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10th October 2019

In conversation with the president of UoM’s first ever Thrifting Society

Fashion editor Alice Porter, chats to the founder of UoM’s brand new Thrifting Society, Millie Nettleton
In conversation with the president of UoM’s first ever Thrifting Society
Photo: rose_mcavoy @ pixabay

Fourth-year French and English Literature student, Millie Nettleton, founded the University of Manchester’s first-ever Thrifting Society this year. She spoke to The Mancunion about her reasons for starting the society, what the society entails and the best thrifting spots in Manchester.

The Thrifting Society won’t be totally fashion-based and will also cover other aspects of thrifting, like home and lifestyle. “The world of thrifting is so much bigger than you realise,” Millie said. She also mentioned that at the societies fair, a lot of people spoke to them about elements of thrifting outside of the fashion sphere.

“Some people talked about buying old cushions and re-decorating them, and one woman interpreted the word ‘thrifting’ as saving money. It’s becoming apparent to us that, although we created the society based on fashion, it’s more about the culture of being able to make something out of leftovers, to revive something.”

Manchester has lots of second-hand events and shops, which is great but can be overwhelming. There is a skill in thrifting new clothes. While Manchester is a great place for options and variety, it can be hard to know where to start. We asked Millie about her personal favourites:

“Mine is probably Thrift by Piccadilly Gardens bus stop. It has the best middle ground stuff and they have kilo sales sometimes where you pay by the weight of the items.”

We talked about her thoughts on vintage shops selling over the mark for clothes. Their argument is that they’re charging extra for a curated selection of vintage clothes. However, some feel this is monopolising the second hand market for the middle class. It also deters people from buying second hand; a necessary step towards action on climate change.

Millie said that it was all about how easy you find thrifting. “It’s a very time-consuming task if you really look for something that’s going to fit you perfectly and that you’re really going to love. But if you go to places that already have a curated collection, you’re a lot more likely to find something that is to your style, your taste and that hasn’t got any holes in it. So they have done half the work for you and it’s okay that they mark up for that because people are willing to pay for them. But for me, part of the fun of thrifting is discovering it for yourself, that’s part of the satisfaction.”

Millie and her friends started the society to encourage students who might be afraid of entering the world of thrifting. It can be time-consuming, overwhelming, and some people have hygiene concerns about wearing second-hand clothes. All of these things can deter students from getting on that Magic Bus and heading to the Northern Quarter.

“Not all of us are avid thrifters, but we want to do it more. That’s part of the reason why it’s good to create a community around it.”

“Hygiene-wise, my advice would be to get a fabric softener that has extra scent in it and blitz it in the wash. Saying that, I wouldn’t go buying second-hand underwear…”

The Thrifting Society want to organise weekly trips to thrift shops, swap shops and drop-in sessions for fixing up clothing. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for details of upcoming events and socials.

Finally, we asked Millie what her favourite thrifted find was: 

“My favourite thing that I’ve ever thrifted was from this tiny little shop down a backstreet in York. It was a vintage Aquascutum coat, very Burberry-esq. I found it myself and haggled the price down and you can’t really do that in conventional fashion shops.”

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