I am no stranger to used clothes. Although I’m not a skilled thrifter like Ben or Jason, I still hunt for used clothing on websites like eBay and Styleforum in order to buy high-quality goods that would normally be outside of my price range. Buying used clothing is a great option from a fiscal perspective, but it also reduces your material footprint on the world and helps conserve our limited resources. All in all, I think that it’s a worthwhile endeavor.
Of course, an item’s used value largely depends on the quality and condition of the garment; items like socks and t-shirts will not hold much used value at all, but some items have a unique way of appreciating in value as they get older. An example of this would be raw denim, a menswear staple.
As many of you know, raw denim is popular in part because it has a way of molding to one’s body and taking on the signs of wear created from the owner’s lifestyle. Although many men prefer to go through the process of breaking in jeans on their own, there are plenty that want a shortcut to beautiful faded denim. This can be seen in the popular Butler Program from APC, in which men can trade in their heavily worn APC denim for a large discount on a fresh pair. The worn jeans are then professionally washed and repaired, and resold as wearable works of art (Scott Schuman of the Sartorialist is a recent member of this unique club). Beautifully worn pairs of vintage jeans can also be found on secondhand circuits like eBay, and often fetch a surprisingly high price.
Although these methods can be a good source of worn denim, the best (and least expensive) way is to have stylish friends in your size. The jeans above are a beautiful pair of APC New Standards, worn for a year by my good friend Jacob. Unfortunately, after many hours spent lifting heavy objects at the local CrossFit box the jeans no longer fit him well and made their way into the donation box. When I found them in the pile I pulled them out and tried them on, and Jacob and I were both surprised by how well they fit. After a quick wash they’ve entered my denim rotation and have become my go-to casual pair.
One of the best qualities of well-made clothing is its ability to take on its own life over years of wear. With a bit of care, that life doesn’t have to end when you outgrow it – it will just be the beginning of a new one.