While we (at least I and a lot of people I know) have been using hand me downs from our family members, we’re reluctant when it comes to using those owned by someone we don’t know, even when they’re in good shape. The idea of using pre-owned things is frowned upon while the feeling of owning something fresh off the store is always delighting.
Trying to change the mindset in Nepal regarding pre-loved clothes are conscious youth by opening thrift stores and boldly advocating it. It’s made easier to thrift shop in Nepal by simply looking up #byeesanna and #byesanna on Instagram which now boasts more than 5.4k and 2.1k posts about thrift items in Nepal. Thanks to lifestyle influencer Sanna Gurung (@hii.sanna) who has made it a trend to use pre-loved items and promote Nepali products with more than 102k followers.
To get a closer look at this new term floating around in the city, I reached out to a few online thrift stores with a couple of questions and here’s what each of them said. For the love of short articles, I have divided the full article in parts with answers from two thrift shop owners each. Dive into them, starting with this one.
But first, introductions!
My ama wore that (@myamaworethat) is a gender-neutral lifestyle store that promotes vintage, slow and ethical fashion Unlike other thrift stores, they only offer genuine vintage clothes so their prices might be perceived as expensive to some.
Byee.sanna (@byee.sanna) is a thrift shop account created by influencer Sanna Gurung initially to sell her pre-loved clothes but now it has become a sort of listing place for all thrift items.
1. What’s your backstory of starting a thrift store?
My ama wore that:
My wardrobe was all about my mother or my long-lost uncle’s hand me downs. Wherever I travel, my go-to-shopping places are the flea/vintage markets too. I’d also like to think that my sense of style did not have a good relationship with the conventional metropolitan fashion and that probably also made me stand apart on my own. I have few friends who would ask me to get clothes with a similar style or anything that I approve. This gradually I think, kind of sowed the seed of opening up my own handpicked line of vintage thrifts. I started off online but I recently managed to set up a tiny studio space for My Ama Wore That.
Every year I try to downsize my closet by letting go of clothes that stay unused in my closet for seasons. So, I thought I’d try to sell them to someone who’d really want to own them. Initially, it was just one lot of clothes but what encouraged me to keep going was its sustainability factor and people’s willingness to buy pre-loved clothes in the face of fast-fashion.
2. Do you buy second-hand items for yourself?
My ama wore that:
ALWAYS. I find joy in the pre-loved items. I used to buy preloved ever since I can remember but I must say it has been almost 3 years I have completely stopped buying first-hand clothing especially from the fast fashion stores.
Yup. My first thrift purchase was in 2012? I loved to buy from thrift stores back when I was in NYC and now in Nepal through my hashtags and Instagram handle.
3. What do you think are the reasons people do not buy second hand even if they’re in good condition?
My ama wore that:
I think these “could” be the three primary reasons why people are hesitant to buy pre-loved items:
- they have this negative connotation attached to using the second hand as being inferior
- they assume that second-hand items belong to dead people so owning them brings bad luck
- Fast-fashion stores have clothes that are really cheap so they have this idea that screams “if I can buy a new shirt for the same price of that pre-loved so why not opt the new”
Speaking of that, in the beginning, I’ve had a lot of people enquire about the price and would sign off saying “too expensive for pre-loved”. One particular client even said “I do not care even if you are selling a Louis Vuitton. If you’ve used it already then it should be priced less”. To purchase from a store like mine, that doesn’t just sell pre-owned items but those that are actually vintage and are of high quality, people need to understand the value of those items that aren’t found easily.
I guess it’s because some people don’t like wearing pre-owned and some people think it’s degrading to wear second hand?!
4. What are your further plans with your venture, if you have any?
My ama wore that:
Lots! However, the thing about plans is that they don’t always work out. Anyways, I really wanted to open a big store filled with only pre-loved clothing for people from all age groups and interests to buy. So maybe that’s for the future.
Apart from that, I’d love to collaborate with independent ethical designers whose ethos fits that of My Ama Wore That. Additionally, my hopes are to engage Miss Nepal and other influencers to promote slow and sustainable fashion.
Although in the rudimentary stage, it’s fine to say that Kathmandu has caught up with the concept of thrift shops, especially involving textiles. If you have any comments regarding thrifting or sustainability then feel free to leave it here or message us directly. Don’t forget to visit these pages to check out pieces that you may like.
Interviewed and article by Yangzum Lama