If you are reading this, you might already be interested in the secondhand, reuse, upcycle world. I have been fascinated by this world for years now — I find it absolutely sensible to recirculate and reuse things and stop producing things that are already around.
I dream of this world where all things unused become available in a big cloud space and everyone looking for something can find it there. If I could have a superpower, it would be to become a fairy with a magic wand with which I declutter basements, garages, and closets. I would rescue all that is sitting there wasted while we keep cutting down trees, destroying mountains, contaminating rivers, soil, air, and all we do to supply our “needs”.
Things would rotate, extending their life cycle until the last day, and all those resources would be then efficiently used.
But the reality is that by August 22 (Earth’s Overshoot Day) we already used all available natural resources that our amazing planet can renew in a year to maintain its balance. In the last quarter we get in deep debt with nature, and it has been like this for years now.
This post is about sustainable clothing, so I will drop this data: The fashion industry is the second most contaminating industry, responsible for the world’s 20% of industrial polluted water and 10% of CO2 emissions. That’s more emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
So, what can we do? We all know the answer: change our lifestyle and the way we shop. They say “if you dream it, it can be done” right? So let’s do this!
This image developed by Sarah Lazarovic adapts the famous Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to a “buyerarchy” of needs. The logic behind this is quite simple: buy new as the last option.
Ten years ago, almost by chance, I founded a second-hand project in Lima, Peru: Las Traperas. After many years living abroad, I came back to find no second-hand stores in my country. I needed them.
This second-hand store tour I did in Mendoza was to find inspiration and pieces for Las Traperas, and as in all my tours, I ended up finding amazing clothes that had my name on them and spoke to me, “Hi Paola, finally, you found me”. My closet and my daughter’s closet are made of 90% second-hand, passed down, or exchanged clothes. We have unique, gorgeous, high-quality clothes made of great materials that you can hardly find or afford nowadays, plus we have saved thousands of dollars.
It is my wish that this post makes the second-hand world feel closer and accessible as sometimes it feels far and a sort of a mysterious underworld you don’t know how to enter.
These were my tour stops across Mendoza’s best second-hand stores. I am posting some outfits styled by Las Traperas to show in practice how cool and gorgeous these unique clothes that last forever can look.
1. La Roperia
This business has been running for more than 40 years. The previous owners were a couple that brought pieces over from Europe. Adri now runs it solo for the last four years and keeps looking for lost jewels to rescue. You will find a big selection of mixed styles with a good percentage of vintage. It was the largest shop so if you love the treasure-hunting process, you can make this place your playground.
Lots of vintage. Here are some examples of what I found.
2. Tienda Vestigia
Tienda Vestigia started in 2017, like many shops, as a traveling flea market. The project then grew into a small showroom and now they have a bigger space where you can find local designers and their own streetwear production. They also have a small vintage section of nicely selected pieces in perfect condition.
A great selection and in perfect condition.
3. Andorra la Vieja
This is a small buy-and-sell store. There was not much that felt special from their selection, most clothes are contemporary with a few vintage pieces, but the prices are unbelievable. Not everything is in good condition, so you need to search, but if you do find something for you it will be the best bargain in town.
Hunting through all the contemporary clothing, this was the vintage piece I found. Love it!
4. Coso con Cosas
This space is run by Priscilla in her own home. You can feel the warmth and love she puts in her project. A lifetime second-hand user, she values sustainability as well as the patterns and sewing techniques found in all these old pieces. She is gifted with sewing abilities and will fix or alter anything you need at the moment. That same gift is used for upcycling vintage pieces to make them usable. You will find very unique vintage and vintage-upcycled selection beside a local pottery selection and a women’s “Fanzinoteca” where she also writes (a selection of printed pamphlets advocating for different interests).
This two dresses where remodeled by Priscilla and this 70’s short was rescued from a factory that closed. It is new with the original tag sewn in the pocket as it was done in the old days.
5. No Fake
The girls behind No Fake, Aldana and Abigail, have the attitude needed to run a space that wants to break the binary men-women dressing code. They got married in 2018 and started this project together. “We have always been into clothes,” they told me. They started selling their own clothes at university, then through Instagram, and now they have a showroom in downtown Mendoza.
You will find mostly vintage pieces, many of which they have remodeled or upcycled themselves, and a few new-with-tags pieces from closed-down stores in the ’70s. It’s not a huge selection but is full of unique pieces and big enough to find something for you. They have adults and kids sections. If you are a vintage lover mom, you will understand how irresistible Vintage children’s clothes are. I had to control myself.
A vintage dress, shorts rescued from a damaged overall and upcycled crop from a vintage men’s T shirt.
It will make me really happy to know that the next time you need something you tried secondhand before running impulsively to the mall. I guarantee that when you find YOUR piece, besides the happiness for finding what you need and the savings, you will feel satisfied for choosing to help our world stay green for many generations. Please do let me know how it goes.