The history of thrift stores!
Thrift stores and the history of their appearance.
The origin of the word thrift store.
The etymology of the word thrift store comes from the old French “frepe” which means “old rags” and which symbolizes the clothes, fabrics and clothes of all kinds available to thrift stores.
Thrift stores in the Middle Ages.
Historically, the origins of second-hand clothing date back to the Middle Ages. At that time, only wealthy people - aristocrats and members of royalty - could regularly afford clothes. Meanwhile, the rest of the population could very rarely buy new clothes because they could not afford them.
It is therefore quite logical that thrift stores were born to deal with this problem, it was necessary to find a way for the population to dress without spending a fortune.
Thrift stores were therefore stocked with old clothes that the wealthier social classes no longer wore, in some cases. At that time, they also salvaged clothes from the deceased without an heir and scraps of fabric to fill in the holes in the worn clothes.
The French fripiers guild was despised because it seemed to make money on people's backs, their business was doing well and it attracted covetousness. They were accused of profiting from selling second-hand clothes that were stolen new.
The origin of thrift stores in Paris in the 13th century.
The idea of redressing their bad image dates back to the 13th century, when the Parisian thrift store sought to convey that their professional world was well organized. The goal of wanting to pass themselves off as a craftsman's guild led to a homologated status in the Middle Ages, which proved that their craftsmen were serious professionals.
Indeed, the population from the aristocracy liked to decorate their clothes with pieces of fabric at the ends. So only the aristocrats did it because they had a lot more means than anyone else and more luxury. Only the wealthiest could afford to buy large quantities of fabric from thrift stores to experiment with new fashions.
Growth of thrift stores in Europe
The thrift store has therefore been on the rise in France and on a continental scale since the 16th century. Paris, at that time, was the center of passage for all the clothes that were manufactured in Europe. Second-hand clothes were therefore usually sent to Paris, where they were then distributed in Europe.
Decline of the thrift store with the industrial revolution
In the 19th century, flea markets and thrift stores became more specialized and quickly faced competition from clothing manufacture. Standardized "ready-to-wear" clothing did not appear until the 1850s after the design of easy-to-produce clothing.
They very quickly compete with the thrift store and replace second-hand clothes with new and cheap fabrics. The fashion industry focuses on making new fabrics and distributing them. The fashion industry will dominate the share of the economy of England and France once the modern loom is invented.
Old thrift stores in literature
We can see, in George Orwell's autobiographical novel On the loose in Paris and London , a beautiful representation of what second-hand clothing stores were like at the beginning of the 19th century. We follow the adventures of George who sells his clothes and his trinkets for a few pennies in order to survive in the streets of Paris and London. He often goes to these pawn shops to survive and we understand the use of them in a city like Paris where life can be very hard once unemployed.
Thrift stores during the 60s
Thrift stores experienced a new lease of life in the 1960s with the various student social protest movements. The struggles against participation in the Vietnam War in the USA caused large quantities of clothing and military uniforms to appear in thrift stores which would become a sign of protest once worn by students.
The problem of over-commercialization and rejection of ready-to-wear fashion leads many people to turn to thrift stores and vintage stores.
Thrift stores today
For several years now, the popularity of thrift stores has grown considerably. There are clothes that are not found everywhere. Pieces
unique and stylish. You can find an almost new down jacket there for half of its original price. Thrift stores therefore follow fashion trends while breaking the cycle of ready-to-wear and waste of used clothing.
More important than anything, the thrift store now allows many of us to dress in accordance with our climate awareness. Indeed, we know the impact of the textile sector on the environment. For a manufactured t-shirt, we consume as much CO2 as for 2599 kilometers of TGV. It is therefore perfectly logical that the thrift store has a new lease of life now that we are trying to pay attention to our consumption and our available quantities of raw materials.