One such online thrift store that gained prominence during the lockdown is The ReLove Closet started by Sruti Ashok. “I always wanted to explore the concept of second-hand clothing in India. Last year, I
partnered with the Baksa Project for an event and we got a good response from it. I was planning for a similar event this year but in a bigger manner. But I couldn’t go ahead with the plan because of the
pandemic. I had already sourced so many clothes for the event and didn’t know what to do with them. I decided to raise money for those affected by the pandemic. I got in touch with The Kindness Foundation and suggested my idea and they were supportive of it. I started an Instagram account called The ReLove Closet in mid-April where I offer a curated collection of pre-loved, luxury and vintage treasures. The response was really amazing — a lot of people came forward to buy pre-used clothes,” says Sruti Ashok.
During the first few months, money collected from The Relove Closet sale went for charity. “After one month of the launch, a lot of people got in touch with me saying they have clothes to resell. Either they can take the money from the sale or can suggest a particular NGO or a cause they support. Proceeds from the sale will be donated to the NGO or the cause. What I have observed in the past seven months is that there are many first-time thrifters in Chennai; so we have to be careful while dealing with the customers. A couple of years ago, people may not be as open as they are today. But now people don’t mind buying preloved clothing. Once you have good experience with particular thrifters, they are more open to it,” she remarks.
Though many people are open to thrift shopping, Sruti feels that there should be more awareness. “One should be mindful about the clothing as well — we can save clothes from ending up in landfills. There are a lot of preconceptions about second-hand clothing and I answer all the queries. I am extremely careful while selecting the products — I make sure they are in good condition with no defects,” Sruti adds.
During the lockdown, a lot of mothers didn’t have access to many kids’ products because it was categorised as non-essential in most websites. Two friends (who are mothers) from the city experienced similar challenges. They decided to solve this issue and launched a venture called Twice Treasured as a means to empower parents with a platform for sustainable usage of children’s products. “Sustainable fashion is now a necessity. Especially, in post covid era, it is important to embrace responsibility and compassion and adopt practices keeping the environment in mind. We need to be more mindful of what we buy, how much we use it and discard it. Giving a second life to excellent quality products which are sparingly used and also increasing the money saved from such purchases will go a long way,” says Divya Abhishek, one of the co-founders of Twice Treasured. The other founder of Twice Treasured is Vaibhavi Prakash.
She also feels that both online and physical thrift stores have gained more popularity among people. “They have already gained so much traction in recent times and we at Twice treasured strive to promote sustainability for kids since they outgrow things in no time and it also allows other kids to enjoy them as well as for parents to be able to afford it for their children. Both online and physical stores will gain popularity as people these days are more accepting and aware of the benefits of preloved products,” she adds.