New clothes? No, no
While most of us pull a face at the idea of buying pre-owned clothes, Paulami Sen embraced it with love and affection. So much so that her wedding gift was a pre-worn piece of clothing. Journalist with The New Indian Express, Paulami tells us why thrifted fashion is a conscious decision and how it helps the man, the maker, and the nature
I do not harbor any such conception that I can’t wear clothes others have worn. If there is minor fray or tear, I mend it, wash it, and wear it.
So I write a lot about fashion. During writing and researching about fashion, I came across the concept of sustainability and also what the artisans who made our clothes endured. It was then I felt that the one way we could appreciate their (artisans’) labor was to treasure their work of art. Of course, conserving the environment also got onto my mind. I became aware that when somebody discarded a piece of clothing it went to the landfill helping nobody while increasing our carbon footprint. Yet another factor that led me to love pre-owned clothes was that buying a Gucci or Ralph Lauren or other designer whose work I admired was beyond my means. Thrifted clothes meant democratization of the idea of brand.
Does it not bother you that these pieces of clothing come with health hazards?
I don’t agree with pre-owned clothes having any health issues. I use various kinds of disinfectant such as Dettol and others to ensure that the clothes are totally free of bacteria and things one could worry about. I have been wearing thrifted fashion for sometime now and I have not had any issues at all.
I am constantly in touch with people who sell thrifted items and they do their bit of thorough washing too. So, when I receive a pre-owned ensemble, it is well fumigated.
Since when have you been wearing thrifted fashion?
Last year, say 2019, was when I made the switch. I happened to go to Switcheroo in Hyderabad which was a platform for people to exchange their clothes. There, I picked up a lot of good stuff. Soon after, I started reading up about thrifted fashion and looking up Instagram. I realized that the thrifted and vintage market was a niche one in our country. That gave me impetus that whatever I wore was exclusive. I had one more reason to drift towards thrifted clothing — that of upping my style quotient.
If it is a niche market and there are not too many shopping avenues, how then do you chance upon the rare ones?
Well, an insane amount of research helps. All my post-work activities are relegated to finding avenues that sell pre-owned clothes. Also, a lot of research goes into ensuring that what the seller calls vintage is authentic. If somebody says a particular piece is from a particular place, I do a check to ensure it is correct to evaluate its vintage value. I own a Hanae Mori scarf from Japan. Before I bought that, I Googled the prints the brand supplied and tried to match it with the one that was on sale.
I believe you own a Monica Dogra dress that she once owned. Tell us something about that.
I was writing a story about Bombay Closet Cleanse for the work they were doing to raise funds for people hit by COVID-19 at that point in time. As part of the fund raising activity, a celebrity closet was up for sale. Monica Dogra is somebody I admire and to own something that did once was a fan moment for me. When I saw her dress, I loved its color and quality and I hadn’t seen anything like that in the longest time. There was a minor fraze, but that wasn’t really a problem with me. When Monica found out I was going to own a piece of her clothing, she wrote to me saying it was one of her favorite pieces and I should take good care of it.
Do you alter these already worn clothes?
Not all the time. I don’t mind wearing loose clothing. Clothes don’t have to fit me all the time. If there are pieces that demand to be trimmed and cut and altered to fit my body, then I do so.
Give us the names of three avenues for thrifted fashion.
Carol’s Shop & Tea Room, Good For Nothing, and Bodements.