Thrift Shop thrills

20 March 2013

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The thought of rummaging through old clothing, furniture and books for hours on end can seem like a nightmare for some. Yet it may be a dream come true for another.

With price increases affecting all areas of the economy, this style of shopping is becoming more and more popular.

Naturally, the time always comes when our wardrobe needs to be updated, so how can you restock on a limited budget.

You can venture to your nearest monolithic complex, and proceed to give your bank account a beating, only to spot seven other people wearing the same top on the way out. Alternatively, you can look for other options within the local community that you may have previously overlooked – you might unearth a diamond in the rough; a great designer piece that someone else no longer wants.


Deakin University student and avid op-shopper, Hannah Pho said over eighty per cent of her wardrobe is made up of pre-used pieces.

“It makes for a very eclectic mix of clothes, and the never-ending combinations and style experiments are always a lot of fun,” she said.

“There are three main reasons that I shop at op-shops and vintage stores. Firstly, my wallet is always a lot happier when I do. Secondly, there is something great about having an item of clothing that you know others don’t have or others wouldn’t dare to wear. And thirdly, the scavenger hunt is almost more fun than actually wearing the pieces.”

Salvo Storesthe Salvation Army’s retail outlet, promotes this style of shopping. Its vision is simple – to provide the most sustainably conscious charity outlet in Australia.

But Salvos Stores CEO, Allen Dewhirst said the charity offers more than just bargains.

“The environmental resources used to produce new items are significant. It takes 2700 litres of water to produce a cotton t-shirt. One of the benefits of shopping at Salvos Stores is you are stopping items from going into landfill,” he said.

Sustainable clothing is becoming more prevalent within the industry these days. Simply typing the term into Google will produce a plethora of local websites, all manufacturing eco-clothing.

The only catch, however, is the price tag.

According to The Age, there are many hidden costs in opting for sustainable items over those that are bulk-produced. And, while there are many people who would prefer to go sustainable, sometimes the products are simply beyond their price-range.


With vintage fashion reentering the mainstream market, Pho says pre-loved pieces simply make an outfit more unique and appealing.

“The “lived-in” feel of a live music junkie’s old band tee, or the softness of a frequently washed and worn grandpa jumper gives each piece a bit more character and a story to tell,” she says.

But at the end of the day it all comes down to taste and personal style. Some people wouldn’t be seen dead in second-hand clothing.

For me, finding vintage fabric or clothing that can be altered into something new, is a thrill. Op-shopping is more than just a sustainable option, it is a chance to create a completely unique wardrobe with minimal damage to the bank account. What could be better than that?


Annie French is a communications graduate and freelance journalist. You can read her blog here and follow her on Twitter: @annabelfrench.

Photos by Annie French.