Does last Sunday’s clothing pop-up in Chelsea speak volumes of a new class divide?
Young people were left queuing for 45mins to access the We Are Second Life Fashion pop-up in Chelsea last Sunday for clothing costing £20 by the kilo. Despite timed entry slots, young adults were queuing to get in at times later than they booked for the chance to pick up some cheaper second-hand clothes.
One of the on-site managing staff said, “We usually expect to see a 40% cancellation rate on the day of the pop-up, which is why they’ve been queuing for so long today; we just haven’t seen that many cancellations.”
This lack of cancellations was not just chance, some have claimed. One student assessed that it was due to the high cost of living in London.
According to Numbeo, the cost of a pair of jeans in London ranges between £35 – £90. So the attraction of a slightly cheaper second-hand item of clothing is powerful to this market of middle to upper-class young people.
However, according to another shopper who was still getting shamed for thrift shopping a few years ago by their peers, “it [second-hand clothes shopping] was dirty and something exclusively for the working class. However, due to new trends in vintage clothes shopping, people have now started buying clothes very cheap in bulk and reselling them for insane prices.”
This shift in demographic has made second-hand clothing more of a thing for the upper-classes leaving those who used to benefit from it with nothing. Activists online have called this “The Gentrification of Thrifting.”
£20 for a kilo of clothes is expensive for anyone. One shopper walked out with two clothing items for £33.60, so the new age of second-hand shopping has moved away from the days of affordability and into the hands’ trendy money-making opportunists.