An urgent need to repurpose Vintage shops and A designer guide sustainability efforts in BLOOMINGton

By Lianna Levine, Marlborough School and Paola Santos, Brentwood School

The entrance of the decade-clad vintage store in Kirkwood, Cherry Canary. Photo provided by Lianna Levine, Marlborough School

While fast fashion is quickly taking over the market, it is also attracting growing concern for its environmental impact. Fast fashion is low cost clothing that imitates current fashion trends. Due to popular fashion trends constantly changing, clothing industries and buyers are regularly changing their inventory and wardrobe to keep up with the market. In fact, the average person in the United States contributes to 70 pounds of clothing waste a year. Wasted clothing ends up sitting in landfills for hundreds of years, emitting methane, a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. Not only is repurposed clothing economically advantageous for buyers, but it has now become environmentally necessary in the fight for sustainable living. According to reporter Anmar Frangoul of National Broadcasting News (NBC), global fashion produced 1.2 billion tonnes in carbon dioxide equivalent.

“From an environmental aspect, we produce so many clothes we literally don’t have enough bodies to wear or purchase them,” manager of consignment boutique, Vintage Vogue, Elizabeth Torres said.

Many clothing stores are working to combat this issue locally. Vintage Vogue is one of several vintage clothing stores located in Bloomington, Indiana. The shop is operated by Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana, a non-profit organization that serves 29 different counties. The store sells a variety of different men’s and women’s clothing; including shoes, accessories, hats, and even furniture. The store consists of donations entirely from Indianapolis, so that shoppers in Bloomington can be sure to find unique and original pieces.

Some stores have paired social justice with sustainability efforts. Bloomington Goodwill manager Michael Lambert talked about his move from working in retail to recommerce.

“I wanted to work somewhere where I could be proud of not just my work but the work that I’m doing. And it really stuck with me...It’s not just Goodwill helping Indy, it’s Goodwill helping Indiana,” Lambert said.

Other members of the fashion industry in Bloomington and beyond have caught on to this pressing issue. Trendy resale outlets such as Poshmark, ThredUp, Depop, and Vinted have all taken off online and allowed consumers to sell clothing they no longer need. Reports by Sorilbran Stone in Oct. 2018 state the resale industry is worth $20 billion, which is projected to double by $41 billion by 2022. This is driven mainly by the popularity of thrifting in youth shoppers.

Shoppers can help reduce the environmental costs of fast fashion by being conscious when out shopping. Becoming aware of the materials and brands you buy is crucial for a future in which we value our resources and keep our global community in mind. Choosing eco-friendly fabric that is natural acts as an alternative to synthetic fibres. However, recycled fabric is still the best option to eliminate waste.

In the fight for cleaner and more ethical fashion, we must remain proactive to secure our future.

Entrance to Goodwill's boutique branch, Vintage Vogue in Kirkwood. Photo provided by Paola Santos, Brentwood School.
Cherry Canary's multi-colored vintage inventory. Photo provided by Paola Santos, Brentwood School.
A shot of antiques in Cherry Canary. Photo provided by Paola Santos, Brentwood School.
A Cherry Canary t-shirt stresses the environmental importance of buying vintage. Photo provided by Paola Santos, Brentwood School.
Marked-down shoes at Vintage Vogue boutique store. Photo provided by Paola Santos, Brentwood School.
Pots, terrariums and garden antiques in Cherry Canary. Photo provided by Paola Santos, Brentwood School.
Button-up shirts hang in Cherry Canary. Photo provided by Paola Santos, Brentwood School.
Mannequins show off hats and scarves at the center of the thrift shop. Photo provided by Paola Santos, Brentwood School.
An upcycled shirt from the 90's of Tas the Tasmanian Devil now with Indiana University at Bloomington's logo. Photo provided by Daisy May @rebloomedclothes on Instagram.
A personalized sweatshirt sporting the university logo. Photo provided by Daisy May @rebloomedclothes on Instagram.
A personalized sweatshirt with tie-dye and pom poms sporting the university logo. Photo provided by Daisy May @rebloomedclothes on Instagram.

Daisy May is a fashion student at the University of Indiana at Bloomington. She also runs a sustainable clothing business called “Rebloomed Clothes.” As stated in her mission, May hopes to show people that there is beauty in recycling clothing and giving them new life.

She aims to encourage people to shop sustainably through her niche of upcycling, or the personalization of already made-clothes. May wants people to realize that shopping sustainably is accessible and affordable for anyone.

“Most college students can afford to shop second hand…[and] the consumer at the end of the day has the biggest impact on the world,” May said. “By not buying that product, the [company] that’s selling it will go out of business.”

You can contact May on her social media @rebloomedclothes and send her materials to make your new product! Support local sustainable designers and second-hand shops!

Designer Daisy May enjoying her love of fashion. Photo provided by Daisy May @just_daisin.
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Paola Santos

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