“That one euro was so worth it!”

Initially, when I had started getting second-hand clothes home, my
mum used to disagree with my purchases – telling me that they are
‘dirty’ clothes. The funny thing is that I had the same mindset a couple
of years ago, and what’s even funnier is that, eventually, my mum
even started wearing my own second-hand clothes.

second hand clothes Malta
Before I went on a voluntary experience in India, I had bought a big and
thick cardigan for only one euro. My intention was to leave the clothes
I had with me behind and to make space in my backpack for new ones.
I ended up wearing this cardigan so much that I really didn’t want to
leave it behind. “That one euro was so worth it!” I thought. “I have
clothes that cost much more and I don’t wear them as much.”
During one night in India, we gathered up in a group to watch a
documentary about the deep, dark secrets of the fashion industry
– the accidents, the deaths, the little pay and the bad working
conditions which the people who make our clothes go through. This
was something that I did not know about before. When I returned
home, a seed of change was growing into a plant inside of me. I liaised
with my friend and we created a Facebook group as an online space
to buy and sell second-hand clothes in Malta. Although I still buy new
stuff, I started doing it consciously. I started asking myself “Who did
this? How much money did they get? Will I wear it enough to get its
value back?” Although I still buy new stuff, I do it whilst being aware of
the repercussions and the impact it has on the world and on my wallet.
To increase awareness about this, today I decided to sit down, reflect,
and write about why I personally love buying second-hand clothes –
because really and truly I absolutely do love it.

I think the biggest advantage there is to buying second-hand is the
price. The clothes are much cheaper than if you were to buy them
new. If you love shopping, but you are trying to save up for a dream
you have, buying second-hand clothes is one of the options. If, on the
other hand, you do not need to save up, buying second-hand gives
you the opportunity to buy double or triple the amount of clothes with
the same price.

This type of shopping gives you the opportunity to wear something
different, and to find something special and unique. I have a couple
of dresses which I bought from charity shops that always get
complimented when I wear them, because fashion is always changing,
and sometimes it goes around in a circle. Think about it – the 1960s
clothes are now considered as vintage, whilst the 1990s high waisted
jeans and dungarees became a fashion staple again a couple of years
ago. So why not try to buy the original ones from that time?

I don’t know if it’s just me, but the quality of today’s clothes feels really
cheap. They get torn really quickly, and they change shape and form
after a couple of washes. The clothes that were made years ago were
completely different. Two years ago, I found a vintage coat that I liked
and bought for four euro. I was so surprised at how warm it kept me
that I decided to look into it. I found a label saying that it was made of
Irish tweed, which is a handwoven material that is super expensive to
buy nowadays. No wonder I ended up wearing it nearly everyday!

We recycle glass, metal, plastic, paper, and maybe compost. We don’t
recycle textiles. Buying second-hand induces more sustainability in
your life. It decreases manufacturing demands and avoids waste. If
a dress is a waste to you, in reality, it is four euro to a stray dog or to a
person in need.

I also love buying second-hand clothes because I feel like I am helping
reducing the exploitation of the workers in the fashion industry in
third world countries. As I’ve already mentioned, these people work
very hard to earn a few cents for a sweater that we would buy for a lot
of euros.

Once I started buying second-hand clothes, I decided to try and
sell my own second-hand clothes. Originally, I started doing this to
fundraise and donate the money to the organisation with which I went
to India. I sold the clothes I didn’t used to wear and made about 100
euro. I continued selling my clothes when I got back and that taught
me such a big lesson. To me 100 euro was better than nothing, but
honestly, I wasn’t getting half of what I originally paid for them. From
seeing and experiencing how hard it was to sell my own clothes, I
started thinking twice before actually buying something. Before, I
used to be too impulsive – sometimes I didn’t even try the clothes on
before buying them and would end up leaving them in my wardrobe
because they didn’t fit. That is just a loss – a loss for the people who
work so hard to make the clothes and a loss for my savings account.

Last but not least, I wanted to share a guilty pleasure. After washing
the clothing really well, I really love the feeling of wearing it myself. I
start wondering and dreaming, “Who owned this before? What did
they look like? What was their character like? How old is this?” For
some reason, giving preloved clothes new lives and souls gives me a
huge feeling of happiness.
As the English proverb says, “One man’s trash is another man’s
treasure!” If after reading this you still think they are dirty, remember
that we reuse plates and cutlery when going to eat at a restaurant, we
reuse bed sheets when sleeping at a hotel, and we use the same seats
in an aeroplane as everybody else. They too were ‘dirty’ one time, but
we trust that they were washed properly.
What do you think? I’d love to hear different experiences and opinions.
If you want to share yours, or if you want more information about fast
fashion and second-hand clothes feel free to drop me a message on
Facebook. I would really love to speak to you!

Brenda Casha

© 2018 – VIDA Magazine