The Art of Thrifting

By Ayanda Dlamini

You don't need a lot of money to buy good and worthwhile clothing. You might think this statement is risky and unrealistic, as if I've said "you don't need oxygen to survive on earth", but I can prove it to you. It all started with a few jackets. I was in Cape Town with my sister. We were two broke girls from Durban, in the middle of the ever-so-cold city winter wearing summer outfits. It was then that I discovered what I had only heard of in whispers – I discovered "The Art of Thrifting".

The store smelled of cigarettes mixed with shoe polish, and I was skeptical of what my sister had led me into. It turned out to be a life-changing experience for me. Upon exploring every inch, every jacket, every hat and some outrageous items we had never seen before, we came out of the store having spent around R200 for at least four high quality and stylish jackets that kept us warm in the suffering cold. Since then, I have kissed most commercial clothing outlets goodbye and have welcomed thrifting, and the bargains within, with open arms.

Not convinced by my throwback? I’ve got you…


As a student, thrifting is more than just convenient and kind to your monthly allowance (if you're lucky enough to get an allowance). Thrifting as a student is a lifestyle. More so, you find students are sympathizing with fellow students, and with that, the independent student-based sources of The Thrift are slowly emerging. Vinthreads is one of said sources, one that understands the "student struggle" of wanting to look good without spending an overwhelming amount of money. The community "thrift plug”, situated in Durban (but do not despair, they deliver), is new, authentic and trendy. With their range of jackets and jerseys, to T-shirts and sweatshirts and a vibe that will remind you of the 90's, they are just one of many, many affordable possibilities.

Let’s delve deeper so as to better understand what I mean…


It was a simple as that. Sbusiso Nkosi, a member of the Vinthreads team, explains how he got into thrifting, how he and his friend would thrift on a regular basis and thus have people ask where they would get their clothing from. Being young and driven, the team "saw an opportunity" to start selling thrifted clothing, to make profit and provide unique clothing for those that seemed interested in their style. Having successfully turned their idea into a reality, Nkosi adds that the experience was "Surreal".


In this awfully repetitive world filled with norms and people that like to do as others do, do not stop trying to find your individuality, there is a way to be different and expressive, affordably, that only thrifting can give us. I asked Nkosi why he loves the process of thrifting as opposed to shopping in outlets, and he said, "I get to pick clothes you'd never find in [commercial] stores”, finding thrifted clothing to be more "authentic". He adds, "Another reason why I do it [thrifting] is because I know no one else will be wearing it... yeah, it's exciting.” More than simply being an act of buying cheaper clothing, thrifting can lead to some serious soul-searching. The experience feels raw and enriched with history. Obviously, most things you'll find and purchase during your thrifting experience would have belonged to someone before you. Some might find this experience strange, but my advice is to think about it as if you're a part of an item of clothing’s journey. Each person wearing it differently and having different experiences wearing that piece of clothing is kind of magical. Think “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” vibes.


It's when I asked Nkosi about some of his favorite thrifted items, that he began to speak about his self-discovery. His favorite items included flannels, denim pieces, and an item he never saw himself wearing in public: a "workers overall". His so-called 'risky move’ had "broadened my horizons in fashion" and subsequently becoming a major component of who he is as a person, helping him discover his individuality.


Lastly and maybe most importantly, thrifting is incredibly cheap. Generally, in typical thrift stores, items range anywhere from R10 to R400 depending on what you purchase, or where your taste lies. In some ways this part of thrifting is the most dangerous, because with such low prices for high quality items, it makes you feel like you can have everything

I suggest everyone joins the underground world of thrifting by rightfully exploring your options and indulging in a thrift haul to begin your journey. Be conscious of what you by, and from where, because above every other superficial reason why, the fact remains that fashion sustainability begins with reusing clothing and avoiding fast fashion. The Thrift is just the coolest way to do that.


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