AirTalk | Audio: Are ‘Fashion Flippers’ Gentrifying Thrift Shopping? The Complicated Past And Present Of A Booming Industry

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Some thrift shoppers have found ways to profit off their purchases by reselling the goods on sites like Poshmark and Depop. The fashion hauls are popular online and often reach an audience that’s looking for unique, retro or vintage garments. But it’s raising concerns for people who truly need thrift shopping for its affordability. 

According to a recent Vox piece, “How thrifting became problematic,” a lot of the shoppers either reselling clothes for profit or buying resale items can afford to buy new clothes, so some people say there’s a chance others could be priced out of the thrifting market. It’s difficult to gauge whether the concerns hold much weight. While secondhand organizations provide benefits in limiting how much clothing gets dumped in the landfill, there has historically been a surplus in donations. According to Reuters, this problem has been amplified during the pandemic. And fast fashion, hyper sped up clothing production met with expanded wardrobes, plays into the challenges as well. We now have more clothing than ever before, but the quality has decreased. Some experts say the concerns raised within the thrift industry point to much bigger (and more complicated) problems with the fashion industry as a whole. Today on AirTalk, we dive into the complicated past and present of thrift shopping, the valid concerns being raised and why it’s not so easy to point fingers at specific individuals. We also want to hear from you! Are you a thrift shopper? Do you have concerns about so-called “fashion flippers?” Do you resell second hand goods yourself? How do you feel about the concerns being raised? What direction do you want to see the industry move in? Share your thoughts and ask your questions by commenting below or call 866-893-5722.  


Jennifer Le Zotte, assistant professor of history and material culture at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, author of the book “From Goodwill to Grunge: A History Of Second Hand Styles and Alternative Economies” (University of North Carolina Press, 2017); she tweets @JennyLeZotte

Alexis DeSalva Kahler, senior research analyst focusing on retail and e-commerce at Mintel, a global market research firm; she tweets @acdesalva