In October 2020 when I started Swap Fashions, an online platform which allows like-minded women to swap their preloved clothes & accessories, I had to opportunity to speak to many women and understand their thoughts on swapping, buying second-hand clothes, fast fashion, etc. I realised that some open-heartedly preferred shopping second-hand clothing, some had certain reservations, whereas some were completely averse to the idea of wearing second-hand stuff.
There are many myths about second-hand clothing especially, in our Indian minds (I say so as thrift stores abroad have been around since long) and let’s see what these myths are and whether they are really myths or are they true.
Myth No. 1: When you wear someone else’s clothes, you take in all their negative energy.
I’m not an expert on this but isn’t energy all about intention?? If you believe that you will have a bad day, then guess what? You will.
How about when you stay in a hotel and sleep in sheets other people have slept in and use towels other people have used? Do you take in all their negativity too or do you feel great after a vacation? Further, think about any items that you’ve given away in the past – didn’t you feel happy seeing that the person you gave it to loved it and is utilizing it much better than you? Where is the negativity in any of this?
So if you feel (like I do!) that wearing secondhand clothing is fun, ethical, sustainable, a brilliant way to help solve the clothing wastage and save the planet, then guess what? It will be.
My Verdict: Definitely a myth
Myth No.2: New clothes from the stores are cleaner and secondhand clothes are unhygienic.
Here’s something you might not have known before. That “new” smell you’re used to is actually a mixture of finishing treatments like urea resins and formaldehyde (one word: toxic). These are used primarily in construction and even to preserve bodies. The intention behind using them on clothing is that they prevent mildew, wrinkling and parasites – all of which are likely to occur during shipping.
Further, “New” clothes have also been tried on time and time again in the changing rooms/ at homes before they are returned and are back on the racks. Whereas second hand clothes have already been worn and loved by one person, which means lesser hands have been laid on them and they’ve also had the time to get rid of the toxic substances with every wearing/wash.
Further, if the place where you buy your preloved fashion is credible then it’s an icing on the cake. For eg. @Swap Fashions, preloved clothes once received for swapping are quarantined for a few days in the sun. They are disinfected by steaming them before they are photographed. Upon receiving an order the clothing is once again steamed before being dispatched to the Swapper.
My Verdict: Only a Myth
Myth No.3: People will think I buy second hand clothes coz I can’t afford new ones.
Remind yourself that it’s not what you wear that defines you, but rather it’s you who defines what you wear! And what’s humiliating about buying a Chanel bag for a tenth of the price at a market? Or getting 4 branded pre-loved tops for the price of one top from Zara? Surely just because you can afford to doesn’t mean you should waste money!
Further, do you think our Bollywood divas and models all buy the designer-wear that they wear and flaunt? No way. The stylists of these celebrities rent out the outfits from the designers (mind you which may have already been worn by the models on the runway) which are then returned. The same designer outfit is then sold for lakhs of rupees in retail. If celebrities, who can afford expensive clothes, choose to rent over buying, as they know they are not going to repeat it, then why do we feel compelled to buy the so-called “new” clothes???
My Verdict: A myth that needs to be busted hi-time
Myth No.4: The clothes are of poor quality
Contrary to popular opinion, second hand clothes have already stood through the test of time after having washed and dried. Further, many second-hand clothing sites/pages like Swap Fashions only accept clothes if they are in good condition. @Swap Fashions all items are thoroughly inspected in different lights and only then are they uploaded on the site.
My Verdict: A Myth if the source is credible
Myth No.5: Second hand clothes are outdated and not up with the trends
If there’s one thing true about fashion it’s that trends follow a cycle and they’ll always come back in style. So something that may be a few seasons old, be rest assured it will make a COMEBACK. Moreover, making a statement with Vintage pieces is so IN right now.
Anyways due to fast fashion, women/girls nowadays do not wear or keep clothes for even half as long as they used to before ;( From personal experience, apart from some timeless pieces, most clothes received by Swap Fashions are THIS season or last season at the most.
My Verdict: A Myth in todays’ times
The fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions. It is the second-largest consumer of water supply and is a major polluter of the oceans with microplastics released from Polyester and other blended fabrics. If we continue abusing nature’s resources then we will need another planet to live on. We owe big time to our environment and to the next generation.
Clothes swapping, shopping second hand, and thrifting are all ways to fulfil the want for something new, without incurring more clothing waste – and the process of looking in your own closet to decide what you want to swap also helps bring insight into the things you want to keep and wear.
So ladies, let’s be responsibly fashionable at all times!!