In conversation with Emma Chamberlain, who, in her own words is an “honest creator”, podcast host, coffee company owner, pretty decent friend (and daughter), a cat mom, fashion lover and an avid thrifter.
We had the chance to speak with Emma about her love of thrifting and how small changes can have big impacts in the world.
WHAT DOES LEAVING BEHIND A BETTER PLANET MEAN TO YOU?
In my eyes leaving the world in a better place than we found it means to just do your part personally, and to focus on the small changes that you can make. Because, that’s going to rub off on everybody else around you, and that’s going to rub off on everybody else around them, and next thing you know… amazing things can happen.
HOW HAS THRIFTING PLAYED A ROLE IN YOUR LIFE?
Ever since I started getting into fashion thrifting has been my favorite resource to build my closet for so many reasons.
Number one, it’s sustainable, which is an amazing plus. We’re pulling from what already exists, and what would normally be possibly in a landfill, possibly in the ocean. We’re taking those things and we’re making them beautiful again. We’re making them fashionable again. We’re making them fun again.
Number two, it’s cost effective. You can buy a lot of pieces for the price of one top at your favorite store. And now you can make 10 different outfits. It’s amazing.
Number three, there’s something creative about it because when you look through a thrift store, you’re kind of working with nothing.
There’s no trend racks, there’s no guidelines, it’s just you and these random pieces that came from God knows where and you have to make something out of it. And to me that’s really creative. I also love thinking about where these pieces have been before me. What stories they have, there’s something really special about that… and I love it!
WHAT’S THE FAVORITE PIECE OF SECONDHAND THAT YOU OWN?
I remember when I got into thrifting, one of the first things I wanted to find was a pair of vintage Levi’s®. Everybody was wearing them. I needed to be a part of it. They looked so comfortable, they’re timeless. It was a must for me. And I remember I went to my local thrift store every week for months. And I remember the day that I found my first pair of vintage Levi’s®. I lost it. I almost screamed in front of everybody because I was so excited. It was a perfect medium blue wash. They fit me perfectly, and it was one of the most rewarding feelings. And ever since then I’ve been hooked. My vintage Levi’s® collection is constantly growing. Because I love them. They’re the backbone of my closet. I wear Levi’s® five out of seven days a week. And every time I find a pair that fits, I just have to buy them.
DO YOU LIKE TO CUSTOMIZE YOUR PIECES?
One of my favorite things to do is to give old clothes a new life. And I’ll do that in any way I possibly can. Whether that means turning jeans into shorts, or turning a top into a crop top, cutting the sleeves off of a shirt, cutting holes into an old hoodie, painting on things…
It feels really good to reinvent amazing pieces into even more amazing pieces. I love repurposing old pieces, because sometimes I’ll love it so much, but I’ve just worn it too many times, and I’m sick of it but I don’t want to get rid of it. What do I do? I spice it up, I repurpose it, I make it new, I make it fresh. Recently, I took a few pairs of my jeans and I cut the bottoms off of them to make them feel like high water cut offs. I’m obsessed, I wear them all the time now. Whereas before they were just picking up dust in my closet.
SOME PEOPLE THINK THAT THE ONLY WAY TO HAVE A “MORE SUSTAINABLE WARDROBE” IS BY BUYING FROM ECO-BRANDS, BUT THRIFTING IS ALSO A WAY OF DOING IT. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT IT?
I think thrifting is a form of conscious consumption, because you’re buying something that already exists. And you’re not adding to the waste. There’s something so cool and exciting about wearing a piece that somebody has worn before you. The stories the piece holds. There’s something special about that, even a small stain. Maybe Andy Warhol was wearing the jeans and it’s ink from his work, you never know. I love that history!