"I Love It Very Much". The Intimate Relation with Garments. The Case of Thrift Fashion

Reception: March 10, 2020

Acceptance: June 1, 2020


This article explores the meanings and values given to clothing by women who enjoy a trend we call thrift. In order to capture such meanings and appraisals, we present explanations, narrations and images from exploratory work carried out with thrift clothing retailers and buyers in Monterrey. With the support of images and narrations, we analyze the interaction and the emotional links that retailers and buyers have with clothing. We explain the intimate relation with the garments and the verbal and visual expression of such links, as part of the effort that the thrift community makes to obtain authenticity in the framework of the creation and consumption of clothing.

Keywords: , , , ,

the intimate relation with garments. the case of thrift fashion

This article explores the meanings and values given to clothing by women who enjoy a trend we call thrift. In order to capture such meanings and appraisals, we present explanations, narrations and images from exploratory work carried out with thrift clothing retailers and buyers in Monterrey. With the support of images and narrations, we analyze the interaction and the emotional links that retailers and buyers have with clothing. We explain the intimate relation with the garments and the verbal and visual expression of such links, as part of the effort that the thrift community makes to obtain authenticity in the framework of the creation and consumption of clothing.

Keywords: thrift fashion, vintage, creation of style, authenticity, prosumer.


In this article we start from the assumption that people tend to give meanings and values to certain types of objects, and that these are expressed both in what people say about objects and in the interaction they have with them. From this premise we maintain that, by capturing the image of an object or the narration about it, we approach its valuation as a personal act, in such a way that the object described and presented is the result of that award of value and of significance. At the same time, we understand that the values and meanings given to objects are a social construct, in such a way that the worth and meaning of objects are not a merely individual social question (Miller, 1987). In this regard, with Parsons, we accept that the values given to possessions are highly personalized and idiosyncratic (2005: 189), but the creation and maintenance of such values is a purely social process that has to do, in the case of merchandise , with very diverse aspects, from relationships and personal stories to the advertising industries, passing through identity belongings.

In this article we are interested in the personalized and idiosyncratic value given to clothing by resellers and consumers of clothing within the framework of a trend or fashion, spread mainly among young women,1 which consists of combining a certain type of new clothing and used clothing (in the case of vintage), as well as accessories (pins, stickers, brooches, scarves, bags) and footwear. We mean fashion thrift. Through this case we will highlight the process of creating style derived from the personalized relationship of the users with their garments. We hold that those who share the style thrift, be it to market or to wear, they maintain a personalized relationship with many of the garments, giving them meanings and values that are expressed both in words and in the interaction and treatment given to them.

The article does not pretend to be a theoretical contribution to the field of study of material culture; However, we consider that, above all due to the empirical information and the peculiar case that the mode represents thrift, this work is a contribution to the limited field of research in Mexico on the consumption and manufacture of clothing and fashion.

The organization of the article is as follows. First we give a brief explanation about what fashion is for us thrift, constituted mainly by a trend that combines new clothes with used ones, bright colors with other opaque ones, shiny fabrics with dark ones, various accessories. By defining this trend, we place it as part of others of a tribal type and highlight its character prosumer, that is to say, its relevance to the modification of the objects that are exchanged between the members of the community. The second section serves as a conceptual framework. There we pour ideas that help us understand the relationship of people with clothing, a relationship that is manifested through rituals of possession and the granting of values and attitudes to garments, as if they were living entities. Finally, in the third section we present the testimonies and narratives of clothing resellers and consumers thrift, who expressed the valuations they make of certain garments. We also present some images that show the treatment that the informants give to clothing, always in the sense of possession rituals; and the result of the styles and outfits that they create themselves and that are the concrete expression of the appreciation they have for the garments and the use they make of them. More specifically, this third section is organized around the treatment given to clothing as if it were a living entity, the rituals of possession, and the sense of "treasure" that certain garments acquire.


Thrift It is the name that we have inductively given to fashion, trend and shared identity among our informants. This is based on the use of certain types of clothing and accessories that they themselves trade, design, consume and use. The term comes from the meetings, in the form of a market, that are eventually organized by those who identify with this fashion.2

In terms of social organization, fashion thrift It is organized around a system of buying and selling clothes and accessories, many of which are used. Those who sell are actually resellers and designers (or creators) of clothing, footwear and accessories (mainly pins, stickers, jewelry and glasses). As resellers, their job consists of looking for items such as shoes, jewelry, accessories and used clothing in flea markets or wholesale stores, or by resorting to the personal closet of an individual (frequently that of a family member). The findings are combined with other new garments, which may come from commercial warehouses or are obtained with national or international distributors via internet purchases. In all cases, the garments that are sought correspond to the style of each creator or reseller, but in general they obey the trend thrift: bold or contrasting colors, shiny and opaque fabrics, loose fitting and one-gender clothing, strong presence of styles vintage. In the process, many resellers create a bazaar or brand that identifies them to consumers, and each week they offer, through social networks, the new clothes they have found and the outfits they have created.

In addition to selling via social networks, some creators manage to establish themselves in commercial premises to which the generic name is granted.
co de bazar, although in fact consumers often refer to a brand's website also as bazaar. Due mainly to the sale on the internet, photographing the garments and outfits is a fundamental tool to show the style of each brand and seek sales, in such a way that, as happens in the fashion industry (Entwistle, 2002: 6), photographers and models are also part of the community identified with the tendency thrift.

For their part, consumers are also searchers, since they spend a lot of time locating garments and outfits on social networks. In reality, both resellers and consumers are part of the community or fashion thrift. Both claim the value of authenticity, identify with a way of dressing, relate to garments and accessories in a personalized way, elaborate opposing or complementary arguments with the fast fashion,3 and in a clear intersection with other trends, also mostly youthful, such as the hipster, vindicate the consumption of locally made products.4 In fact, in most cases the resellers started out as mere consumers. In addition, resellers and consumers know each other and maintain friendly relationships.

It is within the framework of what has just been explained that the trend thrift It can be understood as a collectivity and a rather tribal identity that is specified in certain desires, preferences and innovations that are usually objectified in the exchange and use of certain items.5

This lifestyle, and the material exchanges that it entails, take place in places, events or interactions whose significance does not lie in the value of the things that the “players” exchange, but in the exchange of the values of the game (Cova et al, 2007: 8). In the case of identity thrift, these places are bazaars selling clothes. These can be found virtually on social networks such as Facebook or Instagram, or in commercial premises mostly concentrated in a central sector of the city.6 These places, like the markets thrift, organized several times a year, work for sale and as meeting spaces (virtual or real) that recreate the group (Canniford, 2011). In the bazaar, consumers and resellers talk about the "history" of a garment, the taste they have for a certain dress, or exchange opinions and thus participate in the creation of combinations, styles and outfits. In general, the interaction between merchants and consumers closely resembles the logic of the “platform”7 (Canniford, 2011: 66), that is, a network operation where consumers and producers contribute different sales and consumption resources, and which are then brought together both on Facebook, as well as on a street, a beach, a parking lot, a park or the backyard of a house.8 Taking into account all of the above, the trend can be understood thrift as an identity and collectivity of a tribal type in the modality of prosumer (Ritzer and Jurgenson, 2010), that is, that of consumers who collaboratively produce content and then sell it as merchandise or services.

This "production" which in turn affects consumption, represents the authenticity to which is appealed in the trend thrift. In it, as in other trends with which to some degree it intersects or confuses (such as the hipster), consumption matters a lot, but it matters more how it is consumed and how what is consumed is produced (Michael, 2015). And it is that in this type of trends (tribal, prosumer), authenticity refers to sincerity, truthfulness, originality, and the idea of feeling and being real before oneself and before others (Veenstra and Kuipers, 2013: 357). This authenticity is always a negotiation that results from the tension between mass production and individualistic consumption. Within the framework of this tension, consumers define something as authentic when they perceive that it is real, genuine, true and especially when it does not have a commercial intention. Here, more than the intermediary, the merchant or the customer, authenticity mainly involves the "connoisseur" (DeLong et al., 2005: 27). He classifies, discriminates and appreciates differences, and although he is frequently the producer of authentic objects, he can also be the consumer or seller of these. The ambiguous separation between saleswomen and customers in fashion thrift it is an expression of the above. Even when it is created to sell, and even when consumption is a central part of the identity thriftWhen it is sold and consumed, what is actually being done is reproducing a belonging, an identity.

Methodological section

The information presented in this article derives from an exploratory fieldwork carried out between resellers and owners of clothing bazaars. thrift. In total, ten informants were interviewed. Some of them were contacted via the internet pages of their bazaars, others were searched directly in their commercial premises, and some others were previously known through friendships. The average age of the interviewees is 27 years old. Most of them have university studies or are pursuing them, mainly in careers related to fashion design, graphic design, arts, architecture, or in areas of social sciences and humanities. Those who have already graduated from the university had opened their bazaar while they were studying, this being an activity that in some cases is complemented by others such as employment in a company or in another informal activity, while in others it is the only one from which income is generated. that are usually combined with those of other members of a family.

The information is also derived from the accompaniment to the photographic sessions that the informants carry out to promote the garments. These sessions were also taken as spaces for the compilation of narrations and explanations about the garments and the relationship with them. For this, the resource of the field diary was used. In addition, the case of two consumers with extensive experience in buying clothing and accessories type was followed. thrift. They showed us their closet and placed their clothes in special places for us to photograph. At the time, they explained to us why they appreciate those garments, how they found them or what was the modification process that they followed to achieve the style they were looking for.

Conceptual framework

In this article we start from a perspective of material culture, so we assume that the meaning of objects is a social construction (Miller, 1987) in the sense that the object, as material, can appear for the person who possesses it or who identifies it as the result of a network of meanings, relationships and experiences (Csikszenthmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton, 1992: 16). From the material culture we start from the assumption that the materiality of the object serves as a container of meanings and personal or collective identity (Parsons, 2005: 190), regardless of whether it is in its state of possession or merchandise (Appadurai, 1991). At the same time, we consider that the meaning of the object is not separated from its materiality as if it were a mere fetish, but rather the type of material, texture, colors and the resulting sensation to the touch, for For example, they are a component part of what the object is to individuals. In this sense, the relationship that our study subjects establish with their possessions questions the supposed separation between "individual" and "possessions" that is at the base of the idea of merchandise fetishism. Clothes thrift it cannot be or mean what it is and means for the community thrift without its materiality objectified in types of fabrics, colors and combinations.9

The process of giving meaning to an object can happen in many different ways, but since a lot of clothing is thrift an object of reuse (so are many shoes and accessories), it is of particular interest what McCracken (1986: 79) defines as rituals of possession, that is, those practices related to care, arrangement, comparison, exhibition and even taking pictures of objects. Through all these practices,10 clothing resellers thrift appear as main actors in a process of creation of value, meanings and styles (Parsons, 2005: 189), which result in the object presented, exhibited, described or acted out (carried, dressed, photographed) as part of a style equally created and presented in the brand form (the style of a clothing bazaar thrift). Consumers also adhere to this process of creation when they search, find, make and display (carry, take photographs) the garments they have found (especially in the sense of discovering).

Resellers and consumers, through possession rituals, collectively participate in the creation of value, meaning and style around clothing thrift. In this, taste and experience play an important role in detecting and making garments in terms consistent with personal style. Thus, for resellers and consumers, for example, the search for clothes in flea markets or established stores is added to the exploration of Internet sites, where you can follow the proposals originating in many parts of the world. When conducting these real or virtual searches, personal aesthetics is in practice, especially in the sense that Reiley and DeLong (2011: 79) conceive it, that is, that of the coexistence of many different styles that are chosen individually. When searching and choosing, you are already designing, and good design consists mainly, as DeLong say et al. (2005: 24) and Palmer and Clark (2005) in relation to fashion vintage, in helping individuals to build their own personal identity. And it is that, in the end, the ascription of values and meanings to clothing, as well as the development of a style, has to do with the creation of alternatives (Reiley and DeLong, 2011: 64) to express individuality; and the practice of creating is in turn an emotional act, both social and individual, that does not respond to the need to cover the body but to the desire to display through the body (Catalani and Chung, 2015: 3). When a garment is exhibited, and when characteristics, values or meanings are given to it,11 we are expressing our individuality (albeit within the framework of our social relationships), hence the personalistic character of the description, narration and display of clothing.

The process of elaboration of rituals of possession and creation of style can be documented through images, but it can also be rescued through the narratives that the actors make about the garments. Through stories or descriptions it is possible to portray, in the sense of ethnographic portraits (Abélès, 2011),12 the way in which garments are invested with meaning (Boticello, 2012; Hansen, 2000; Appadurai, 1991) from acts of “intimacy” and “commitment” to the object, which are frequently expressed, as will be seen later , through terms that refer to personalized relationships (Parsons, 2005: 190-191). According to Boticello (2012), these meanings, that intimacy and those commitments are not only the result of the implementation of categories established beyond the subjects themselves (such as those proposed or imposed by the fashion or advertising industry) but also They even subvert them using their own categories based on their experience, that is, people use their own system of discernment, which they often share with others with whom they identify. From this, they judge the qualities of a garment and assign it categories (pretty, ugly, good, bad, acceptable, fine, inappropriate). The use of these categories happens at the moment of the physical, tactile and even “sensual” “encounter” with textile materials (which includes textures and even smells), with colors and with shapes. In this "encounter", "subjective and concrete negotiations" take place between the person, the garment, the place where they are (a bazaar, a boutique, a luxurious store, a tianguis), fashion, or individual or collective identity, for example.

Taking into account the above, we can say that, when described or captured in an image, clothing is, has, and even does, as if it were no longer an object but a living entity (Appadurai, 1991). Clothing begins to have a rhetoric, be it literal or visual, and with it an assimilable connotation, as Barthes (1989: 19) would say, to a style. Through the images we take on clothing, the treatment we give it (possession rituals) or the way we wear it, we are dialoguing with it, but also with others.

Clothes thrift. Motive of affection, memory, creation and search

This section is divided into three subsections that we use to present three main aspects of the description and the emotional relationship with the garments. Thus, in a first subsection we highlight the terms that seem to give clothing an existence as if it were a living being. Then we focus on the interaction with clothing through what may be rituals of possession. Finally, we highlight the aspect of authenticity given to clothing, to the degree of being considered a treasure or a precious object that is pursued until it is found and possessed.

Clothes as a living entity

Through this blouse, Tania (20 years old) teaches us that clothes are “loved a lot” to such a degree that, when they “go away”, they can “feel ugly”. Also, he explains that this blouse can represent the understanding between two people who may not have a good relationship, but who find in the garment a communicative bridge perhaps impossible to build through words.

Figure 1: Tania's blouse (close up). Photographs by Kat Azul
Figure 2: Tania's blouse. Photographs by Kat Azul.

Tania pulled out of a rack This blouse that, unlike others that she had shown us previously, seemed much simpler. It seemed strange to us that, after asking her to choose a garment she wanted to talk about and to tell us why it caught her attention, she chose this blouse and not another garment with colors or cut of the style that she said she preferred: "striking" .

I love this garment very much because my dad gave it to me. I hardly see it, and we don't have an excellent relationship either, but it was one of the first clothes I had that was worn or vintage. He gave it to me when I was younger, I was about 16 years old, and the truth is that I got a lot out of it, I used it a lot. I liked it a lot that when he gave it to me, I felt that he did understand more or less what kind of things or clothes I liked. The truth is, several times I cleaned the closet and did not take it out, even when I stopped using it a lot, it was not easy for me to get rid of it. Even now that it's in the rackSometimes I see it and I remember my dad, but I think it's good that someone else can use it as much as I used it or more. About what I liked the most, I think the fabric is soft and fresh but it doesn't make you cold either, it seems like a mix of denim and cotton, I also like that the buttons are made of clip.

Figure 4: Neck. Photographs by Kat Azul.
Figure 3: Tania's dress. Photographs by Kat Azul.

When the photo session with Tania's clothes was over, she hung the blouse on the rack, and while he did, he said again "yes I feel ugly to see it, I will feel ugly when they take it away."

Then we asked Tania to choose another garment, and this time she did show us a dress that corresponds to her “flashy” taste. Towards this dress with embroidered and printed flowers, and with a "mermaid" style train, Tania feels "pain in her heart" for putting it up for sale, and in the same way as the blouse, the dress is something that is not sold, it goes away. , as if making decisions; for the same reason, the dress is also “lucky”.

This is one of my favorites, I found it in McAllen (Texas). That day was very special because I found many dresses from the seventies ... when I found that batch of dresses, there were about ten, it was difficult to get rid of them, I liked all of them very much, however I had to put them up for sale. This specific dress was my favorite, and in my opinion the most beautiful. The truth is that I used it a couple of times before putting it up for sale.

After using it, with a lot of pain in my heart, I put it up for sale again. I thought it would go very fast, but I think the right person hasn't arrived yet. I have even put it on sale, originally it was at $500 and now it is at $300.

I mentioned to you before that later the clothes that I like the most are not so lucky, and people ask a lot about them, but finally they do not take them, I think it is because they are afraid, many times the garment is very beautiful but very striking or looks very old, I think they should give what they like a chance no matter what they say.

What I like the most about this garment is that it looks like a cowgirl, like a cowboy dress but at the same time it has little flowers, it's strange, I really like the mermaid cut and the frills at the end.

For his part, Male (28 years old), in relation to a blue cotton and polyester dress, with pink and blue flowers, with gold buttons and a pearl in the center, told us the following:

It is one of the garments that I use the most, when one wears clothes vintage she is very attached to clothes, it is different when you go and buy in a store and there are many blouses of the same type; with the clothes vintage It is as if the garment had a life of its own, a story to tell, and you create a bond with it, because it is quite an adventure, from the moment you find it you get very excited, then you plan how to put it on, how to fix it, you get excited about the cheap that you have achieved something so beautiful etc., that well, afterwards it is difficult to get rid of them, you also wash and take care of them differently from other garments, because you only have one chance with that garment, if you burn it or damage it, there is no other.

Figure 5: Male's modified dress. Photograph by Kat Azul.

Thus, Male, in addition to attributing a kind of existence to the dress, rather than treating it in a certain way, cares for it, as if it were a dependent being. For this reason, an authenticity is recognized in him, since like that garment "there is no other". The care, understood as rituals of possession, is specified in the work of modification or making of the clothes, but also in the modeling that is made of it. We will talk about this in the next subsection.

Rituals of possession: clothing is modified, and modeled

For the owners of bazaars or shops thrift It is very important to show your garments through photographs that you publish on your social networks. These photographs can be of individual garments or outfits that they place on a table or that hang from some accessory, but it is best to model the garments. For this, they use models that may or may not be professionals, but who are mainly clients or friends who share with the owner of the bazaar a taste for clothes thrift. While they were modeling the clothes for her bazaar, Liliana told us what she saw in those clothes, mainly in a pair of skirts. In doing so, she seemed to be appreciating the fact that both skirts had been altered and thus treated like a possession ritual. At the same time, we can see that Liliana, more than being a reseller, is a creator of style, which is already in her mind since she selects the garments, and then it is crystallized in the outfit presented by the model.

Figure 6: Green checkered skirt. Photographs by Kat Azul.
Figure 7: Red plaid skirt. Photographs by Kat Azul.

I have always liked plaid skirts a lot, I feel that it is a garment that never goes out of style and that it is easy to get; You can also use it on many occasions, day, night, in something formal or informal. I have one very similar to this one, and you really have no idea how much they have asked me about it and even asked me to sell it to them, but I would not, at least not right now, it is one of my favorite clothes ... when I made the first sale [in the bazaar], there were plaid skirts and they were among the first to be sold, they are always among the first to be sold. Now for this collection I found this green one, a red one, that right now we will also take photos, they were on a table in a market, together, and both have similar details, well, as modifications, they have the seam on the right side unstitched, and with little beards. , but the kind of unstitching that you do on purpose, that you can do to your garments. The red skirt also has it, and it even has a safety that you will see now. It seemed strange to me to find them together, they are not from the same brand, but they are modified the same, it makes me think that maybe they were from the same person, and that this person modified them, but if so, I don't know how they could get together.

I like the blouse because it is vaporous and slightly translucent, it is a bit warm, but when winter comes it will not be a problem; I also like that it is neither white nor beige, I like all the outfit because even though it looks retro, it also looks badass, like grunge.

This is the other skirt I found, I like how it looks grunge, I really like that particular fashion, and it is also becoming very fashionable, since the grunge It's something very 90's, you can look very feminine and rude at the same time. I really like the skirt, which is very well cared for, and the detail of the insurance; I didn't put it on, I already had it, and it's old insurance. It seems strange to me that it has the same detail of being unstitched on the same side as the other skirt, and that it seems to be on purpose. I like the black blouse because it is long-sleeved but it is not hot, but it is not very fresh either, it is what one should look for for autumn clothes ... all the outfit I like it and I like having chosen Michelle [model] for this outfit, because it makes me feel like she is like a witch, it completely matches the idea I had for this collection.

For her part, Janeth (34 years old) explained to us about the modifications she made to a dress and the creation of a outfit from there:

This dress was long, we modified it, it is a shame to cut it because it is very beautiful, but more people can buy it if it is short. I think this dress is ideal for the Monterrey climate because it is made of a very fresh white fabric, I feel like it looks like a wedding dress, it looked even more when it was long; We also added a button on the back that it did not have, the shoes are made of suede, they have a stain that is difficult to remove but they are in very good condition; Many times the shoes or clothes are in good condition, but when they arrive at the warehouses or bales they get dirty, people grab them, move them around, measure them, etc., and end up being damaged.

Figure 8: White dress. Photograph by Kat Azul.

When Janeth modifies a garment, she has in mind the shoes and accessories with which she can combine them to create a outfit which he will then propose to his clients. Often times, when you buy a garment, you do it thinking about the combinations you can make with the accessories or shoes you already have, or you can look for a particular item to achieve the outfit the one you are thinking of. Thus, as we have already explained, the act of searching is part of the act of designing and creating.

Janeth herself, along with her brother, explained to us about another outfit that they photographed in the same session we attended. In doing so, you abound in detail and show your knowledge and taste for what you do. The result is your creation.

This is a jumpsuitIt was originally long, like pants, but we cut it off. One day a week Danny and I get together to modify the clothes, the truth is that many times there are very beautiful clothes, but realistically, people do not buy them because they are very extravagant, or not very functional to walk on the street and less in the heat of Monterrey, that is why we try to bring clothes made of fresh fabrics, and those that are not, such as dresses, skirts or jumpsuits, we usually modify the legs or sleeves, to make them even cooler, this has helped us to sell the garments more easily. I really liked this dress because of the pattern and the black and white colors, it is often associated with the fact that the flowers are for spring or summer, but since this one has neutral colors, they can be used in autumn. The shoes go very well with the white touches of the dress. One thing we really like about bringing in shoes from the wineries [in McAllen, Texas] is that they are very durable; shoes nowadays don't usually last long, unless you buy them from a very good brand, but shoes vintage They are all made of leather, sewn, with rivets, they have already endured a life with an owner, they will most likely endure one more [laughs]; If they have details, we also fix them, if it is something big we go with a shoemaker, if it is something small like balling or cleaning it, we do it ourselves.

Figure 9: Black dress. Photographs by Kat Azul.
Figure 10: Taking a photo of the dress. Photographs by Kat Azul.

But creation is not just a commercial issue, that is, they are not designed outfits only to sell, but to create and to achieve a coherent style with an aesthetic considered not only authentic but also its own. For this reason, consumers are also creators and modify the garments to turn them into what really suits their tastes, achieving the authenticity that a garment needs so that, finally, it is used "much more":

I found this dress at Mesón Estrella ... I liked it a lot and bought it, but I didn't feel entirely comfortable, it wasn't that I didn't like it, I liked it a lot, but it didn't explain why I didn't wear it so much, so it does I recently bought my sewing machine, I have wanted one for a long time because I was already thinking about modifying clothes, so I decided to experiment with this dress, cut it and create two pieces, I felt that I could put it on more if I had a blouse and a skirt like that somehow would look more current. When I did it, when I modified this dress, I really did not know anything about sewing, and well I felt the fear that you usually feel with these clothes, if you ruin them you will not find another one like it, but hey, I was encouraged and it did not turn out so bad, it has one or another loose thread, but they are fine, it looks good and it worked, now I wear it much more!

Figure 11: Set on bicycle. Photographs by Kat Azul.
Figure 12 Bicycle blouse. Photographs by Kat Azul.

Clothes as a real treasure

The authenticity of the garments is a characteristic feature of the clothing vintage, but in the case of clothes thrift, This authenticity is not related to a time but to their own or different styles that both resellers and consumers create from the moment they find the garment, be it in a bazaar or in a used clothing store in a flea market. Although the relevance and appreciation for the authenticity of the garments was already expressed in some of the testimonies presented in the previous subsections, Carolina's experience following a blouse until she manages to buy it teaches us how involved a person can be in achieving clothing items that are valued very personally.

In her narration, Carolina shows her wide familiarity with bazaars or online clothing stores thrift. In passing, it shows us the way in which garments are usually offered and acquired in the environment of social networks, in a dynamic in which it seems to compete to get the garments that are so desired or appreciated, not so much out of a pretentious desire or whimsical but rather from the desire to achieve an authentic and coherent personal presentation with the style designed on his own terms.

Originally this blouse was uploaded by Yessi Bazar to their sales page. Its price was $90. As soon as I saw it I loved it and wanted to buy it, but Liliana from Bremur [another bazaar] bought it before me. When I was on sale with Yessi Bazar, I did not comment on the sale image, but I must accept that for several days I thought about how much I liked it and that it would be impossible to find one like that; When you see a unique piece, if you like it and don't buy it, it is very difficult to get one like it. This is what makes buyers fall in love with certain clothes, so you have to buy them quickly, before someone else does.

Later, Liliana [owner of the Bremur bazaar] published the blouse in August, in the collection she made with a denim theme. The blouse was now $140, but I couldn't buy it because I had no money at the time. I was sorry that again I could not buy it.

In September, Liliana published her bazaar sales. Everything was in $50, or two garments for $80. This time I did manage to separate the blouse!

Figure 13: Red blouse in Yesi Bzr. Photographs by Kat Azul.
Figure 14: Red blouse in Bremurmx. Photographs by Kat Azul.
Figure 15: Red blouse at the top. Photographs by Kat Azul.
Figure 16: Red blouse with Carolina. Photographs by Kat Azul.


From the case of the trend thriftIn this article we have been interested in understanding and describing the allocation of values and meanings to clothing. For this purpose, we dialogue, interview and observe clothing resellers and consumers thrift, who, through narratives, descriptions, images and the direct treatment they have with the garments (that is, the way of touching them, showing them, moving them), expressed their feelings towards the clothes. The above can be understood as highly personalized acts, but here we have interpreted them as part of a purely social process of style creation and construction of an individual and collective identity, which revolves around the idea of authenticity even when it happens. within the limits established by such powerful structures as the market, consumption or the social construction of genres.

The identity thrift revolves around the production and consumption of clothing (among other objects). That the construction of individual and collective identity, as well as other social practices, to reproduce, require the acquisition and exchange of goods and services (Harvey, 2013: 93) is nothing new in today's urban societies. But that such production and consumption happen as acts of appropriation and personalization of the articles in question places the community thrift along with others that seek authenticity, distinction and therefore identity. In this sense, the objective of presenting the narratives and images in the empirical section of this article was to show the personalized relationship of people with the garments and, with it, the peculiar and central aspect of the trend. thrift. If this identity revolves around the production and consumption of merchandise, at the same time these are conceived as something more than mere merchandise by the members of the community. This implies an effort, which is observed in the search (almost persecution as we saw in the last case) for clothes in bazaars, flea markets, internet sites or used clothing stores; in the "modification", preparation and creation of outfits; and in the sentimental bond that is appealed to in the relationship with clothing. Therefore, for the followers of the trend thriftIt is important to say and show through treatment (possession rituals) that clothes are loved very much, that with them you have a bond, that generates emotion and attachment, that you “fall in love” with them, that they are cared for and it is treated with delicacy. For this reason, they also distinguish between selling and "letting go", "taking away" or "leaving"; and they attribute to clothes qualities such as softness and freshness, or capacities (strengths, weaknesses) such as luck or fear. For this reason, clothing has a "life of its own", "a story", it is "unique" and has "details". Despite all this, it is sold (“I had to put it up for sale”), that is, it is placed as a commodity, although with a whole aura of evaluations that make it appear different: its materiality, its texture, its colors, are valued. its forms, as if it were trying to prevent its conversion into that fetish whose materiality "evaporates" (Stallybrass, 1988: 185) as it is a commodity in the market.

In trend thrift Yes it is sold, it is sought to earn money, it is bought, but the merchandise character of the object (Appadurai, 1991) must appear as secondary precisely because rather than being a merchandise it is an object that has a function (without denying its function of merchandise ) reproducer of ties, social ties and personal identity. So, what thrift It is a trend, it is an identity, but before that it is a social practice (Giddens, 1991) through which the self, the collective and the relationship of both with the world are recreated, one crossed by the impersonality of consumption and the stereotypical image of the consumer. It thriftIn this sense, it is also a reaction that, precisely for this reason, strives to make the relationship with objects a sentimental matter.


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Efrén Sandoval Hernández holds a doctorate in Social Anthropology from the ciesas. He is a research professor at the Northeast Unit of the ciesas. Based on an investigation on the smuggling and trade of "fayuca", he has become interested in the study of informal, illicit and border economies. In 2019 he was co-editor, together with Martin Rosenfeld and Michel Peraldi, of the book La fripe du Nord au Sud. Production globale, commerce transfrontalier et marchés informels de vêtements usagés (Éditions Pétra, Paris), and in 2018 he coordinated the book Violate life in northern Mexico. Status, violence and migration on the border with Texas (ciesas, Plaza and Valdés, Mexico). He is currently interested in the study of the trade and consumption of used clothing in the city of Monterrey.

Carolina González Castañeda (Kat Azul) is a visual artist. Intern for the degree in Visual Arts at the Faculty of Visual Arts of the Autonomous University of Nuevo León. She is currently a fellow of the Scholarships for External Thesis Subprogram (2020 class) of the ciesas, with the thesis project “Fashion, identity and economy thrift. Preparation, design and resale of used clothing type vintage”. In 2019 she was the winner of the artistic residency “Spaces in Collision”, awarded by Sitio and the Council for Culture and the Arts of Nuevo León (conarte). His artistic project "Topofilia" was exhibited in 2018 at Galería Aparato, and in 2019 exhibited, for conarte and El Móvil, his work "Are you coming home? Or are you going home? Collectively, among others, he exhibited the work “Ucronías”, at the Galería Réplica, in Valdivia, Chile (2019).


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