#thrifted: Values and Ethics of Secondhand Clothing Resellers on Instagram

Bunten, Celeste Elise
Craig, Geoffrey
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Master of Communication Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

This research analyzes the ethics, motivations and the relationship between secondhand clothing sellers and consumers on Instagram in Aotearoa New Zealand. The research explores the reasons why this increasingly popular phenomenon is occurring, considering issues such as aesthetics, cost, convenience, and environmental concerns/sustainability. in-person secondhand shopping, or thrifting, has been researched frequently in the past twenty years, but there is a research gap pertaining to online thrifting. Literature pertaining to in-person secondhand shopping yielded cost and aesthetic appreciation as the most frequent and popular determinants for choosing to purchase secondhand goods. This research interrogates common public and popular culture perceptions that the driving reasons for this phenomenon can primarily be attributed to sustainability, as well as the claim that resellers are motivated entirely by profit. To examine the ethics of secondhand clothing resellers, five resellers were interviewed and asked to share a short survey with their followers. The interviews and surveys allowed for a comparison between the resellers’ understanding of their followers and their motives versus their followers' answers overall. The survey data expressed that while most respondents believe thrifting’s popularity to be attributed to sustainability, the most popular determinants for online thrifting were aesthetic appreciation and convenience. Consumers believe sustainability to be a prominent factor while simultaneously admitting it is not as personally applicable. The resellers interviewed all expressed hedonic and/or beneficent motivation for running their pages. Survey data, and analysis of the resellers’ responses indicates that the most common forms of criticism are unsubstantiated.

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