We all know fast fashion is wrong on all counts – bad for workers, bad for the environment, bad for our psyche, and bad for covering up nakedness with its tendency toward wardrobe malfunctions due to poor quality and construction. But like fast food, it is affordable, yet it doesn’t seem as evil as a hormone/antibiotic/shit laced 99 cent burger. If you are poor, you can still buy new clothes that don’t make you look poor and they won’t give you diabetes or make you obese.
But you can also shop in thrift stores.
But this isn’t always the answer – many thrifts accept and stock absolute shit, sizing can be difficult, not everyone has the ability to repair items, or the thrifts are frequently more expensive than the fast fashion shop.
I’ve bitched about this before – a thrift prices something like a Thomas Thrillfingers sweater at $19.99 because it is a “brand” name. And it has holes and unidentifiable stains and looks a decade or two out of date – of course even I would choose a $12.99 sweater from Aging Army if that were my best option. Or Goodwills in my area price all sweaters at $8.99 regardless of holes, shrunkeness, goo, and fugliness – and tend to have lower-quality clothes to begin with – you couldn’t pay me $8.99 to own a faded acrylic sweater from the bigbox (actually you could – I’d do many things for money).
And as a recycler of wool yarn, I’m usually not going to pay more than a few bucks for something I’m going to take apart and not know until I’m doing it if it will successfully come apart or have to turn into felt scraps or stuffing, so I suspend my own strong opinions about religion and politics and choose to shop at a nearby Salvation Army over Goodwills and Red White and Blues and some odd and expensive independent ones because the prices are generally good for decent-quality used shit (and very good on the half-off days).
SA’s mission statement couldn’t be a stronger bushel of garlic to me if I’m going with a a vampire metaphor which doesn’t make sense in this context and I really love garlic, but people and things that do and say such things are utterly abhorrent to me – charity need not come with dogma. Yet, I know that they have fed and sheltered many in communities I care about, so I suspend my anti-evangelising standards when I shop there knowing that some part of my donation (though I’m sure not as much as I’d like) is going into bellies and blankets.
But it turns out this last line:
“…meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
has been utter bullshit in dealing with LGTB employees over the last few years. I mean it’s not surprising because hello, “christian” organization, but somehow I’ve missed the news… And perhaps and hopefully they’ve cleaned up their act and do practice what they preach now, but it’s made me a much less frequent visitor over the past few months.
So I re-entered the smeary doors of this grand palace of abandoned things recently after a long hiatus and during a stressful time. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular – I have enough of everything at the moment – but I was looking for “thrift therapy.” (I can’t stomach other’s “shopping therapy” even though it’s essentially the same thing, just massively cheaper.) But it is a form of hunting, a time of touching pleasant fabrics (and accidentally some not so), imagining stories of others, nostalgia wormholes, and jackpot thrills…
I found a great mid-century enameled casserole dish and a huge grey sweater that should result in enough yarn to make myself a confidently ass-clearing one.
But then I think I found a bedbug.
At the time, I didn’t think it was – it was bigger and flatter than pictures I’d seen, and it was staring up at me from the shoulder of a silk blouse I was about to snatch up to examine. I still haven’t gotten a new vision prescription, so in order to take a good look at it, I took off my glasses and shoved my face six inches from it, but then realized that if it were anything evil, I should be more than six inches away from it, so I backed off and left, first vigorously shaking the sweater I still wanted to buy. But I thought it was more likely a baby stinkbug or something along those lines, though once I got home and looked up buggy mugs, I’m not sure what it was…
But bugs are always a thrift risk and I prefer to buy textiles and clothing only during the coldest and warmest months so I can freeze them outdoors or keep in my trunk to bake for several days before shaking them out and immediately washing. But even though I live in the east where bedbugs are probably here to stay and the thought of them makes me squirm a little if I ever feel an itch in a NYC theater, I’ve mostly just been concerned with moths and carpet beetles – two known enemies I’ve treated and controlled and eradicated over the years. Bedbugs are a foe I don’t wish to take on – I know no one does unless for scientific reasons, but they have definitely given me pause for my next thrift venture.
And I am to the point where I’m happily shopping my own yarn and fabric stash and finding what I need (although superwash is getting low) from my shelves and boxes and closets most of the time, but I do miss the calming time vortex of combing through someone else’s old fibery discards.
Next time, after the cootie heebie jeebies subside, I’ll give the Goodwills around here another look…