Thrifting provides unique fashion

Ellie Prober, Lifestyle Editor

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Junior Ruth Um thrifts at Goodwill, looking for men’s oversized sweatshirts. Um has gone thrift shopping at stores such as Goodwill in the past to find pieces she can upcycle and make into something new and original. Photo by Richard Chu

It was the start of a regular thrifting day as junior Clara Satek hunted for vintage sweaters in Wicker Park, but what she found was significantly more entertaining. As it was October, the store carried many Halloween costumes, and Satek was shocked to find a giant chicken head sitting on the shelf next to other pieces of a large chicken costume. Satek said she often shops at thrift stores like Buffalo Exchange, located in Wicker Park, and Goodwill in Northbrook.

“If you go to [a department store], they’ll sell a ‘vintage sweater’ for $300 or something crazy just because it’s ‘vintage,’ but if you go to a thrift store or somewhere people donate their clothes, then it’s easier to find a vintage sweatshirt for … $3 or something crazy like that,” Satek said.

Buffalo Exchange Employee Shana Lombardo said Buffalo Exchange is a thrift store where people often come for affordable, basic clothing as well as unique items. She said people have come to buy snowsuits, long dresses and fur items. The strangest thing people have asked for is Western-themed clothes, including spurs, Western belts and bolo ties.

Junior Ruth Um said in addition to the lower price of clothing in comparison to department stores, she enjoys thrift shopping because the finds are one of a kind.

It’s kind of cool to have something that no one else has,” said Um. “If you go to … a regular store, then you find … the same exact thing. But if you go to a thrift store, there’s a whole rack of … different stuff and different styles that you won’t find in other stores.”

Um said she sometimes takes her clothes from thrift stores and “upcycles” them. Upcycling consists of taking something that has been used and turning it into something new by cutting or adding to the item to make it fit a different style. When she upcycles, she often crops sweatshirts or cuts rips into jeans.

“Each piece of clothing from thrift stores has had … a whole other life,” said Um. “And it’s kind of fun to … take that piece of clothing and its story and kind of make it your own.”

Junior Stephanie Flood said she upcycled an outfit from a thrift store for Halloween. She took an AC/DC shirt she thrifted and cut it to make it consistent with the style of a different decade. She received many compliments on the costume, because people thought it was unique compared to other outfits.

According to Satek, although she has not tried any major upcycling projects, the idea interests her and she would like to take on bigger projects with thrifted clothes. She would like to try sewing or adding onto her thrifted clothes when she has more free time.

According to Um, thrift stores in Chicago like Buffalo Exchange are more expensive than those nearby in the North Shore due to the nature of what each store sells. Stores in downtown Chicago carry more brand-name clothing and clothes that are genuinely vintage, which causes the increase in price. Um prefers Goodwill to stores downtown.

Satek said thrift shopping is often more enjoyable than shopping in department stores, and she recommends that others also try thrift shopping with friends.

“[Thrift shopping] kind of turns into a really fun activity with your friends,” Satek said. “When you go and try to find something and you find something really cool, it’s kind of like a treasure hunt.”

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Thrifting provides unique fashion