August 16, 2013
A number of readers have been curious about my Preloved shirt that I bought a few weeks ago in Toronto. Well, I adore it, and moreover, I really like the entire premise of the company…Even if you’re not nuts about the idea of clothes made of multiple fabrics, Preloved has some wonderful things to consider:
A tote bag made of khaki pants, lace, and leather – I think this is SO beautiful.
A hooded sweatshirt for children – what a brilliant idea!
A couple of old tee shirts, made into a pillow.
I do not get commissions from Preloved; I support them enthusiastically because of their thoughtful solution to the endless global problem of garment waste.
I call all my thrifted items pre-loved. :-)
Still, it's inspiring that a group of people can find a way to find a sustainable solution to this problem. Plus change the vocabulary around waste clothing. Here in Germany, we're just starting to talk about junk clothing (as in way too cheap to be any kind of good quality), recycling and upcycling. But it's still on the edge of 'oh that for poor hippies and students)'. Even though Germans are a nation of bargain-hunters (the sales are still going on), it has to be new…
I love that handbag.
I was stunned when I moved to Germany to find that a country that seems to have a reasonable awareness of recyclying (we have paper bins outside the apartment block, and glass, plastic and aluminium bins at the end of the street) has essentially no charity shops whatsoever to which one can take clothes, books, household items etc that one no longer wants. There are a few bins in the street for dropping clothing and shoes (I'm not sure who runs them – some, but not all, are Red Cross); and there is one Oxfam shop in the city – but they insist that you go in and sit with them while they pick over your clothes in front of you, and then you have to take away those they deem not good enough – no doubt feeling totally humiliated for owning such things! Coming from the UK, where there are dozens of shops that take in anything (clothes, household goods, books…. and who sell items they think aren't good enough for the shop as "rags") to support different charities, it was a bit of a facer. Nor can I find anything on the "Dress for Success" model to which I can donate business clothing. (Shipping it back to the UK to donate is just not on!)
In France (where I do not live–alas), I've noted a similar lack of charity shops. I HAVE noticed the tendency of people to put good clothing ON TOP of trash cans. Last summer, I spied a good wool skirt, Doc Martens boots, and a Persian lamb vintage jacket. Then you see people going through them and taking what they want.
Janice Riggs says
One of the things I loved when I lived in Ireland was that there were dozens of resale shops everywhere. There would be no reason to buy anything new if you didn't want to – it was a dream for someone who enjoys thrifting, and who cares deeply about the environment!
I'm just back from a trip to Vienna where my son lives. I asked him to find some charity shops as I was hoping to unearth something a wee bit different and he drew a blank. It's just not in their culture, yet.
I so agree with you, Janice. I live one mile away from the largest thrift store in Virginia and have bought many beautiful things there including two silk blouses that are in constant rotation in my wardrobe. My lovely handbag, designer dark wash jeans, and so much more are from there. I sew and search the extra large size items in both men's and women's clothes for lovely fabric. Some of the fabrics simply are not available at all in fabric shops and the natural-fiber silk, linen and wool fabrics would cost a fortune if bought new. If I need something, I go there first for everything from clothes to household items.
I recently discovered buying used Ferragamos on Ebay, and now I have a shoe wardrobe full of well-fitting, very nice work shoes. I got all of them gently used for a 1/10th of the price of retail.
Seems like a good entrepreneur could start up a shop in those countries and get the revolution started!!!
Chiming in from Germany where I am currently visiting with family. Yes, it's true that there are very few resale shops around. Clothing to be given for a good cause is usually handled by the churches or other charitable organizations. Just yesterday, a young man distributed small wash baskets around the entire neighbourhood with a note that they may be filled with usuable clothing and/or kitchen items. This morning they were picked up to be sorted through and then shipped to a charitable organization.
On the packing front: I could not be happier with my scaled down luggage. Thanks, Janice.
Do you think that people save things up for church rummage sales?
YES–but often the people putting the sale together skim off all the best stuff before opening.
Ditto for thrift store volunteers (though not allowed at some).
Still generally more than enough left.
I shop first at thrift stores in Britain. I participate in several sewing/crafting groups and take any fabric scraps that are offered. I use them to make patchwork tote bags for Christmas gifts, patchwork chair covers, etc. I think department store shopping is either boring or overwhelming; they are my last resort. Currently beginning to sew clothes, a skill I've long wanted to develop.
While I have long been fan of Preloved, I wish they'd cut above a narrow 10. A Preloved Large" is maybe a medium. Next time in Toronto, check out Comrags, another fantastic local label. I see very little I want in thrifts these days, it seems (to generalize) in my new city, Montréal, women wear their clothes longer and harder.