Thrifting has become a worldwide phenomenon as slow fashion has become more necessary . Slow fashion is part of the ”slow movement” which values ethically sourced resources, a clean environment, good quality products, and, fairness to consumers and producers. PDBY spoke to Ashleigh Butcher about her experiences running an Instagram thrifting page.
What made you want to start your Instagram store, @secondhandnews.thrift, and how did you get your name out there?
The initial catalyst was that I had quite a few inherited vintage clothes around the house and had nothing to do with them. I already knew about the environmental importance of reusing, and I had encountered some thrift shops on Instagram re-homing similar things, and I thought perhaps I’d just start one and see if they interested anyone. If it didn’t work – whatever! But even the first upload sold at least half of what was uploaded. I quickly cleaned the page up a little, figured out logistics, and went on a mission to sell all the things I (and the people around me) no longer needed. The follower count built itself after about 3 months of plugging away, uploading every week or so, and delivering good quality clothes to happy customers.
How do you feel about sustainable fashion and what do you think people can do to become more sustainable fashion wise?
I feel more strongly about it now than I ever did. I’m a vegan, and always felt I was doing the things I needed to look after the environment as best I can – but here was a whole new avenue [that] I’d never considered, and was definitely failing in. I mean, I was in Cotton On every week! I loved online shopping – and even the cheap stuff like Zaful and Wish. After I learnt about the textile industry and the havoc it wreaks on the earth’s resources (cheap synthetic materials even contain microplastics that get released into our water when you wash them – for real!), I decided that I would never buy a new item of clothing again. Except for socks and underwear, I’ve stuck to that ideal for the last 10 months (since I started the shop). In terms of other people becoming more sustainable, I think people just need to open their eyes to new ways of shopping and [upcycling in order to] break the habit of buying from chain stores. There is so much available at this point. Online thrift shops are accessible, cheaper, and are contributing to a healthier planet. It’s a no-brainer.
Thrifting is a huge part of sustainability and has become more and more popular over the past few years. Where do you see the slow fashion industry heading over the next few years?
Heck, I’m not sure. I hope @secondhandnews.thrift will be there, though!
What are some difficulties with having an Instagram based store that people would not generally expect?
Look, the best part for me is the kind, appreciative people that I’ve met and sold things to. Having said that, there are a lot of people that mess you around, ghost you, send you rude messages because they missed the jeans they wanted – that kind of thing. Luckily for me, all the nice people way outshine those other people so I’m able to brush it off.
Other than that – only small things. Keeping up with everyone’s Paxi SMS’s is also a challenge. It’s like – beeeep! – 25 new messages. 25 parcels just arrived. 25 different destinations with no names attached. I won’t lie, my phone scares me a little! Thank heavens my sister is a literal genius with a cum laude honours degree in economics, or at least thank heavens my sister knows how to use a computer better than I do. She made me a rad excel sheet that does all the admin work for me.
As a female – run South African store, how important do you believe it is to support local and female -run businesses?
It is moer-of-a-important, because as the wise old saying goes: Girls rule, boys drool.
I’m joking, of course(I’m not) , but without going into any specific detail, it cannot be denied that women (and obviously including anyone who identifies as such) can still face an extra layer of toughness and inequality in so many aspects of the business world. Counteracting that reality as consumers is important, and that can be achieved through simply supporting their product or service. Regardless of that, I love and adore all the women in my life, and the idea of supporting them and their dreams is paramount to me. I’ve definitely felt supported by the online community in this way. My clients don’t necessarily know this, but their support this last year has given me the confidence to buy an apartment. My own one. Gal-against-the-world vibes. They’ve helped me believe in myself and my inner hustler. It it’s honestly invaluable.
Would you encourage young women to start small stores such as yours and what would your best advice for a young woman be?
Definitely. I would encourage all PEOPLE though, of any gender, sexuality or creed. Activism is at the forefront of my mind, and we need all the wonderful, inventive, creative, determined people available to start doing anything they’re able to. There are so many amazing sustainable projects – and when sustainability and activism is your priority, it’s really hard to fail. The success will come. Once you’re taking your part of the world by storm, by all means make a bit of pocket money off it!
Where do you see your store in the future?
It’s not going to change too much if I can help it. It’ll always be cheap. It’ll always feature a real body showing you how the piece looks. It’ll always be a personal and honest interaction when you buy something. It’ll always include, wherever possible, an inclusive range of sizes. That’s important to me. My aim at the moment is to try cut down on synthetic materials (even if it’s a cool piece!) and possibly just expand on the upload sizes where possible.
How do you find the best pieces for your shop?
I go everywhere, to any charity shop, any second-hand place, any flea market. I sift through things for hours. I always try them on, and I always triple check quality. It’s about taking time and being thorough.
What are your best tips for thrifting?
Follow pages that suit your style. Be proactive and take note of when they upload so you don’t miss out. Ask for measurements if you’re not sure of sizing. Don’t be so afraid of it not being absolutely perfect that you don’t buy it (it shouldn’t break the bank anyway if the seller is doing it for the right reason!). Message sellers privately with sourcing or size requests. Be on the lookout for good quality fabrics.
You upcycle lots of your items using embroidery from @needlelittlehelp_embroidery which is a part of your store, do you think it is a good idea for people to upcycle clothes that they no longer use and how would you suggest people do so?
I’ve seen some seriously cool upcycling projects. Painting, embroidery, general fixing, restructuring, updating – anything. In my opinion, if you can make something better – do it! Needle has been such a cool project for me, because a) I love embroidery and b) it breathes new life into everything it touches. A plain white blouse is suddenly a quirky statement. A denim jacket becomes an artwork. It’s so nifty.
Thank you for chatting to me. My pages are @secondhandnews.thrift , @needlelittlehelp_embroidery and @ashleighsuebutcher. I’m always available to chat, colab and create.