Sustainability. The future of our planet depends on it.
When it comes to sustainable fashion, buying used is always better than buying new. It uses less water, less energy, fewer resources, and not to mention, we save money. But will vintage clothing shops still be around (and safe to buy from) after the COVID-19 pandemic?
Matt Schachtebeck, co-owner of the vintage clothing store Coffee and Clothing, is not too concerned, except for the fact that used clothing already has a bad rap. “There’s a negative connotation with second-hand clothing, such as it being dirty,” he says.
Coffee and Clothing assures their customers that they are taking extra precautions on their already tight hygiene methods. They wash their clothes as best as they can, clean extensively, and steam each article of clothing after someone tries them on. While understanding people’s concerns, Matt comments, “it’s a weird time and you’re not sure what you want to do but we are doing everything we can to make sure you have a clean shopping experience.”
“Education (of second-hand clothing) is the most important aspect,” says Matt, who has been shopping vintage since he was 16 years old.
There is the fight against the belief that you can’t be stylish while dressing second-hand and, more importantly, there’s the sustainability side of it. For example, one pair of jeans takes over 2,000 gallons of water to make, and over 3,000 gallons of water is used to make a pair of leather shoes.
Buying second-hand fits in completely with the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra. You can donate your clothes rather than throw them in the garbage (recycle), other people can buy your used clothing (reuse), and collectively we reduce the number of resources that go into making one outfit. “Buying fewer products in the first place reduces the overall number of products that are made, (therefore reducing) the amount of water needed by factories that make these products,” says WaterCalculator.org.
“If you want to be globally conscious, buying second hand is always the way to go.” – Matt, Coffee and Clothing.
So although the current pandemic may strike paranoia about buying used going forward, rest assured we will be okay as long as guidelines are being followed. This isn’t the time to back out of the sustainability movement and forget about climate change. And rethinking sustainable fashion with second-hand clothing is a great place to start.
Coffee and Clothing recently opened its doors in the East End of Toronto in 2018 and is not only a cafe and (vintage/second-hand) retail place but a community hub. Their outdoor patio and indoor space hosts local artists showcasing their talent through live shows and events. Learn more at coffeeandclothing.ca.