Words by Carmen Macri
Social media has one thing to say: fast fashion is out, and secondhand apparel is in. Gen Z has quickly shifted the stigma of shopping at thrift stores and turning this once hushed secret into one of fashion’s biggest trends. Influencers from around the world have made names for themselves by sharing their entirely thrifted wardrobes under the hashtag #thrifthaul.
Thrifting and resale retail have become virtual now with websites and apps like Depop. Buying secondhand has become more accessible to people who don’t have hours to waste sifting through racks and racks of clothing. This also created a huge business opportunity for individuals who have an eye for prize pieces and a knack for styling clothes.
Locally, Kiley Davis has taken Jacksonville by storm with her virtual storefront, Keeks Vintage. In the beginning, Keeks Vintage was a way for Davis to share her fashion with friends, but her Depop shop took flight and now has 23,000 followers, a five-star rating and that all-important blue check. “I grew up thrifting. My parents couldn’t afford to take me to places like the Town Center to buy brand-new clothes, so they would take me to Goodwill. I would pick out a few pairs of jeans and that was that,” said Davis.
About seven years ago Davis realized she could be making serious money off her thrifted finds. It all started with a pair of $6 Levi’s that didn’t fit quite right. “They were so cute, and I felt like someone else might like them. So, I listed them on Depop for $55,” Davis said. “I styled them with cute shoes and a top and they sold that day. I thought it was crazy that I could make money doing this.”
At first, Depop was a side hustle throughout college. It took a while for her storefront to grow into what it is now. She claims the one thing that grew her platform was consistency. Davis explained the time-consuming process of looking for merchandise to resell. “Sometimes it takes the entire day. I’ll go from like nine in the morning to six o’clock at night,” she explained. “It takes hours because you don’t want to miss anything, you know?” That one aisle could be the one.” And when it comes to knowing what people want, there was a lot of trial and error. Keeping up with fashion trends was a huge part of keeping her storefront relevant.
Fast forward seven years, Keeks Vintage is co-hosting bikini fashion shows and doing monthly pop-up shops and has made dozens of vintage connections across the country. In July 2022, Davis presented the first of many Keeks Vintage fashion shows at Surfer the Bar and the turnout was massive. People were shoulder to shoulder trying to get a good look at the girls in their vintage suits.
“I definitely feel like [the fashion show] put me on the map locally. My sales have always been primarily online with people buying from anywhere and everywhere. After the show, I gained a lot more local customers which is awesome. Sold out of all the suits featured in the fashion show, and it brought a lot more attention to Keeks in general,” Davis said.
Because Davis was selling her vintage clothes predominately online, she made connections with other vintage vendors across the country. Instead of people listing their finds online themselves, they come Davis directly now, sending her photos of their finds and their selling prices. “One lady in California bought a storage unit, kind of like <Storage Wars>, and didn’t know what was inside. The unit was stacked to the top with boxes of brand-new vintage bikinis,” she said. “We went through them on Facetime, and I got 150 brand-new suits for a great deal… They all sold that summer.”
Davis believes that bundle of bikinis is how she made a name for herself. She has a strong passion for upcycling her vintage bikinis, so that quickly became her niche and even being crowned the “vintage bikini dealer” of Depop.
“Fast fashion is not sustainable,” Davis explained. “Some people don’t realize how bad it [fast fashion] is for the environment.” With millions of articles of clothing ending up landfills every year, she figured there had to be a better way: “Why not thrift them to resell them?”
The fashion industry is the third largest polluter, emitting 10% of global greenhouse emissions and releasing 1.2 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year due, in part, to the growing demand for fast fashion. Thrifting keeps clothes out of landfills and reduces carbon and chemical pollution that is caused by clothing production.
The questions is: Is thrifting the solution to fast fashion? Could resale retail be Earth’s knight in shining armor?
Check out Keeks Vintage on Depop (@Kiley_Davis) and Instagram (@Keeks.Vintage).