Life After Zara

Buying second-hand fashion in Sofia

Written by Sara Coll Lopez, edited by Mila Boshnakova, photos by Unsplash

When it comes to buying and choosing our clothes, many of us get lost in the endless cycle of so-called "fast fashion," and if you feel like your wardrobe always ends up filled with the same boring clothes that seem to get old in a matter of days, you're not alone. Most of the time, buying fast fashion seems to be the easiest, no-brainer solution to our needs: convenient locations, low-cost items, modern designs…you name it. 

But it shouldn't come as a surprise that choosing this option as a consumer also has serious consequences. Given the dimension in which this industry operates, it is hard to conceive or control whether you are contributing to unnecessary environmental pollution or even human rights violations.

Another thing to consider is that sometimes, we choose fast fashion so we don't have to think much about what we really want to wear. Therefore, in some way, we are giving up control of how we look and how we express ourselves through our clothes.

So, all things considered, what other choices do we have? Fear not, in this article we will explore one of the best ways to combat this old trend: second-hand shopping.  Fortunately, Sofia is full of options when it comes to second-hand stores. Not only that, but many people living here enjoy shopping second-hand. That's why we thought, what better way to find the best spots in the city than to ask around? 

Let’s see what people have to say!

We first talked with Neli, who tells us that she has been buying second-hand from a young age and she mainly likes it due to its positive impact on the planet.

What do you like the most about buying second-hand?
I have been buying second-hand clothes (and not only) for the past 15 to 20 years since I was in school. In the beginning, it was mostly because of the possibility to buy diverse and affordable clothes, but with time, it also became a lot about wearing slow fashion and preserving the planet. Buying second-hand clothes is one of the best ways to introduce sustainability into your life and it is what I love about it the most.

What is your favorite place to buy second-hand clothes in Sofia? Why?
It depends on what I am looking for and how much time I have. I like big shops like Mania and Frea, but I also enjoy small places in the city center like Trash Clothing, Ohhla, Ultra, or Maison. Small places are a bit pricier, but they’re easier to navigate around and have more quality things.

What is the best deal you ever got when buying second-hand clothes?
It’s difficult to say, as I’ve had many! Those that I value the most, however, are clothes that have lasted for years after that. The “downside” of second-hand nowadays is that you may fall into the trap of buying a lot of fast-fashion garments that are now flooding second-hand stores. You might end up wearing them a few times and then throw them away, which, if you are looking for a sustainable wardrobe, is not great.

So in that sense, my best “deals” are clothes that last. For example, I have a sweater from Trash Clothing that I bought around 2016 and is still like new – it’s one of my favorite ones.

We then asked Anna, a young Spaniard who loves the thrill of finding quality clothes on a budget.

What do you like the most about buying second-hand?
I’m not going to lie, what I like the most about buying second-hand is the low prices. I have gotten absolute bargains through thrifting!  I’m currently on a mission of creating a capsule wardrobe - a small collection of clothes that complement each other. Second-hand has helped me to acquire quality pieces on a budget. I appreciate that the clothes are unique and it’s also a way of avoiding fast fashion. 

What is your favorite place to buy second-hand clothes in Sofia? 
There are plenty of second-hand shops around the Women's Market. I recommend having a walk in that area - there are many hidden treasures. I especially like Zig-Zag, located on "Knyaz Boris.” I love that they have everything organized by color and type of clothing, thus making it a pleasant shopping experience. 

What is the best deal you ever got when buying second-hand clothes?
I’ve gotten very good deals. A 300 USD cashmere sweater for 7 BGN. An authentic Dolce & Gabbana handbag for 1 BGN (yes, I was very lucky!). A Ralph Lauren cardigan for less than 1 BGN - the list goes on and on.

Lastly, we spoke with Kat, who likes the fact that it allows her to dress in a unique way while reducing her impact on the environment.

What do you like the most about buying second-hand?
There are actually a few things that I like the most. One of them is that by buying second-hand, I use clothes that are already in the consumption chain - thus I am not responsible for creating a new burden on the environment. 

I also like the process of looking for something; it sort of has a therapeutic effect. It’s a way to afford clothes from better brands; those I cannot afford when they are new in the stores. And last but not least, buying second-hand clothes gives me the freedom to dress more uniquely and determine my own style. The best moment is when you find a piece that still has the tag on.

What is your favorite place to buy second-hand clothes in Sofia? Why?
I like the shops on Pirostka, close to the Dimitar Petkov Pazar. There are three shops next to each other, close to the tram stop: Zhelanie, Neshto, and Sezoni. The first one I like very much as the clothes, shoes, and bags they sell have prices. This shop is a bit more expensive but the staff knows me.  Also, they often have clothes that are still new, good brands, and have the original price tags.

Neshto I like because you can find items for 1-5 BGN, which is sometimes a very good deal! And I like Sezoni because you can also buy household items there such as plates, glasses, candle holders, teapots, and mugs. These three shops are close to my office, so I can go and buy stuff during my lunch break or after work. 

Sometimes I don’t even buy things but just browse - it’s a stress reliever and I’m trying to control it so it doesn’t turn into a shopping addiction.

What is the best deal you ever got when buying second-hand clothes?
The best deal I ever got was an original Louis Vuitton bag for just 12 BGN. I later brought it to a specialist and they confirmed that it was an original.

After hearing these opinions, the benefits of second-hand shopping seem clear: 
- It's pocket friendly. Saving money is always welcome.
- You’re being sustainable and protecting the environment.
- It's a chance for you to explore and find your unique style.
- It's fun!

And if you’re still not fully convinced, you can always start small by buying second-hand online, reselling your clothes, or even donating clothes that you don’t wear anymore. So what are you waiting for? Give it a try!

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