The current generation of teens find increasing enjoyment in the act of thrifting



Thrift stores display a wide variety of garments and accessories for customers to choose from, offering items that are not only unique, but have history derived from their past owners.

Andie Korenge, Feature Editor

With trends coming and going amongst today’s teens, one activity that has become increasingly relevant and prominent within the current generation is thrifting. Whether browsing the racks of a thrift store for clothing or other equally intriguing finds, there have proved to be several reasons as to why Generation Z in particular, has become increasingly interested in such an activity.

One of the main reasons thrifting has gained popularity is due to its convenience and tendency to be extremely cheap. At a thrift store, there is a vast variety of pieces to choose from, depending on the teens’ preferred style. Just about anyone can go in and leave with at least one clothing item that suits their tastes.

There are also typically several thrift stores located in any given area, so proximity to a thrift store is something that most people have, making thrift stores and what they provide more accessible than a mall, for instance.

Since thrift stores are on the cheaper side of the spectrum; seeing as most teenagers either do not have a steady income or have a very low steady income, it is much more affordable than most firsthand clothing. This especially applies when compared to stores that are popular at the moment and produce not only trendy, but well-made items.

“It is not always easy to get to the mall, the closest one is still pretty far from my house, while there are thrift stores literally right around the corner,” freshman Emma Schwartz said. “Plus, I don’t have a job and rely on money from the holidays and my birthday as my spending money. So thrift stores are a much better option price wise as well and let me buy clothing that doesn’t cost me a fortune but that I still like and want to wear.”

Two of the largest concerns with today’s teenagers, in terms of wider world problems, are the environment and the treatment of others. The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions and a fifth of the 300 million tons of plastic produced globally each year according to an article published by Business Insider.

Clothing is rarely recycled within the industry, and most clothing purchased eventually ends up in a landfill. Therefore, students concerned with the condition of the environment find it important to make a point of purchasing mainly used clothing, so as not to contribute to the cycle.

“I thrift not just for enjoyment but also for convenience and helping the environment,” freshman Alexa Yale said. “I prefer thrifted clothes because it helps, even if in the slightest bit, with mass production of clothing.”

As a result of the industry’s dependence on such rapid production, it has taken to exploiting those who work in textile and garment factories to get the job done, having them labor in sweatshop-like conditions, ultimately, violating their rights as humans.

To many, this treatment of workers is seen as modern-day slavery, being that they are paid below minimum wage, working in unsafe environments for long hours. Often garment workers are forced to work 14-16 hours a day, 7 days a week and during peak season, even until 2-3 a.m. to meet their brand’s deadline, as mentioned in a piece done by Sustain Your Style, a consulting service for more sustainable fashion. Thus, an abundance of teens do not want to buy a piece of clothing that was created at the expense of someone who’s underpaid and overworked, which is where thrifting comes in.

“Like most other teenagers, how others are treated is one of my main worldwide concerns,” sophomore Mikayla Ryan said. “Being conscious of the means by which my clothing is produced is something I am trying to practice. It makes me feel much better about what I am wearing when I know my clothing was not made at the price of someone who is being unjustly subjected to hard and undeserved work to make it.”

Certain teenagers also find thrifting exciting because they get to take home items that have history behind them and are undoubtedly unique. When they purchase an item of clothing from a thrift store, a lot of what they find is completely one-of-a-kind and practically comes with a guarantee that no one else will have anything that resembles it. This proves ideal for those who want to express their individuality and identity through their clothing preferences.

Thrifting has also become a popular social activity amongst teenagers. Similar to going to the mall or seeing a movie, it has become a way for friends to spend and enjoy time together. Going with others makes the action of sifting through racks of clothing much more entertaining and increasingly worthwhile. It is a way for people to enjoy each other’s company and spend time together, while not making a huge dent in their wallet.

If a teen prefers more solitary activities, thrifting can also prove rather ideal. Universal and with the potential to please all, it can not only be enjoyed with company, but equally so alone. It can be rather peaceful and rewarding, as they can remain focused solely on finding pieces for themselves, with no distractions or friendly competition. Whichever way they choose to go, it has the same potential for gratification and pleasure.

“Sometimes I like the company of others while thrifting because it’s nice to be with people doing something fun,” Yale said. “But other times I like to just go alone so I can go at my own pace, slowly scanning the items.”

Thrifting has quickly made a comeback within the current generation of teenagers and become a rather mainstream activity. With the increasing popularity it has taken in the number of one’s peers, a good portion of teenagers have tried it out on at least a few occasions. Many thrift for different reasons, whether it has to do with convenience, affordability, environmental concerns, uniqueness, sociality or simply as a means by which to fill time. The activity itself is clearly something that many have found satisfaction in, a trend that continues to grow.