Thrifting and vintage shopping are more popular than ever as eco-conscious consumers revitalize their closets with pre-owned items while simultaneously capitalizing on the latest trends. Demand for vintage clothing stores is estimated to be up 400 percent over the past year in the US. What’s old is new if you hold onto it long enough. When Miu Miu sent a parade of models in low-waisted micro skirts down the runway for spring, it delighted those of us who had put our hipbone baring items on ice since the aughts but are nostalgically combing through our archives in readiness for sunny weather.
Y2K is America’s current favorite era but vintage buying interests across the US vary widely. According to a new study by Nasty Gal, New York, Texas and Washington shoppers are all rummaging for items from the early 2000s. The 90's is the second most popular vintage fashion era, followed by the 1980's. The study revealed the top twenty cities for thrifting and, no surprise, the nation’s official fashion capital, New York City, takes top billing with 239 thrift stores within its city limits. The Big Apple is not known for doing anything on the cheap but the survey records that 11,606 (for every 100,000) New Yorkers searched for popular pre-owned clothing sites placing them ahead of the pack for eco-friendly bargain-hunting fashion.
In second and third place respectively, Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles, California actually have a similar number of thrift stores as NYC but the survey shows residents of these West Coast cities conduct less searches per 100,000 people for thrift shops than New Yorkers.
The top five is rounded out by Cheyenne, Wyoming and Boston, Massachusetts. Interestingly Cheyenne contains the fewest stores, a mere 13, but records the highest level of searches for thrift stores than any other city on the list. Wyomingites, there’s a potential retail goldmine on your doorstep.
Minneapolis, Minnesota at number 12 and Houston, Texas at number 20 both record the same amount of thrift stores as the cities that occupy the the top three spots but there is much less interest among residents for vintage shopping. Serious enthusiasts from the vintage-loving top five cities would no doubt find low-priced undiscovered gems on the racks of these less trafficked stores.
Los Angeles-based Nasty Gal which has a global presence in 180 countries and a social media following of over 4.7 million, started in 2006 as a pioneer in the field of vintage resale before being acquired in 2017 by Boohoo. The survey’s data was based on search volume for different thrift shops including Vinted, Depop, eBay, Vestiaire, and the search terms thrift stores and vintage shops.
US vintage shopping increases in popularity
Y2K, the country’s most popular trend, which refers to items from the turn of the millennium and throughout the 2000s, includes low-rise jeans, Uggs, crop tops and velour (think Juicy Couture Pepto Bismol-hued track suits). In other words, anything worn by the era's it-girls, Paris Hilton (back when Kim Kardashian was her unknown sidekick), Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan and Misha Barton. 21 states favor this pre-smartphone era associated with youth, celebrity, Bungalow 8 and Cosmopolitan cocktails, all wrapped up in the optimism of a shiny new century.
The 90s was the favored style period for eight US states, including Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. This second most popular era characterized by nylon Prada, platforms, bright colors, baggy cargo pants and bell-bottoms (a repeat style from the 70s but as we stated upfront, what's old is new if you hold onto it long enough), this was the period of warehouse raves, the Spice Girls, Nirvana and runway minimalism.
Colorado, Florida, Louisiana and Delaware favor the often taste-averse eighties known for leg warmers and leotards, high-waisted jeans and permed hair, shell suits and power shoulders. Think Olivia Newton-John singing “Let’s Get Physical”, Joan Collins in Dynasty, or the wedding dress, lace gloves and wristful of colored rubber bangles worn by young pop sensation Madonna.