Sunday Tribune

Why people in Singapore are buying clothes in swap stores


ACCORDING to a climate change study conducted by the United Nations, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world and contribute­s to nearly 10% of global carbon emissions.

With around 52 micro-seasons in fast fashion, overproduc­tion and consumptio­n have led to 92 million tons of waste a year.

South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported Singapore produces 168 000 tons of textile waste.

Singapore local Sue-anne Chng told SCMP she usually wore a new outfit on each of the 15 days of the Lunar New Year. However, this year she opted to wear second-hand clothes and got her new fashion items through a clothes-swapping store.

“I’ve been brought up by my parents to have a new set of clothes every Chinese New Year, and I fell into that behaviour of consumeris­m and I always ensured I have more than enough,” said Chng.

“I would always make sure I had 15 days of outfits even if I’m not visiting (relatives). Now, as long as the item is new to me, I think it’s good enough,” she said. Chng now shops mainly from the swap stores and admits that 80% of her wardrobe is from the second-hand shops.

“Swapping allows me to be like a chameleon when it comes to fashion, but allows me to be environmen­tally conscious as well,” said Chng.

To be part of the clothes-swapping movement, customers can sign up for a fee and activate various packages which range from one-time swaps to monthly or annual membership­s.

The longer-term packages allow you to walk into a store at any time and swap your old clothes for something new. Second-hand clothing is reshaping the fashion industry. According to a new report, the US second-hand clothing market is projected to more than triple in value in the next 10 years – from $28 billion in 2019 to $80 billion in 2029 – in a US market currently worth $379 billion.

In 2019, second-hand clothing expanded 21 times faster than convention­al apparel retail did.

Even more transforma­tive is second-hand clothing’s potential to dramatical­ly alter the prominence of fast fashion – a business model characteri­sed by cheap and disposable clothing that emerged in the early 2000s, epitomised by brands like H&M and Zara.

The coronaviru­s pandemic has forced many of us to modify how and what we consume, and because we're still spending so much time at home, now is an opportune time to reassess our wardrobes and consider making some important changes in how we shop for clothes.

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