The Ultimate Guide To Thrifting In Amsterdam: How To Help Your Wallet and the Planet

By Sarah Smit and Jana Naskova

Keira Favier surrounded by some of her favourite thrift finds. Photo by Amel Aladžuz

— With the holidays coming up, there is a growing rate of consumerism, as people try to find the perfect presents and put together enchanting, festive outfits. It is easy to fall back on cheap, familiar fashion brands, but perhaps it is time to resist that temptation, and turn to thrifting instead. 

Fast fashion contributes remarkably to climate change, and workers in factories of brands such as Zara and H&M work under horrific conditions for minimal wages. Keira Favier, general board member of AUC’s fashion committee Couture, believes we should boycott companies with unethical labour conditions: “By changing our patterns of consumption, we can improve the labor conditions in which fast fashion is made”. An increasing number of people share Favier’s opinion and turn to thrifting as a cheap and stylish alternative to fast fashion.

Other than being incredibly fun to do with friends, thrifting is sustainable and moderately cheaper than fast fashion. High quality denim, vintage silhouettes, and unique pieces that hold the potential to completely transform your look are just some of the gems to be found.

Fun as they are, thrift stores can also be overwhelming because of the large amount of choices they offer. It is therefore helpful to consider what you are looking for beforehand, as well as do a little research on the stores in your area. Take note of the kind of neighborhood you are thrifting in. Places in Centrum and Zuid are more expensive than those in Oost, partly because the clothing is often of better quality. 

One of Favier’s top tips is to only buy a piece if you’re 100% in love with it, because even thrifting can stop being sustainable and turn into overconsumption once you buy just for the sake of buying and collecting clothes. Do not be afraid to take your time. Look at the material of the clothes, is it itchy or sweaty? Purchases of high quality will last longer and also give you more of your money’s worth, so do not overlook the details in your excitement. Always examine for any holes or rips before you buy something. If you are unsure of a piece or its quality, do not make hasty decisions. If you think you are unlikely to wear it, or cannot match it with anything you already own, give it a pass. 

Thrifting is a gamble; sometimes you find amazing pieces, and sometimes that is not the case. Do not get discouraged! Favier shares some of her favourite places for thrifting here:

  • Penny Lane (located in De Pijp, on the pricey side)
  • Indigo Vintage
  • Time Machine
  • Waterloo Plein
  • Fifty Fifty (here in Oost) 

Still no luck, or do you want to avoid in-person shopping altogether? Try online thrifting. There is always something for sale on one of AUC’s Facebook groups, for example AUC Girls and Buy, Sell & Trade – Amsterdam University College. Keira recommends using the app “Vintage”, which makes it possible to apply search filters and sort clothes according to price range. If there is nothing to your liking on any of the above, do not be afraid to branch out. Instagram has various pages where second-hand and vintage clothes are sold. First year student Faryal Rashid recommends the following: 

@mamatigre.vintage , @reveuse.vintage , @archiverie , @rumorsvintage @sinne.moanne.vintage , @sugarsugar_vintage , @laudervintage 

Another pro-tip is to haggle. Many shops and open air markets such as Waterloo Plein can be flexible in terms of prices. Being nice to the merchants always helps in the process! Let us say that the piece costs €20, a good idea is to offer a price that is a little below that (€10), so that at the end you and the merchant can meet in the middle and settle for around €15.

Finally, a good rule of thumb is to always wash clothes found in thrift stores before you wear them, this is especially important now because of the pandemic. Try to frequent stores when they are least busy, and bring along hand sanitizer. Have fun, be sustainable, and stay safe!

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