Clothing Swaps And Thrifting: South Florida Fashion Experts 'Live And Breathe Secondhand'

Sep 27, 2019

The fashion industry is among the greatest polluters in the world, but locally, South Florida fashion experts and thrift shoppers are encouraging residents to move towards more eco-friendly options. 

According to the United Nations, the fashion industry is the second-biggest consumer of water and is responsible for about 8 percent of global carbon emissions. Earlier this year, the UN’s Alliance for Sustainable Fashion launched a campaign focused on the changes the fashion industry could make to produce more socially-conscious clothing. 

In South Florida, major department stores like Macy’s and JCPenney have partnered up with the online thrift store ThredUP to create a section specifically for second-hand goods at a few of their department store locations. Sundial gathered panel of thrift shop owners, designers and activists to talk about the growing trend of secondhand shopping and sustainability. 

Guests include Constance Collins, the executive director and a full-time volunteer at the Lotus House Thrift Chic Boutique; Joanis Duran, the director of operations and sales for Nomad Tribe; and Colleen Coughlin, a professional organizer, designer and founder of The Full Edit.

Pivot Market, a sustainable department store located at the Citadel in Little Haiti, is hosting a Miami Clothing Swap on Saturday, Sept. 28 from 12 to 9 p.m.

This has been edited lightly for clarity. 

The Lotus House Thrift Chic Boutique store helps women gain employment skills that translate to jobs.
Credit The Lotus House Thrift Chic Boutique / Courtesy

WLRN: What was the advice you give to people on how to start thrifting?

COLLINS: I'd say start with your closet. Empty out the things that you don't wear. Make yourself lighter and bring them to a thrift store that's doing something good in the world. If it's in your closet, you're probably still hanging onto it for a reason. So take it someplace do something good. And when you go and donate, explore, okay?

DURAN: Get your friends together and have them bring at least five articles for clothing and do a clothes swap party at your own home. Or just go online and research clothes swap parties in your area. They're happening everywhere and it's free. So you can walk out of there with the baddest outfit ever: jewelry, shoes and handbags. What's great about it is that you are inspiring so many other local women or men in your community as you're creating something to talk about every time you wear that garment.

COUGHLIN: My advice to people... I do closet edits and one of the big things that is mind-blowing is when we talk about the cost per wear. I say, think of the suit that you need for your interview, and then I think of the little black dress for women. Let's say that you're going to buy this dress and wear it four times. All right. So at $100 you just did a dress for $25 dollars per wear. I always recommend that they do that and also think of the value of it over how many times you're going to wear it. 

And we heard from our listeners on your  favorite stores and why you love to thrift: 

Dragonfly Thrift Boutique is where fashion meets philanthropy, and where former inmates are given second chances. - Frances Alban 

I love to buy in Goodwill. It is cheaper, you give work for people with disabilities, and you can take your used stuff to them...it is great! - Emiliano

My favorite thrift store is World Thrift in Lake Worth because there’s always something there that I didn’t know I needed. - Mike

What does it take to outfit your home and your family secondhand in South Florida? Do you consider yourself a thrifter? Email us at sundial@wlrnnews.org

Nomad Tribe is a socially conscious thrift store located in Wynwood.
Credit Nomad Tribe