When it comes to buying new clothing, it can be difficult to find quality pieces for a reasonable price during a time when consumers are shifting their priorities toward concepts like sustainability and working conditions of where apparel is manufactured.
However, there are ways to attain affordable quality clothing from an ethical source.
Ethical Consumer, a non-profit research company, stated on its website, “The rise of fast fashion has had devastating consequences, from its reliance on plastic fabrics and its enormous carbon footprint to its erosion of workers’ rights.”
With the way that clothing trends are constantly changing and cycling through society today, clothing production has roughly doubled since 2000. This increase in clothing production has created harmful effects on the environment, reported Pirkani, a contemporary British fashion brand.
In addition, the employees working in the fast fashion industry endure poor working conditions.
The Clean Clothes Campaign stated most major brands including fast fashion companies cannot prove their workers earn a living wage.
A way shoppers look to avoid fast fashion and high prices, while still finding quality clothing, is to shop at thrift stores.
Thrift stores have been rising in popularity amongst Generation Z over the past few years. Research from ThredUP, an online thrift and consignment store, stated, 83% of Gen Z have bought clothes or are open to buying clothes that are second-hand.
For example, Alexis Wendling, a junior recreation parks and tourism management major, said she enjoys thrifting and sees the benefits in partaking.
“I think it is really awesome that it is becoming more popular nowadays, because I think beforehand people didn’t seem to look at it in a good light, when it really is great for the environment,” Wendling said.
Thrift and second-hand clothing stores are appearing all over the country, including near campus. Here are a few options near campus to find cheap sustainable clothing.
Einstein’s Attic – (330) 346-0673
One thrift store near campus is Einstein’s Attic, located at the Acme Plaza in Kent, Ohio, at 1677 E. Main St.
A six-minute drive from campus, it is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12-7 p.m. and is closed Sunday and Monday.
The store sees customers of all ages, said Sherry Dakes, owner of Einstein’s.
“It is all over the board, we have people with their little kids ask if they can come in, all the way up to people who come in walkers and wheelchairs,” Dakes said.
Upon entry, shoppers are met with the aroma of incense (another item they sell besides clothing). A colorful display reveals incense of all kinds, as well as a variety of burners.
Around the corner sits a large display of rocks and crystals. They carry different types of both polished and unpolished crystals, so shoppers can get anything from jade to sunstone.
The clothing is found further into the store. They carry everything from pants and sweaters to dresses and Halloween costumes. In the back, a variety of pots, pans and kitchen utensils are available at inexpensive prices compared to retail stores.
When buying from Einstein’s, customers can feel good about their purchases, knowing that they are saving items from being thrown into a landfill.
“I think [thrift stores] are huge, because we just spend so much on throw-away stuff, so [Einstein’s] try hard to carry older stuff, quality stuff, stuff that has lasted and will last,” said Dakes.
Overall, Einstein’s Attic has a wide variety of home and clothing goods that customers can find at a reasonable price.
Village Discount Outlet – (614) 443-3421
A 25-minute drive from campus, Village Discount Outlet is located at 2930 State Road in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
It is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
One patron, Jane Fitz, shared that she had a positive experience while shopping at Vintage Discount Outlet.
“This is my first time here since the pandemic, I got some winners (items purchased),” said Fitz.
The store carries an array of items ranging from kitchenware and home goods to multiple sizes and styles of jeans and shoes.
Village Discount Outlet has special deals almost daily. For example, on Sundays, college students get 20% off their entire purchase when they show their college ID.
A sign outside the door states that the store receives thousands of new arrivals daily.
Thrift stores such as the Village Discount Outlet provide unique pieces, compared to retail stores that stock duplicates of the same clothing items.
“Lately when I go into a store that is like [a retail store], I just get dizzy because I think about how much of [the clothing] will go straight to the landfill,” Fitz said.
Amelia’s Vintage and Thrift – (330) 474-7200
Amelia’s Vintage and Thrift is located at 9058 OH-14, in Streetsboro, Ohio, and is about a 20-minute drive from campus.
The hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday and closed on Monday.
A large store, both clean and organized, makes it easy for a wide variety of shoppers to find what they are looking for, said Erin Reuter, owner of Amelia’s Vintage and Thrift.
“[The ages are] all over the place, but the young ones are starting to thrift and they enjoy vintage stuff,” Reuter said. “The first couple weeks when school goes back, the weekends will be a chaos of college children.”
Shopping at thrift stores can also eliminate clothing waste and promote the reuse and recycling of clothes. Amelia’s Vintage and Thrift’s items are 100% donation-based, Reuter said.
They accept donations every Saturday and Sunday, as well as the last full week of each month. They accept most items, if they are in clean and good conditions.
“We do our best to recycle what we can,” said Reuter. “I have someone who picks up things we either don’t sell or just aren’t up to our standards.”
Items that Reuter cannot sell are picked up by another company, World Mission, who recycles the items for a cause, she said.
All in all, thrift and second-hand stores are where old or unwanted items can be donated and serve as a spot to pick up some new fashion statements for the new school year.
Olivia Montgomery is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].