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The Evolution of Secondhand

Updated: Apr 19

Every day, we go to our closets and dressers and put together an outfit. Sometimes we’re putting together a professional look for work, sometimes we’re cultivating the perfect fit for a night out, and sometimes we’re pulling pieces to relax and feel comfortable. Either way, we are choosing pieces of clothing that, put together, let us express ourselves.


Four women posing together

How conscious are you about those pieces you’re choosing and their effect on the environment? Do you buy directly from stores everytime you need a new piece or do you go to secondhand or thrift stores to find previously loved pieces? Secondhand fashion has always existed in hand-me-downs and clothing swaps but we now have businesses and nonprofits that cultivate secondhand clothing for the common consumer.


Some people may feel overwhelmed going to a storefront like Goodwill or struggle to find pieces that fit their bodies and vibes. Two businesses in Indianapolis, Notorious Vintage and Everewear, are working to curate clothing and collaborate with other businesses or utilize technology to bring secondhand fashion to everyone. 


One thing both Tori Sandler of Notorious Vintage and Anna Dorris of Everewear can agree on is that secondhand clothing makes a big difference in one of America’s largest overproduction and overconsumption problems: textiles. Landfills are often littered with clothing and fabrics that are made with cheap materials containing plastics, and they don’t ever fully break down. Every time you wash a cheaply made fabric, there are plastics going into the water you use. In addition, warehouses that make what has been dubbed “fast fashion” from brands like Shein or Fashion Nova outsource their production to marginalized communities all over the world that are paid pennies to make this clothing.


Woman in pink dress and black jacket

Seeking secondhand fashion gives new life to pieces that are made from quality materials, more likely from fair and equitable shops. Anna, founder of Everewear, also noted that thinking about sourcing used clothing makes people “be more intentional about your overall consumption…and recalibrate your mindset in general” to make better choices such as recycled/recyclable kitchen goods or locally sourced artwork. This makes our choices we make everyday feel more meaningful in a society that instead values consumerism. Tori, founder of Notorious Vintage, asks us all questions about being sustainable with our own closets: Is there a way to rework the piece, do an easy repair, upcycle, or pay to alter it to make it work for you?



These questions help us evaluate what we already own and find ways to make these pieces work for us rather than purchasing new items. In short, secondhand choices make for a more sustainable clothing economy. Tori Sandler founded Notorious Vintage to give others a chance to find pieces they love and resonate with. She's committed to this goal - searching, digging, constantly seeking that perfect piece - and Notorious Vintage has become her way of sharing her efforts (and successes!) with others.  


She sees secondhand fashion as a way to be “able to translate [my] style in the most authentic, unique way possible.” This can extend to home decor and other pieces as well, as secondhand can be so much more than a shopping habit – more of a lifestyle. Most people don’t have the time to go hunting for these special pieces, though, so Tori strives to make secondhand choices easy for others by providing a comfortable and eclectic place to shop for them. Tori has found so much insight in having a brick-and-mortar space to sell pieces as well as having online outlets or pop-up stores at events; her clientele is widely varied from people her age and older, to teens with their finger on the pulse who see their favorite celebs wearing vintage pieces on the red carpet.


When Tori envisions secondhand fashion, she sees “avant-garde, quality and luxury pieces that can build an editorial look” by utilizing vintage pieces and accessories as well as mixing high fashion that’s been sourced ethically. She sees decades of fashion to choose from rather than whatever may be on the rack right now, allowing us to curate our authentic and truly personal style that no one else is going to have.


Woman in blue dress with sunglasses

One of her favorite quotes is by fashion icon Iris Apfel who passed away in March 2024 and led an incredible life of styling and ruminating on what fashion means: “Fashion is what you buy. Style is what you do with it.” Tori says she thinks of fashion as being what’s popular, what’s on the shelf, or what you’re told to be wearing, but style is what you’re going to do with what you’re given. Notorious Vintage specializes in loud, colorful, maximalist pieces for those looking to stand out in a crowd and speak volumes with their style. 


Everewear founded by Anna Dorris focuses on how to streamline curation using self-made algorithms and based around a style profile submitted by each user. This profile is based on who you are as a person and what you gravitate towards for your style. You’re then shown items that are going to be relevant to your style, size, and budget. After browsing through these choices and using the Everewear algorithms, it’ll ask the users questions about important events coming up in their lives such as a big party or a job interview. This allows for even more highly specific recommendations based on niche styles, individual wants, and situational needs. A system based so strongly on personal preferences and pieces showing up on your doorstep that you already envision in your closet reduces the chance of these pieces going back into the cycle of selling, thrifting, or being thrown away.


Anna expressed that keeping up with fashion trends and making more clothes are unnecessary and harmful, and that what you want or envision yourself wearing already exists. This is the beauty of secondhand style; your ideal look is already out there waiting for you (or someone like Tori and Anna) to find it. The trend of online shopping and e-commerce has made secondhand shopping much more accessible for people who can’t scour through locations like Goodwill or Saint Vincent de Paul that can be overwhelming, and Anna’s algorithm asks questions as you shop like how long you’re looking at an item, if you put it in your cart or share it with a friend, or if nothing is resonating with you and different pieces should be shown that might fit your vision more closely. Anna saw a need to make thrifting and finding secondhand pieces more accessible and smarter in the circular economy.


Both Tori and Anna have found success in collaborating with other businesses to grow their own, whether it’s Anna’s self-made site being able to communicate with other vendors to provide a massive reach of options for users to browse through, or Tori providing vintage pieces for Kendra Daily at Kendra Sew Fine to revitalize and give new life to through specific and meaningful alterations. By tailoring items you’ve found and love but don’t fit your body, they become a strong, flattering piece in your wardrobe that will show you in the best light. This collaboration allowed Tori and Kendra to find a quality piece and make it perfect for their customer. 


Another thing both Tori and Anna completely agree on is that high fashion, vintage fashion, and secondhand fashion are for every size and shape of person. Clothing sizes, especially for women, are notoriously inconsistent and confusing. They are just numbers that mean different things for every brand rather than being based on measurement. This is another reason Tori is so passionate about advocating for tailoring your favorite pieces.


Woman in black dress with red jacket

Sizing has had its own unique evolution as fashion has become more accessible, and different body types have been featured in media, but when it comes to vintage clothing, people of every size have always needed something to wear. Anna has incorporated the power of data in Everewear by prioritizing pieces in the shop by need, which will boost the likelihood of sizing being inclusive, but also recognized that plus-size fashion doesn’t have a strong history of being well-made so it doesn’t trickle down as much into the secondhand market. The more we as users shop for plus-size fashions that are made well, the more market demand will encourage clothes that are made new to be made with higher quality materials. Both Notorious Vintage and Everewear work to break the stigma that great secondhand pieces don’t exist for plus-size women, or that a piece can’t be tailored to fit your exact needs. 


At the core of both Notorious Vintage and Everewear is the message that secondhand fashion is for everyone. It’s for the people who want to make a bold statement with the outfit they carefully curate every day. It’s for the people who haven’t seen themselves in fashion magazines or on the runway. It’s for the people who don’t have the time or energy to hunt through racks at their local store, or for the people who don’t have secondhand clothing options anywhere near their home. Tori and Anna are building accessible, inclusive spaces for you to find exactly what you’re looking for, and feel good about where the clothing you’re wearing came from. Next time you need a great addition to your closet, consider making a choice from secondhand style. 


 

Anna Doris of Everewear and Tori Sandler of Notorious Vintage interviewed and written by Chloe Price. Photography by Christine Erlandson of Prickly Pears Photo featuring Marura Malloy, Lateva Woolfork, and Charlie Himes modeling custom designs by Kendra Daily of Kendra Sew Fine.


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