September can be an exciting time to be planning our fall wardrobes. It’s a time for transitioning from tanks and shorts to easy layers and light knits. September can also be a time of overconsumption. That can look like buying items just to keep up with trends, buying things you already own because you have so much and forget what’s in your closet, or just feeling that urge for new because all the marketing out there is telling you to buy. If you’re wanting to change your traditional “back to school” / start of fall shopping habits, September can also be a time to challenge yourself to try something new.
Secondhand September is a campaign run by Oxfam to encourage people to buy only second hand items for 30 days in the month of September. It’s an opportunity for us to say goodbye to our fast-fashion shopping habits and refrain from partaking in the frenzy of fall shopping the second the kids are all back in school. So why is this important? Let’s break it down.
On April 24, 2013, the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which housed five garment factories, killed 1,132 people and injured more than 2,500. Just five months earlier, 112 workers had lost their lives in another tragic accident, trapped inside the burning Tazreen Fashions factory on the outskirts of Dhaka. These disasters were among the worst industrial accidents on record, and the dark truth of the fashion industry was on display for the world to see. The factories that are unsafe, and quite literally killing people, are where our fast fashion is made. Garments are being produced at an enormous scale with immense pressure being put on the factories to pump out as many pieces as they can as quickly as possible for as cheap as possible. To get a greater scope of the issue, watch the documentary The True Cost Movie by Andrew Morgan.
So how can you participate?
- Commit to shopping only secondhand for the month of September. No new clothes.
- Take inventory of your wardrobe. What do you already have in your closet? Is anything in need of repair or laundering?
- Get creative with styling the pieces you already own.
- Swap clothes with a friend. This will refresh both your wardrobes.
- Sell some clothes you no longer wear at a local consignment shop or on a resale app like Poshmark.
- Get your thrift on!
If you are interested in shopping secondhand but don’t know where to start and the idea of a giant thrift shop is intimidating to you, here’s a list of local and online, curated pre-loved shops to try:
Happy Secondhand September! —Jen Pistor