Why the TikTok Trend of Thrift Flipping is Problematic

Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🎞 on Unsplash

As the concern over sustainability in the fashion industry grows, Gen Z has turned to many unconventional, eco-friendly methods to keep the latest trends present in their wardrobe. Perhaps one of the most popular methods in an attempt to remain sustainable goes by the name “thrift flipping.” This latest trend, which has recently exploded on Tiktok, often involves purchasing oversized clothing from a local thrift store and using DIY skills to turn the item into a perfectly fitting and trendy outfit.

While on the surface, this crafty endeavour may seem like the perfect solution to become more sustainable while also staying on trend, recent debates have suggested that “thrift-flipping” is not as ethical as it may seem on the surface. 

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Fatphobic undertones 

Search #thriftflip on TikTok or Instagram, and your screen will instantly be filled with young, thin women taking “undesirable” and oversized clothing and creating beautiful, form fitting masterpieces. The severe lack of diversity in this trend has become an enormous red flag for many viewers on the popular platform.

Additionally, the thrifting challenge seems to portray plus-size clothing in a negative light, calling the original items “ugly.” This negative framing sends the message that plus-sized thrifted clothing or even plus-sized clothing, in general, is unattractive and in need of being upcycled for slimmer bodies. 

Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🎞 on Unsplash

Contributing to the lack of plus-sized clothing in thrift stores

Another issue that accompanies this popular trend, is that it is contributing to the lack of plus-sized clothing in thrift stores. Everyone should be able to shop affordably and sustainably if they choose; unfortunately, it is much more challenging to find plus-size clothing in many second hand stores. When shoppers purchase clothing that is oversized for them, they are depleting the clothing selection for those who actually need clothes in that size to fit their body.

Most thrift stores carry an abundance of smaller sized clothing that can just as easily be converted into cute, on-trend outfits. Those against the trend argue that the rare thrifted plus-size items that are “stylish” should be available to those who actually require those sizes. 

Jenna Legge

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