Thrift Shopping: Conscious Consumerism in the World of Fashion

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure


Glorified by the American hip-hop duo through their renowned “Thrift Shop” track, artists or influencers on Instagram donning vintage pieces that were copped by rummaging through a mountainous pile of second-hand clothing and last but not least, by the lady whom sparks joy in every household (except for compulsive hoarders’), Marie Kondo. The world of fashion is experiencing an upward trend with thrift shopping and according to a 2019 Resale Report finalised by ThredUp, the resale or second-hand market will continue to grow up to US$51 billion by 2023.

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Thrift shopping or colloquially known as ‘bundle shopping’ has had its roots in Malaysia since decades ago but only recently, Malaysian consumers, especially the younger generation (primarily the Millennials and Gen Z) are taking an interest in the scene — refuting the preconceived stigma of thrift shopping by the older generation. This has resulted in numerous brick-and-mortar bundle stores sprouting across Malaysia at a considerable rate and some of these new stores such as Bandoru Malaysia have even taken the liberty to turn the scene up a notch by exploring e-commerce.

Assortment of tops at a bundle store

With the current craze of fast-fashion and logomania, where logos are surrogates for value and status, it is not our pay checks that have taken the bigger toll but the environment. The fashion industry produces 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions as delineated by the UN Environment. Thrift shopping is not the only solution to the environmental dilemma, but it will surely bring the numbers down as it encourages reuse and repurpose – Ultimately, reducing manufacturing needs as well as by-product and unnecessary contributions to the landfills.

Amidst the racks of raunchy band t-shirts, plus-sized clothing and early 20th century miner worker-esque ensembles, are gems and treasures to be found, at a nominal cost. Thrift shopping is definitely more practical on the wallets and creative for the wardrobe as opposed to shopping with fashion giants’ stores where most styles are practically carbon copies of the other with unjustified price tags.

On a less serious note, the thrill of the hunt, the satisfaction of discovering vintage pieces and repurposing them are why fashion mavens advocate the experience. Even if repurposing is not an option, the slight imperfections should be viewed as the characters and backstory of the apparel instead of being frowned upon.

Thrift shopping will not spell the end of fast-fashion and it will most likely remain a niche. However, it may become a driving factor for the fashion giants to embrace originality, adopting more sustainable production methods and putting an end to the take-make-waste model.