The Consistency Project
How Secondhand Clothing Can Give Us a FirstHand Look at Reducing Waste
Want to feel smug for 10 seconds? The easiest and most sure-fire way is by having an excited person ask where your “super cool” jacket is from. Give a sweet smile and announce, “it’s vintage, and one of a kind!”
There’s simply no denying that shopping secondhand can result in some unique and “en vogue” designs that otherwise would have wound up looking sad in a landfill. All the clothing that ends up in landfills can take over 200 years to decompose–all the while emitting methane, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. The benefits of thrifting are two-fold: finding trendy pieces, and not contributing to harmful and unnecessary waste.
So then why doesn’t everyone shop vintage and secondhand? Unfortunately, there still seems to be a false assumption that shopping at thrift shops is considered “dirty” and is even looked down upon. Although, things have been looking up in the past decade or so. According to a study conducted in the UK, 70% of adults say that buying used merchandise is more socially acceptable today than it was 10 years ago.
In order to get the inside scoop about the world of thrifting and vintage culture, SUSTAIN caught up with Natasha Halesworth, founder of The Consistency Project. The unique brand consists of a community of individuals who curate vintage and second-hand pieces while breaking the stigma against thrifting and inspiring a more sustainable lifestyle.
The Consistency Project was originally founded in 2017 in Oakland, California, and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York. The collection on their website is relaxed and carefree yet skillfully put together to deliver a funky and refreshing vibe. Halesworth says that at first, the aesthetic of the brand happened organically and almost unintentionally. She goes on to say that she’s “always based the curation off of comfort, versatility and functionality.” These three factors tie everything together, as Natasha believes that “there should be nothing pretentious about secondhand or vintage clothing.” It comes with the territory: there’s certainly no room for snobbishness while scouring through racks of clothes to find that one perfect piece, but it’s definitely worth it. Thrift shopping is a totally unique experience for people seeking to expand their wardrobe on a budget–a no judgement zone!
Recently, it seems that many others share this thought. Thrifting has increased rapidly over the past few years thanks to social media influencers rocking vintage fits, as well as the rise of resale apps such as Depop and Poshmark. To Natasha, this is a welcome change: “I like the idea that people are starting to consider buying vintage instead of new. My ideal would be people realizing that vintage is actually secondhand; they are one in the same.” She agrees that there is a stigma against buying used clothes, citing the disparity between the two phrases: “When categorizing things as secondhand people tend to think ‘that sounds dirty,’ yet if you say vintage the reaction is ‘oh, so cool!’” The Consistency Project is trying to change this outlook as thrifting slowly becomes more appealing to the masses, and “fast fashion” is dominating less of the norm. “We are so inundated with mass production and seeing the ‘same but different’ from differing brands. The idea that you can get something ‘one of a kind’ and not mass produced is so appealing,” Natasha says.
The more shopping for secondhand clothes, the better for our planet. Natasha asserts that “the more people who choose secondhand first, the more we challenge bigger corporations to produce ethically [and] thoughtfully and the more we do our planet a favor.” The amount of waste huge fast fashion companies produce is astronomical. Fashion brands such as Burberry have admitted to destroying unsold clothes and accessories. According to BBC, Burberry burned almost 30 million dollars worth of clothing and accessories in 2018.
Choosing to thrift over buying new clothes can make a huge impact. In addition to simply selling vintage clothes, The Consistency Project goes one step farther and upcycles in-house designs. Natasha explains the process: “you take something that may be damaged, no longer needed, or just not being used, and then create something new as a whole.” Upcycling, like recycling, is simply converting waste into reusable material. There’s something magical about it though: “upcycling can be time consuming and each piece is unique. But that’s what’s so cool; it forces a designer to slow down and put something special into each piece,” says Natasha.
Living a more sustainable lifestyle absolutely takes dedication and, you guessed it, consistency. It’s a learning process that may take some time, but once you introduce thrifting into your lifestyle, it’s almost impossible to look back. There’s just something about finding amazing, stylish pieces while not breaking the bank that makes the mall look less and less appealing. In order to help people get the ball rolling, Natasha shares some tips on how to shop with the Earth in mind: “just try buying secondhand if you haven’t yet! Whether you decide to have an adventure at a local thrift store and support small business owners or go online to a reseller platform, it actually makes a huge impact.” Eco-friendly clothing doesn’t have to be boring either: “remember that a sustainable closet doesn’t have to mean ‘minimal’ or all neutrals.
Sustainability can be fun, colorful, and extra—shopping secondhand allows you to be creative and experiment a bit more.” So get out there and try thrifting! It’s a fun and rewarding experience that carries no guilt about perpetuating the harmful process of tossing clothes in a landfill. You might just find a gem!
Photos Courtesy of The Consistency Project