Thrifting may not be advocated by high fashion magazines such as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, but college students nevertheless embrace the idea of second-hand shopping.
Stores like Goodwill and Thriftsmart in the Knoxville area accept clothing donations which are then sold at reduced prices that can range from half to a quarter of the original sales price. Shopping second hand has its advantages.
"Second-hand shopping, one, is very inexpensive," said Amy Robinson, a senior English major. "Plus, thrift stores are more vintage and it is more original than going into a Forever 21 or a Macy's and getting something that the next person may have."
Located downtown on Union Avenue is Reruns, a high-end consignment boutique that specializes in brand name and designer clothing. Brianna Lamberson, the manager and a personal stylist at the store, said that even though the store is considered thrift, it is actually consignment, where customers can donate clothing and receive a credit that they can use to purchase merchandise.
"Consignment is brand new or relatively new in style or in season clothing," Lamberson said. "We specialize in designer or high-end names like Gucci and Chanel, but we have almost everything that you can think of all the way down to J. Crew and the Gap."
Robinson prefers the thrift shopping experience over shopping at malls. Mainly thrift shopping at Goodwill, Robinson said that she gets more compliments on her second-hand clothing as opposed to something she purchased at the mall.
"When I go in the mall, I always risk saying I'm going to walk into my building and ten girls are going to have the same thing, which is most likely the case," Robinson said. "I have never (gone) to a thrift store and found something that there's been more than one of."
Brandon Mckenna-Wagner, freshman in biological sciences and an American Eagle associate, said that even though it may be more expensive, buying clothing straight from the store has its benefits.
"When you are shopping for yourself at the mall you know that (the) article of clothing is yours and that it wasn't something someone else got tired of," Mckenna-Wagner said. "It is like buying a car — you want the brand new one that no one else has fallen in love with."
Evan Bryan, freshman in psychology and also an associate of American Eagle, said that since he grew up with two older brothers, hand-me-downs were common in his wardrobe. Bryan says that thrifting helps personal identity because it combines the styles of many others to create your own original style.
"Chances are the clothes you are going to thrift for are older and there's not another one like it. Sure it might be used by someone else, but that why you wash it," he said.
Lamberson, who personally shops for and styles customers at Reruns, said that second-hand shopping can help one's quest to achieve personal style.
"When you go into a mall they have looks that are put together and have collections, so you're basically dressing in the way that store tells you to dress," Lamberson said. "Here you have so much more freedom and it is really a challenge to put together a cool outfit that is unique, and you can be influenced by what's in trend, but you don't have to look like everyone else."
Mckenna-Wagner said that thrift shopping can take time and effort that most people don't have and can limit a person's perspective on style.
"As a young adult I really have no idea what my style is, so I'm still exploring all the different looks," he said. "In the mall you have a plethora of stores to choose from, so there's almost a store for every style which can help someone's discovery of their own personal style."
Robinson, who enjoys the search for the diamond in the rough while thrift shopping, said that the one disadvantage to second-hand shopping occurs when the shopper is expecting to find something specific.
"You never know what you're going to find and it all depends on what people donate," Robinson said. "You have to go in not really expecting to find a particular item versus when you go to a store, you can pretty much guess what is at a particular store before you go."
The experience of shopping second hand compared to shopping at the mall is like night and day, said Lamberson.
"In a thrift store, like ... Goodwill, you're really on your own hunting for the treasure piece that's the amazing find, whereas at the mall everything is just at your fingertips," Lamberson said. "It's all preselected for you so there's little to no excitement in finding something amazing, because chances are fifteen other people that day found the exact same thing."
Thrift and second-hand stores are commonly associated with lower income families, said Bryan.
"Some people have a skewed idea of thrifting as just wearing someone's old clothes which is to be for lower income houses. This isn't the case," Bryan said. "Anyone should be able to thrift and not feel like this, lower income homes aren't the only ones that like to save money."
Bryan, who dresses for his mood on a daily basis and mainly shops at American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch when he can afford it, said that there's nothing like having a successful second-hand shopping experience.
"The feeling of satisfaction when you find that one perfect article of clothing, that's exactly why you want, exactly your size, is more satisfying than just being handed what you need."