Why I Shop Vintage & Consignment

For me, shopping has become a way to express my “green” approach to life, which means that I’ve turned to vintage and consignment stores to get my shopping fix.

It may seem like eco-friendly practices like recycling, composting, and car-sharing have little to do with clothing, but I’ve learned in recent years that they are in fact inextricably linked.

Turns out that behind the glossy magazine covers, glamorous runway shows, gorgeous models, and stores filled with things that I need – The fashion industry has a dirty little secret. After oil & gas, fashion is the second most polluting industry IN THE WORLD.

Watch the documentary The True Cost or read up on the environmental impact of “fast fashion” and I’m sure you’ll be just as horrified as I was and continue to be today.

I made a pact in 2014/2015 to stop contributing to the fast fashion problem. I’m pleased to say that not only did I clean those things out of my closets and donate them, I also almost entirely stopped shopping at places like H&M, Zara, and Forever 21. I decided that I would focus on investment pieces rather than chasing trends or buying every new arrival in my favorite shops.

Quality over quantity.

The result of that decision has been two-fold. Not only do I have a more well-rounded wardrobe of high quality, classic pieces that I’ll keep for years, but I’m also not wasting money on “throw away” clothing that won’t last beyond the current season. I have a full conversation with myself before shopping {not out loud, don’t worry}. I ask whether I can see myself wearing it in two years? Is it something classic that I can see myself handing on to a family member or friend?

Another side effect of this pledge not to support companies that are filling the world with trash, is that I’ve been turning to online vintage and consignment sites, and companies that offer alternatives, like peer-to-peer shopping app Poshmark or clothing rentals from StyleLend or Rent The Runway. These are such great options, you can find huge discounts on designer goodies and brand new pieces that still have tags on them. I’ve also used some of these sites to sell my unused clothing and accessories!

The Real Real Poncho Winter Layering San Francisco Bay Area Fashion Food Fitness Lifestyle Blogger Street Style Givenchy Antigona Satchel Snakeskin

{You can find Givenchy goodies, like this Antigona satchel, from The Real Real}

Here are a few of my favorite places to shop/rent and my experiences with them:

  • The Real Real – This company is a San Francisco institution as far as I’m concerned. I’ve bought from them and consigned a ton of pieces that were just gathering dust in my closet. In fact – I bought my first Chanel bag from The Real Real! I always wanted one, but balked in the shop when the sales associate started gushing about how soft the lambskin was. For me – A vintage Chanel was the answer, no new lamb was being slaughtered for my bag.
  • Poshmark – You know the dress you bought and never wore? Or shoes that were final sale and you got them home only to realize they didn’t quite fit? You can sell your mistakes or buy someone else’s on the Poshmark app. No muss, no fuss. It’s amazing!
  • StyleLend – If you’re in San Francisco or New York City, you can rent dresses and handbags for an event or even a vacation through StyleLend. Founded in SF and expanded to NY, this company is all about sartorial sustainability.
  • Rent the Runway – Have five weddings to attend this Summer? Rent your outfits instead of buying something you’ll only wear once! I’ve used RTR for years for galas – No need to buy an expensive designer gown for each event, just rent one for the big day!

What’s YOUR favorite way to shop? Have you tried any of these companies?

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