Thrifting has long been seen as a timeless way to stay fashionable while on a budget. Now, it's being used to create a new niche of the Internet: TikTok thrift–centric fashion influencers, aka thriftfluencers. These creators make up a community of stylish and overwhelmingly patient people who document their best fashion finds, thrifting tips and tricks, and ever–expanding wardrobes on TikTok.
During the transition to fall, we’re all looking for fashion upgrades for struts down Locust Walk and weekend outings. Thrifting is an affordable and sustainable alternative to mainstream retail, and can help you find unique pieces to build outfits around. Not only is thrifting friendly to a student wallet, but it's also especially easy for Penn students. Philly is a thrifting hotspot with dozens of thrift stores in West Philly and its surrounding areas.
In the last few years, the fashion community has confronted the stigma surrounding purchasing clothes from thrift stores. If you’re an avid thrifter, you may have heard the classic, "Don’t you want to wear new clothes?" or, "Why would you want to wear clothes that belonged to somebody else?" These people don’t seem to understand that there’s nothing better than finding a staple in your wardrobe that only costs a fifth of its original retail value.
In the age of mass production, microtrends are the foundation of fast fashion. Thrift stores are inundated with barely worn Shein tops that are now out of style, much to the dismay of conscious shoppers.
However, there’s a rising tide of thrift–savvy influencers who are pushing against microtrends and encouraging their audiences to find their own styles.
One such influencer is Maddie Ranagan, also known as @lucidbees on Instagram and TikTok, where she has amassed a small but mighty following of over 2000. Her passion for thrifting stems back to her childhood in Sacramento, Calif. Growing up, Maddie’s family bought many of their clothes at thrift stores, and as a kid, she often felt embarrassed to admit to her friends that her clothes belonged to somebody else before her.
As she grew older and developed her sense of style, Maddie realized that thrift stores are filled with one–of–a–kind pieces that are both more stylish and higher quality than the fast fashion on the racks of Urban Outfitters or Brandy Melville. After all, her most prized items include a white Dior corset and an authentic Louis Vuitton purse—both of which were found by thrifting.
After discovering her talent for finding chic pieces, Maddie made a business of it on Depop—eventually transitioning to selling on Instagram and at in–person markets.
“As I started to thrift more, I figured out which kinds of pieces I really liked and was into and wanted to sell, which are mostly Y2K 2000s and '90s style pieces,” Maddie said. As her reselling business gained more attention, Maddie started her TikTok account. Her most popular videos are 10– to 15–second clips of items she finds during specific thrift store excursions, providing an inlet for thrifting novices to find inspiration.
During our conversation, Maddie shared her five–step foolproof thrifting routine:
- Dedicate an hour or two to the thrifting trip. You won’t have as much success if you’re shopping under a time crunch.
- Think about what you’re buying, and don’t buy for the sake of buying. Even though you’re buying second–hand, you don’t want to over–consume if you can help it.
- Grab a cart with the intention of filling it! Grab everything you feel has potential, even if you don’t end up purchasing it.
- Choose between browsing the bags, shoes, or lingerie sections first. Often, the thrift store employees misplace lace tops in the lingerie section that can be an elegant touch to any outfit. The shoe section is a quick step because you can scan all of your options at once.
- The rest of the thrifting process is up to you! Choose to browse any section with items you’re lacking or looking for.
The next time you plan a thrift store excursion, consult TikTok. Whether it’s Maddie’s account, or other favorites like Emma DiMarco (@emmajdimarco on TikTok and @emmadimarco on Instagram), Anna Hale (@bratzwh0re77 on TikTok and @brattrashvtg on Instagram), and Melissa Fraistat (@meliss.com on TikTok and @melissafraistat on Instagram). These creators are revolutionizing thrift–based fashion on social media and the importance of style individuality in the face of fast fashion.