New trend: Out with the new, in with the old

Audrey Sanders, 14, from Pickerington, Ohio, goes through her closet Aug. 25, before leaving for school. Sanders is wearing an outfit she put together from purchases from a secondhand store. Teens in many parts of the country are doing the same - creating The Associated Press

Audrey Sanders, 14, from Pickerington, Ohio, goes through her closet Aug. 25, before leaving for school. Sanders is wearing an outfit she put together from purchases from a secondhand store. Teens in many parts of the country are doing the same – creating The Associated Press

By The Associated Press

CHICAGO – For 14-year-old Audrey Sanders, clothes shopping has little to do with the mall. She’d much rather go to secondhand stores to buy shirts, scarves, jewelry and jeans. Her shoes might be a cheap pair of flats, spray painted with jewels added on.

“I like to be different than everybody else and start new trends. And it’s a lot cheaper and you get to buy more clothes,” says the high school freshman from Pickerington, Ohio. She figures that she and her mom spent just over $100 on back-to-school clothes, far less than many of her classmates.

From the first days of rock ‘n’ roll to punk and emo, some teens have always had an alternative style. But these days it’s becoming cooler to try and create your own look. Along the way, young people are finding it’s cheaper to do so.

“We’re trying to change it up a bit and add our own edge and a little twist,” says Gabrielle Pharms, a 19-year-old thrift shopper who’s a sophomore at Houston Community College in Texas. “I have yet to find anyone who has the same clothes as I do.”

A business major with an interest in fashion, Pharms is one of six young “ReDesigners” chosen this summer to be back-to-school advisers for the thrift store chain Savers, known as Value Village in some parts of North America.

“We have definitely noticed that secondhand clothing is receiving notably increased attention from the teen set,” says Amanda Foley, a spokeswoman for the chain, based in Bellevue, Wash.

Even as mall-based retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Wet Seal posted better than expected numbers in August, those who monitor fashion trends have noticed more teens working up the courage to break the mold.

Theirs is a generation that’s into “massclusivity,” or exclusivity for the masses.

“There’s only so much they’re going to find from a department store, so it’s sending them searching for other options,” says Tina Wells, the young CEO of the New York-based Buzz Marketing Group, who works with a network teenage trend spotters all over the world.

They tell her the secondhand trend is partly an outgrowth of the vintage and “retro” clothing craze. That could find a teen wearing anything from a 1930s era dress to 1980s leg warmers or looks that range from rocker chic to bohemian, to a more traditional style with cable knits and tweeds.

After attending a freshman orientation and hearing about all the clothing students can’t wear to school – largely those that show too much skin – Audrey’s mom, Lori Sanders, says she’s more than happy to take her daughter thrift store shopping.

“It’s refreshing,” she says. “And it’s a great deal!”

Theirs is a generation that’s into “massclusivity,” or exclusivity for the masses.