Recycling and Vintage Fashion

Recycling and Vintage Fashion

Story by Sofia Milla
Photos by Kylee Spann

Inside Fullerton

When thinking of your go-to place to shop for clothes, the vintage store down the road may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but there are quite a few reasons why it should be.

If you’re searching for quality clothing that will last you more than a couple months, don’t look in your local shopping mall. Huge clothing stores found in malls are pioneers of an industry infamously known as ‘fast fashion’ the third most polluting industry in the world. Fast fashion is a term to describe companies stealing silhouettes off the runway and quickly creating hundreds of thousands of cheap replicas and selling them to the public for a fraction of the price.

So while that $6.99 shirt from that store in the mall may seem like a great deal, clothing from these huge brands are made with cheap blends of synthetic materials and are meant to be disposable. Forcing us the consumer to return to purchase more and more, repeating the cycle and draining our wallets.

Vintage clothing however, was made with a different sentiment. Clothing made 20-75 years ago was made with attention to detail, and made to last. A pair of denim shorts made with 100 percent pure cotton from 25 years ago will likely last you longer than any pair of shorts you could buy now. Vintage clothing was typically made with natural, sturdy materials like cotton, silk and linen. A majority of clothing was even handmade. Mothers spent hours sewing clothing for their children that was intended to be passed down from generation to generation.

Flip through the pages of fashion magazines from the ‘60s-‘90s and you would be surprised to see just how much of the clothing the models are wearing hold up today. Oversized light wash denim jackets from the ‘90s and vibrant hued funky print pants from the ‘70s have become repeat offenders of so many current fashion it-girls and it-boys street style today. Vintage clothing silhouettes have become the muse behind many designer brands’ collections and clothing companies have caught onto this, taking these inspired pieces and creating replicas of replicas. So instead of buying a poorly made copy, buying vintage will always have you one step ahead.

Due to how trend oriented today’s fashion is, people gravitate toward trending garments, and in turn lose their grip on their own personal styles. With vintage clothing, no two pieces are completely alike. You’ll find the most unique items that you just can’t find these days.Vintage stores are chock-full of electric colored blazers with intricate hand painted buttons and fluffy tulle dresses with sequined bodices. Vintage clothing is a glimmering gold mine of unique attire for those looking to branch out and become trendsetters themselves.

With the rise of social media, people no longer have to wait for fashion magazines or celebrities to tell them what is trending. Anyone with a large following can now spark a trend with just one post, and this instant access to what people are wearing is causing trends to spread like wildfire.

One week, cropped denim is the must buy item and the next week, it’s off-the-shoulder tops. Fast fashion only furthers and profits from this expeditious craze by consistently hurling new garments out onto the clothing racks. If you were to step into any large retailer today and return next week, you’d find the store with completely new clothing on the racks from when you last visited.

As a result of this rapid trend cycle, unfathomable amounts of clothing ends up in

landfills each year. Fast fashion is responsible for about 2 million tons of non-compostable waste dumped in landfills each year. It takes 70 million tons of water each year to make the clothing, only for it to be found rotting away in a dump six months later; these figures are only rising each year.

In attempts to lessen our ecological footprint, we are constantly told to shut off the water while we brush our teeth, carpool to work once in awhile and recycle our paper and plastics but we fail to stop and consider how the clothing we buy is doing more damage than all of those small good acts combined.

When you buy vintage, you are recycling. By picking up a new pair of shoes for your job interview at a vintage store rather than the department store, you’re giving something a new life! Those shoes that would have ending up tossed in the bin, are getting a second chance, and one less new item is thrown into the mix.

It’s not only the environment that will thank you. The fast fashion industry has been caught repeatedly using unethical practices like slave labor and having workers endure horrific conditions in factories worldwide for pocket change. To produce and sell clothing for such low price points, companies hire workers overseas to make the clothing in poorly built factories for 15 hour work days. The dreary factories often times go unregulated, with no fire extinguishers on the walls or evacuation routes set in place, leading to multiple building collapses and factory fires. All in the name of fashion.

So sure, the $6.99 top from the mall seems like a harmless purchase that’s easy on your wallet, but the benefits of buying vintage are worth the investment. Fast fashion is tempting, but there is always a price beyond the low price tag.


Vintage clothing stores in Fullerton

Memo`s​Vintage​ (714) 449-9760

Stray Cat Vintage & Costumes (714) 738-5680

Elsewhere Vintage (714) 771-2116

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