Whether the motivations are to expand your closet or shop sustainably, students at the University of Seattle have captured the popular trend of thrift. In college, where affordability is an important factor, this trend addresses two concerns: the need for sustainable fashion and the desire to shop.
Two Seattle U organizations, the Gender Justice Center and the newly founded Seattle U Thrift Club, have created spaces where students can find clothes for little or no cost.
In the fall of 2021, one of the Center for Gender Justice’s release stations was a clothes swap. Since then, the center has had an abundance of leftover clothing which they recently converted into a permanent community closet outside the Center for Gender Justice office in Chardin Hall.
Fourth year student Keira Cruickshank, who studies sociology, creative writing and Spanish, is a member of the leadership team of the Center for Gender Justice. She explained the importance of a permanent and accessible clothing exchange because local thrift stores have rising prices and gender-affirming clothes may not always go to the people who need them.
“I think clothing exchanges are really important as a way to provide access to clothing that has limited barriers,” Cruickshank said. “We wanted to create a space where anyone can come and get their clothes when they want, and then anyone can also drop their clothes off so that we can have a more circular economy than clothing here on campus.”
The Community Closet officially opened on March 2, and students were invited to donate and swap clothes. Sophia Hounton, a first-year psychology specialist who attended the event, shared why she believes the closet is a valuable asset.
“When a group of generally wealthy people participate in thrift stores, prices can inflate and take that resource away from people who rely solely on thrift stores,” Hounton said. “I think this is a great way to combat this problem and still let it be an isolated resource for our community, without affecting the resources that are there for the wider Seattle community.”
For the Center for Gender Justice, it was especially important to focus on environmental and economic causes, as the need for barrier-free clothing is essential for some college students. Recycling clothes via the community closet allows community members to access the clothing they may need while consuming in an environmentally friendly manner.
The Center for Gender Justice isn’t the only clothing resource for students. The Seattle U Thrift Club was recently founded and will officially launch in the spring quarter.
The Thrift Club’s goal is to create a store where clothes can be purchased by students and then resold for under $ 10, with all proceeds going to an organization of the club’s choice – this year is Out of the closet.
The new club isn’t just focused on building a store, as it also hopes to transform its organization into a community-based club with once-a-month excursions to local thrift stores or sustainable clothing stores in the Seattle area. .
Thrift Club president and founder Amanda Perez, a first-year graduate in philosophy and psychology, hopes the club will make a difference when it comes to student purchasing choices.
“Fast fashion has become so accessible to everyone,” said Perez. “To some extent, it is necessary for people who cannot afford the slower fashion items that are very expensive. What we are trying to do is basically provide people with an opportunity to get away from fast fashion, to give back to their community and also to have a chance to sell their clothes. “
For both the Gender Justice Center and the Seattle U Thrift Club, these respective resources, the Community Closet and Thrift Store, are intended to support the LGBTQ + community and recognize the importance of gender-affirming clothing.
In previous clothes swapping events, the Center for Gender Justice has prioritized trans and non-binary students to come anonymously to get the clothes they wanted. The hope is that the Community Closet is a similar resource.
“Access to clothing where people can come anonymously and take what they want is something we believe is really important, especially as a center that supports trans, non-binary and female students on campus,” said Cruickshank.
The Seattle U Thrift Club is looking to sell clothes from the LGBTQ + Office of Multicultural Affairs Lounge and has made an effort to have gender-neutral services and labels so that all people, regardless of how they identify, feel welcome. All clothing will be arranged separate from clothing, not gender.
“We will have a shirt rack, a pants rack, a clothes rack, which will not be based on women or men [sizing] because we don’t think that’s how clothing should be and how the clothing industry should be, “said Perez.
The Seattle U Thrift Club and the Gender Justice Center invite everyone to join. The Thrift Club will be open to anyone to buy and sell clothes and become an active member of the club which will give them the opportunity to work at the shop and go hiking. The center is currently accepting nominations for next year’s leadership.
Both organizations can be reached on their Instagram pages @suthriftclub And @justice of generesu.