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New thrifting trend fights fast fashion

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By Ellen McSweeney and Méabh O'Sullivan Darcy

Transition Year Journalism

Thrifting is the surprising new trend of today - with vintage clothing coming back in style as young people want to recreate the iconic looks of the '70s, '80s and '90s.

The second-hand fashion market has taken young people by storm and is projected to reach €67 billion by 2025, up from €31 billion in 2021 and is growing at a staggering 11 times the rate of the broader retail clothing sector.

The biggest benefit of this trend is how it challenges the fast fashion industry. Fast fashion is inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. These industries produce billions of garments a year and it is estimated that a bin lorry of textiles is wasted every second. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, just after the oil industry. That is why it has such a significant impact on carbon emissions and an overall damage to the environment - not to mention the disgraceful conditions the workers in the factories endure as they are severely underpaid and abused.

Second-hand fashion gives used clothes a new life rather than being discarded to the rubbish. This eco-friendly aspect to the trend is a huge contributor to the popularity of thrifting in recent years. People are becoming more aware of the problem of fast fashion and its negative impact on the environment and want to take a stand and make a change for a better, more eco-friendly world.

One such shop in Killarney is ‘Hazels Nuts About Vintage' on Plunkett Street.

“I set up the shop because I was looking for different fashion myself and I couldn’t find any," Hazel O'Malley explained.

"I went up to Dublin 10 years ago and I started to see vintage shops and second-hand shops. There was just so many clothes out there and people are just wearing them a few times and they are just being thrown away even though they are good quality and I wanted to give them a second life. The clothes that you would get in earlier years were much better quality then clothes you would get now. They will last and you can wear them over and over again," she said.

NOT SUSTAINABLE

"I think thrifting has become so popular now because people are interested in the planet and people know that the consumerism that took over in the past few years just isn't sustainable. People want to give clothes a new life. And I suppose people want different stuff, they don’t want to look the same as everyone and they want something new. When you go into a second hand or a vintage shop you don’t know what you're going to get and there's an element of surprise and there's only one of everything while if you go into a big retail shop you can see everything and you know what's in there. In a vintage shop you might find something you didn’t expect and didn’t even know you wanted.”

Hazel said she thinks there is a place for fast fashion because we still need new clothes.

"I think the companies that are making the clothes are going to have to improve their workers' rights as it's a huge problem. People must be suffering on the other side because you can't make clothes that cheap and bring them here so quickly. And the pollution of all that is because they only make clothes that will last a short time and if they can make the clothes that will last longer and pay their workers a proper wage. A lot of places wrap things in plastic bags.”

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Housing Will Never Be The Same

Last week I wrote about the pathetic investment options out there for Irish investors. Despite high ongoing fees (mortgage, maintenance, insurance etc.) and the actual headache of being a landlord, […]

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Last week I wrote about the pathetic investment options out there for Irish investors.

Despite high ongoing fees (mortgage, maintenance, insurance etc.) and the actual headache of being a landlord, it’s easy to see why real estate functioned as the de facto investment portfolio for an entire generation.

Wealth creation was a rinse-and-repeat function where couples put money away until they had enough for the ‘next house’. As a result, we have an economy where 70% of household wealth is tied up in real estate.

Driven by the profits it created, Ireland became obsessed with owning real estate.

But real estate as an investment won’t be nearly as successful for our generation. (If you are able to get a house, that is)

All you have to do is look at the anecdotal evidence all around us to confirm this.

My parents bought the house they currently live in for 30k (pounds) 35 years ago. The house is now worth roughly 450k.

I typically despise these back-of-the-envelope calculations when It comes to property, given the endless variables and ongoing costs involved, but bear with me.

That’s a gross return of 15 times the original value. Now there are upgrades, a change in currency and other adjustments to consider here, so for argument’s sake, let’s call it 10X.

To achieve the same level of growth over the next 35 years, you would be left paying 4,500,000 euros for what is a pretty modest house.

Sure, we will still see property prices increase over time, but the rate of growth won’t be anywhere near as meaningful for one simple reason.

Interest rates.

Artificial Growth

Over the last 30 years, real economic growth has been stagnant, yet Ireland has experienced enviable nominal growth.

How did we manage it?

We created imaginary wealth.

We pushed interest rates lower and lower to stimulate economic growth.

And it worked.

After all, if you make 100k/year you can probably afford a 400k mortgage at 4%. At 2%, with the same 100k/year salary you can now take on 600k in debt.

So, were we getting richer, or was the debt just easier to afford?

Where do we go from here?

We have now squeezed interest rates as low as they can go.

The house price appreciation we have seen was justifiable because the mortgage rates on housing continued to fall in recent decades. This allowed people to take on more debt without severely impacting their ability to repay that debt.

If we go back to my parents, they were paying 14% on their mortgage. Mortgage rates are currently between 2 to 3%.

A relentless drop in interest rates gave way to higher and higher prices for houses, but interest rates are now on the floor.

The juice has been squeezed.

In fact, the trend has started to reverse, with rates expected to rise 1.5% in the first half of 2023

Be mindful that the same credit expansion cannot happen again.

How the next generation thinks about their investment options has to change.

Banks offering 0% returns for the use of your money and a housing ladder you can’t get on are not your only two options.

If you need help creating your own investment portfolio, just reach out to me at mike@theislandinvestor or simply scan the QR code above.

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Biddies performance celebrates St Brigid

Two local Biddies groups performed at Muckross House as part of St Brigid’s Day celebrations in aid of Kerry Parents and Friends Association. The Killarney Parents and Friends Biddy Group – formerly […]

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Two local Biddies groups performed at Muckross House as part of St Brigid’s Day celebrations in aid of Kerry Parents and Friends Association.

The Killarney Parents and Friends Biddy Group – formerly known as the Beaufort Biddy Group – and Kilgobnet Biddies came together for the event.

The tradition of the Biddies is one of the oldest and most colourful customs in Ireland, a blend of pagan and Christian pageantry, held on February 1 each year, heralding the beginning of springtime and honouring St Bríd the patron saint of the farming community.

Master traditional craftsman, Pat Broderick, at Muckross House, was also part of St Brigid’s Day celebrations, making a St Brigid’s Cross as part of the traditions.

 

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