The clothing businesses that have become famous on social networks are more than a trend: their sustainable fashion offers the planet some respite.
Adriana Rodríguez Morquecho only regrets one thing, selling a velvet Gucci animal print dress. That specific garment hurt because after the sale she found out that Kim Kardashian had worn it and to top it off, it was her size.
“I’m lucky enough to be able to find designer clothes, so I get them together and have special sales for those types of garments. You could find anything from Italian cashmere Oscar de la Renta pants to an Armani shirt,” says Adriana, the owner of one of the biggest bazaars on Facebook: Loleeta Haze.
Adriana’s store is three years old and up to 100 people come to it on a normal Saturday. Loleeta Haze had a stall outside the Chabacano Metro, which she had to leave because the police no longer allowed her to sell on the platforms, the same as with other used goods stores.
Caption: The offers at Bruja Bazar (Photo: Courtesy)
The owner of Loleeta Haze is easily distinguishable as she wears retro clothes. All her customers ask her if there are clothes like the ones she’s wearing in the next update. What’s more, she’s an expert on types of fabric, cuts, prices, brands, and trends.
“Each garment tells you the story of its previous owner, — maybe they liked going to the movies a lot— I think that when they leave tickets in the pockets, I’ve found some really old ones. I constantly find old tickets with messages. But nothing has more of an impact on me than wedding dresses. There are people who keep that dress for life. But I’ve found dresses that have never been worn, perhaps due to a disappointment in love,” speculates Adriana Michelle.
Buying a used garment somehow always means carrying someone else’s story with you, but why do these stores matter to science?
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“There’s nothing more sustainable than what already exists,” says Maria Fernanada Leduc, fashion expert and General Manager of Luv.it, a platform created to guide sustainable change. Used clothing is just that, something that already exists that be given another life by rethinking, redesigning or redefining.
“We advise making small changes, which make a big difference. We recommend you experiment and transform your garments. Become treasure hunters in thrift stores. Learn to make basic adjustments. Wash them only when necessary, air dry clothes and do not tumble dry, this way they will last longer. Put together a wardrobe of iconic basics and not fast trends,” Leduc explains.
Taking advantage of 100% of the useful life of garments reduces the carbon emissions generated by the fashion industry by up to 400%. Used goods stores not only give clothes a second life, they take advantage of them until the last breath.
Adriana’s store modifies shirts and turns them into crop tops, for example. Another case is that of Verde Olivo Bazar, “here we distinguish ourselves by giving special treatment to clothing. We fix the defects and transform them so that they can be useful,” says Maria Naranjo Collado. In addition, the remaining pieces of cloth are used to decorate face masks or bags.
Verde Olivo Bazar started on Instagram earlier this year due to the pandemic, but has come on in leaps and bounds. The most vintage garment from this store was a white blouse from the 1920s with lace and puffy sleeves. “I bought it in another store and I resold it in mine,” Naranjo explains.
Used goods stores do not compete with each other, they buy from each other for personal use or resale. They have created a community and take care of each other when they make deliveries or even warn of unpleasant or fraudulent buyers.
All the used goods stores Tec Review spoke to are aware that the fashion industry is the second most polluting one in the world, according to data from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
150 million tons of clothing and shoes are sold annually around the world. And for every kilo of these garments, more than 23 kilos of greenhouse gas are produced. But the pollution does not end there. The synthetic fabrics which most fast fashion brands use take many years to decompose. For example, Lycra can last for up to 200 years on the planet, while natural fabrics such as linen degrade in 2 weeks, according to data from Luv.it.
Maricela Ramírez Brindis does an exceptional job. She looks for second-hand clothes everywhere she can. She knows Mexican brands to perfection and they are the ones that are celebrated the most. “Mexican clothing has an incomparable quality, the fabrics don’t wear out, the color doesn’t fade, and the texture allows your skin to breathe,” explains Maricela, owner of Bruja Bazar, one of the most popular used goods stores on Instagram.
The quality that Bruja Bazar celebrates has an explanation: “a generation ago, our parents still bought fabrics and went to the dressmaker to have their clothes made; something we no longer have to do. One or two generations ago, clothes were only consumed nationally. They were made with natural fabrics and production was limited, so the articles were of higher quality. Today’s brands overproduce; natural fabrics are insufficient, so they use synthetic fabrics that allow for mass production,” says Leduc, a fashion specialist.
Maricela has bought second-hand clothes all her life because her family has a deep-rooted interest in the environment. The responsible consumption promoted by Bruja Bazar also highlights the details. “I have become a bit of an expert in cuts, I love buttons and labels, I take care of the garments as if they were for me; I wash, iron and repair them,” says Ramírez.
One of the stories that the owner of Bruja Bazar treasures the most is from a silver belt that she found one time. “When I saw it, I fell in love. I had planned to sell it, but the man told me his story. It belonged to his mother and he had been trying to sell it for 30 years. His story won me over and now the belt belongs to me. For me, it has a lot of value because it belonged to someone who was loved,” says Maricela.
“I know people who buy fast fashion clothes to wear only once for an event and then they return them, all sweaty. This is what I mean when I say that “new” clothes are dirty; we don’t know how many hands they have passed through. On the other hand, second-hand clothes are selected, repaired, washed, perfumed, ironed, folded and wrapped as if they were a gift. They are not dirty, nor do they have bed bugs or fleas,” says Brenda Salas Hernández, owner of Bazar Bash, a business with thousands of followers.
When you buy from fast fashion brands you are giving your money to foreign companies, but when you buy from used goods stores you help the planet, your pocket and someone else’s. “Thanks to your purchase, I paid for my dentist, another girl paid for her school, plus it helps families who were left without work in the pandemic. There are girls who support themselves or even their whole family from the store,” says Brenda.
You get treated better when buying in bazaars: “the girls trust me with their body hang-ups, for example, if they are plump or very tall, they ask me if the garment fits them or not and I am really transparent. I measure them and tell them the truth. I have never hidden any details about the garments,” says the owner of Bazar Bash.
Jim Edgar Valdez Paredes recently launched Piel de Axolotl and is one of the few male used goods store managers. He has distinguished himself by making his fight against fast fashion very clear.Jim is also a drag performer and some of his character’s clothes are for sale in his bazaar; some of which have witnessed great Drag-Queen dance contests. “Clothes have no gender, people can wear whatever they feel comfortable in and in my store they will find that,” affirms Valdez.
Some other stores organize clothing exchanges every fifteen days. This is the case for Proyecto Palmera. “We’re an ecological and feminist platform that seeks to revolutionize consumption so that we don’t continue damaging the environment and so that we no longer accept the inhumane working conditions of the fashion industry. This project seeks to recycle and reuse what we no longer wear in order to create a conscious community and a collective of resistance,” explains Ana Karen Jiménez Buerón, founder of the project.
The stores do not use plastic, all their packaging is biodegradable; some make their cards from recycled paper and seeds, as is the case with Verde Olivo Bazar. As thanks for your purchase, you can plant this card and you will get, for example, a green tomato.
Most stores deliver by metro, a collective transport that generates a much more effective reduction in the use of private transport and therefore the emission of gases such as nitrous oxides, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds and also macroparticles.
“You don’t have to leave the subway to receive your item, so you only spend money on one subway ticket. I offer my followers inexpensive and sustainable food recipes and masks,” says Débora González, owner of Pitipu Bazarrr.
Used goods stores offer cheap clothes and also the possibility of helping more than one person. For example, “Pitipu Bazarr bazar supports other girls who need money, they give me their clothes and I help them to sell them,” says Débora González.
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We all wear clothes and shoes, and although shopping in used goods stores is environmentally friendly, often it is not possible because most of the stores are in Mexico City or simply because people do not like them.
But, “when you buy clothes, look at the label, opt for national brands, avoid clothes made in China, India, Vietnam. Stay away from fabrics like Lycra, polyester, nylon, and acrylics as much as possible,” says fashion expert María Fernanda Leduc.
According to the UN, 70 million barrels of oil are spent each year to produce polyester. But by buying garments made of natural materials, you avoid the expense of non-renewable resources.
Efraín Paulino Miranda is the National Coordinator of Fashion Revolution Mexico. This is an international organization that promotes transparency and traceability of fashion brands through an index that evaluates brands in terms of Human, Labor, and Environmental Rights. She states that, “the fast fashion industry is the one that employs the most people. However, the problem is everything we don’t know about these brands.”