Sustainability Guide 2011 / Shopping for used clothing is a fine art. Why? Because there are so many things to consider. Thrift stores are your best bet for inexpensive everyday clothes, and for some, like the Goodwill, proceeds benefit a charitable cause. If you’re looking for designer or high-end pieces, consignment stores and vintage shops are the direction to go, and flea markets are another great place to find such pieces.
With the spirit of sustainability in mind–as it is better to recycle and re-buy clothing that has already been manufactured–we’ve compiled a guide to some of the best used clothing stores around.
Now, you’ll not only save a buck while helping out the environment, but we aim to make sure that you’re shopping at the very best.
In fashion, what goes around comes around, which is why vintage clothing is not only sustainable but hip as well. Catherine’s Closet, a purveyor of one-of-a-kind, designer clothing and accessories, is the place to go if ever you need an eye-popping statement piece (perhaps an owl pendant necklace from the sixties or a Fedora hat?) or mint-condition vintage designer clothes (such as Chanel, Gucci, YSL, and Tori Richards).
There are seven Goodwill stores in Oahu, but the Goodwill in Kaimuki is the Mecca for hip clothing and designer and brand name pieces. With designers and brands such as BCBG, APC, Diesel, Earl Jean, and Laundry showing up regularly on their racks, it’s no wonder that this store is a hotspot for fashionistas and sellers on eBay and etsy. Unlike Savers, Goodwill does not adjust the price of their products based on the designer. They simply assign prices based on the clothing item, following the standard $6.99–$8.99 rule for most dresses, jackets, jeans and shoes. They’re either totally oblivious, lazy, or just really nice. Either way, the customer benefits–did we mention we bought a pair of vintage blue suede Charles Jourdan pumps for $6.99?
Located in a warehouse in Kalihi and filled to the brim with all of the unsold clothing, household items, accessories, and appliances from their main stores, the Goodwill outlet store is the place to go to find the cheapest of cheap finds on the island. Other than the fact that this is the last stop before the landfill, why is the clothing so cheap? Because here you can buy in bulk–for example, 12 pieces of clothing for $13.50, 24 for $24, or 100 for $81.25. We must warn you that most of the clothes are a bit picked over, but not when it comes to coats ($5), wedding dresses ($25), evening gowns ($25), aloha ($3) and military wear ($5).
Not all used clothing has to be retro or vintage as Stylus proves with their selection of street and hip-hop inspired clothing. Because it is located so close to UH, a lot of the clothing comes from students who for one reason or another no longer want those Juicy Couture jackets, Threadless tees, Rock’N’Republic and Seven For All Mankind jeans, or Volcolm, Vans, and Nike shoes that you’ll find on sale for no more than a fraction of their original price at this store.
Savers in Kalihi never ceases to delight. A veritable vortex of clothing and merchandise, the store is so large that it can take hours before you even make it to the dressing room. The prices usually range from $5.99–$7.99 for shirts and jeans that are in great condition, and, depending on the day of the week, could be on sale for an even lower price. Expect anything from a Betsy Johnson romper, Salvatore Ferragamo heels cowboy boots, or a Navajo blanket to pop out at you as you peruse the store. They also carry precious jewels ranging from $200-$3000 dollars.
Art & Flea
For most thrift shoppers, the thrill is in the uncertainty of not knowing what to expect. For a monthly event with live music, food, drinks and new (as well as returning) vendors, you’d think this sentiment would be doubled. Instead, you can take comfort in knowing that Art & Flea caters to a young demographic of likeminded people, so you will almost always come away with great pieces and a good time. Many vendors sell vintage clothes, and many follow a DIY aesthetic and sell homemade pieces. Everything is reasonably priced, and supports the local community.
The Hunter is a quaint Kailua thrift shop with a heavy 1950’s/1960’s charm. The price ranges are considerably low for the unique antiques that are offered, such as vintage Fire-King restaurant dishes, Coke-a-Cola memorabilia, vinyl flight bags, and swatches of retro fabrics. Don’t forget to check out $1.00 jewelry shelf on your way out.