Walking around in the streets of Sweden, one can see thrift shops almost everywhere. And when you go in, regardless of the day of the week, you can see a decent number of people inside, carefully examining second-hand items and putting them in their shopping carts. One of the major contributors to climate change is fast fashion and preferring first-hand clothes over second hands. While in some countries like Sweden it is quite common to buy second-hand clothes, in other places it is not a prevalent practice. If you always bought first-hand clothes, it might be tricky to change this habit and start buying second-hand clothes all of a sudden. Like all habits, it requires effort to change this mindset. That's why it's important to understand the psychology behind preferring first-hand clothing. When we acknowledge the thought patterns behind our choices, it becomes easier to make decisions and work on our shopping habits actively.
One reason for leaning towards first-hand clothing is a psychological feeling we get from owning a brand-new item. When we look good, we feel good. When we wear something new, we feel fresh. When we wear something new, we tend to feel a confidence boost and improved self-image. In some cultures, clothing is a sign of economic security and wealth. People dress to feel good about themselves, they dress to feel better. People also dress to fit into different social groups and make themselves socially visible. Several studies confirm dressing better helps people to exert their dominance and provide them with confidence to handle problematic situations better.
If you've never tried to shop from thrift shops before, you might think that you will not get the same feeling of "freshness" from second-hand clothing. After all, someone wore them before you, right? But against that prejudice, second-hand clothes are mostly high-quality and they might make you feel even more special and unique since, unlike first-hand clothes, they are limited in number and size.
In some countries, it's becoming more and more common to choose second-hand clothing. People are encouraged to invest in thrift shops instead of buying new clothes. According to a study conducted in 2017, there are several different reasons and motivation behind choosing second-hand clothing:
- In stores where they sell first-hand clothes, consumers find many copies of one item, usually in different sizes and colors. Unlike that, in second-hand stores usually, there's only one version of each item. That means, people usually tend to visit second-hand stores often to find unique items and their size before anyone else.
This also involves the excitement of “hunting” for the right clothes. Second-hand stores are a great way for people to create their own style. Unlike big chains where people end up buying the same kind of clothes, in second-hand stores, consumers can choose different and vintage clothes and dress more uniquely.
- Second-hand clothes are more affordable compared to brand-new clothes. You can buy more clothes with decent quality with the same amount of money.
- Although for some people priority is to find unique vintage clothes and create their own style, ethical considerations are also one of the primary reasons behind choosing second-hand clothes. It's not unusual for big clothing brands and chains to use natural resources to produce new clothes. That's why giving away old clothes and investing in already existing clothes instead of buying new ones are more environmentally-friendly.
- Most second-hand stores collaborate with organizations that help people in need, so when you invest in second-hand clothes, you also contribute to the people with low economic security instead of investing in big chains and corporations.
Statistics from a 2019 report by thredUP show that the younger generation tends to choose second-hand clothing over brand-new clothes. Besides, the predictions are online secondhand shopping is set to grow 69% between 2019 and 2021. Although some people might feel hesitant to buy second-hand clothing thinking it shows economic insecurity, research by thredUP shows that nowadays shoppers feel as good about buying secondhand clothes as they do about adopting a puppy.