Written by: Jamila Kyari
(Please note that during the current provincial Stay at Home order, retail stores are closed. Please check with the businesses listed below to find out about curbside pickup and on-line shopping options they may offer. You can also use this blog as future shopping inspiration for when it’s safe to visit and support these businesses in person again!)
An alternative form of fashion consumption is currently afoot. Some may refer to it as shopping for pre-loved, thrift, vintage, consignment, second-hand, hand-me-down or upcycled. While each term has a slightly different meaning, they all offer one thing in common – the thrill of a treasure hunt for a great fashion find. And granted, not all pre-loved fashion stores are exactly the same, which is why finding the dream outfit requires a little more effort. But still, it is an exciting, unforgettable experience – one where you can relish how exhilarating it is to find an item no one else has.
Shopping for pre-loved goods might have once been stigmatized but the concept is rapidly catching on and its growing popularity means big shifts for the retail sector. The trend is being driven by a shift in attitude towards buying used and the fact that it is good for the planet. According to a 2019 report by Kijiji, 82 per cent of Canadians had bought pre-loved goods in the past year. The industry also accounts for 1.23% of Canada’s GDP which is equal to $27.3 billion a year. Waterloo Region is no newbie to the pre-loved fashion frenzy. There are many local shops that are selling gently used clothing to complement any wardrobe.
And although staying at home has created a new found preference for cozy and comfy lounge wear, Spring is still very much about stashing winter clothes away while looking forward to new looks. As you embark on the hunt for a fresh fashion find or a great bargain, it is perfectly okay to be conscious of where to shop and what to buy. Allow your wardrobe to step into full bloom with these suggestions for curating a seasonal wardrobe.
Know your personal style
Dressing for your personality and body type can sometimes be a hefty ordeal but the key is to know yourself by embracing styles that play up your strengths. Identifying what is most important to you when it comes to shopping for clothes will help express your individual style.
Create a wishlist of desired items
It only takes a little bit of inspiration to spark fresh ideas! Go through your wardrobe and notice what is missing or look at Pinterest for pictures of outfits you desire. Make a note to invest in a colourful spring jacket, floral print tops or pastel dresses in lightweight fabrics.
Be patient and open-minded
When thrifting, always remember that hidden gems often show up in a disguise. Don’t pass on an outfit you love simply because it doesn’t fit. Embrace the garment based on its potential and be ready to go a size up or down in order to find what works.
Consult your local seamstress
Found an item with a slight defect that needs fixing but you have zero sewing skills? No problem! Simply consult with a local seamstress who can help make the adjustments. They can also help upcycle the clothes by repurposing and reimagining them into new pieces.
Buy only what you really love
By focusing on items that genuinely resonate, you will be ensuring that the clothes stay in your wardrobe longer. Avoid buying a bunch of clothes only to discover you don’t really like them enough to get a lot of wear from them.
Adopt a Holistic Approach
The whole package from head to toe counts. So while you may be obsessed with finding the perfect collar shirt for instance, also consider a set of accessories that could complement the entire look such as some statement earrings and a cute pair of shoes.
Now that you have all the tips, it’s time to plan your next shopping trip! Need fresh ideas on where to go? Check out this list of pre-loved fashion stores to keep on your radar this spring!
Escape the busy city streets into the townships of North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich on a day-trip to discover their pre-loved shopping destinations. Take it as an adventure. You never know what you might find!
Auburn Vintage Clothiers
1857 Sawmill Road, Conestogo
Whether you are dressing up to look good at home or for a special outing, you will find your next outfit at Auburn Vintage Clothiers. Whisk your wardrobe into top shape by shopping their carefully curated selection of design must-haves that are both classic and chic.
MCC Thrift and Gift
59 Church St. West, Elmira
How would you shop if every purchase you made was a gift to the world? At Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Thrift and Gift, your purchase supports various programs that help enrich the community. Their store is stocked daily with new items and also features a silent auction for antique items.
Woolwich Community Services (WCS) Thrift Shop
5 Memorial Avenue, Elmira
WCS has been serving residents in Woolwich and Northern Wellesley Township since 1974. Their thrift shop serves as a major fundraiser for community programs and initiatives. Here, you will find gently used clothing for every season alongside other items at great prices.
New Hamburg Thrift Centre
41 Heritage Drive, New Hamburg
Think general store but with thrift prices! You are bound to find a good bargain here. As a non-profit establishment owned by the MCC and like all other shops in the network, New Hamburg Thrift relies on the generosity of donors and offers clean and quality items for sale.
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When it comes to pre-loved fashion, the tri-cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge are bustling with a lot of choices and options to choose from. Whether you are a conscious shopper or savvy fashionista, you will find your next enjoyable experience here.
Artisanal Design Co.
2157 Kingsway Drive, Kitchener
Get unique finds to buy at Artisanal Design Co. Explore their most recent additions, such as acid-washed t-shirts and reworked denim jackets for the ultimate fashion statement. You will also find goods from local artisans such as candles, scrunchies, soaps and body butters.
72 St Leger Street, Kitchener
As a seller of both new and consignment apparel, Carousel Clothing helps women look good with business, formal and casual attire. Their shop is seasonal with sizes that go from zero to 24 including petites. They sell pieces that are in good condition and all unsold items are donated to local charities.
Le Prix Fashion and Consulting
20 Queen Street North, Kitchener
If you are often overwhelmed by racks of clothing or puzzled about what to buy due to many choices, consider booking a wardrobe consultation at Le Prix. In addition to carrying a range of sustainable clothes and self-care goods, they offer wardrobe styling services to help you shop smarter and with confidence.
Lustre and Oak
2 King St. South, Unit 5, Waterloo
Lustre and Oak describes itself as “your favourite vintage, consignment and high-end thrift store.” Undeniably so, they offer the best of 80s and 90s retro clothing – primarily streetwear such as t-shirts, sweatshirts and denim jeans. They carry these items from a variety of brands which include Nike, Ralph Lauren, Polo Sport, Tommy Hilfiger and more.
This shop retails online and was recently started by two friends, Rebecca and Cheryl who both share an interest for sustainability. Their philosophy is rooted in the belief that thrifting keeps more out of the landfills, reduces over-consumption and promotes a unique personal style.
Luxe Touch Designer Consignment
640 King St. East, Cambridge
If you love luxury fashion and designer brands like Chanel, Gucci or Louis Vuitton, this is the place to shop. Although all items are considered ‘pre-owned,’ they come in excellent condition and sometimes brand new after having gone through careful selection to ensure authenticity.
18 Main St. Cambridge
Nestled in the heart of Downtown Galt, this shop carries a variety of styles for every occasion. If you are in the area, step inside the charming interior of The Patch and remember to ask about their #Patchback program which offers a cashback reward for your gently used clothing.
The Sharing Squirrel
55 Pinebush Road, Cambridge
Find the cutest clothes for your baby or toddler plus a wide selection of maternity needs and sustainable style for the whole family. All items are carefully selected, sorted and come with detailed descriptions about the condition for each so that you can make an informed decision.
White Tiger Vintage
248 King St. East, Kitchener
Funky and retro is the name of the game where White Tiger Vintage is concerned – a place to explore one-of-a-kind vintage clothing that you won’t find elsewhere. Shopping here is like travelling back in time but not without the experience of some modern designs.
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Thrift on Kent
50 Kent Ave, Kitchener
Located at the corner of Kent Avenue and Charles Street, they have served the community since 2013. They are also owned by the MCC and have a pricing model and environmental goals that mirror those of other shops in the network – towards helping the community thrive.
742 King Street East, Cambridge
(Preston Town Centre)
Operated by Argus Residence for Young People, Uptown Thrift curates quality pre-loved clothing, household items, furniture and more! Entire proceeds from the purchases currently go towards supporting job skills training and creating employment for youth.
Jamila Kyari is a local communications strategist and blogger who is passionate about inspiring others to live a colourful, vibrant and bold life. When she is not creating content for her social media channels, she can be found writing blog posts for her eponymous African fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog! Connect with her on: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
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