Owning pre-owned or pre-loved products is not new to India. Growing up, we all had hand-me-down clothing, toys, books, and more, passed on from relatives and close friends. The only difference is that it was never called ‘thrifting’. There are also biases today that have seeped in with regards to second-hand products, relegated only to charity. In contrast, thrift shopping was already in place in the West, thanks to dedicated corner shops that doubled up as a haven for pre-loved and vintage apparel. It is only now that the culture of thrift shopping is witnessing interest in India. And naturally so, at the behest of Gen Z, who with their woke mindsets are ready to barge into the world of slow and conscientious fashion; of which pre-loved goods are a big part.
Globally too, thrift shopping has metamorphosed, as a culture predominantly playing out in the digital space today. Interestingly, in an interview with an esteemed digital publication, multinational professional services network, Deloitte, connected Gen Z’s interest in thrift shopping with the cohort’s socio-economic background. They argued that as a generation, which entered adolescence between 2007 to 2009 – a time of abject economic depravity defined by the global recession – the affordable and cost-effective world of slow fashion seems to have garnered intrigue.
This logic can be applied to Indian millennials, too, who are paid 20 per cent lower than the preceding generation (aka baby boomers), according to a report by Fortune. It does partially explain why young India is welcoming pre-owned fashion with open arms. Additionally, this lines itself neatly with the generation's tilt towards conscientious fashion, which tries to move away from big corporate fashion brands that are increasingly being shunned for unethical practices. Not to mention the toll it takes on the environment and indigenous communities.
Another interesting facet of the thrift shopping trend is that while many players have gone the e-commerce route, the real success in the thrifting business, for both buyers and sellers, has been on Instagram. Now that we have glazed upon the cultural phenomena, let’s get down to business. Or, should we say shopping? Here’s a list of places – both websites and social media pages – to check out if you’re interested in purchasing vintage, pre-owned or upcycled garments.
Shirts in bold colours, retro prints and eccentric silhouettes, alongside vintage skirts and pants come together at this Instagram store run by stylist Aesha Merchant and co-founder and Asu Longkumer, who also model for the brand themselves. RedEmpress’ pre-loved pieces are sourced from across the globe and are on offer at affordable prices.
A quick look through pre-owned fashion website Bodements and you’re likely to forget you’re buying pre-loved apparel and accessories. With an aesthetically pleasing website, well curated collections and a range of clothes on offer, this one is surely worth your time. The website caters to both men and women and has on display, exquisite vintage and retro clothes, such as floral jackets, bold shackets, paisley jeans and other exclusive, upcycled clothes hand-picked from across the world.
Shop on: https://bodements.com/
3. Panda Picked
If you’re into corsets and bodices – which is a huge trend right now– do check out the Instagram store called, Panda Picked. Offering a mix of lingerie-wear, corsets, knitwear, tweed shorts and skirts, Panda Picked has an interesting format of sale. To order a piece, you’ll have to comment on the item and making a claiming for it. If you are picked, you will be tagged in a reply. Following which you will be allotted 15 minutes each to claim your product and pay for it. Or, watch it get passed on to the next bidder. A true case of finders keepers, but definitely worth a shot.
4. Bygone Echoes
This Instagram store is the perfect spot for those that dig the boho look. With a separate page for men @bygone.echoes.men, which sells pre-loved, printed men’s jackets and shirts, Bygones Echo follows a straightforward design aesthetic on social media with a clean display of its clothes i.e. no models. Choose from a range of co-ordinated sets, flowy button-down shirts, vintage tops and dresses.
Based out of Manipur, Mirinwon, another Instagram store is a delightful Instagram thrift store, where you can lay your hands on pre-owned pieces from couture brands, including Louis Vuitton, Vans, Miu Miu, Sisley, Coach and Ralph Lauren. They ship their products across India, and apart from vintage and thrift pieces, they also have on display a host of accessories, be it shoes or bags.
6. Nush Thrifts
Cute retro knitwear, colourful bell-bottomed pants, vintage vest sweaters, plaid skirts, shoes and 90s printed tees, all come together at Nush Thrifts, a cute online thrift store that upcycles pre-owned apparel. With a price range between Rs 600 to Rs 900, Nush Thrifts is your best bet if you aren’t looking to shell out big bucks. The flipside is that you might not be spoiled for choices either.
7. The Salvage Story
If your biggest qualm with thrift stores is that they may not have the variety of silhouettes and cuts that fast-fashion offers. Then, please check out the Salvage Story. This online thrift store, available on Instagram only, has everything from asymmetrical tops, to loose boho shirts, well-fitted formal shirts, floral tie-up tops and of course, a few vintage pieces, too!
Based out of Manipur again, but shipping across India, the Instagram thrift store, Folkpants showcases a curated mix of secondhand and vintage pieces collected from the hilly Northeastern state and across the world. It has a slightly eccentric style that might require an acquired taste, but worth checking out once for sure.
9. Bombay Closet Cleanse
If you dig feminine silhouettes then tops, dresses and shackets from Bombay Closet Cleanse or BCC is just where you need to be. Though based in the City of Dreams, BCC ships worldwide, and has on offer garments from wardrobes across the world. Cut midi dresses, floral blouses, tie-up shirts, bodycon dresses and even berets can be found here. Interestingly, the folks behind BCC also run @closetcleanse.men, their page for pre-owned fashion for men and @bombaybookcleanse, which deals with pre-owned and vintage books!
This online Instagram store for handpicked old and new pieces is a great place to restock your wardrobe, especially if you’re looking for fashion pieces reminiscent of the 90s. Pick from a range of knitwear, such as, open cardigans and classic sweaters, Audrey Hepburn-style maxi dresses, floral and feminine occasion wear and more. We love that the page has a highlights section for pieces available in each of their sizes, because we know how disheartening it is to find something you love but doesn’t fit!