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Popular clothing retailer sparks debate for selling 'thrift-inspired' item: 'They really have no shame'

The price tag certainly isn't one you'd see in a secondhand store.

The price tag certainly isn’t one you’d see in a secondhand store.

Photo Credit: iStock

Thrift store shopping is an incredible way to save money, especially compared to chasing lightning-fast trends peddled by fast fashion brands. Unfortunately, those brands want a share of the thrift store shopper market — and the results are often ridiculous.

What's happening?

One Redditor shared an ad they found for an expensive product aimed at the money-conscious. 

"'Thrift Inspired' shorts from Abercrombie & Fitch on SALE for only $40!" they said, adding a frustrated emoji.

The price tag certainly isn't one you'd see in a secondhand store.
Photo Credit: Reddit

Their screenshot shows a pair of short, gray fleece shorts with a pale camo print and a drawstring waist. It does indeed describe them as "thrift-inspired," although it's difficult to tell exactly what the company means by that. The price tag certainly isn't one you'd see in a secondhand store.

Other companies have created more direct imitations of secondhand items, like these "ripped and stained" jeans from Balenciaga, which some people are presumably buying instead of simply being inspired to buy from a thrift store for real.

"They really have no shame," wrote one Redditor of the retail trend. 

Why does this product matter?

By associating the word "thrift" with its designs and claiming that $40 is a significantly discounted price, it's clear Abercrombie & Fitch is trying to capture buyers who would normally buy secondhand clothing. The company is trying to invoke the thrifting experience without actually providing any of thrifting's benefits: the lowest of the low prices and the positive impact on the environment from keeping used items out of the landfill.

Anyone who falls for this ad will be spending much more money than they have to and will be contributing to the constant, polluting churn of fast fashion.

Is Abercrombie & Fitch doing anything to be more sustainable?

Fran Horowitz, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, said on the company's website, "In 2019, we became a participant in the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), the world's largest corporate citizenship and sustainability initiative. As part of our commitment to the UNGC, we have laid out specific targets that build on our existing impact programs and align with the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals. 

"These goals address global challenges such as poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice."

Among other things, the company says that it set a goal to reduce the waste it sends to landfills by half before 2025 — a goal it says it reached in 2022.

What can I do to reduce waste?

Besides shopping at real thrift stores, you can also take care what you do with your old clothing. Instead of throwing it away, you can donate lightly-used items, modify and patch clothing to continue wearing it, upcycle it into new items like accessories or cleaning supplies, or turn in old clothes to a recycling program that will give you store credit for new ones.

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