The owner of one of Kolkata’s oldest thrift stores, Alka Dalmia, said people were more receptive to her store and the stigma of buying pre-used clothes had diminished after Covid. “We opened our store about five years ago. At the time, we weren’t sure it would take off because savings weren’t popular. Over the past two years, more and more people want to buy recycled products because they are cheaper and environmentally friendly,” she said.
Instagram fashion influencer Arjama Bakshi thinks thrift is the new era of ‘fashion’. “The clothes found in thrift stores are economical, their use reduces the human water footprint and very few chemicals are used in the production process. Currently, several flea markets in Kolkata are trying to create outlets that allow people to buy such products. My experiences so far have been amazing. Clothes that I have bought from thrift stores for a few hundred rupees are sold for a few thousand at malls or branded websites,” said she declared.
Last month, at an annual gathering in Kolkata, entrepreneur Anshu Gupta, founder of an NGO, spoke about various clothing recycling initiatives. “Textiles are among the most disastrous fuels. We work to create safe and environmentally friendly textile jobs in rural areas by using recycled fabrics. Clothes are reused and sold at low prices. On the site, many reused cloth bags were exhibited, demonstrating the involvement of NGOs in the generalization of savings.
Student Udit Chakrabarti added: “For me and my peers, we realized the need to support local tailors financially, rather than buying new clothes. While we want to provide the same support to small textile producers, they often produce a lot of pollution. Therefore, people are more comfortable buying from larger thrift stores, some of which are associated with NGOs, as they have resources to recycle and reuse textiles with less harm to the environment.
Most of Kolkata’s thrift shops find their wares in Instagram shops, largely because the trend has increased during the pandemic, when visiting the markets was not possible.
Photographer Priya Thakur said: “I started following savings pages on Instagram during the first wave. Many foreign brand websites were no longer shipping to India, and markets and stores became inaccessible. Over time, my friends started wearing second-hand clothes bought from Instagram shops. Sociology researcher, Rahul Ganguly, said: “Most people discovered this trend on social media, and Instagram remains the main hub for thrift stores. Savings began in the West to overcome household costs during the world wars.