Second-life shoes and healthier shopping habits

A few years ago, fashion journalist Elizabeth Cline debunked in long-form the supposed wisdom of discarding all of your old clothes by the trashbag, noting that wastefulness isn’t just at the end of clothing’s lifecycle, but also at the beginning. Being a conscious consumer requires more than figuring out what to do with your clothes after you’ve amassed a wasteland of barely-worn tank tops in every color – consciousness demands we seek out meaningful pieces in unlikely places.

Meaningful. Unlikely. Qualities lost on our Instagram-obsessed culture (and I’m totally guilty, for the record) – where the same ten dresses by your favorite Eco-Friendly Label™ are on constant repeat literally all over the world. The ubiquity of these few pieces, however lovely they are, is underwhelming and uninspiring. I’ve been thirsty as hell for more personal, one-of-a-kind looks.

Lately, I’ve found a lot of sport in shopping thrift and vintage. I enjoy the monotony of combing through clothing racks for a single piece I can give a second life. A piece that likely no one else will have. As the nineties squarely enter the “vintage” cycle, I’ve found thrift success more easily. Chunky, high-vamp pumps just like the trendy Maryam Nassir Zadeh shoes are as easy to find as they are to walk in.

Manolos, Chloé shoes, some generic wedding heels, and some Ferragamo Vara pumps

There are both the happy accidents (or “unintentional MNZ knockoffs,” as I call them) and the shoes I couldn’t afford to get in-season, which I’m always excited to find secondhand on sites like Vestiaire, The Real Real, and eBay. My embellished Chloé heels are sadly falling apart (my DIY repairs can only last so long…) but have proved versatile and timeless. Also pictured here are secondhand Manolos from eBay, and Ferragamo Vara pumps I bought for $5 from one of my friends.

Our fashion cycles are toxic on many levels: at worst wasteful, pollutant, and downright destructive; at best they encourage our most wasteful and spendthrift habits – enforcing a false need to have something new and trendy every couple of weeks. After all, how often do we go even a month without buying one thing?

I wear my shoes hard, so spending a lot of money on them is difficult to justify.