Secondhand & Sustainable
Clothing Resale Is Antidote to Fast Fashion
story and photos By Stacy Milbouer Fiddlehead Contributing Editor
While buying vintage or previously owned clothes has always been popular among the thrifty and funky, it’s now a growing trend for everyone from high school students to millennials. But it goes far beyond a taste for edgy, fun and affordable couture and straight to a trend away from “fast fashion,” cheap, trendy and quickly made clothing, that samples ideas from the runway and red carpet.
It’s about sustainability and the environment.
Eighty percent of fast fashion ends up in landfills — 22 million tons of garment waste a year — and buying or renting vintage or gently used clothing, is one of the few solutions available to environmentally conscience consumers, largely millennials and members of Gen Z as well as celebrities.
Lucky for like-minded New Hampshire shoppers, there are plenty of vintage, resale, thrift and secondhand clothing boutiques with lots to offer at great prices.
Mo George opened Plato’s Closet, 777 S. Willow St., Manchester, two years ago.
“It’s not about vintage for us,” she said. “It’s about resale retail.”
The store buys gently used, name-brand, teen and young adult clothing and accessories that are, according to its website, “cool, hip and trendy, clean and in good condition.”
George said Plato’s is primarily geared toward young consumers — teenagers through 20-somethings, men and women, all sizes from 00 to 6X, who are on a budget and who care about the environment and who can make back some of the money they originally spent on clothes that might have otherwise thrown away.
“They can buy $80 jeans here for $18. And those jeans would have ended up in a landfill if they weren’t resold,” George said. “I’m passionate about a sustainable fashion industry and many of our customers are, too. It’s a way to address the whole issue of fast fashion.”
For those who love truly vintage clothes and upscale clothing, as well as the concept of sustainability, there are plenty of choices in New Hampshire.
Ardath & Leroy, 39 High St., Exeter, features carefully curated, “previously loved” vintage and contemporary clothing and accessories including a wide selection of designer shoes.
“Fashion (second-hand specifically) is one of my passions,” said owner Janelle Gambino. “Ardath & Leroy is a space where I can share that …. My collection is widely varied, from vintage T-shirts and jeans to evening gowns and everything in between, but every piece is hand-selected by myself from my travels all over the country.
“Shopping secondhand not only allows for a chance to find unique and interesting pieces (often at lower prices), but it is also a simple step that individuals can take to decrease their carbon footprint and help combat the current climate change issue.”
M&C Clothing and Goods, 135 Route 101A, Amherst, is really the mother of the “slow” fashion movement in New Hampshire, having first been established as a concept and business 28 years ago, offering a wide selection of affordable and hip consignment clothes and accessories for men, women, children and sports enthusiasts.
“This is not just a place to shop,” said owner Karen Goddard. “It’s a community of like-minded people with common goals of recycling, quality gently used fashion and supporting the local economy.”
For those brides to be on a budget, I Do, Again, 263 Union Square, Milford, specializes in new and once-used wedding gowns, wedding party dresses, mother-of-the-bride outfits, plus shoes, purses and jewelry.
Chic Boutique Consignments, 26 S River Road, Bedford, specializes in gently used upscale clothing and accessories.
Lilise Designer Resale, 113 Storrs St., Concord, features an eclectic mix of styles with some high-end brands. The shop attracts a lot of college-age customers interested in affordable fashion that is reused and recycled.
For those who love their secondhand clothes a la vintage there are plenty of choices, too.
Cynthia’s Attic, 187 Water St., Exeter is known for vintage and oddities. There are authentic and refurbished period pieces like Victorian hats and more contemporary fascinators. Actors and cosplayers looking for costumes, teenagers looking for a one-of-a-kind prom dress or a funky mother-of-the-bride, a la Downton Abbey, would all love this shop.
Snap! It’s Vintage, 33 Main St., Nashua, has a huge selection of authentic vintage ranging from the Victorian era and running through the 1920s, ‘30s, ‘40s, ‘50s and groovy polyesters and Gunne Sax frocks from the 1960s and ‘70s right through the iridescent ‘80s. On a recent weekend, Charis Hild of Florida was driving through the city on a foliage trip and stopped a Snap! when she saw some vintage clothes in the window.
“I love vintage,” she said while trying on a champagne caviar-colored silk dress from the 1940s set off by a cream-colored veiled hat, which along with quite a few other period pieces, ended up in her suitcases.
“I wear a lot of vintage, to work, to weddings. I love vintage clothes, not only because I care deeply about the environment, but also because it’s ingenuity, it’s art, it’s design and the quality is meant to last,” she said.