A dive into thrifting in the age of TikTok and speedy trends.


TikTok has given rise to both fast and slow fashion websites, the most popular being Shein, Depop, YesStyle, and Poshmark. But why has this phenomenon occurred just now, when these websites have been around long before the app even came out? Ever since the beginnings of the VSCO girl, Tiktok has increasingly influenced teen and young adult fashion trends, shaping the fashion market significantly. In some cases this is for the better, but in many, it’s been for the worse.

The majority of young adult fashion trends follow the “twenty-year rule,” meaning that popular trends are based on features that defined the decade twenty years before. Just think about how many times you’ve heard the word “Y2K” in the past couple months. With the advent of social media, the twenty-year rule is thriving more than ever, but maybe it’s having too much of a good time. Do you ever wonder what happened to the Y2K-inspired indie kid aesthetic from 2020? Or maybe why there are less fairy-esque fashion TikToks than usual? And let’s not even start on the death of the green Kendall Jenner dress. TikTok is quickening the trend cycle, causing trends to last a couple weeks or months, at most, instead of a year or two. Fashion and its consumption are changing.

How are consumers, especially influencers, coping with these speedy trends? Many influencers, as well as everyday consumers, resort to fast fashion websites, which use cheap material and questionable labor practices to manufacture enough inexpensive clothing to update their website daily. Their practices allow them to keep up with the  trend cycle, but at what cost? According to the Ocean Clean Wash Campaign, the washing and wearing down of synthetic clothing—such as that produced by fast fashion brands—contributes to 35% of all ocean pollution. Our ability to prevent climate change lies with the ocean, so why are we treating it like a dumpster when there are better alternatives? Luckily, recent trends have amplified second-hand clothing platforms like Depop and Poshmark, in addition to the trend of thrifting at local stores. Since many TikTok “microtrends” still follow the twenty-year rule (even though reboots are slowly edging them towards the latter part of the decade with the Twilightcore and Gossip Girl aesthetics) many consumers have begun thrifting authentic pieces from the 2000s. This practice of thrifting has many sustainable benefits, especially in an age of fast fashion, and its presence is visible in Austin culture. 

Another idea made popular by TikTok is the search for vintage clothes. Recently on social media, the idea of buying vintage clothes has become synonymous with the idea of thrifting. These two things may be interchangeable to some, but they are in fact distinct. The vintage aesthetic is present in many of Austin’s thrift stores. This aesthetic comes with its benefits and disadvantages. For one, trends, like wearing vintage clothing, have raised the bar for the styles shown in thrift stores. This has created competition as it has pushed stores to focus on style and fashion over price. The downfall is that some “thrift stores,” such as Never Knew, Pavement, and Lo-fi, now charge more for…. This calls into question a bigger issue: what is thrifting? If thrifting to you is all about the style of clothing, then prices are not an issue. But for those who look to thrifting as an affordable clothing option, the term “thrifting” would not apply. The focus of thrift stores like Goodwill is based more on affordability. As with all subjects, it is not black and white, so where is the in-between? In order to market to consumers, stores are driven to choose between fashion and affordability. However, some are able to sell quality goods while keeping a lower price. In particular, we recommend Buffalo Exchange and Leopard Lounge. RagzRevenge ATX also has one of the best all around thrifting experiences. They have a wide variety of clothing and the prices vary depending on the quality of the clothing, but all around it is the best shop for “vintage” clothing. Every Sunday from 12-5, there is also a market outside of Buffalo Exchange.