How Social Media transformed the Second Hand Market

For a while the culture of thrift shopping was usually passed from mother to daughter, it was something taught inside families and because some families didn’t have the habit of buying second hand, a lot of people never had the will of trying it out, even saying that they “can’t” buy second hand at all. For the longest time, the stigma attached to buying clothes owned by a stranger was very strong, and people didn’t want to create this image of not being able to afford new clothes for themselves and their families.

Looking back in history, the first thrift stores were created for charity purpose . First they were located at churches, and then Salvation Army and GoodWill were created with the same goal of helping people. With time, a bigger amount of middle class women started to thrift shop more often because the idea of helping others sounded like a good justification to by second hand.

But now, things are different, we have a lot of thrift and consignment stores all over the world, selling all types of clothing: from vintage to almost new items, from cheaper to high end brands. Studies say that 35% of women and 25% of men are buying more second hand products compared to a year ago, not only because of the necessity to save money, but because it is better for the environment, which has been a very import topic lately. We can also blame social media: Instagram and other platforms have the main purpose of influence people and creating trends as a consequence. Usually the trends start with a few people and they explode about a couple of years later (exactly what is happening right now with vintage shopping), creating communities that shares the same passions and ideas.

That being said, the younger generation has been creating trends like the return of 90’s and 2000’s fashion (like the VSCO girls for example) and I believe that thrifting has become a thing around them because they are also pursuing a sense of originality that the vintage look can give to them, and because they are more interested in what their parents used to wear when they were younger, and what is inside their grandma’s wardrobe. They figured out that, if trends have been always inspired by the past decades, why not to buy original items from those years?

They are also very aware that Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, and since eco-friendly consuming has been a recurrent topic on social media, more teenagers and young adults are learning methods of making less impact in the environment and also keeping up with their styles, once again, making the second hand market grow very quickly in the past years. The fact that information is right in front of their faces while they scroll up their Instagrams, helps to spread the word around them and expand the trend.

If you search on Instagram, you will find countless accounts of teenagers/young adults dedicating their feeds to thrifted outfits, or reselling items that they find at the local Goodwill. On Youtube, you will find videos with millions of views of people showing their adventures while thrift shopping. On Instagram you can also find all of our favorite thrift stores pages, which helps them to expand their popularity and visibility, increasing their profits and the interest of more people, because now they are able to showcase better their nicest items and even to create a visual identity that appeals to the younger crowd. I feel very positive about this generation because more and more kids are worrying not only about how they look, but about how their consuming habits can impact the planet and they are also setting the example in a very fun way. Hopefully, buying used items become more than a trend, but a habit for the future population of our planet. Of course the Internet will be the main resource of inspiration, education and information and it has the power of change people’s views about pretty much everything.

I personally can’t wait to see how Social Media and the younger generations will continue to impact our consuming habits and the second hand/fashion market. Hopefully it will help to change people’s minds, reducing the waste we produce massively everyday and also making Fashion more original and unique. I will be here documenting all of it!

What is your opinion about this topic? Can’t wait to hear from you! Leave your suggestions/ideas/opinions in the comment session!

See you soon!


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