Goodwill Thrill


Shopping at a thrift store can save you money while still keeping you looking fashionable. (PHOTO BY LAUREN LEVINE/THE OBSERVER)


In the world of fashion, trends come and go in a blink of an eye. One day pencil skirts are the be-all, end-all and line the racks of every department store, but the next day it’s all about minis. Interestingly enough, one of the most popular fashion trends today contradicts this concept. Thrifted or vintage styles recycle trends and clothes of the past and work them into the present. Thrift shopping has become one of today’s most sought after means of acquiring clothes, and Fordham College Lincoln Center (FCLC) students are not shying away from this rapidly growing fad. A quick scan across your classroom and you are bound to discover that a majority of your classmates are sporting thrifted, vintage attire. But why exactly are students thrift store shopping; is it because of the convenience and bargain or is thrift shopping a quest for originality?

New York City is a thrift shopper’s paradise, with hundreds of locations scattered across the five boroughs. In the Upper West side alone, there are 20+ Goodwill and thrift store locations. This major accessibility is leading students to question why they should spend $20 at H&M for a massively produced, unoriginal shirt when they could venture to a thrift store to find a cheaper, more unique alternative. In a city where fashion is is such a prominent means of self-expression, the thrift stores are often rife with great selections. Gillian Nelson, FCLC ‘19, notices that many NYC thrift stores receive so many donations that they have the ability to curate and tailor their selection to fashion-savvy shoppers. Nelson is an avid thrift store shopper and her wardrobe reflects her ability to find rare, interesting pieces. She explained, “A lot of the stores I go to don’t just take donations, they will only take things that are considered ‘stylish.’ They have their employees sort through the donations… so when you’re sifting through the racks, you’re sifting through things that the employees have already delegated as trendy or not.”

Nelson first started thrifting to find specific pieces that she felt were lacking in her closet— like denim jackets and perfectly distressed Levi’s. “But then once I realized I can actually get things for every aesthetic or environment I want, I started [thrifting] for everything. Now I can even find pants or slacks that I can wear to work… So even though I started doing it to satisfy my aesthetic and vintage vibe, I can now really pick up things for any type of look I’m trying to create.” In addition to the wide variety and diversity in styles, thrifting also offers an environmentally friendly means of shopping. Even if the piece you’re thrifting is originally from a fast-fashion company like Forever 21, Nelson explained, “that piece would have been thrown out [otherwise.] So, [thrifting] is getting a second use out of it. You commit less to waste.” Of Nelson’s favorite thrift spots in the city are Beacon’s Closet (a chain that has higher priced, designer pieces), Cure Thrift Shop (a non-profit destination with both high end and low end prices, as well as frequent sales) and No Relation Vintage: a true gem for bargains.

Two student thrifters who also frequent No Relation Vintage are Carson Thornton Gonzalez, FCLC ‘19, and Caroline Shriver, FCLC ‘19. I accompanied the two girls on one of their average trips to the thrift store to get a closer look at their process in the store. No Relation Vintage is located in the East Village, and as soon as you set foot in the store, you are immediately greeted by an overwhelmingly large selection of men’s and women’s clothing. The pair took off their coats and began scanning the store. Thornton Gonzalez said, “I usually go in with something in mind, like a jacket or shorts or something, so I go to that section first. Usually along the way I find a billion things that aren’t what I was looking for.” Shriver added, “I first walk over to either the jean pant section or the jean jacket section, because that’s stuff I’m mostly interested in right now.”

The girls started grabbing piles of clothing, accumulating a large stack of items to try on. No Relation Vintage was playing classics by The Police and The Beatles as the two girls  sorted through denim shorts, pants, outerwear and sweaters. As they started trying on, they passed items back and forth between the two of them, as almost all of the clothes were ill-fitting. After trying on a total of 20 pairs of jean shorts between the two of them, they each found one pair that suited them. I was impressed by their dedication in finding the perfect pair. Caroline said, “I mean honestly, just the fact that these shorts are from $8-10 dollars… it’s like are you willing to spend some extra time looking through tons of sizes and maybe not coming out with anything that fits for a cheaper pair of shorts?” The shorts Shriver purchased were a light-blue pair of Levi’s, which looked strikingly similar to the shorts you would find at Urban Outfitters. The only difference? Caroline’s shorts were $8 and Urban Outfitter’s are upwards of $50. Thornton Gonzalez purchased a pair of shorts, $8 as well, and $10 jeans. She explained that she finds thrift store shopping to be satisfying. “I find that when you go with your friends or with a group of people it’s like a bonding, community experience. [The] redeeming aspect of finding something that fits you and is $5 is incredible.”

Caroline and Carson deemed their trip to No Relation a success, with each of their purchases, not only unique and varied, but both under $20. FCLC has an abundance of students who are interesting in fashion; and with thrift prices being so student-friendly, it is no surprise that many resort to these vintage shops. It seems that thrift shopping is the perfect means of expressing a love and interest in fashion without the risk of maxing out a credit card.