Second-hand clothing, previously-owned garments that are not found in department stores, or pieces with past lives, have been around for centuries. I spoke to several proponents of this movement which is finding new strength in Yucatán, and dove deeper into this world that looks to reduce pollution, extend the life of what we wear, and – why not? – find a bit of history and magic along the way.
The first thing I learned was the difference between a second-hand piece and a vintage one. “What both types of clothing have in common is the fact that they’ve previously been worn by someone else (although not all vintage clothing is used; there is such a thing as new vintage clothes). While vintage wear is known for maintaining the qualities of a specific time period, second-hand clothes refer to the garments we stop using after a whole and remove from our closets,” Bekir Fuentes, creator of Cejas de Cartón, explains.
Everyone I spoke with mentioned, with the same sense of urgency, that textile manufacturing is the second most polluting industry, only after fossil fuels. Naomi Quijano from Aterciopelado Mid, told me that just one pair of pants can require more than 3,300 liters of water to be produced.
Fabiola Cortés from Trapo Viejo talked to me about the need to reinvent the mass production of clothing: “The labor conditions of those who work in the industry and the ecological implications of fast fashion are neither sustainable, nor ethical. That’s why looking at fashion as a process that takes time and creates a carbon footprint helps us be more conscious about how we, as consumers, are contributing (or not) to this snowball.” And that is what drives this group of people to search for items that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill, and finding them new homes.
“I was about 15 years old when I heard my aunts bragging about their finds at the Tianguis de la Esperanza. I immediately asked to be taken on their next excursion,” Berenice López from Who is Kahlo shares. Fabiola’s experience was similar, having been schooled by her mother on how to find great pieces in neighborhood bazaars and flea markets.
When I inquired about the magic and excitement behind each piece, I heard the word “history” over and over. “Each garment has a past and that’s what makes it even more special,” begins Naomi. She tells me that the 40-year-old pieces she has inherited from her grandmother are the items she treasures the most.
The journey towards finding something is also a common theme. “Every time I decide to take something, it feels like a gem, a treasure; because I know I will probably never find anything like it again,” Erika Rejón from Floré Bazar shares.
Laura Sánchez from Ramona Knives Vintage Finds conveys her words with enthusiasm. She says that there are many things that can make a vintage piece stand out: “its origin, the place or country it was made in, if it was created by a seamstress, or maybe it was designed by a brand that doesn’t exist anymore. The fabric, the print, and the garment’s shape can tell us a great deal about the time period it comes from”. For Alba Martín from More Than Once, the exhilaration of knowing that the item will continue its story with someone else is what fills her with passion.
Each day, people are becoming more conscious about their carbon footprint. One way of achieving a real change is by participating in the slow fashion movement, and thinking before we buy our next item. Long live second-hand clothing in Yucatán!
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Cejas de carton
Ramona Knives Vintage Finds
Who is Kahlo
More Than Once
Editorial por Greta Garrett
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