This new-to-me concept highlights the changing landscape of thrifting and sustainable shopping practices
I'm useless in a sewing room and thrift shopping stresses me out. But, sorting through racks and rooms at Forever21, H&M, and blessed Marshalls heightens my shopping stresses with the added factor of the unsustainable practices in the retail fashion industry.
A few months ago, a came upon a new-to-me concept: vintage reselling--a sustainable way to shop for those who like vintage styles but don't like thrifting; for those who like the boutique-like feeling but don't like the unsustainable practices of the fashion industry; for those who like unique, one-of-a-kind, often handmade finds but want affordability, too.
I live in Lubbock, Texas, a strange spot on the West Texas map, about five hours away from any place you'd actually want to visit. People come for the university, but stay because it's cheap, easy, and, even in the short while I've lived here, getting to be a little more fun.
Every first Friday of the month, the arts community puts on an Art Trail in Downtown Lubbock and invites artists of all kinds to set up pop-ups. Graphic artists, musicians, jewelry makers, and pot-your-own-plant vendors line the streets and alleys; people dress for this: tutus, costumes, and freshest fits; the downtown brewery is, for once, lenient about taking drinks off property--all of this makes downtown Lubbock on a First Friday night unlike anything else in this franchised, commercialized town.
This monthly hipster paradise is where I first came upon the vintage resale shop, Orange y Apple. Racks of denim, calf-length dresses, and the shop's signature bold colors and prints hung on racks in the setting Texas sunlight. Browsing through the racks, myopic from a few IPAs, the first thing I noticed is that the vintage I looked through was boutique quality, carefully curated, and exceptionally reasonably priced. After scoring a western denim dress for myself and a fleece lined denim jacket for my partner, I followed Orange y Apple on Instagram and began to understand the vast and diverse world of vintage reselling.
A few months later Kristen, the woman behind Orange y Apple, agreed to show me the behind the scenes of vintage reselling--from her "pickin" process to using her platform to spark conversations about sustainable shopping.
Kristen's process begins in the bins at the "pound store" (where clothing is sold by the pound rather than by the item) or at the Goodwill Outlet. While "pickin" through tons of donated clothes that, if not sold will be sold overseas or shredded for insulation, Kristen looks for pieces that she would wear herself. This attention to style is what gives Orange y Apple the boutique vibe. Kristen's shop is for the client who wants bold prints, fun colors, and trendy vintage. It feels authentic, too, because she's not buying for a imagined client. The clothing is picked with intention. Back at home, Kristen launders each item, unless it still has tags, then photographs the items and lists it online.
Social media is the main strategy that Kristen uses to garner new customers and her skilled photography is their first impression. Though some shoppers might see past wrinkles or poor lighting on other vintage resell accounts, after seeing the Orange y Apple posts, it's hard to unsee anything less than Orange y Apple's standard.
Whether at a pop-up, on the site, or at Orange y Apple's booth at Fancy Flea in downtown Lubbock, there isn't much to sort through--maybe two dozen items. Kristen's very honest about not over-saturating the vintage resell market with clothing from the side of the seller. "Overconsumption," as Kristen puts it, is excessive thrifting that leads to excess inventory, which in turn makes vintage reselling "reminiscent of the fast-fashion business practices that this community is supposed to combat." In an Instagram post form 2021, Kristen shared her idea of slowing down her process, being pickier about her own inventory, and using the gained time and space to cross-promote other vintage resellers--which is a hallmark of the community.
From personal experience, this has been one of the defining qualities of supporting the vintage reselling community: it is a community of women supporting women. Though following Orange y Apple, I have since come across so many other women hustling to support themselves and others--like Caught Secondhanded and Ampersand Library.
By buying from vintage resellers, the vail is dropped on who your dollar is really helping. In fact, last week, followers of Ampersand Library learned that all items bought after the Russian invasion of Ukraine would be donated to the Ukraine Crisis Fund.
And the all-engaging sensory experience of opening a package from a vintage reseller reminds you of the person behind the thrift: instead of the merchandise-y smell that comes with fast fashion, an Orange y Apple package smells like a friend; each Orange y Apple package comes in an eco-friendly mailer or can be picked up on Kristen's porch; each package also comes adorably adorned with lollipops, a handwritten note, and sometimes an extra treat, like vintage stickers in a sashay bag; all of this makes me shriek with excitement every time.
My take on this is a privileged one: I am shopping for clothes for fashion, not need. Thrift stores are essential to the poor because of the access to low priced items and the one-stop-shop nature of the place. I have the income to support my shopping habits, and if that involves paying a third party to bring me the sustainable vintage I so desire, then so be it. To me, the lesser footprint, the uniqueness, and the friends I've made along the way make all the difference.
Have a favorite vintage reseller? Shout them out in the comments!