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How Tik Tok is influencing local thrifting trends

"Even though it’s a totally different genre of second-hand clothing that people are looking for these days...it’s cool to see so many people so pro-second hand."

Who knew that Tik Tok would be driving all the latest trends? Noel - stock.adobe.com

Maybe don’t throw away those clothes in the back of your closet, because 80s, 90s, and Y2K trends are coming back, and it’s all thanks to Tik Tok.

Local second-hand stores are reporting increased demand for thrifted pieces from these eras, mostly driven by Gen Z customers.

Rachel Higgins, a manager at Raspberry Beret in North Cambridge, told Boston.com the shop has been buying and selling more 90s and Y2K pieces. As a vintage shop, they were more focused on the 60s and 70s, but have been reexamining what they consider as popular vintage.

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“It’s really weird to see all of the 90s and 2000s stuff coming back, because at least to me it wasn’t that long ago, I remember wearing that stuff,” she said. “We do have a lot of new people coming in who are definitely younger and somewhat new to the second-hand game, and they are almost exclusively looking for the 90s, Y2K stuff.”

Nephtaliem McCrary, owner of Great Eastern Trading Co. in Cambridge’s Central Square, told Cambridge Day that he’s had to adapt to these new trends. 

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“Over the last couple of years, the idea of thrifting has really accelerated and has become very popular with a younger generation,” McCrary said. “And they’re not necessarily going for the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. They’re looking for ’80s and ’90s, and streetwear and tracksuits, leather and jean jackets – things that aren’t really from a long time ago.”

A child reads a kid’s book as her mother shops at a thrift store in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2013. – (Kayana Szymczak for The Boston Globe)

When Higgins started working at Raspberry Beret three years ago, she said 90s and Y2K stuff was at the top of the list for what not to buy, but today it’s number one on the list of stuff they’re accepting.

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“It’s not very cute, I thought we were over it as a society like 20 years ago when it happened, but now it’s all coming back,” she said. “We’ve gone full circle on the Y2K stuff — we sold it when it was popular — Raspberry Beret has been around since 2004. We’ve seen a lot of trends come and go, but we’ve seen a huge uptick in that trend coming in the store specifically because we know people are coming in looking for it, and I guess we’ve got Tik Tok to thank for it.”

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According to a Hootsuite report, Tik Tok has been downloaded two billion times and has 689 million active users worldwide, with around 100 million active users in the U.S. On July 28, the #thrifthaul tag had 633 million views, and #thrift, #thrifting, and #thriftshop had over two billion views each. Vogue Business has written about how Tik Tok totally shook up the fashion industry’s typical trend funnel of runway to rack.

Higgins said the power of Tik Tok is new for the industry, but certainly not unwanted.

“We’ve had some people come in and make Tik Toks about the store or outfits they’re in,” she said. “I know other owners of second-hand stores that have gotten a lot more new business because some Tik Toker came in and just mentioned them and suddenly hundreds of new people want to come in.”

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Thrifting is an environmentally-friendly choice, Higgins noted, which could be another reason why Gen Z has gotten into it. So, Tik Tok is not only driving a return to styles some of us would rather forget, it’s also encouraging slow fashion.

“Even though it’s a totally different genre of second-hand clothing that people are looking for these days – and it’s weird that it’s coming from a place like Tik Tok — it’s cool to see so many people so pro-second hand, and it’s getting the word out,” she said. “It’s nice for us in this industry that people don’t see it as a yucky poor people thing to do but that shopping second hand is cool, it’s trendy, it’s good for the environment, and it’s a way to find better articles of clothing, stuff you are not going to find most other places, and people are catching onto that.”

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