My mum wearing an outfit that I coincidentally wore all of last summer. Oketa Zogi-Shala with permission for Varsity

As the sister and daughter who is at uni, my room has unsurprisingly transformed into storage space. When I went back home for Christmas it was a bit of a nuisance. This time around I decided to rummage through it all. For once my procrastination was of use: I discovered my room to be a goldmine.

I first came across a box full of albums. I thought they were ones I had seen before, with the customary school and holiday pictures. I could not have been more wrong. They were all albums of my mum in her youth, ranging from her trips to the US, her life in Kosovo, and her moving to London. But one thing stood out to me the most: her fashion.

Ranging from maxi skirts to Adidas Samba trainers, I was envious to find that her wardrobe used to be far superior to my current one. That feeling eventually quelled. But all my feelings were brought back after I opened some other boxes and found those very clothes – ones I later found out my mum was planning to give away to other family members, despite knowing about her daughter’s own obsession with clothes!

My mum pictured wearing a thrifted Diesel skirtOketa Zogi-Shala with permission for Varsity

Studying a humanity means fulfilling more role than one: student and ‘Sidgwick Girlie’. The latter is one my mum has been preparing me for since I was young (see the slightly large, yet extremely gorgeous kitten heels in my wardrobe as evidence). With my wardrobe full of her old clothes now, it is safe to say that she has completed her mission.

What is more impressive than the fact that she kept most of the clothes? The fact that most of her clothes were second-hand. Living in the USA for a short period of time with her cousins, my mum became an avid thrifter. She found clothes Depop resellers could only dream of.

“We can all learn from her example”

“I am very glad that charity shopping and thrifting has become normalised. It used to be embarrassing if someone saw you coming out of a thrift store” she tells me. “I just hope people don’t treat this like a trend or end up ruining it by over-consuming or something”.

Let us take a moment to appreciate the accessories. Oketa Zogi-Shala with permission for Varsity

Unfortunately, this is exactly what is happening. Prices are increasing as second-hand shopping is becoming more popularised; this, coupled up with the rise of resellers who sell clothes for profit, has led to the “gentrification of thrift”. It is true that 80 to 90 percent of the clothes provided to charity shops are being dumped into the Global South. However, this does not give resellers the right to exacerbate the aforementioned gentrification, by putting the clothes up for extortionate prices.

“I am glad people are buying second hand clothes”, my mum said when I asked her what she thought about this. “But these people reselling are only doing it for themselves. I don’t really think they care about the planet or making clothing more accessible - they just want to make money”. My mum is as iconic in her thoughts about reselling, as she is in her thrift finds .


Mountain View

Is second-hand shopping a cover up for overconsumption?

The boxes I found my May Ball dress in were time capsules, full of treasures from my mum’s youth. As I went through her old clothes, I discovered not only the fashion of her youth, but also her passion for thrifting and second-hand shopping. Her foresight and commitment to sustainable fashion is something I deeply admire and strive to emulate. These boxes were testaments to the beauty and value of sustainable fashion, but also a reminder of the importance of mindful and ethical consumption. We can all learn from her example and work towards a more sustainable and equitable fashion industry.