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Shopping on a Budget: How to Thrift in the Netherlands

by College Life
Updated on July 13, 2023

As students, sometimes our taste can’t quite keep up with our budget and we’re left with the impossible choice of getting that new pair of Filas or an overpriced textbook. Though most of the time our choices aren’t that drastic, clothing does take up an unnecessarily big part of our student budget. Going to thrift stores is an easy solution to that problem. Here’s how to change up your clothes without creating a huge dent in your wallet.

Why Thrift?

Owning second-hand or pre-owned clothing has quite recently come back into style, with vintage pieces becoming staples and defining aesthetics. For those who like to pay attention to the things they wear, thrifting is a great creative outlet as it guarantees originality and one of a kind items. Instead of vintage-inspired, you get authentic vintage! Thrift stores regularly change their stock and rarely, if ever, have the same clothes cycle.

Beyond allowing for some extra creativity, second-hand clothes significantly reduce waste and counterbalance the negative effect fashion has on the environment. Clothes in second-hand stores don’t go to landfills: by recycling clothing, you eliminate waste. Most stores selling second-hand clothing are also affiliated with charities and organizations. Not only is it an environmental gesture but it’s also a social one.

If you still need some convincing, just think about the ethical ramifications of fast fashion. Chain stores exploit workers in developing nations, enforcing long hours with miserable pay and most often denying them basic rights like unionization. Choosing to step out of the constant cycle of consumption is partially taking a stand against the ethos of those companies.

Where to Go?

In general, there are three types of thrift stores: high-end boutiques, vintage stores, and charity or thrift shops.

Boutique Stores

Boutique vintage stores like Bobby Pin Boutique Vintage in Rotterdam or Vijzel Vintage in Amsterdam offer authentic vintage clothing. These types of stores specialize in vintage pieces and offer a highly curated shopping experience. More often than not, they have a selection of vintage designer clothing, as well-conserved as it is timeless. Though pretty expensive and not necessarily the student-budget friendly, highly curated vintage boutiques are great for finding clothes you can invest in or original presents for special occasions.

Vintage Stores

General vintage stores like Vintage Island which has stores in Leiden, Haarlem and Den Haag among others, are a more modern take on vintage clothing, offering genuine vintage clothing but often catered to a more hip crowd. Most vintage stores have some degree of curation. They tend to offer a selection of clothing that fits into the aesthetic narrative they’ve envisioned. These stores don’t just sell anything that’s given to them, but rather select the pieces they put on display. Vintage stores are a great place to go when you’re looking for a sustainable alternative to fast fashion trends. The prices are generally the same and the quality of the clothing is noticeably better.

Thrift Shops

Charity shops are, as suggested by their name, affiliated with a charity. Thrift shops are the stereotypical conception of a second-hand store. These stores focus on recycling used clothing more than curating to a certain type of clientele. Thrift stores are often called Kringloops here in the Netherlands. They sell a variety of used goods from clothing to furniture. Don’t expect neatly categorized shelves or perfectly arranged piles and be ready to rummage. Thrift stores are the best bang for your buck, though you’ll have to carefully inspect clothing for any damage or stains you won’t be able to fix. It’s not uncommon to find clothing that still has its tags. The best deals and greatest finds are often in thrift stores.

Don’t forget to check out your local market! Some vendors will have second-hand or vintage clothing in their stalls. It’s a great way to find a vintage item that isn’t too overpriced.

Tech Revolution

Technology has led to a wave of transformations which has also affected finding second-hand clothing. Apps like United Wardrobe or Depop are widely used in the Netherlands for buying and selling anything from vintage clothing to designer pieces to newly bought pants that don’t fit. If you’re not a fan of trying on clothes in a musty shop, some stores have a website where you can order their items online.

Whether you're looking for a rare high-end garment or just another pair of jeans, think about opting for the second-hand version. Second-hand shopping is not only budget-friendly but is also a significant gesture for the planet as well as local businesses. No man is an island so why not transform shopping, something incredibly inane, into something meaningful.

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