Last week I attended EcoFashion Week.  They had a slightly different approach this time, including a brand new sponsor - Value Village.  You guessed it, thrift, the original eco fashion finally had its opportunity to hit the main stage.  I wrote a review of the Value Village runway show over at Vancouver Observer.

I used to regularly comb the local thrift stores waaaaaaay back in the 80s to find great vintage and inexpensive finds.  Over sized men's shirts to be worn with big hip belts.  A great two sided black trench coat, with black/white gingham on the other side.  A lacy 50s dresses.....   Then somehow I dropped off the thrift band wagon.  The 90s came and I was starting my professional life. The Gap took over as my shopping destination.

A few years ago I discovered thrift again.  Lately Value Village has been added to my list of regular fashion haunts.  Yes, Value Village is more than just a Halloween destination!  It is more than just a place to get great used kids clothes. It is  a treasure trove of cheap, eco-friendly, fashion finds.

Here are some of the eco stats you might not know about Value Village:

  • 600 million pounds of goods are saved from the landfills each year by the Value Village cycle
  • 947 million pounds of goods were recycled in the past 3 years by Value Village.  That is equal to 2.6 pounds of goods for every person in Canada, the US AND Australia.
  • 200 million pounds of items are sold to developing countries
  • $1.5 billion was donated to non-profits over the last 10 years.

Every Time you shop or donate second hand items at a Value Village you are helping their network of nonprofit partners.   Value Village donates money for each piece they receive, regardless of whether it sells or not.


The problem as I see it, is that we have forgotten how to shop thrift.  We are busy and shopping new can be so much easier.   But I want you to consider how much better, and more fun, it can be to add a thrift-ed item to your closet instead of something new.  First off, it is highly unlikely you will end up wearing the same dress as someone else to a party. And you can find some fantastic finds for very little money.  And we all love to save money right?!

Myriam in head-to-toe Value Village.

Value Village and Myriam Laroche, the founder of Eco Fashion Week gave me some tips to make shopping thrift easier:

  1. Go often, you never know what treasures will be there the next day. Every Value Village store gets 5,000 new items every day.
  2. Never have an expectation for finding a certain item, keep an open mind. You might go in for a dress and come out with an awesome top.
  3. If you are wary about wearing second-hand clothing, many people find that books, housewares (specifically glassware) and handbags/accessories are a good entry-point. With more than 130 product categories at every Value Village store, there is much, much more than just clothing.
  4. Give yourself enough time to shop the store. Each Value Village store has more than 100,000 items on the sales floor at any given time.
  5. Wear something simple, such as flats, leggings and a tank top so that you can try items on as you shop.
  6. When in doubt—grab it, and try it on. You never know!
  7. It’s important to touch the clothes and feel the quality and craftsmanship. Be on the lookout for luxurious materials like silk and cashmere.
  8. Look at labels to determine where the product was made. Typically, pieces of clothing made in Canada, U.S. or Italy are high-quality and have great workmanship and detail.
  9. Shop a department you wouldn’t usually shop in and don’t limit yourself to size. Some of the best blazers, cardigans and shirts for women can be found in the men’s department. Interesting fashions can also be found by taking something in a larger size and adding a belt!
  10. Try to work second-hand clothing into your wardrobe slowly. For example, if you buy five pieces of clothing per month, buy one secondhand.
  11. Have fun with shopping second-hand! Bring friends and make it a treasure-hunt adventure!

I am going to add that there are extra bonus points for those of us who can thrift with our kids along with us.  I have recently discovered a quick visit to the toy section first will buy me about 15 minutes of peace... even in a very long line up for the change room.   But note that it can be very busy on Saturdays, so try for a mid week visit. Many of their locations are open until 9 on weekdays.  Perfect for an after the kids go to bed shopping excursion.

And what did I wear? Well I forgot to take my own picture.  But I did get captured on the green carpet with the lovely Anna Cohen (writing for and Kendra Hagerman (VanCityPretty).  You can find the picture over on Facebook.   For the record I was wearing a Banana Republic black button down, hot pink Joe Fresh tank, Addition Elle black belt, black pencil skirt, second hand leopard print flats, bright blue thrift-ed 1960s swing coat, white flea market find necklace and my new purple Liebeskin purse. For those keeping count that is 3 second hand items in one pretty snazzy outfit.

Some of the Value Village outifts that Myriam styled for the show.