In a constantly changing world, new fashion trends come and go on the daily while people take part in a consumerist system to keep up with the current fads. Clothing production has been streamlined to be quick and cheap at the cost of the environment, making it one of the most polluting industries in the world. Two best friends recognized this as a huge issue and set out to combat fast fashion with their business, the Vintage Stock Reserve (VSR).
Vintage Stock Reserve began when two high school friends, Tommy Groenendijk and Jordan Deery, realized their shared passion for vintage clothing and thrift shopping. After joining TikTok in October of 2019, Groenendijk and Deery started sharing their creations online and quickly grew a huge fanbase as people began to recognize that old clothing does not mean it cannot be stylish. VSR’s videos explain how people can upcycle their old clothing and why this is important for our planet.
Now with a following of nearly two million fans, it’s clear that VSR’s clothing is a huge hit. Each item that Groenendijk and Deery create is a one-of-a-kind fashion piece that symbolizes a transition to a more sustainable lifestyle. VSR upcycles all types of clothing like shirts, pants, hats, scrunchies, shoes, and tote bags.
One of their most popular upcycled styles is what VSR calls “split and swap.” With this technique, two shirts are cut in half and the opposite sides are sewn together to create two new shirts. They also have popular reverse-dyed items like denim jackets and jeans which creates a unique bleached style. Other upcycling techniques include screen printing, cropping, tie-dying, patching, or simply cleaning and freshening.
In addition to using their platform to share their clothing creations, VSR uses their account to educate their followers about the fast fashion industry, consumerism, fashion ethics, and environmental impacts. One topic that repeatedly appears on their page is the issue of synthetic microfibers.
Manufactured using fossil fuels, synthetic fibers such as polyester will take hundreds of years to decay. When they finally do decay, the microplastics of the fibers are absorbed into our soil, our water supplies, and our oceans. Meanwhile, natural fabrics like cotton and linen will only take a few weeks to decay, according to statistics listed on “Close the Loop.”
Because of the consumerist mindset and the overwhelming support of fast fashion clothes, it’s easy to buy, throw away, and buy again. In a video posted on Vintage Stock Reserve’s TikTok page, Groenendijk describes just how big of a problem this consumerist system is. Every year, the average person throws away around 80 pounds of clothing, 85% of which ends up in landfills.
To decrease the amount of clothing waste going into landfills, it’s best to stop buying new clothing and make your existing clothing last longer. Support sustainable fashion by shopping at thrift shops or buy second-hand from people who upcycle old clothing.
And although thrifting is great for the environment, the growing popularity of vintage clothing has had some social implications. Critics of VSR argue that the business contributes to the gentrification of thrift shops. This means that an increase in demand for vintage clothing will drive up the price and make it unaffordable for lower-income people. While this is a concern as the vintage clothing industry explodes, VSR assures its followers that their business is not a part of this problem and that all of their clothing is sourced ethically.
In a video posted on their TikTok page, Groenendijk describes the timeline of used clothing.
“It all starts with a donation, say Goodwill or Salvation Army,” Groenendijk explains. “From here, you have graders that judge the quality of the donated clothes. They only choose about 5% of the clothing they get, which is what you see in stores. The rest gets packaged into bales which are then sold to big wholesale buyers. These wholesalers create categories like jackets, shirts, or denim and supply it to smaller buyers such as ourselves. We are basically saving clothes from the end of their life cycle before it goes to landfills. The last thing we want to do is make thrifting less accessible to others.”
Vintage Stock Reserve is an amazing business with a mission to save the planet. A growing movement of younger generations has emerged in an effort to speak up for the planet—and enact change where policy still fails to. VSR’s story is an inspiration for youth everywhere showing that it is possible to make a difference. By taking matters into their own hands, Tommy and Jordan are fighting climate change one stitch at a time.
Follow along on VSR’s journey through TikTok: @vintagestockreserve.