Leah Duffin explores the current role of sustainable fashion in Dublin, initiatives on campus that seek to promote shopping secondhand and its impact on UCD students.
Students are rethinking the fashion world and its rules; gone are the days of meticulous colour matching and the need to purchase a new outfit for every occasion. For today's students, secondhand shopping or thrifting is a regular hobby; from vintage graphic tees to Levi jeans, the majority of students own a piece of clothing they purchased second hand. UCD students are challenging the materialistic and fast-paced world of fashion in order to preserve the planet, and their budgets, while cultivating a distinct sense of personal style. In recent years second hand culture has gone mainstream, with students all over the country flocking to secondhand stores to find vintage clothing.
When asked about thrifting, many students said they used online marketplaces to collect vintage pieces, demonstrating that thrifting isn't limited to obscure charity shops and endless hunting through racks of clothes.
Student interest in second hand purchases can be attributed to an increase in environmental consciousness as well as the revival of iconic fashion trends, such as electric 80's colours and 90's low waisted jeans. Students are also encouraged to buy second hand as the hunt for the right piece can be a fun activity with friends. One student said that “there are a lot of pieces at the thrift store that I cannot find anywhere else. I picked up my favourite thick blue printed jumper from a second hand shop on Abbey street.” Many UCD students admit to shopping second hand regularly; a third year Arts' student spoke highly of shopping second hand, stating that “Thrifting allowed me to find unique pieces at very affordable prices. Since starting college I like using my clothes to express myself, I tend to be a very quiet person, and shopping second hand has allowed me to express myself on a student budget!”. When asked about thrifting, many students said they used online marketplaces to collect vintage pieces, demonstrating that thrifting isn't limited to obscure charity shops and endless hunting through racks of clothes.
Depop is one such marketplace and according to The Wall Street Journal, 90% of Depop's 15 million users were under the age of 26 in 2019, demonstrating the young people are dominating the second hand shopping market. Marketplaces, such as Depop and ThredUp, make second hand shopping accessible for students and with hectic schedules, with students now being able to support sustainability and purchase unique pieces at a reasonable price. Concerns over the climate crisis were mentioned in discussions over secondhand shopping, with many of UCD's students listing it as a major motivation for thrifting. “Shopping second hand has taught me that I can positively impact the environment through my shopping habits. I think about my purchases more now and try to buy second hand regularly,” mentioned one student.
Fast fashion can be defined as the design and manufacturing of clothing in large volumes, in which the industry uses mass production and cheap materials in order to bring inexpensive styles to consumers. However, the overconsumption brought on by these affordable and fashionable items has the potential to seriously harm the environment. Students have become more environmentally conscious and aware of the dangers of fast fashion and factor this into their shopping habits. Social media personalities and accounts like bestdressed and Emma Chamberlain actively promote thrifting to their millions of followers by showcasing their purchases from secondhand stores. As a result, a large portion of their young audience is exposed to the concept of second-hand shopping as a means of maintaining a trendy image on a tight budget.
Students have become more environmentally conscious and aware of the dangers of fast fashion and factor this into their shopping habits.
Sustainable brands, such as Reformation, advertise their sustainability by promising to utilise recycled materials and use the least amount of water possible. However, these sustainable brands are usually out of students' budgets when compared to fast fashion retailers like Zara or PrettyLittleThing. Second hand shopping not only has financial benefits for students, it can also positively impact the environment, as it is a fantastic way to keep clothing out of landfills, combat environmental pollution, and reduce carbon emissions and water waste.
The UCD Fair Fashion Project seeks to educate students about the negative effects of fast fashion. The project has revealed the dark side of fast fashion to UCD’s students, as they regularly post on their social media platforms in order to highlight growing concerns. According to the project, fast fashion emits 1.2 billion tons of Co2 per year and it is the aim of this project, and its student members, to spread awareness of the socio environmental impacts of fashion and discuss more sustainable habits through webinars, activities and social media. Recently UCD has become home to a clothes swap, as UCD Fair Fashion and Eco UCD presents students with a unique opportunity to positively impact the environment and expand their wardrobes. According to Katrina, the leader of UCD Fair Fashion, second hand shopping is an excellent way to exact change. She also promotes the care of existing clothing and finding new ways to reinvent your pieces, whether through upcycling old jumpers, or mending clothes affected by wear and tear. These sustainable practices are easy for students to incorporate into their lives.
Recently UCD has become home to a clothes swap, as UCD Fair Fashion and Eco UCD presents students with a unique opportunity to positively impact the environment and expand their wardrobes.
Here is the rundown of the best places to visit in Dublin for all your second hand shopping needs. Be sure to check out Nine Crows Vintage in Temple Bar, which has a wide and unique selection of vintage clothing pieces which are guaranteed to draw attention and envy. Whack Vintage is another Irish vintage clothing company of importance, with an accessible website and a recent pop up in UCD, which brought much excitement and persuaded many students to purchase preloved sweatshirts from renowned brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Nike. Many of Dublin’s charity shops received high praise from students, as the friendly staff, variety, and price attracted many students who wished to shop second hand at a great price, with many saying to make a day of it and scour the charity shops in town to find that hidden gem.
Shopping second hand or thrifting can be daunting but with practice and useful tricks, anyone can successfully shop in order to get the most out of their time and money. Whilst shopping second hand be sure to check the material of the pieces you're looking at, be on the lookout for clothing that has a high percentage of cotton or wool and try to stay clear of polyesters as they might not stand the test of time.
As well as this, classic pieces, like a cosy wool jumper or a vintage leather jacket never go out of style. Don't be afraid to shop second hand for other items beyond clothing, one student detailed how he picked up his beloved airfryer in a charity shop, spruce up your room with a lamp or cool prints for an affordable price. Just be sure to check that it works as it should before you take it home. Students can actively participate in sustainable practices by donating items they may no longer need; they may be better suited for someone else. This is a great way for students to participate as it in turn helps to keep the selection of second hand items fresh while also making room for your own new second hand finds!