The second hand is rising. This occasion has long been restricted to automobiles, furniture, home appliances or electronics, and is now also practiced in the world of textiles. This trend is related to the increase in the cost of living, but also to the environmental awareness of consumers, favored by the emergence of websites that allow resale and purchase between individuals, this trend is driving the textile industry to reinvent and see the birth, along with licensed brands. Weakened by competition from e-commerce, specialty independent stores and other thrift stores that pride themselves on ethical and sustainable fashion.
Before that, when we sorted our closets, we would give out clothes we no longer wear to family members, friends, or associations. Now, first instinct is to try to sell it. Sites like Vinted or Vestiaire Collective compete with us, Explains Véronique Magnaux, president of the Emmaüs community in Rodez and Villefranche-de-Rouergue. Individual donations are decreasing and the quality is lower. However, our comrades’ business is harvesting, sorting, and reselling. This is what makes us live, our only means of making a living because we have no state support.”
Disposable fashion scourge
In addition to these individual sale sites, major retailers and ready-to-wear giants have sniffed a vein and entered the breach by creating dedicated corners for used products or by taking back old clothes for their customers in exchange for vouchers… to buy new! An excellent example of green washing. Beyond the stated ambition to be part of an ecological and virtuous approach, these brands are tapping into this new lever for growth, encouraging consumption, especially among young people with low purchasing power.
The latter can only be tempted by fast fashion, whose brands can release up to 36 collections per year, compared to 4 for a classic fashion brand. They offer many fashionable models at low prices that allow you to regularly replenish your wardrobe. But for what social and environmental consequences? “We buy a lot of cheap clothes that we wear very little because they are often poorly cut and without clothes. The result: we resell them or throw them away. What a waste!, Solange attacks Solier, who has run Parallèle merchandise store in Rodez for nearly thirty years. It’s better to have fewer things in your closet, but the quality remains constant.” An opinion shared by Malika Farines who opened the thrift store C’est Rococo in Rodez a year ago: “When you see brands like Shein selling a dress for €5 and still making a profit on it, help! These are disposable clothes, made by miners who work 12 hours a day for a pittance. I know, but we all close our eyes.”
An increasingly large section of the younger generation, aware of environmental issues, finds happiness in the old-fashioned flea shops in downtown Rhodes selling clothing and accessories from the 1960s to the 2000s. Prices sometimes equate to new items, but this corresponds to a new style of clothing for teens that gives them a second life. “Parents can’t get past seeing them dig in their tanks, Malika Farines says: We are dealers of used clothes. A dress is like a piece of furniture, the older it is, the more valuable it is. A piece of Louis XV furniture cannot be sold for the price of an IKEA piece of furniture. A 1950s dress would never cost $20.”
second hand deal
In the past, we produced less than today, and with the success of second-hand clothing, some particularly desirable pieces have become rare and therefore expensive. “You can see the T-shirts for 50 euros each. And some thrift store chains sell a kilo of clothes for 45 euros, they have been abused”, Malika Farines protests. Traders see the second hand as a blessing : “Some come to buy in Emmaüs at a low price to resell at two to three times higher, cVéronique Magnaux of Emmaüs notes. But the sun rises for everyone, and fortunately, we have loyal supporters of our sales rooms, sensitive to the cause, our values, and our work.”
Like all fashions, second hand has its drawbacks. Buying used things does not necessarily mean you have to be vigilant, on the contrary. For some, this is a way to get rid of guilt … and to consume more. However, if products, even used ones, are accumulated, profits are nil. “The cheaper it is, the more we buy, Marion Dunnett, at the helm of the old thrift store Les Jolies Fripes in Rodez, regrets. You need to be careful, be less impulsive, think before buying and always ask yourself if you really need this item. ” A question that allows you to move from the state of the consumer to the state of “consumer”.