Thrift: a 3-pronged style solution
Enter the elusive and magical world of thrift shopping, where clothing either goes to be reborn or to die.
Among the racks of polyester, spandex, worn-out leather and faded denim lies a gem waiting. It may take a while to find, but she’s there. She may be a chiffon polka dot blouse, the perfect plaid woven or a pair of buttery-soft leather boots that fit better than Cinderella’s slipper ever did.
Where does Calgary stand in all of thrifting’s mystery and wonder? Unlike Vancouver or Toronto, the city’s thrift culture isn’t as prevalent, but it’s most certainly there. Ask those working in thrift, they’ll say Calgary’s thrifting culture is strong and always growing.
The growth isn’t necessarily in locale, but in interest and desire.
Emerencz Merkle, co-manager of the long-standing shop Divine, notes that thrift culture is strong because “vintage will never go out of style.” Essentially, everything that is old eventually becomes new again in fashion. She talks about how thrifting was huge in the ‘90s when all the grunge kids and bangers were wearing second-hand plaid shirts and tattered denim. Not only because it was the style, but also as a way to separate from the mainstream.
Today, thrift shopping seems to have evolved into more of an all-encompassing culture. Merkle and her co-manager and partner in crime, Megan Erickson, both note the array of folks that come through the store. They say it isn’t uncommon to see “hipsters and chongo dudes, professors from ACAD, hair stylists and 40-somethings” all in the same day.
These ladies of thrift are adamant that one will always find a unique piece while thrift shopping. Not only does thrifting combat the monotony of buying clothing from major retailers, it’s also interesting to think of who wore the clothing before you.
“I’ll find something and I always wonder what’s the story behind it, like a spandex onesie…” Erickson says, trailing off.
Another obvious bonus of thrift shopping is the difference in pricing compared to things you’d find at a mall. Thrifting may be the answer to broke college students’ fashion prayers.
It’s a lovely trifecta — wallet-friendly, unique and long-lasting clothing.
Merkle got it bang on when she said, “You can still find nice things without spending a pretty penny.”
Catie St-Jacques has worked at Used: House of Vintage for the past three months. She feels the thrift community in Calgary can sometimes feel a little too small and is not advertised very often. Obstacles aside, she also sees potential.
“It’s up and coming, I think it’s getting bigger and becoming more trendy and eco-friendly,” St-Jacques says.
St-Jacques also isn’t afraid to talk about some of the pretentiousness that is involved in the thrifting community. She mentions people can sometimes be “a little stuck up,” which is an attitude she doesn’t really understand, and hopes it’s not scaring away thrifting newbies.
Calgary’s thrift community may be small, but it’s here. From hipsters to broke students and little old ladies, there’s room to become a part of the thrifting culture. So, let the thrifting begin.
There are plenty of tips for those wanting to make their foray into the thrifting world for the first time.
- Don’t expect to find a treasure right away. Some days you may leave empty handed and others you may just hit the motherload of thrift beauties.
- Most thrift shops get new batches of clothing weekly — Divine is every Wednesday and Used is every Thursday. You can figure that one out, right?
- The better the condition the piece of clothing is in, the higher the price it will most likely be. That doesn’t mean you can’t question why something is the price it is.
- If you feel something is overpriced, say something. It doesn’t mean that the price will change but if the employee is knowledgable , you should at the very least get a good explanation.