Thrift Shopping Popularity Among High School Students


Jilian Bunderson

Elise Ambler, sophomore, browses through the men’s section at Goodwill. “Look in places where you wouldn’t expect to find things. Like I always look in the men’s department,” Ambler said. She – like many teens in MHS – loves to thrift shop in her free time.

By Jilian Bunderson, Marquette High School

In a lilac purple athletic jacket with black stripes and white accenting lines running down the  arms, Thomas Degroot, junior, walks the halls of MHS wearing a vintage Nike jacket.

His outfit consists of a black shirt, jeans, Nike shoes and this jacket as a eye-catcher. But what really brings him confidence isn’t the fact that it’s a comfy jacket or the “perfect” outfit. It’s because this jacket is thrifted, and he bought it himself for 3 dollars at Goodwill.

“I really like thrift shopping because you never know what you’re going to find, but when you find
the right stuff it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh! This is so cool, and it’s thrifted’,” Degroot said. He also added that one of the biggest influencers is Emma Chamberlain, a big YouTuber right now.

“When you see other people doing something it makes you want to do it too, so I think that’s a huge reason it’s popular. Plus that 90’s style is really ‘in’ right now.” Degroot said.

Like Degroot, many students are being swept into the thrift shopping wave because of these influencers and the comeback of older fashions. According to thredUP, a large online thrift store, resale is growing 24 times faster than average apparel retail.

Susan Hamlin, fashion teacher, understands the appeal of thrift shopping for teenagers.

“This popularity stems from maybe a few reasons: cost being a likely reason and kids wanting to be more unique and express themselves through their clothing,” Hamlin said. “I can’t say for others, but I think it’s the thrill of the hunt and finding a unique item that no one else will have, and the opportunity to hack something ‘old’ and make it new and unique.”

Hamlin said the comeback of 90s fashion doesn’t surprise her.

“Fashion has a predictable cycle. Silhouettes and what is in style tends to repeat itself in a new way every 20 to 30 years,” Hamlin said.

She also agreed with Degroot that social media is a main creation of this popular trend.

“It seems to be more acceptable for kids to be more conscious about what they are wearing and putting thought into putting outfits together,” Hamlin said. “Social media influences these styles for sure: not only celebrities, but also those self-created fashion leaders on Instagram and YouTube.”

Hamlin has advice for those wanting other ways to save money on their own unique style besides thrift shopping.

“Don’t buy so much! Reuse garments, trade with friends, take care of the items you have and know what is in your wardrobe to avoid purchasing unneeded items,” Hamlin said. “Put things away so you know what you have.”

Elise Ambler, sophomore, is another student who loves thrift shopping. She agrees that this new style is linked with social media and a new individualistic mentality in teens.

“I notice on social media that there’s this new style popping up where you’re much more of an individual,” Ambler said. “Like at general stores you can find things that you like, but they try to speak to the entire public. With a thrift shop, you can find something that speaks to you, something that shows your personality and who you are to everyone else.”

Overall, Ambler enjoys her thrift shopping experiences and will continue to go in the future to her favorite stores – Goodwill and Savers.

“You just never know what you’re gonna find; it’s like a little adventure,” Ambler said.

This story was originally published on Marquette Messenger on November 11, 2018.