In this episode of the Conscious Style Podcast, we’re talking all about the secondhand fashion ecosystem with Emily Stochl, the producer and host of Pre-Loved Podcast, which is a weekly interview show that explores the vintage, thrift and secondhand industry.
In this interview, you’ll hear (or read!) about:
- What pre-loved fashion encompasses and how you can get started not only with conscious shopping secondhand, but with secondhand fashion activism;
- What the concern about gentrification of thrift stores is all about and what this conversation is currently missing;
- How charity shops really operate and what this means for the global secondhand trade;
- What the recent $1 billion+ IPO (initial public offering) of ThredUP might mean for the future of secondhand;
- And more!
Tune in to this episode of the Conscious Style Podcast below, or on your favorite podcast app.
The transcript of this episode of the Conscious Style Podcast is below.
ELIZABETH JOY: You’re listening to the Conscious Style Podcast, where we explore what it will take to build a better, more sustainable, and equitable future for fashion. I’m your host, Elizabeth Joy. Now let’s dive into today’s episode!
Hey there and welcome to another episode of the Conscious Style Podcast. Today we are going to be talking all about the secondhand fashion ecosystem with guest Emily Stochl, the producer and host of Pre-Loved Podcast, a weekly interview show that explores all things vintage, thrift, and secondhand.
I am going to be chatting with Emily in this episode about:
- What pre-loved fashion encompasses and how you can get started, not only with shopping secondhand thoughtfully but with secondhand fashion activism as well.
- We also are talking in detail about the concern of the gentrification of thrift stores and what this conversation might be missing.
- And I also had to ask Emily about her thoughts on the recent news of secondhand fashion retailer ThredUP being valued at over one billion US dollars and traded on the stock market — and what she thinks that this means for the future of secondhand.
- Finally, Emily is going to be sharing some fantastic insights into how charity shops operate, and what this means for the global secondhand trade.
So, we clearly have a lot of ground to cover, and we will get right to the episode in just a moment. First, though, I wanted to remind you to subscribe or follow the Conscious Style Podcast on your favorite podcast app so that you do not miss any future conversations like this one.
And if you are enjoying the podcast so far, it would mean so much if you could take a moment to rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts as this will help the content reach more people and help me continue producing this show. Thank you in advance!
All right, now let’s get into this conversation with Emily. Emily is going to start us off here with her story and how she got into secondhand fashion…
EMILY STOCHL: I’m Emily Stochl. I’m the host and creator of Pre-Loved Podcast and I create content around vintage, secondhand, climate activism, garment worker solidarity, and sustainability over on my Instagram, which is @emilymstochl.
But actually, the way that I got into this space — you know, the sustainability journey — actually, for me started with labor activism.
I really believe that social sustainability, or the ethical side of the industry, is just as important. Like the people side is just as important as the climate side of this story.
But basically, my grandma, who was really involved in my upbringing was a labor activist, she worked in a factory, she built carburetors. And, she was, you know, a single mom of six kids and life was really hard for her.
But, you know, one privilege that she did have was that she had a union job. And so even though she did participate in a lot of walkouts, or strikes, she was able to provide for her family. So she kind of raised me with understanding that importance of a good union job.
And, of course, that’s few and far between in the US today…
I often think about, what would my grandma’s story have been like, as a single mom raising six kids in 2020. And if she were my age in my shoes at that time, kind of what her life would have been like, and how much harder it could have been.
So anyway, worker solidarity has always been really important to me.
I started thrifting in high school and college the way that a lot of people do, just because it’s fun and cheap. A cheap way to buy new clothes when you’re balling on a budget with your babysitting money, or whatever!
And… I didn’t think much more of it. I didn’t really think about how it connected to my values or anything like that.
But around 2013, when the Rana Plaza Factory collapse happened, and then shortly after the True Cost documentary came out, it was then that I started to realize that the fashion industry was a worker rights issue.
That there are people being really mistreated within this industry and that so many of us are complicit in it.
And at that point that I would say that that was my quitting fast fashion moment, although I was already really into thrifting. So it wasn’t a particularly dramatic shift for me. I just decided that it was going to be secondhand for me; that was what I was going to do.
Then, I kind of got deeper and deeper into this space. I started to learn more about it as you do as you get passionate about a topic.
I started to realize that within the world of sustainable and ethical fashion — at the time, this is several years ago now — there wasn’t as much conversation around the secondhand side of things, and that was what I was really passionate about.
There were so many incredible resources starting to come out about the fashion industry and its issues and there wasn’t something that specifically focused on secondhand at that time.
So I decided that I would make the podcast I want to see, I guess, and I started interviewing folks about their work in the secondhand industry, and it’s been three years of doing so.
ELIZABETH: Yeah, thank you so much for sharing that story and background. So you’re quite experienced in the secondhand fashion space.
So, could you give a little bit of a definition or give some context into what secondhand fashion exactly is and what it encompasses for those maybe newer to the term and to the space?
EMILY: For sure.
So I came to use the word pre-loved because I feel like that encompasses any clothes that had a life before me.
So vintage clothes: that’s technically defined as clothes that are 20 plus years old.
Thrifted: people think of that as like clothes you get at a discount price from a thrift store.
But then there’s like secondhand shops, there are buy-sell-trade shops.
Even the things we say are secondhand, like they could be third-hand, fourth-hand, who knows how many people have given those clothes a life before.
Clothes can even be swapped or rented, so on and so on.
For me, I like to prioritize things that aren’t new. So anything that had a life before me, any way that I can avoid new production, is really what my aim is.
ELIZABETH: Yeah, I really like that term pre-loved as well, because it is more general. And I think sounds cooler as well.
EMILY: It’s like fun, right?
I don’t know, “secondhand”… it’s fine.
But it’s like less good maybe. I don’t know, like, it’s not new. Whereas pre-loved, it’s like, oh, someone else loved this too!?
ELIZABETH: Right, and it puts this emphasis on building a relationship with our clothes and our wardrobe, which is such a crucial part of slowing down fashion and creating a more sustainable fashion system. So I really love that.
So what advice do you have for a person who is just getting started out with pre-loved fashion?
EMILY: Yeah, so honestly, my best tip for folks who are just getting into it, maybe they’re overwhelmed of going into a big thrift shop, or there’s not a great thrift shop in their area, or of course, like with the past year and a half that we’ve been in the pandemic, maybe people haven’t wanted to go out and about and try thrifting.
So I really encourage people to look at all the options we have for secondhand online.
And it’s really become quite similar to the experience of buying new clothes online.
You need to know your measurements. I personally look at a size chart when I order from most places online, and so I know my measurements: bust, waist, and hip measurements, typically.
And then you’ll find the thing that you want, you’ll see that it’s in your size, you get all the item details on it, you order it to be shipped to your house and you try it on.
If you’re really new to it, and you haven’t quite cut out fast fashion yet, what I especially recommend is to look at brands that you know you like to shop at, especially if you’re familiar with what your sizing is in those brands.
I mean, if you’re a J.Crew person, you can search J.Crew and put in your sizes and you can find things that are like pretty much brand new being sold on secondhand sites.
So you don’t have to be quirky or off-brand or anything like that. I mean, do that if you want — that’s my style, for sure!
But you can get stuff that is pretty much new, but you can buy it pre-loved and you’ll save money doing it too.
ELIZABETH: Yeah, so many great tips there. And I’ve totally done that with searching for specific brands, or sometimes even specific products, on online secondhand fashion marketplaces.
I use Pinterest a lot for my style inspiration. But a lot of the time I’ll see an aesthetic from a brand that I don’t really want to support. Maybe it’s a fast fashion brand. So I’ll literally go to Poshmark and type in that specific product and find it for a third or even less of the original price.
And usually, these pieces are very gently used. Sometimes they’re even new with tags, which is good for me as a secondhand fashion shopper, but points to some larger issues about overconsumption.
But anyway, I think that this ease of shopping secondhand fashion online has definitely been a big driver of the rise in popularity of secondhand fashion.
And so I’m curious to get your thoughts about what you think makes this rise in popularity exciting and maybe if there’s anything that we should be aware of with this increase of interest?
EMILY: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think it’s very, very exciting that secondhand is becoming more popular and that stigmas around secondhand are starting to fade away.
I suppose my only caveat is that secondhand needs to become popular with the intent that we’re rapidly decreasing first-hand production.
Like, it needs to be a swap out.
And unfortunately, that’s not really what we’re seeing so far…
we are seeing more people try out secondhand, but we’re still seeing first-hand production continue to grow.
The biggest fast fashion brands in the world are getting even faster, producing even more, profiting even more.
So the positive impact of decreasing new production — that’s the part that I’m not seeing yet.
And I think that needs to become part of it. I mean that’s the reason for shifting to secondhand, right?
ELIZABETH: Yeah, absolutely, and that’s definitely a big topic that needs to be discussed. And another issue that people will talk about in terms of secondhand is the gentrification of thrift stores.
I know that you’ve talked a lot about this. And you actually wrote a really great article for Atmos that touched on this topic, and it was called Gone Vintage: How to Build a Better Thrifting System. I will link the full article in the show notes, so listeners can read the entire piece.
But for those who haven’t read it yet, in this article, you shed light on the perception that prices in thrift stores are going up, and therefore driving the gentrification of thrift stores in some neighborhoods, because of an increase in demand as thrifting becomes more popular.
But as you shared in this article, there isn’t exactly a shortage of supply with secondhand fashion.
As you just mentioned, the purchasing of new is not declining, so we have no shortage of clothes.
And in fact, countries like the US are exporting and wasting enormous amounts of used clothing.
So could you just dive a little bit deeper into this topic and share your thoughts on this concern with the gentrification of thrift stores?
EMILY: Yeah, so this is one that I get asked about a lot and it’s a really complex issue, and I think with this, what I’m trying to get people to do is unpack the complexity of this issue.
Because I feel like especially online — it’s just the way of online discourse — we get so tied up in trying to say like, this caused this or this is the result of this.
Or people try to get me to answer like, are prices going up? Is this thrift store being gentrified? Yes or no? And it’s such a more complex topic than that.
So bear with me if this is a long answer, but I do really think that it kind of requires this unpacking.
So yeah, like you said, a lot of the discourse around the gentrification of thrift stores kind of relies on this argument of scarcity. That more thrifters coming in, is driving up the price of secondhand goods in the thrift store.
Which then prices out economically disadvantaged people in our communities who rely on thrift shops as their source of affordable clothing.
But anecdotally, while people might be saying that price tags at thrift stores seem to be increasing, or that the thrift stores appear to be gentrifying, most thrift store employees actually say that there’s been kind of a squeeze on profit margins that doesn’t really even track with inflation over the years.
That’s because there’s SO much secondhand clothing.
Like you said, there’s so much used clothing on the market that on average only about 10 to 20% of what makes it to charity shops actually resells in those stores.
And the majority of secondhand clothing that doesn’t sell in US charity shops or charity shops across the Global North is usually exported to the Global South.
I have collaborated with and interviewed Liz Ricketts of the OR Foundation. Their foundation does research in Accra, Ghana, on Kantamanto Market, which is the largest secondhand market in Accra. It may be one of the largest in the world.
To kind of talk about that supply-demand equation, and it really becomes clear if you look at what’s going on in Accra, that there’s no shortage of secondhand clothing.
Otherwise thrift stores in the Global North wouldn’t be selling it on to the Global South.
There’s so much clothing that it’s constantly being cycled up and baled out, and sent somewhere else.
I think that the thing about this is that people have this misconception about the role that charity shops play in our society. And that has been intentionally mis-marketed to people for centuries.
It’s not their fault that they think that charity shops are in our communities to specifically serve folks who are economically disadvantaged.
But the reality is that charity shops identified early on from their early foundation, that clothing is such a fast-moving, abundant consumer good, that people would be readily willing to donate their old clothing for free out of eagerness to make more room in their closet to consume more, newer and trendy stuff.
So then the thrift stores turn around and sell those items for a profit that they use to fund whatever their charitable mission is.
Sometimes that charitable mission is helping economically disadvantaged folks in our community. Sometimes it’s helping an animal shelter. Sometimes it’s helping with job placement. The charitable mission can really vary.
But I think we have to understand that the way — right or wrong, if we agree with this or do not agree with this — the way that charity shops function in our society is to use the clothing as an economic engine to fund their charitable work.
So that’s the first thing is that supply and demand, there’s really no clear evidence that someone buying a T-shirt is creating a shortage for someone else because unfortunately, there is way more than anyone in the world needs to exist.
And then the second thing is just kind of the function of charity shops in our societies.
So when I talk about this, I’m not trying to say that everything is great with the way that the secondhand system works, or these problems don’t exist.
That’s not it at all.
But it seems like the only solution that we’re offering for this problem that we’ve identified, that there are economically disadvantaged folks living in our communities and there’s way too much clothing, is that certain people shouldn’t be thrifting.
And I just think that it seems incomplete to me.
I think the thing that I wish we would talk about, the thing that tires me about these continued articles about thrift store gentrification, is that although it’s coming from a well-meaning place that we want the best for our communities, and we want the clothing to be reused, but… we’re not posing constructive insteads about the issue.
It’s like the whole point boils down to ‘this person should shop here or not shop here.’
And I thought that we were kind of coming to realize as a sustainability and activism and environmental space that it doesn’t all come down to what you buy. Like it doesn’t all come down to your metal straw, or what you buy.
It comes down to your involvement in your community and your action and how you’re working with the others around you to build a better ecosystem.
I don’t think that removing thrifters from that equation actually solves those problems that we’re passionate about.
So in my article, I try to offer some ideas about how an increasing thrifting populace can actually come together with the community to try to think of some cooperative solutions that would improve our secondhand space.
And the suggestions that I offer in my article are by no means exhaustive.
I think this is why I’m like, we need to be getting together in conversation. Folks need to be talking about this: how are we improving the secondhand clothing system?
That’s where it actually gets interesting!
Volunteering, for example. Charity shops, part of the reason why they’re not reselling quite so much is because a lot of the charity shop processes is a manual sorting process. There’s a lot of labor involved with that process.
You know could spending your time in the charity shop actually help less clothing be sent to the landfill?
Could it help the charity shop resell more within your local community?
Could it help them provide better services to your local community?
I’ve heard of amazing programs where thrifters who source from a charity shop or are visiting a charity shop often, they will offer to curate like a designated career closet.
So charity shops often can get sponsorships for things like career closets for folks who need to have affordable work-appropriate clothing.
And so then these thrifters who use the charity shop as the place where the source, they’ll come in and they’ll do that curation and that picking for the charity shop so then they can have their free career closet.
The OR Foundation, who I mentioned is in Accra, Ghana, they’ve identified the same kind of thing in Accra.
A lot of younger people will go Kantamanto Market — the big secondhand market there — and because they have a phone and they know how to use Instagram, they can often resell a piece for more than what the person working in the market could make.
And while that’s a good thing, because it does contribute to what we want to see happen: that clothing not going to a landfill.
It’s also a good thing if those folks could share those skills so that we’re creating more equity among the community and we’re achieving our shared goal of keeping more clothing from landfills.
Ultimately, about 40% of what flows through Kantamanto Market ends up in landfills.
So again, there is no scarcity. There is way more than we need.
So, if they’re tech-savvy and younger, could they help the folks who have had a stall in Kantamanto Market for 30 years work on that online presence, for example?
That’s a partnership that they’re [the OR Foundation] trying to establish there.
You know, other things could be like:
- Could you offer your services as a mender?
- Could you offer workshops that show people in your community how to keep their clothing for longer, so they’re not donating things that are in really bad condition to the charity shop, which is contributing to the charity shop’s decline?
There are so many ways that we can look at this problem of I want to provide mutual aid that helps my community and I want to prevent clothing from going landfill.
There’s so many ways that we can address that problem and it shouldn’t necessarily be boiled down to this person should or shouldn’t shop at a thrift shop.
This is something that I can talk about for days!
But I just think that rather than putting these boxes or trying to establish the system of blame, we all benefit more if the entire secondhand ecosystem — all the folks who participate in secondhand and benefit from it — come together and dig deeper and discuss systemic solutions that work for all parties.
I think that’s how we start to build a better shared secondhand space that addresses all these things that we need it to address.
ELIZABETH: Yeah, for sure. Thank you so much for diving into all of that. That was very educational and I think perspective-shifting as well.
But it makes sense… just like we can’t create a better first-hand fashion economy just by what we do or don’t buy, it won’t be enough to create a more equitable, just secondhand fashion economy, just by focusing on where or how much secondhand fashion we consume individually.
EMILY: Yeah, that’s exactly it.
I mean, we’ve learned this lesson once around. So you know, we need to put it to practice again as we’re like shifting to secondhand and building up that system.
We need to talk to our charity shops if they’re not prioritizing sustainability in the way that we wish their mission did.
We need to like work together on some of these system-building things. There is so much more than just what is bought.
ELIZABETH: Totally. So you did touch on this before, but do you have any other tips or pieces of advice that you would share with people who want to get involved with secondhand fashion activism?
EMILY: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think just talking to the other folks who are part of your secondhand ecosystem locally, like getting engaged with that local community.
Like I mentioned, I feel like people don’t quite realize how much of the secondhand industry is still done by hand.
All the sorting and the circulating, the curating, even the physical carrying of materials within the global secondhand market is done by hand, and it requires a lot of labor to attempt to recirculate all of this excess clothing.
And so I think people who are passionate about this should consider volunteering, consider programming, just partnering in whatever way you can… to make your community a better place and to do your part in making sure that clothing is recirculated.
ELIZABETH: Absolutely. So something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately in terms of ethics in the secondhand fashion space is the role of bigger companies or corporations in secondhand fashion.
And a recent event that people may have heard about is that the large secondhand fashion retailer ThredUP, who I believe markets themselves as the largest online secondhand fashion retailer, recently went public at a $1.3 billion valuation and is now being traded on the stock market.
And I would love to get your thoughts on what this might mean for the future of secondhand fashion.
EMILY: Yeah, this is a super interesting development for the world of secondhand.
So if you’re not familiar with ThredUP, basically the ThredUP model is you can either sell your stuff or donate your stuff to ThredUP.
So it’s not peer-to-peer like a Poshmark or a Depop, where you list stuff on your page and then I’d sell it directly to Elizabeth.
You’re selling it to ThredUP and then they’re dealing with it. That’s always been their model.
But in recent years, what has been really interesting to see ThredUP do is they’ve started to get into the space of helping firsthand retail brands start their secondhand arm and I think that they’ve realized that that’s the way they can truly scale their work at ThredUP.
I think of ThredUP really as becoming more of a tech company than a resale company in some ways. Their product is actually that platform that helps clothing that passes through ThredUP but then also helps other first-hand brands recirculate their clothing.
So they’ve started partnering with tons [of brands].I believe ThredUP heads up the second-hand operations at Gap, Madewell, Reformation, Walmart, possibly Levi’s.
Yeah, it looks like there are 21 different retail partners that ThredUP currently has.
I think that that’s the direction that they’re headed. I think that that valuation shows that. That they’re planning to expand their tech in that way.
Now, I’ve pointed out this contradiction before.
The OR Foundation, again, that’s doing research in Accra, Ghana, they remind us that while ThredUP — and other Global North resellers like them — get a lot of funding for this mission of recirculating clothing, they’re not really the ones who are doing the most of it.
ThredUP’s 2020 Resale Report says that they’ve recirculated 100 million items total since ThredUP began in 2009. So that’s 11 years.
But, by comparison, Kantamanto recirculates 100 million items — that same amount — in just four months.
So that scale is mind-blowing to think about.
And, when you add on top of it that most of the clothing that ends up in Kantamanto Market is considered ‘low grade’. It’s the stuff from the Global North that couldn’t be resold; the stuff that resale platforms like a ThredUP couldn’t resell, the stuff that charity shops, like a Goodwill, couldn’t resell. And so then it comes to Kantamanto.
Where still… we focus a lot on the 40% that heads to landfill, but it’s an astonishing amount of clothing that is recirculated.
The unfortunate thing is that there’s nowhere else for the unsold to go.
And so, what is unbalanced in that equation is that Kantamanto doesn’t receive those millions, billions of dollars of investments that platforms like ThredUP receive, even though they’re really doing the most in terms of circularity.
As with anything on my platform, it’s the same thing as when I’m talking about the conversation of thrift store gentrification.
I don’t have these conversations to say, that the X platform is bad, or this one group of people or this one company is causing this problem.
It’s really more about understanding the complexity of these topics.
It’s about understanding that we should be asking the question, what could a market like Kantamanto do if it had the kind of investment into circularity that ThredUP sees?
Same thing with thinking about this idea that where I predict ThredUP is heading is into helping first-hand retail brands get into the secondhand space.
I don’t think that that’s bad.
I don’t think it’s bad that firsthand retail brands want to do secondhand.
But I do think that they’re getting into it because it’s an additional stream of profit.
I think they’re getting into it because they recognize that secondhand is the arm of the fashion market that’s growing the fastest. That it’s projected to outpace firsthand clothing.
So these brands are not going to lose out. They’re going to chase that additional stream of profit.
The issue with that is it comes back to what we talked about at the beginning — secondhand is supposed to help us decrease new production.
So if these fashion brands are just adding that as an additional stream of revenue, and not adding it so that they can intentionally and rapidly decrease what they are creating, supplying, and selling new, then it’s missing the point.
But yeah, I mean if you ask me, that’s definitely the direction that it looks like ThredUP is heading and I think it’s inevitable that we will see lots and lots of fashion brands looking for their piece of the secondhand pie in years to come.
And I’m just curious, have you seen any models or any ways that we can kind of ensure that as these fashion retailers get into the secondhand market, what ways can we ensure that they’re also decreasing their production of new?
Is there anything? Are there any movements that are working towards that? Have you seen anything about that?
EMILY: Yeah, I mean, it’s so interesting.
I get so tied up about what I think about these initiatives, right? Because, of course, if they offer a secondhand option, I’m gonna pick that, because I want the thing that’s already been created. I don’t want to buy the thing that’s new.
So I’m like, how do I feel about buying from one of their secondhand initiatives?
And it’s complicated. I think people will land on a different side of that all the time.
I mean, I think it’s continuing to apply pressure on the brands.
Saying, I’m a passionate secondhand shopper, and I think it’s great that you’re getting into the secondhand space.
Brands will 100% present their getting into the secondhand space as being a signifier of their morality. They’ll be like, “we are so eco-conscious, we’re getting into the secondhand space.”
And I’m not saying it’s not true — it is eco-conscious.
But I think the thing to flip back at them is… that’s wonderful; what are you doing to decrease your new production?
Because I think that part is clearly missing. From what I have seen, that part is not part of the mission.
I think that it’s just wanting to profit off both: Brands want to continue to produce new, but then they also want to profit off of secondhand.
Especially if you think about money shifting the secondhand, they’re going where the money is going.
But yeah, I mean, could they use it as a strategy for intentional degrowth, which is what we know that the industry needs?
And there may be are some brands, like Eileen Fisher, I know that’s definitely something that they’re genuinely doing. [They’re doing] take-back programs, resale programs, because they do want to find a way to make enough money, keep their employees employed, without this constant increase in production.
So I think that with some brands you can tell what their intentions are and that’s definitely a key point to watch out for.
EMILY: Patagonia is another one. I interviewed Patagonia Worn Wear on my show and you can hear them talk about that. That’s in their ethos that it’s always been about not overproducing.
So it only makes sense that secondhand would be something that they’ve long prioritized, I think we can see through which brands are trying to present themselves in a certain way and which brands are actually trying to make a significant impact.
Because I think it would make a significant impact for a brand to come out and say like we are investing in the shift to secondhand and that’s going to allow us to decrease what we’re producing new and all the raw resources and carbon emissions that come from producing new.
That’s transformative. So it’ll be interesting to see, as more of that happens, what that looks like.
ELIZABETH: Yeah, and I really hope to see that and hope that other companies follow the lead of Patagonia and Eileen Fisher and companies like that who are genuinely involving themselves in these sorts of models to reduce the production of new.
For now, though, going back to what listeners can do right now, for people who do want to shop pre-loved fashion and do so in a conscious way, what are your tips for thoughtfully shopping secondhand fashion?
It all comes back to don’t buy more than you need.
So start to get real about what you need in your closet and what you like.
Keep a thrift list so you know what you’re looking for.
And, so you don’t get swept up with the excitement that we’ve all experienced of like we walk into a secondhand store and we just find a gem of a piece and even though it’s something that we don’t need, we think “oh, this is too good to pass up!”
That’s just a practice that we continuously have to get better at.
I think a great way for people to break their buying habit is to do a “no-buy.”
So it’s a three month pledge about not buying new clothes. You can interpret that how you will. You can interpret that as just no newly produced clothes or you can try to not buy anything for three months.
But taking some sort of like hard and fast step back, quitting fashion and consumption, can really help to reset your mindset.
They say it takes about 90 days to reset a habit. So something like that I think can really help you to reset.
I think also too, it’s important for folks to understand that we should be donating mindfully.
We should think of our clothes as a gift. We should think of our clothes as something that we love, or if we pass it on, it’s because we’re hoping that our friend or our neighbor might love it, too.
We should think of our clothing as being something that someone made by hand because people make all of our clothing by hand.
So just kind of changing our mindset around the things that are in our closets and remembering that they are things to be cherished and loved.
ELIZABETH: Yes, I definitely was buying more secondhand fashion than I needed when I first got into it. I bought clothes just because I was like, oh, that’s a great brand for such an amazing price and then I got it and I was like, this is actually not my style. I won’t wear this.
EMILY: We all do it!
ELIZABETH: Yeah, for sure.
So shifting gears a little bit here, you recently joined the team at the non-profit Remake as their Advocacy Manager.
Could you tell us a little bit about your role there and how you and Remake are engaging people to make fashion a force for good?
EMILY: Yeah, so Remake is a global non-profit that works on kind of three main pillars.
So they have educational work. They will produce documentaries, lectures on fashions issues.
They will do advocacy work, which is campaigning for living wages or gender justice, that kind of systemic change at a policy level, like we’ve talked about.
They also do transparency work. So they rate fashion brands, and they work with fashion brands about how to get better about their sustainability practices throughout their whole supply chain.
Remake is powered by this global ambassador network. So there are all of these awesome ambassadors.
I know you yourself are a Remake Ambassador as well! Folks who love fashion and want it to be better who power this movement.
So I’m honored to join the team as Remakes Advocacy Manager. I will basically be helping that big ambassador network understand the advocacy work and the policy issues.
Remake is, for example, partnering with the Garment Worker Center in Los Angeles to fight for SB62, the Garment Worker Protection Act, which is a policy that would eliminate the piece-rate-pay in California.
So that’s a policy issue that we are fighting for to have changed in the California State Senate.
And I will kind of engage with the ambassador community to make sure that the policy is easy to understand, that people can communicate about it easily, that you can tell your mom, your sister, your cousin about why these issues matter.
So I’ll do that for Remakes campaigns. So SB62, folks might be familiar with the #PayUp campaign, which started at the beginning of the pandemic, when fashion brands started backing out of factories, without paying for orders that were already in production.
And the PayUp coalition came together to unlock $22 billion of owed wages for garment workers and that that work is ongoing.
Then the other one which we mentioned, #NoNewClothes, is kind of campaigning to get folks to understand why we need to decrease consumption and decrease production.
So #NoNewClothes is coming up this summer and I’m really excited about that.
They’re all causes that I really believe in. But like I keep saying, I think that we have so much more work to do on producing less and that’s gonna really be what revolutionizes the fashion industry.
ELIZABETH: Yeah, Remake is really doing so many incredible things.
As you mentioned, I am an ambassador as well and really love being part of this organization.
So I will put the links to everything you mentioned in the show notes so that people can check that all out.
To close out this interview, I have one final question that I ask all guests that come onto the show, and that is what does a better future for fashion look like to you?
EMILY: I would say a world with a lot less stuff.
Being able to be happy with less. With less things, maybe. More abundance, more time with our families, better pay, you know more in some categories of our lives, but less in terms of physical objects.
I hope that we can learn to find joy in reusing the stuff that exists.
I think that that will bring about a better future for fashion and for our planet and all the people living here.
ELIZABETH: And that’s a wrap for this episode! Be sure to take a look at the episode description in your podcast app for the links referenced in this episode, as well as the various links to learn more about today’s guest. For the full transcript of this episode, you can head on over to consciouslifeandstyle.com and navigate to the podcast section of the site.
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Emily is a writer, journalist, and podcast creator, with expertise in the vintage and secondhand fashion industry, sustainability, and labor rights activism. She is the producer and host of Pre-Loved Podcast, a weekly interview show exploring the vintage, thrift and secondhand industry: all its stories, and all its angles.
She is also Remake’s Advocacy Manager. Remake is a global nonprofit that aims to make fashion a force for good. As Remake’s Advocacy Manager, Emily helps lead ambassador engagement and community management, specifically around the SB62, #PayHer, and #NoNewClothes campaigns. Her goal is to make policy information and industry topics easy to understand, and to communicate to others, believing that we all have a role to play in making fashion a force for good.
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