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Generation Z powers thrifting fashion trend

Young people care about uniqueness, quality and the environment which means more thrifting and less fast fashion

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — We hear a lot from Gen Z on TikTok and Instagram and they have spoken again when it comes to fashion. But this time they are setting a trend that helps the greater good.

"These were $25," Gwyneth Doppelt, a college student at the University of Tennessee, said as she showed off some of her thrift shop finds. 

Baggy jeans, grandpa cardigans, even Doc Martens are all in right now among Gen Z. We called this style grunge in the 90s and that style is back, but with a twist.  Many young people are opting out of buying these items new and going for used. 

Doppelt is a regular thrifter. 

"A lot of my friends and I really love thrifting because you don't want to wear the same thing that everybody else has," Doppelt said. 

Thrifting, upcycling, the older the better for 20-somethings. Michelle Childs, an associate professor in retail and consumer sciences, said one reason is to be different. 

"What's really cool about Gen Z is they want to be unique, more so than any other generation," Childs said.

"You don't have to go out and buy the Supreme hoodie and the Air Force 1s, find your own style, find what makes you unique, that's going to be way more interesting than what's being shown to you by influencers on Instagram or Tiktok," Doppelt said.

This generation also cares about the environment.  "They're so much more in tune with what's happening in the world, they have so much information in front of them," Childs said.  "They're more educated on the issues."

They know facts and figures about fashion.  "Clothing is the number two polluter behind oil which is wild to think about," Childs said.

According to numbers reported in the L.A. Times, it takes 5,000 gallons of water to make one T-shirt and one pair of jeans.  This doesn't sit well with the younger generation so they turn to websites for resale items. 

"Depop is super popular for finding clothes, Poshmark or even something like eBay if you're looking for a super specific item," Doppelt said.  "People are finding that there are lots of benefits to doing it.  For one you are helping the environment, you can make extra money, you can get better clothes." 

"These are Salvatore Ferragamo and they were literally $30," Doppelt said.  "This has matching pants with it and when you wear it, you can take over the world.  Fashion changes lives."