Antique clothing is gaining popularity in vintage stores

Americans in greater numbers are buying second-hand clothes.

Fans call it vintage clothing. They believe that buying old second-hand clothes can save money. They also consider it good for the environment and elegant. Vintage stores sell clothes from earlier eras. Stores often carry famous brands and resell them at a low price.

Vintage clothing has been on the rise for about 10 years. It is widely worn by a new generation of people concerned about sustainable lifestyles. This means they want to waste less and use natural resources carefully.

In 2018, the United Nations declared that the fashion the industry is responsible for “around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions”. The UN said the industry consumes more energy than the aviation and maritime industries combined.

Jen Mason is the owner of Underground Vintage in Lewes, Delaware, a city on the Atlantic coast. She said clothes from the store that are not sold are provided to local people. They use the material for different purposes such as making blankets. Unsold clothes are never lost, Mason said.

“We are a coastal community. So we are always thinking about how to be sustainable. And we also live on a peninsula, so, you know, it takes a lot of resources to get things out and bring things back here. So we think a lot about how to give something new life.

Major fashion companies are beginning to join the second-hand clothing movement. Levis Secondhand is a new program from Levi Strauss & Co., the jeans maker. The program buys used jeans to reuse and resell them.

Delorean 88 in Washington, DC. The store mainly sells t-shirts from the 1990s and 2000s. (Dan Novak/VOA)

The Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action is a UN agreement to reduce greenhouse gases. Organizations that sign the agreement pledge to create less climate change-related gases. But many people who shop for clothes hope to help the environment by looking to the past.

A recent report in Utah Desert News notes that 20th century fashion is currently the most popular in the Utah used clothing market.

Delorean 88 is a vintage store in Washington, DC. Much of the clothing in the store is from the 1990s and early 2000s. The store mainly offers t-shirts, many with a band logos and sports teams. A t-shirt features the faces of all members of the 1996 Chicago Bulls, including team stars Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Another shirt is from rap music performer Eminem after his debut album released in 1999.

Michael Diaz works at the store. He said customers walked in and noticed shirts their parents might have had.

“A store like this is just – it’s nostalgia for a lot of people… They’d rather have that, like a shirt… that has, like 10 years of history, 20 years of history, rather wear that on a new shirt.

Underground Vintage in Lewes, Delaware.  The store does not separate men's and women's clothing.  (Dan Novak/VOA)

Underground Vintage in Lewes, Delaware. The store does not separate men’s and women’s clothing. (Dan Novak/VOA)

Mason of Underground Vintage believes that part of the popularity of vintage shopping among young people is linked to the period before the widespread use of computers. Young people can disconnect from the internet and go to a physical store to try on clothes from another period. And the store does not separate men’s and women’s clothing.

“So that’s… another way I think vintage shopping fits really well with this generation – it’s sustainable, it fits the goals of obviously having a planet to live on, but also having pieces that mean something… You know, as we say on the sign… wear what you love.

I am Dan Novak.

Dan Novak wrote this story for VOA Learning English, with additional reporting from Deseret News.

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words in this story

elegantadj. follow a popular way of dressing or presenting oneself

brand nm a category of products that are all made by a particular company and all have a particular name

fashion nm the activity of creating and selling new clothes

logo nm symbol or sign used to identify a company and its products

nostalgia nm pleasure and sadness caused by remembering something from the past

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