The thrifting generation

Sustainable fashion is having a popularity upswing. Thrift events such as Second Life Markets are combining the forces of sustainability and vintage fashion to create some of the most widely popular flea market events Perth has recently seen.

Owners Meg Charnaud and Stella Brackenridge are introducing a new kind of second-hand shopping to Perth, and making it cool.

“At the first event there was a massive line, probably half an hour before we opened, and we were like ‘oh my god, people actually wanna come to this!’ That’s when we thought this could be something,” Ms Brackenridge said.

Second Life Markets brings second-hand sellers together for one bustling market event each season. Previous markets have been flooded with bubbling groups of teens and young adults desperate for a good find.

A line of customers waiting outside the building at the last event.
Customers line up hours before the opening. Photo: Meg Charnaud

According to ThredUp, the global second-hand apparel market was worth $28 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $64 billion in 2024. It seems young people in particular are becoming increasingly obsessed with second-hand clothing.

“I think our generation actually really cares about being sustainably conscious when they’re purchasing things, more than any other generation has previously,” said Ms Brackenridge.

Australia is the second highest consumer of textiles per person in the world. Annually we purchase an average of 27 kilograms of new clothing and throw an average of 23 kilograms of clothing into landfill.

Along with combatting this colossal issue, thrift events like Second Life Markets are reigniting a love for individuality and unique style.

“When you shop second hand you stumble across things that you’ve never seen or pictured before, and fall in love with it. And that’s a really nice practice to start doing instead of browsing online and buying things that are so similar to what everyone else is wearing. It becomes more of an emotional thing as well,” Ms Charnaud said

A cluster of clothing racks with second-hand pieces.
Racks of second-hand clothing ready to be sold. Photo: Meg Charnaud

Chloe Konstek owns a second-hand store named CeeKay and is a regular seller at Second Life Markets. The demand for the vintage pieces she sources is so high that she has been able to make Ceekay her full-time profession.

“Fashion is interesting because it rotates. Right now a lot of 2000s fashion is coming back, and where else are you going to find that other than a second hand store,” she said.

Ms Konstek said many young people love the idea of thrifting, but can’t be bothered to rummage through the never-ending array of op-shop racks. Her store allows people to reap the benefits of thrifting, without having to do it themselves.

TikTok video displays the funky goods sold at the markets. Video: Chloe Konstek

She hopes the rise in the popularity of sustainable fashion will encourage young people to stop buying from fast fashion brands.

“The way I see it is that we have enough clothes on this planet already, there’s no need to make more clothes. Fast fashion is so unnecessary these days,” she said.

The most recent Second Life Markets event was held on September 19, at 357 Oxford Street Leederville.

Categories: Arts, Fashion