August 20, 2019 | 81° F

Be effortlessly environmentally friendly in vintage denim


The saying usually goes, “out with the old, in with the new,” but today’s trending fashion suggests otherwise. Supermodels and famous actresses are regularly pictured in consignment clothing and archived designer collections. Urban Outfitters and Reformation have launched their own curated vintage lines. The most recent Calvin Klein campaign captures the Kardashian sisters in white boxer briefs and Canadian tuxedos, proving the high-waisted, tapered fit isn’t exclusive to the 90s. And they’re called mom jeans for a reason: “I never would have imagined my Calvin Klein jeans or Levi’s 512s would ever be in style for generations to come,” Carol Gilmore said, a trim manager for millennial-marketed Express. “If I knew my daughters would be buying dupes from Topshop, or if they were re-selling for $200 and being labeled as ‘vintage,’ I would have reconsidered throwing them out.”

Of course, finding cheap Lee-lookalikes at H&M will cost you the fraction of the price than an age-old pair you would at The Vintage Twin or RE/DONE, but nothing’s better than the real thing. There’s also an ethical benefit to investing in secondhand-denim: It requires 2,900 gallons of water to produce a single pair of jeans, not to mention the chemicals it takes to produce the trendy distressed look. In fact, Express and other popular denim brands, such as American Eagle and Guess were recently outed by as just a few of the many “dirty denim” companies.  Organic or not, buying into fast fashion affects the size of your carbon footprint, which makes secondhand clothing the most eco-friendly shopping option as you’re literally reduce, reusing and recycling. You’ll also be rocking a one-of-a-kind look that’s been celebrity-approved, adding a touch of individuality and prestige to your wardrobe. Check out these tips on how to find the best pair of vintage jeans.

The Pricey-but-Convenient Route: The Vintage Twin

Twin fashionistas Morgan and Samantha Elias founded this vintage shop after realizing they could capitalize off of their love of vintage clothing. They started in 2009 by reworking second-hand garments themselves, and now The Vintage Twin has 3 locations in New York City, as well as an online store. What makes The Vintage Twin stand out from other consignment stores is that they specialize in vintage denim. At the “JEANius Bar,” a Vintage Twin employee will at most ask your usual waist size — but more often than not will simply glace at your torso — and magically will find you a butt-hugging, navel-grazing pair even Kelly Kapowski would be jealous of. Comparatively speaking, the convenience of these curated classics will cost you about the same as a fresh pair from Bloomingdale’s, as the Twin’s vintage denim ranges from $150 to $300, depending on the fit, brand and rarity of the pair. Think of this purchase as an investment, though: the more you paid for it, the more you’ll wear it. As the store’s clients include A-list celebrities, such as Selena Gomez and Gigi Hadid, you’ll even feel like a star.

The Fun-and-Frugal Option: Goodwill, Depop

They say the best things come to those who wait, and sometimes a scavenger hunt is the fun part about secondhand shopping. This is what the vintage curators do anyway, which is probably why stylish used clothing — especially denim in women’s sizes — is almost impossible to find in real city thrift stores. Next time you’re in a semi-rural or suburban area, pull out your Google Maps and find the closest Salvation Army for an almost guaranteed find. Searching the web is also an option, as buying-and-selling apps, such as Depop allow users to sell their used and preferably vintage clothing. While trying jeans on in person is the ideal way to purchase denim, you can always re-sell the jeans yourself if they don’t fit. Pro tip: because vintage jeans are typically super-high waisted, size up: if you wear a size 26 jean from Express, you’ll probably wear a 28 or 29 in a pair of vintage Levi’s 501’s.

If your own mom got rid of hers decades ago, you could hypothetically get replica mom jeans at Forever 21. With all of the options that the tri-state area and the internet offers, though, you can still get the real deal for a steal by buying vintage denim.

Clarissa Gordon

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