Thrift shopping as a trend negatively affects low income households

Taylor Love, Reporter

With an increase of thrifting trends on TikTok and other social media platforms, necessary resources are being taken away from people who can not afford other clothing stores. Thifting as a trend, rather than a means to survive, is inherently classist and should not exist. The gentrification of thrift shops has only further harmed low income families.

Senior Jasmine Perez enjoys thrifting but agrees that sometimes people take it a step further than just buying clothes. 

”One thing with thrifting that I personally don’t like is resellers on Depop and how people are literally thrifting clothes just to sell online for expensive amounts of money,” Perez said.

It is one thing to buy the stray t-shirt, or one obscure piece of clothing from the local Goodwill, but people who can afford to shop at other stores and continuously thrift for their own financial gain, are increasing prices in thrift shops. 

Depop is a popular online clothing retailer that specializes in buying and reselling clothes. The platform encourages people to sell their used clothing while providing a global platform. Now there is an influx of people reselling things they purchased for low prices at second hand stores.

The people who are being hit the hardest are those from low income families. According to the United States Census Bureau, the official poverty rate in the United States in 2020 was 11.4% of the population. This was an increase of one percentage point from the previous year. 

Thrifting is supposed to be a way for low income families to have good quality clothing for low prices. Clothing that tends to run more expensive, such as winter coats or jeans, is being bought at rapid speeds by people who do not depend on second hand stores as their main clothes shopping supplier. The lack of options at thrift stores is especially true for children’s clothing.  

According to the Children’s Defense Fund, one in every six children in the United States live in poverty. They are the most impoverished group in the United States. The Children’s Defense Fund states that the number of children in poverty is nearly one and a half times higher than that of adults aged 18 to 64 years old and twice as high as adults 65 and older. Now as thrifting has become trendy, a lot of these children are missing out on clothes that they need.

“I’ve noticed a trend on TikTok on thrifting and people just reselling clothes and even children’s t-shirts and putting them up on Depop and labeling it as a crop top which overall is not okay,” Perez said.

A common trend sweeping the fashion scene at the moment is the baby tee. Women and girls are buying shirts intended for children and passing them off as cropped shirts. They will then resell said shirts on Depop for an inflated price on the basis that these shirts are “vintage”. While the price might originally be less than 10 dollars, on Depop the seller might charge 30 for 40 dollars. 

That is not to say that everyone who sells on Depop does this, or that everyone who posts on TikTok is promoting the gentrification of thrift shops. 

“I feel like today in this generation, we see more topics on TikTok on thrifting and how you can find good finds in Goodwill and other local thrift stores,” Perez said.

Everyone is allowed to thrift shop, there is not one specific group who can or cannot utilize Goodwill. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of a thrift shop is a store that sells secondhand articles and especially clothes and is often run for charitable purposes.  

On one hand, I could understand how people who thrift for profit would argue that they are helping because they are purchasing from a store where the money goes to charity. The more that one person buys, the more money is going towards a good cause. While that is technically true, one thing that people often do not take into consideration is supply and demand. The more clothes they buy from thrift stores, the higher the prices go.

High demand mixed with a low supply gives way to inflation. The people who can afford price increases are not the ones facing the consequences. 

Overall the people who are harmed the most are the families that rely on thrift stores for clothes. It is not fair to them that trends have led to those with more of a disposable income buying up their children’s clothes and reselling them for the “aesthetic.” I stand by the assertion that people who thrift shop for their own personal financial gain lack integrity.