Natalie Skoblow knows that high fashion and high prices don’t always have to go together. The SUNY New Paltz sophomore is the founder of the campus’s Think Thrift Club. “These major corporations — like Forever 21 and H&M — they’re producing all this new stuff. But there’s so many items of clothing that go to waste,” Skoblow said. “If you can just recycle them, you save money and help the environment all at the same time.”
In late January, Think Thrift organized an on-campus clothing swap. Interested students gathered the garments otherwise headed for the garbage and bartered them. The club has a good core of seven regular board members, but events like the “Stop & Swap” at the Student Union Building attract 20 to 30 undergrads.
“There’s no point in spending all this money when there’s so much stuff out there already that people don’t even want,” the public relations major said.
Thrifting, or buying clothing secondhand, has been a key feature in the hipster and environmentalist subculture for more than a decade. But the Great Recession also made trips to Salvation Army or Goodwill necessary for many people — especially those on limited incomes like college students. But for people who thrift shop, there’s also a challenge — which is turning discarded and sometimes outlandish clothes into a workable fashion.
Skoblow said she got into thrifting a few years back in high school. For her it feels like the practice is half about fashion, half the environment.
Macklemore, a goofy white rapper from Seattle, made it big last year when his song “Thrift Shop” went No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Skoblow said her club has embraced the tune as their “national anthem.”
In terms of clubs at SUNY New Paltz, the thrifters are fairly new — they only got approval in the fall last year. However, group members hope that the initiative might have a shelf life and a legacy after they graduate.
“If I could somehow make this club a business in some sort of way, that would be awesome,” Skoblow said. Club members are also reaching out to local businesses and organizations to see if they can establish more of a connection that might bring in supplies.
Coming up for the Think Thrift Club is a March 3 event where club members will practice making jewelry out of old spoons.
To learn more about the club, head to www.facebook.com/ThinkThriftClub. You can catch up with the club and learn about upcoming events, but Think Thrift also posts helpful thrifting tips that will hold some interest for New Paltzians off-campus as well. You can watch the “Thrift Shop” music video by searching for it on YouTube — although it isn’t necessarily appropriate for younger listeners, because it includes some strong language.