In the age of Depop, Trade Me and Instagram, online op-shopping has never been easier. With a couple taps of your fashion-forward fingers, you can acquire someone’s pre-loved goodies. Whether you’re searching for a Glassons crop top, a pair of Dickies or a leather corset to get freaky in, there’s almost certainly a secondhand piece to be found online.
However, with the growing popularity of thrifting, prices are growing too. Certain Depop sellers raid their local thrift stores for vintage tees (2000s vintage? I was alive then?? Am I vintage too???) and triple the price to make a sweet buck. With a stocked page of baby sized tank tops, they’re racking up the cash. Alyssa Bhikha, founder of the charity project Clothing 4 Cause, has recognised this strategy and one-upped the competition. Launched through the Creative Minded platform, Bhikha lists donated secondhand pieces online and gives the profits away to various charities who have been impacted by COVID-19. In this kōrero, Bhikha details all things fashion and opens up about the drive to make change.
How would you define fashion?
I think it means individuality and being able to express your own unique self and find creativity in what you wear. It’s definitely changed over time, it doesn’t really matter the cost of it, where you bought it, the brand, it’s about you showing your diversity and embracing your uniqueness. Fashion is really important to me in terms of sustainability too. We need to be looking into how we can reduce the effects of fast fashion and the consequences for our environment. It’s about not feeding into those brands and considering more sustainable options like thrift stores or other second hand and pre-loved items. That’s so much more important and I want to promote and encourage that.
So, does that make fashion a collective engagement for you?
I think it can be both individual and collective. I personally enjoy going out with my friends and dressing up to take photos and videos, but fashion is also about how you, as an individual, express your sense of style and how you choose to wear your clothes. You can wear things in so many ways, the same pieces look so different on everyone else. On a personal level it’s about getting comfortable and feeling confident in what you wear, that’s a massive thing—avoiding what everyone else is wearing or what’s really ‘in’ at that moment. It’s a great space to try things out and engage with a collective.
How did the charity project/Clothing 4 Cause begin?
I had quite a hard year last year… I was in a car accident. I had a brain injury and some complex spinal injuries. I’m still on the recovery route. It really puts things into perspective, you consider what’s important in life. I really found that those charities, networks and communities are so important when you’re feeling really vulnerable and in those desperate situations where you need help. I got a lot of help from mental health services and they’re all volunteer, charity run organisations. I felt like they were doing such cool things. So, I was kind of like, I have all of these clothes, my friends have all these clothes that we just give to charity, but some of those items you spend a lot of money on and they’re worth more than they sell for in those places. I wondered whether there was something I could do to encourage people to give back in some way and support other charities. I came across Women’s Refuge and wanted to get involved there. I had a lot of people donate their clothes to me and I started to sell them on Depop and my Instagram. Within the first month I raised $250 for Women’s Refuge. Before I started Clothing 4 Cause, I did feel like I was stuck and needed help, and now it’s about giving back to those who now need the help I received.
That’s a really nice process!
Yeah, a lot of people within those charities have gone through some kind of trauma and are coming full circle to offer the help they received. I love it, it feels so rewarding to give back to those communities.
The actual work is really fulfilling too, I’m a filmmaker and it’s been so cool to utilise those skills to sell the pieces for a charitable cause. Getting models and other people involved, it’s great. People are so keen to get creative because of the charitable root.
It must be great to approach fashion through that lens, through photography and videography?
I’ve found that sustainable and thrift items aren’t photographed in a super compelling way, compared to those massive brands. It’s been cool to pull from mainstream techniques and experiment and edit those photos to drive sales and compete with the other brands, and make secondhand clothes look really unique, because they are! That’s helped a lot because we’ve sold so many secondhand pieces. The video stuff really helped to boost the following.
So you’ve also found a community through Clothing 4 Cause?
Definitely, there are so many people keen to get involved and I’m meeting creative people all the time. I’ve had so many messages from people who’ve heard about the project through the grapevine. They’re excited to donate and get excited to support the cause, so it’s a cool community. Seeing young people being so active and creative is a really good vibe.
And, lastly, how do people get involved?
If people want to donate their clothes they should message @creativemindedofficial on Instagram or check out the Creative Minded website. Or, if they want to donate to the same cause, they can check out Autism New Zealand directly. Come get amongst it!