How many times have you bought an item of clothing, only to wear it once or twice and throw it away after years of collecting dust in the back of the closet? Sadly, the answer is too many times. Thankfully, there’s a movement taking place in America that could help save us from our wasteful selves: National Secondhand Wardrobe Day on August 25. Buying clothes second hand and donating your used clothing creates a positive cycle that is crucial for cutting back our waste. Unfortunately, there’s a stigma surrounding secondhand clothing stores, or thrift shops, but it’s time to bring this to light and talk about why it’s so flawed. Secondhand shopping saves you money, has a positive impact on the environment, and if done correctly, can certainly lead to a closet of some cool new duds. So on August 25, head to your favorite thrift store and get some new (old) threads!
When is National Secondhand Wardrobe Day 2023?
National Secondhand Wardrobe Day is celebrated on August 25.
History of National Secondhand Wardrobe Day
We are not advocating wearing tattered clothes or items that are clearly unhygienic, but buying secondhand clothes from reputable sources has so many great benefits that we can’t imagine why it gets frowned upon!
The first and most obvious benefit is the savings; you get articles for a fraction of the price of retail. The clothes are in great condition, and if you take your time, you can find vintage designer clothes or even licensed merchandise. You will also find that, as compared to fast fashion, the quality and longevity of secondhand clothing are mostly better.
The next and most important reason for buying secondhand is to conserve the Earth’s resources, decrease pollution, and have a more sustainable lifestyle. Tons of clothing is discarded and dumped in landfills, which is such a tragic waste! Destroying the environment and wasting your hard-earned money on new clothing just because a certain article is no longer trendy is horribly wasteful.
Before the Industrial Revolution, clothing was expensive, limited, and not as easily disposable. Following the Industrial Revolution, mass production of clothing led to mass consumerism. Soon, people began buying clothes often and tossing old ones out. And the stigma attached to secondhand clothing — that it is a sign of lack of money — began rearing its head.
This changed when Christian ministries started drives to collect clothing and accessories to resell to fund their programs. Thrift stores started to pop up, benefiting and giving an incentive to those who were providing charity services. Today, Gen Zs and Millennials are active in promoting sustainable fashion and reducing waste. 77% of Millennials prefer purchasing clothing that is environmentally friendly.
National Secondhand Wardrobe Day timeline
The Industrial Revolution triggers high-scale consumerism.
Goodwill is founded in Boston by Reverend Edgar J. Helms.
Naomi Campbell wears a silver Versace dress at the Fragrance Foundation Awards, which she had already worn once before in 1998.
Shoppers can now browse secondhand clothing on websites and Facebook pages.
On National Secondhand Wardrobe Day, it is all about breaking the stigma surrounding second-hand clothes and making the choice to shift to sustainable fashion. Reducing, reusing, and recycling clothing is encouraged so that an example is set for newer generations to follow. Local thrift stores have their prices slashed even further so more people are tempted to buy from them.
Thrift and secondhand hauls are posted online on social media sites like Instagram. Outfits of the Day feature secondhand items and recommendations for online thrift stores are given. As a further incentive for buyers, many campaigns highlighting the exploitation of labor by the fast fashion industry are posted online, as well as the dangers of fast fashion to our natural resources.
National Secondhand Wardrobe Day By The Numbers
1 in 5 – the number of Americans who will shop at a thrift store at least once during the year.
$17.5 billion – the revenue of the resale industry in the United States every year.
⅓ – the segment of the resale industry revenues that are generated by Goodwill.
$5.9 billion – the sales generated by Goodwill in 2017.
$1 billion – the combined exports of textiles by the U.S. and the U.K.
10.5 million tons – the amount of clothing sent to landfills every year.
60% – the percentage of consumers who prefer buying secondhand items in person.
700 gallons – the amount of water used to make a single cotton T-shirt.
95% – the percentage of clothing that is dumped in landfills that can be recycled.
1 in 4 – the number of Gen Xers who are resale shoppers.
26% – the percentage of luxury shoppers who also shop thrift.
National Secondhand Wardrobe Day FAQs
Is it OK to wear second-hand clothes?
As long as the clothes are hygienic and look and feel awesome, it is completely alright to wear second-hand clothes. Thrifting and Y2K fashion are huge among Gen Z and Millennials, so now is the best time to make the switch!
What happens to second-hand clothes?
Second-hand clothes are wasted and discarded in landfills if they don’t find a second home.
Why is second-hand clothing important?
Second-hand clothing is not only budget-friendly but also important for the prevention of further consumption and degradation of the Earth’s natural resources.
National Secondhand Wardrobe Day Activities
Convince a non-believer
Sometimes all it takes is one trip to the thrift store for someone to realize what they’ve been missing out on all their life. Try convincing a friend who’s never experienced secondhand wardrobe shopping, to tag along with you on a trip. Chances are, your friend will "convert" into a secondhand shop believer and start shopping there too!
Try a new style
Shopping for a secondhand wardrobe means you can peruse through styles that cross decades and trends. If you’re looking to break out of a fashion rut, hit the secondhand stores to find your "inner bohemian." If you find a piece of clothing you like, keep it. If, after a while you get tired of the piece, donate it again. Someone out there is bound to take it.
Clear out your closet
Secondhand stores run on donated clothing and one of the best ways to keep this cycle moving is to clear out your closet. Spend the day emptying drawers and hangers. Sort through those gift sweaters, event T-shirts, and fashion faux pas you never wear. What you don't want, haul over to the local thrift store. You’ll feel lighter and cleaner, and what was once your trash could be another person’s fashion treasure.
5 Reasons You Should Buy Secondhand Clothing
You can wear what everyone is wearing from the go-to fashion brands, or you can create an ensemble that is unique from thrift stores.
Promoting sustainable fashion
Not only will you be promoting a cause that is beneficial for the environment’s preservation, but you’ll look fantastic doing it too!
Down with fast fashion
Fast fashion exploits labor workers in underdeveloped countries, raising ethical concerns — another reason for us to shop secondhand!
You’ll really need to dig deep, but there have been countless stories of people finding one-of-a-kind vintage designer wear in thrift stores and clothes drives.
You save money
In today’s economy, splurging is out and penny-pinching is in!
Why We Love National Secondhand Wardrobe Day
It’s like a treasure hunt
You never know exactly what you’ll find on any given trip to the thrift store and that’s part of the excitement! You may find that designer shirt for a fraction of the price at any retail store, or you could walk away empty-handed. The low cost also makes it easy to commit to a style you’d like to try out just for fun.
It’s great for children’s clothes
Shopping for children’s clothes at thrift stores is a no-brainer. Considering that kids will grow out of those shoes, pants, and shirts in eight months anyway, paying extra for the same clothes seems senseless. Bring your brood along and let them roam. They'll feel like they're on a treasure hunt!
It gives back to the community
Many thrift stores and secondhand clothing chains provide jobs and they are an integral part of the community. Goodwill, a non-profit, is one of the nation’s largest and most well-known secondhand store chains. The company employs nearly 69,000 people across the country. Your donation of goods or your purchase from a Goodwill store, helps pay the wages of all those employees.
National Secondhand Wardrobe Day dates