With just one pair of jeans requiring up to 1800 gallons of water to make, being fashion-forward in a time of climate consciousness can be challenging. Nevertheless, the range of eco-friendly options for buying clothes has only increased. These fashion sources have recently come to define different vintage-inspired styles and trends. These four Lowell students explain their fashion choices and how sustainability plays a part in them.
Describing his style as “vintage, low-end streetwear,” junior Javier Ramirez says he buys most of his clothes at thrift stores. His affinity for pieces from the ’90s and early ’00s makes thrifting an easy option and, because buying second hand clothing from thrift stores guarantees significantly less clothing ending up in landfills, it is also an environmentally friendly one.
For Ramirez, thrifting has been an important part of his life since he was little. “As a kid, I always used to go thrifting because my family couldn’t afford to buy from retail, but now it’s more of a lifestyle,” he said. With the addition of virtual thrifting via popular resale apps such as Depop, Ramirez has come to rely on buying second-hand clothing to find unique pieces that fit his style while practicing sustainability.
Taking on a more timeless and simple look, junior Jack Stern also buys most of his clothes from thrift stores. Frequently pairing cardigans and polos with graphic tees and Dickies pants, his skater-grandfather style crossover makes thrifting the obvious and more ethical choice for buying clothes. Regularly visiting consignment shops — more selective, expensive and fashion-focused thrift stores — Stern is able to blend his style with brand-name pieces while protecting the environment at the same time.
Stern explains that he was inspired to start thrifting by his practice of borrowing his father’s clothes at a young age. Thrifting as well as the unique second-hand clothes he has continued to receive from his father have assisted in defining his style over time.
Junior Julia Paminiano relies on hand-me-downs to build outfits and defines her style, inspired by ‘Asian street wear’ with mostly Chinese, Japanese, and Korean influences. Paminiano receives a lot of them from relatives who share similar clothing sizes and styles. The lack of packaging and shipping makes this even more eco-friendly than online retail and thrifting.
Paminiano started this practice after she realized that her very specific taste and small size made thrifting difficult. Over the years, she has even started donating her clothes. “I think donating clothes that you don’t use rather than just throwing them away is also really important,” she said. “I send my old clothes back to the Philippines for kids to use there.” Aside from second-hand clothes, Paminiano also likes to buy from small brands online, and eco-conscious brands like Uniqlo.
Junior Dalya Deuss describes her style as “skater sister” with a blend of business casual, but what makes her style unique are the sustainable one-of-a-kind pieces that she alters herself. Deuss does everything from practical tailoring adjustments to adding patches to hoodies to, in a more avant-garde effort, sewing two halves of different shirts together. According to Deuss, there are many benefits to upcycling, or the recycling and modifying of clothes. “You have things that fit you better for sure, but upcycling is also eco-friendly if you’re thrifting [the clothes] or using recycled fabrics or scraps,” she said. Deuss believes that almost anyone can learn how to modify clothes, and that it’s an easy way to give unwanted clothes another life, avoiding wasted resources and energy.