The mass-produced clothing known as “fast fashion” is ultra-trendy, accessible, and cheap. But an outsize carbon footprint often hides behind the low price tag of those of-the-moment styles. Logan Square resale shop owner Jennifer Kelly says her store offers an affordable antidote to fast fashion’s environmental ills.
“When someone comes into Vintage Frills, I want them to look at the pieces and go, wow, this is from 1980 and it's in great shape and it's made in the USA and I can afford it!” says Kelly. “Vintage is mostly made in the USA and it's, you look at some of these clothes, they're amazing. As far as sustainability, when you shop vintage, you're kind of saving the planet to be honest. When you shop fast fashion, we all know it can go down a dark crazy road of sweatshops, people are just not getting paid, and then it’s bad for the environment.”
Vintage fans say the construction and uniqueness of decades-old clothing beat the pants off fast fashion.
“It’s a step away from fast fashion. A step away from the very common choices that you find in other stores,” says Vintage Frills shopper Tilcara. “You get to really dress yourself in a way that is very special to your style.”
A few blocks down Milwaukee Avenue, the owners of El Dorado Thrift Store are also bringing a fresh approach to resale retail. Diane Villagomez and her family designed El Dorado to look and feel like a fashionable boutique.
“We look fancy, but we're not expensive,” says Villagomez. We definitely wanted to create something different from the industry. Thrifting has always been kind of looked down upon, frowned, upon and hasn't been the most fun and clean experience.”
“El Dorado was a hidden city and it was thought to be completely filled with gold,” she continued. “And so that's basically what we wanted to aim for when we opened the thrift shop. We wanted to make it a little hidden nook where people can find gems.”
And El Dorado shoppers seem to appreciate that look and feel as much as the price tags.
“I started living alone about a year ago, I can’t afford some of these brands straight off the rack,” said El Dorado shopper Areli Estrada. “I don't feel shame actually going to the thrift store — I do make my own money now, but I would rather spend wisely.”
Back at Vintage Frills, Jennifer Kelly says she’s always looking for the items from the 1990s and 2000s she says are on trend with millennials and Gen Z kids.
“They love urban streetwear in particular. So I try to scout that out a lot for them,” Kelly says. “I got real mom jeans that were worn by real moms, okay, in Vintage Frills! More history, more quality, not fast fashion. So that's where they need to come and get their mom jeans here.”
That’s right Gen Xers, your high school outfits are officially considered vintage – but, hey, at least they’re the real deal.