9 reasons why you should stop buying new clothes

Two women's rack of used clothes
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I’ve always wondered why buying used clothes isn’t more popular. Although Generation Z embraces all things old, many people in my peer group (let’s call it “late middle age”) seem a bit surprised at the idea. Not sure why. After all, didn’t “Pretty in Pink” show us just how cool secondhand things can be?

If you’re curious but noncommittal about buying used clothes, give me a chance to change your mind. After 30 years of buying and selling (and wearing) second-hand fashion, I’ve compiled a long list of benefits. Here is the most important.

1. Used clothing is tried and true

Vintage clothes at a thrift store
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When you buy something new, you’re taking a gamble. Will these jeans hold up over time? Will this sweater start to show after the third wash?

In contrast, used clothing is tried and true. Everything on the shelf is pre-shrunk, broken in and stress-tested by life. Who needs a better guarantee than that?

2. It’s a powerful environmental move

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The emergence of “fast fashion” – clothing that is produced quickly and cheaply to take advantage of fashion trends – is contributing to profound environmental problems. As stated by Greenpeace, this type of apparel is not meant to last, repair or reuse.

As a result, the industry is responsible for staggering levels of textile waste (92 million tons per year, by some estimates). Discarded and unsold clothes are shipped to poor countries in East and West Africa – regions ill-equipped to manage them.

Choosing high-quality used clothes reduces the demand for new clothes. Helping every consumer who breaks away from the cycle of fast fashion put an end to its devastating effects.

3. Buying used is budget friendly

A man carrying money in his pocket
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According to Vogue, the retail price on clothing ranges from 2.2 to 2.5 times the wholesale price. For example, a wholesale $60 cardigan will cost between $132 and $150 off the rack.

But when you buy used, someone else has already paid that steep initial price. And in most cases, the thrift store price for the same cardigan will be much lower than the original price wholesale price. Who can beat a deal like this?

4. Supports noble causes

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Most thrift stores are extensions of charitable organizations. Revenue from the sale of used goods helps fund services such as job training, medical research, and outreach to the homeless.

Even when you buy secondhand clothes online or at a rummage sale, the money goes directly to your clothing store People rather than companies. Sorry, H&M shareholders, but this looks like a better investment.

5. May be tax deductible

A woman at a thrift store or charity shop
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Depending on where you live, merchandise purchased from qualified nonprofits may be exempt from sales tax. But the details can be deceiving. I live in Iowa, and the state tax code states that thrift stores are exempt from sales tax if:

“The net proceeds are spent for educational, religious, or charitable purposes; and an organization that sells or receives the profits is exempt from income tax in accordance with IRC 501(c)(3).”

Unfortunately, there is no single resource to help consumers navigate the complex web of state sales tax laws.

6. It is easier to create a distinctive style

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The older I get, the less I want to look like everyone else. Buying used gives me the opportunity to flex my creative muscles and find the unique elements that make my look stand out.

If you’re new to passive shopping, do some experimenting. Mix in some old and new elements to cultivate a totally original style.

7. Reselling used clothes can be profitable

A woman sells old clothes online
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Business boom in the world of resale. According to Statista, the global market value of resale apparel for 2021 was an estimated $96 billion. Even some retailers are getting into the resale market. The final installment in the “If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It” series explores Patagonia’s investment in Worn Wear.

Claim a good portion of that $96 billion for yourself. Reselling quality used clothes on eBay, ThredUp, or Etsy is a great side hustle.

8. Vintage clothes are often made better

Vintage clothing
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For those of us who don’t shop at top-tier designer stores, quality clothing is hard to find. Fast fashion seems to have lowered clothing standards and, in turn, lowered consumer expectations.

But buying used clothes turns back the clock and gives us access to the clothes we made years — sometimes decades — ago. In general, vintage clothes are better made and made of higher quality materials than their modern counterparts.

See also: 11 Secrets to Finding Quality Clothes at Thrift Stores

9. You can find exclusive brands

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Every now and then, high-end clothing finds its way onto the shelves of thrift stores. I’ve bought vintage pieces from Hermes, Missoni, Fendi, Comme des Garcons, and Loro Piana.

Would I normally pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to get to this level of sewing technique? No, would I pay $4.99 – $9.99 for a hidden gem? you betcha.