Locals embrace fashion recycling

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Jess Estrada after a fashion recycling trip at Value Village (Photo provided by Jess Estrada)

By Jocelyn Chui
Northwest Asian Weekly

When local fashion blogger Jess Estrada cleans her closet, she goes through the possibilities of recycling her clothes before tossing them in the garbage.

“We can all do our part to put less in the landfill,” Estrada said. “Also, it’s a really affordable way to try the latest trends, because we all know that fashion trends come in cycles.”

To Estrada, fashion recycling means that clothing, shoes, and accessories will see a second, third, and maybe fourth life before they are disposed.

While fashion recycling has traditionally been done out of necessity, this practice has become a modern trend among those who love fashion and the environment.

Former KCPQ-TV anchor Christine Chen, who now resides in New York City, said fashion recycling was a regular practice when she lived in Seattle.

“My rule is that any time I want to buy or do buy a new piece of clothing, I make room for it by consigning my clothing, accessories, and jewelry that is still in great shape, but maybe doesn’t get as much wear anymore,” said Chen, the current principal of Chen Communications.

She said in order to adjust to the lifestyle of New York City, she consigned several handbags and invested in two cross-body bags.

Although it may take you more time to sort through your closet, perhaps the best news about fashion recycling is that you can trade in unwanted items for cash or store credits.

In Seattle, Crossroads Trading Co. and Buffalo Exchange are popular choices for trading in unwanted clothing items for cash or store credits. For vintage and costumes, Red Light is a popular choice.

Most thrift stores look for in-season items and stores may only accept a portion of items brought in. This is when the Internet comes in handy.

Nowadays, anyone can be a seller on the Internet. Many have done well with an eBay account, but regular fashion recyclers like Estrada have used blogs and social media to inspire other shoppers.

“When I clean out my closet, I think about where I can donate or consign, but I also think about my family both here and in the Philippines. If one of my younger cousins might like something, I’ll show it to them before putting it in the donate pile,” said Estrada.

“Donating is a better choice for me because it’s much easier. You drop it off and you walk away with a tax receipt if you choose to do so,” said Ivana Cheong, a Seattle resident who used to first sell and then donate her clothes.

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Jess Estrada’s second hand fashion from Value Village (Photo provided by Jess Estrada)

“Donation centers like Goodwill and Salvation Army are great organizations with a terrific mission statement.”

Goodwill recently opened a new store in South Lake Union. Unlike many consignment shops, Goodwill has fashion-focused sections in many of their stores that highlight clothes and accessories that are in style for the season.  The Goodwill store on Dearborn is close to the International District, and has played a role as a community resource for a lot of people in the neighborhood.

“I’m not sure how Seattle compares to other cities in recycling or re-purposing,” said Katherine Boury, communications manager at Goodwill. “But I can tell you that last year, Seattle Goodwill re-purposed and recycled over 38 million pounds [of donated items], which supports our free job training program.”

To promote the practice of fashion recycling, Goodwill partnered with the Art Institute of Seattle on a fashion show competition that took place on May 31 this year.

The students re-purposed from $72 worth of items bought exclusively at Goodwill. The winners of the competition will see their model-clad creations strut down the runway at Goodwill’s Glitter Gala Fashion Show this November.

Like many staff members, Boury shopped at Goodwill and came across many unexpected items.

Boury said her new favorite purchase at the store is a maroon patent leather designer handbag she bought at the South Lake Union Goodwill in July.

“It reminds me of my grandmother who passed away a couple years ago who I adored – kind of a more trendy version of a bag she used to have,” said Boury, who wishes that she could show her grandmother the handbag. “So while I like that I am giving a second life to a donated bag, while supporting Goodwill’s free job training and education program with my purchase, it is a bit of a sentimental favorite because it reminds me of one of my favorite people.” (end)

Jocelyn Chui can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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