Gently used Levi’s, bright ‘90s windbreakers and retro tennis skirts: vintage clothing is trendier than ever, and what better way to find a hidden steal than combing through your local thrift store’s inventory?
In the past decade, thrifting has gone through an enormous transformation when it comes to consumer acceptance and popularity. Prior to recent trends, thrifting’s stigma stemmed from a reluctance to wear other people’s clothes, alongside the difficulty of finding trendy and unique items.
Nowadays, curated vintage, consignment and thrift stores are now frequented by people of all ages, and online websites and apps like Depop, eBay and Poshmark have thousands of users competing for rare pieces of clothing, furniture and accessories.
According to Delisia Matthews, an assistant professor in the department of textile and apparel, technology, and management, thrifting’s popularity is also reflective of people’s awareness concerning fashion consumption, lowering their ecological footprint and recycling clothing.
Despite the overwhelming benefits of thrifting, it isn’t without its issues either, especially in regard to the fast fashion cycle.
“Many individuals who are looking for clothing that has been thrifted or recycled expect them to be similar to fast fashion type items in addition to the more vintage,” Matthews said. “I think that fast fashion contributes to that because people know that fast fashion is trend oriented. They say, ‘I don't want it anymore’ or ‘I can take it to a thrift store.’ Then the cycle continues because fast fashion comes out with so many trends and so many different types of clothing, and the volume is higher.”
Regardless of your opinions on thrifting, one thing is for sure — thrifting is here to stay. I visited some of the Triangle’s most popular spots in search of the best finds and evaluated each store on several different factors including cleanliness, organization, price and inventory.
Rumors: 106 N Graham St, Chapel Hill
Rumors has three locations, and I decided to visit their second location in Chapel Hill. Walking in, the store was packed with people and difficult to traverse, but still clean and well lit with a laid-back vibe. The clothing was organized by size and category, with women’s clothing in the front and men’s clothing in the back. Smaller displays of shoes, hats and other accessories dotted the store.
I found clothing from many popular brands, including American Apparel, Champion, SHEIN and Anthropologie, in addition to clothing from local vendors and some vintage items. The counter parallel to the cash register boasted an impressive array of stickers, jewelry and knicknacks. Of the stores I visited, this store was by far the most trendy, with most of its impressive inventory catering to young adults and college students.
Father And Son: 302 S West St, Raleigh
Opened in 1997, Father and Son boasts a massive collection of furniture, vintage clothing and accessories. The curated furniture selection was scattered near the entrance, including several beautiful mid-century modern credenzas, tables and chairs at high prices. The clothing selection was in the far back of the store, with men’s clothing on the left and women’s clothing on the right.
The clothing was undoubtedly vintage, with only a few recognizable brand items, with items from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. Unique pieces are easy to find here and I hadn’t seen many of the items before. Browsing the jewelry selection, I found some art deco pieces, as well as some memorable costume jewelry. The majority of the clothing was priced over $10, well above standard thrift store prices.
Cause for Paws: 1634 S Saunders St, Raleigh
Cause for Paws is known for its affordable prices and adorable cats. Right when I walked in, I noticed an overpowering stench of cat litter. The store is massive and has numerous racks of clothing sorted by color, size and divided into two sections for gender, with an extensive furniture, kitchen and book collection.
While the store is very big, it isn’t the cleanest, and I found many of the items to be disorganized and in rough shape. I found some NC State merchandise from past years in addition to a couple of trendy branded clothing items. The book selection was amazing, for all ages and in good shape. Clothing prices were very affordable, categorized by type and around $5 and below. Cause for Paws often has sales regarding a specific color or type of item.
Thrift to Gift: 900 E Chatham St, Cary
Located in downtown Cary, this thrift store has everything from clothing to linens to electronics. The clothing is organized by gender, color and type in a massive well-lit spacious room. They had a considerable shoe selection, accessories including belts, sunglasses and wristlets and even a small collection of wedding and prom dresses.
They also had a selection of young adult clothing with a wide variety of brands. While I didn’t find anything I liked, I was surprised by the wide variety of clothing available, especially when it came to clothing for plus-size women — usually difficult to find at most thrift stores. Thrift to Gift is similar to Cause for Paws in that it sells items based on type with very affordable prices.
Thrift stores are hit and miss, and sometimes you won’t find anything noteworthy until your second or third trip. Based purely off the factors I evaluated each store with on my first visit, I’d say Rumors is the best thrift store in the Triangle. There truly is something for everyone, and due to the store’s curation of its stock, most of the inventory is always being updated.
Nonetheless, I think we can all agree that thrifting has changed the way we consume fashion, when it comes to the environment, sustainability and even the latest trends. I especially look forward to what the future holds for thrifting.