Thrift-Store Fashion Taking Over?


Second-hand fashion is taking over. Young adults are putting fast fashion brands like Forever 21 out of business. 

Last year, Forever 21 in Bel Air Mall closed. Currently, Forever 21 in the Eastern Shore Centre is closing and selling everything from clothing racks to lighting fixtures. So what’s happening to Forever 21’s brick and mortar stores?

In September 2019, Vox.com reported that Forever 21 had filed for bankruptcy. The company planned to close 178 stores nationwide and 350 stores total. Stores like Claire’s, PacSun, and Charlotte Russe have also dealt with financial struggles within the last few years.

The New York Times reported that Forever 21’s struggles have provoked questions around the appeal of fast fashion.. The fast fashion industry has faced backlash surrounding the environmental impact of quickly disposable clothes and concerns about worker safety.

Younger shoppers have increasingly turned to consigned goods and brands that claim sustainability as a value. 

Junior Aryn Otero explained that she would rather find a one-of-a-kind item of clothing from a Goodwill type store than buying something from a brick-and-mortar store that anyone could have.

“With the surge of retro and vintage clothes making such a comeback, thrifted items have become more fashionable than graphic tees and ripped jeans. Clothes I got from thrift stores around the country have lasted years longer than anything I’ve gotten at H&M or Forever 21,” says Otero.

ThredUp, a U.S.-based second hand clothing retailer, reported that second-hand clothing has grown 21 times faster than that of fast fashion. ThredUp also reported that the second hand fashion market was worth $24 billion as of March 2019.

According to ThredUp, 64% of women are more willing to buy second hand items in 2019 which is a 19% increase from the 45% of women in 2016.

As a young woman who considers herself fashion-forward, I’ve always loved thrifting. Like Aryn Otero, I love being able to find something unique and one-of-a-kind. I agree that thrifted and second-hand items last longer. 

Younger people today are more environmentally conscious now more than ever, so they want clothing that is built to last. According to PositiveNews.com, 59% of consumers expect retailers to create clothes ethically and sustainably.

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