If there was an effort to move away from the trappings of fast fashion, consumers have quite a few options in Salt Lake City’s many thrift shops.
In Utah, there is a strong buy local movement, and many consumers go out of their way to shop at local stores. “I think Utah’s pretty good on that, honestly,” says Kristin Thomas of Cosmic Wolf Vintage. “I was actually surprised working at Unhinged—because a lot of it’s local—how many people are there because they want to buy local.”
Stores like Cosmic Wolf Vintage, located on the second floor of Unhinged, or Pib’s Exchange, cater to those seeking unique threads. Speaking on the popularity of vintage clothing, Thomas says, “I feel like a lot of younger people and generations are starting to catch on to quality clothing and uniqueness.”
Shops like Pib’s Exchange attract a customer base in the 16 to 30-year-old range, while Cosmic Wolf Vintage appeals more to college students between 21 and 28 years old.
Reasons for buying from thrift or vintage shops vary. Many find supporting local shops as a preferable alternative to purchasing from bigger chain stores. Some consumers even buy from vintage or thrift shops in an effort practice a more sustainable lifestyle.
Erin Moore, who works at Unhinged and regularly thrift shops says, “The environment is a huge reason I continue to be devoted to thrifting.” According to Moore, it’s also ethical to shop local as the shoppers’ money doesn’t go to support sweatshop labor. “It’s also just cheaper in general, and also ethical and sustainable,” says Moore. “The items are more unique, and I love a lot of different vintage aesthetics. The quality of construction and material are also usually better.”
Admittedly, though, many consumers don’t know the exact details about the quality of clothing they are purchasing. Ideally, this is where the expertise of local vendors come in. Unlike with big brand stores, local shops provide an intimate atmosphere for shoppers to converse with those like Thomas (Cosmic Wolf Vintage) or Chase Smiles (Manager of Pib’s Exchange). These vendors have a keen eye and are able to provide a personable touch to the shopping experience. Smiles says, “[Shoppers] enjoy that we aren’t like the big box stores and a lot of the customers have personal relationships with the owners and the employees.”
These local vendors are also keen observers of coming and going trends. Smiles says, “The 90s is a huge influence on trends right now with lots of satin slip dresses, crop tops, and circle skirts. Olive green and baby pink are the most popular colors.”
This fascination with the 90s is hardly a new occurrence, as it first came back into the public eye as fashionable in 2007. It was a trend Thomas noticed while living in San Francisco. Trends directly shaped by the designers at Fashion Week in London or Paris tend to take a long time to reach Utah’s stores. Although Thomas does note that Utah is in its own little bubble. According to her observations, the current trend is “70s boho style,” but that is slowly giving way to a mod revival. Thomas says, “Everything is going to be super like mod, 60s, Carnaby Street, London—that kind of thing.”
Thomas points out that many who shop for vintage or secondhand clothing tend to do so for a set of unique aesthetics. For Thomas though, picking out a personal style using vintage clothing is heavily influenced by a subculture inspired by music, particularly from psychedelic and garage rock bands.