If you’re an Instagram user, chances are you’ve been hit by the thrifting wave going across the online community. Thrifting is the practice of selling used things, such as clothes, books or furniture, at a discounted price.
While thrifting is a decades-old concept, its shift to social media, especially Instagram, is relatively recent and certainly unmissable. Also, in times of financial uncertainty, consumers are more likely to think of selling the clothes they don’t wear and buying thrifted or second-hand items for cheaper costs.
Another factor is increasing environmental consciousness. Fast fashion is the second largest consumer and polluter of water and 85% of textiles end up in landfills each year.
“I want to have a completely sustainable wardrobe. Thrifting is great for the environment, it’s financially feasible and you support small businesses over large corporations,” said Deeksha Suresh, a 23-year-old training psychologist in Bengaluru.
“Plus, they have cute clothes. Yes, it’s difficult to find your size, but more pages are now inclusive,” she added.
The resale and thrifting market is projected to grow twice the size of fast fashion by 2029, according to a report by ThredUp, an online thrift store. Secondhand markets will hit $69 billion by 2024, and the online resale and thrifting market is set to grow 69% in 2021, read the report.
Thrift pages take old clothes, upcycle them and then “drop” them on their pages. These drops sometimes mean selling directly or giveaways or auctions or a wardrobe sale.
“I started thrifting because I needed new styles and fast fashion was not helping. My mom and grandma were against thrifting, considering its pre-owned but now they see me running a thrift page and are happy with it,” said Gunjan Vyas, a 20-year-old student who runs a thrifting Instagram page called ‘Rare and Fine’, which has more than 2,500 followers.
“When I had started this, I was just selling my hoarded clothes. I don’t have people I can buy directly from so I source my clothes from the local markets in Delhi. I price products according to their condition, brand, and style,” Vyas added.
Like Gunjan, many thrift pages sell export surplus. Some also focus on upcycling ‘pre-loved’ clothes.“It (thrifting) was very impulsive. I’m an artist and I had old jackets lying around. I upcycled them by painting on them. I put them on auction, and the bids went stronger than I expected.Soon enough they were sold out. Next up, I even tried my hand at customisation. People sent their jackets and I painted them,” said Triparna Mishra, a 23-year-old artist who runs an Instagram page called ‘The Mistaken Arts’.
While shipping was affordable for many pages, lockdown rates have made the process difficult. “Earlier, I could ship to anywhere in the country in a budget of Rs 50-100.With the rates spiking, I have to search for the best options. I ship through Shiprocket because they pick orders from home and prices are cheaper than India Post. But there is always the fear of unnecessary discrepancies,” added Vyas.
This is when Instagram thrifting in India also saw a strong rise in the lockdown period. “I started buying from thrift stores in the lockdown. The deliveries take much longer, but I don’t have a problem with it. The products are fun and creative, I love experimenting with new styles. Now, I am unimpressed by the clothes in stores and constantly compare them to what I get in thrift stores,” said Dhruti Kalavapudi, a 22-year-old content writer from Hyderabad.
But the thrifting market is becoming more and more competitive by the day. “There was a big hype around my products and I sold out quickly, but then what? You have to be on your toes and keep putting new items up, otherwise it becomes difficult to get your audience back,” said Mishra.
With the odds in their favour, it may be safe to say that Instagram thrifting is just starting out and has a long way to go.