting and the positive impacts of second-hand shopping culture. From just searching ‘thrifting’, ‘sustainable fashion’ and ‘second-hand wardrobe’ within the digital platform, thousands of related TikTok videos and creators are easily accessible, located all under one space. From showing off the latest thrifted fit, latest small business fashion creation, or informing their followers of the benefits of being fashion conscious - Gen Z sure have it down with staying fashion-forward while not breaking the bank or the planet.

 

 

@natslater_ who wants a haul? #thriftshop #thrifting #charityshop #thrift #comethriftwithme #vintage #fyp #sustainablefashion #haul #losangeles #buffaloexchange ♬ Dang! (feat. Anderson .Paak) - Mac Miller

 

 

Figure 3: Thrifting Influencer on TikTok (TikTok)

Figure 3: Thrifting Influencer on TikTok (TikTok)

 

Gen-Z business icons, leading their way within the fashion scene - 

Obviously, it comes as no surprise when we look at Gen-Z and their savvy approach to fashion, thrifting and digital culture. Growing up with the internet being a huge part of an average Gen-Z’s life, we take a look into young, online business icons making a name for themselves within the buying and reselling fashion scene. 

 

Ethical clothing and sustainability at the heart of her online reselling business, Isabella from Isabella Vrana (@bellavrana on Depop), is a top London-based, online seller on the popular buying and reseller platform, Depop. Offering worldwide shipping and clothing bundles, fitting the sought after Y2K and E-girl niches, we all know and love today, Isabella has racked up an impressive 17.7K vintage sold items since her many years of starting her self-titled Depop shop. Her online presence (@isabella.vrana on Instagram) caters to informing her young, fashion-focused audience on up and coming Depop drops, London based clothing pop-ups and sneak peeks of her latest self-made clothing designs, which are made available to her customers via her clothing site! Isabella makes clear of her stance on clothing ethics when it comes to her own, personal designs and the way her designs are made. UK based and handmade, Isabella is always seen to express the importance of ethical production and worker conditions. As onlookers into her brand, we are always welcome to a behind the scenes look into how her clothing pieces are made and how she finds her loved Y2K pieces you can shop over at her Depop shop.

 

Figure 4: Isabella Vrana (Instagram, @isabella.vrana)

Figure 4: Isabella Vrana (Instagram, @isabella.vrana)

 

 

Figure 5: Isabella Vrana’s Original Designs (Instagram, @isabella.vrana) Y2k - Depop

Figure 5: Isabella Vrana’s Original Designs (Instagram, @isabella.vrana)

 

A one to watch and business icon, beloved by the Gen-Z online fashion community is Finn Thomas, or most commonly known as Fazed By Finn (@fazedbyfinn on Instagram). Instagram based, Finn has collected an impressive collection of prominent, fully thrifted streetwear and designer pieces that Gen-Z fashion influencers are flooding our Instagram and TikTok timelines sporting pieces from his site. Seen those infamous military overpants dotting around recently? We have FazedbyFinn to thank for their input in the rise of the oversized military and cargo pant trend, taking Gen-Z fashion lovers by storm. Specialising in archived streetwear and vintage fashion pieces, he is a prominent icon in the making - hitting the nail on the head through perfectly accommodating the clothing he resells, to fitting the current trends of today’s digital generation!

 

Figure 6: Fazed by Finn Military Pants/Styling (Instagram, @fazedbyfinn)

Figure 6: Fazed by Finn Military Pants/Styling (Instagram, @fazedbyfinn)

 

Is the spike in thrifting making a positive impact?

Young, online creators and emerging business owners use thrifting and second-hand shopping as a means of expressing themselves and positively influencing others interested in thrifted fashion in a positive light. 

 

However, are there aspects of the popularised, Gen-Z shopping practice that can be seen as negative and less impactful? Refinery29 makes light on the gentrification of low-priced thrifted items and the recurrence of resold thrifted pieces being sold for a greater price. This becomes an issue when lower-income families or individuals, relying on affordable outlets for clothing shopping are left with a decreasing amount of affordable items to choose from. The digital media site, too, makes aware of the exclusivity of thrifting amongst plus-size people. Lack of inclusive sizing and plus-size representation within Gen-Z influencers and creators make it hard for all members of the online Gen-Z fashion community to fit in with the latest Y2K trends and fashion styles. 

 

As we can see, Generation Z and their love of thrifting for the top vintage fashion trends have shown a positive outlook when it comes to the younger generation finding their style, online voice and money-making ventures. Online platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and Depop have been fundamental in Gen-Z being able to use their digital platform as means of growing sustainable fashion business, recommending full thrift fits or using their following to relay important information on the unethical side of the fashion industry. However, the exclusive nature of thrifting and full thrifted fashion regularly showcased down our feeds, display the leading concern thrifting culture faces - its inclusivity regarding lower-income and plus-sized people. 

 

Will Gen-Z lead the trend of thrifting for the latest fashion piece last? Or will the next generation of social fashionistas take hold of a new and improved way of shopping? Time will tell, but we are completely here for Gen-Z and their thrifted fashion culture!

 

References:

https://fashionunited.uk

 

https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/fashion/depop-the-social-shopping-app-that-has-thrived-in-ireland-during-lockdown-1.4522802

 

https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/the-influence-of-woke-consumers-on-fashion

 

https://uk.fashionnetwork.com/news/Millennials-and-gen-z-turning-to-secondhand-fashion-says-mintel,1178789.html

 

https://www.refinery29.com

 

Images used: 

https://www.voguebusiness.com

 

https://www.independent.co.uk/author/venetia-la-manna 

 

https://www.tiktok.com 

 

https://www.instagram.com/isabella.vrana/

 

https://www.instagram.com/fazedbyfinn/

 

By Vanessa Smith 

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