• Jordan Holman

Pop (Up) Quiz: Onsite Reporting from RLA's Fall Pop-up Shop

There are 45,000 students currently enrolled at UCLA—45,000 different interests, 45,000 different personalities, 45,000 different styles.

At RefineLA’s fall pop-up in November, I had the opportunity to get to know a tiny handful of these 45,000 faces. I had the chance to talk with our consumers, hear their stories, learn about their personal fashion choices, and understand why thrifting is important to them.

Coming from a town situated right across the Golden Gate Bridge, I found LA fashion to be quite different from what I’d seen growing up. Bay Area culture celebrates bohemianism and embraces San Francisco’s eclectic retro style. There’s this palpable desire to preserve the authenticity of the 1960s Summer of Love, as well as the eccentric expression that came with it.

In LA, I’ve seen a stark and intriguing juxtaposition: simplicity meets experimentation. Many of the clothes are monochromatic and sophisticated, yet there almost always seems to be a pop of color, a statement, something to set you apart from the four million other trendsetters in this city. Popular vintage spots like Melrose Trading Post and the Rose Bowl Flea seek to transform rather than solely preserve. Radical experimentation is encouraged—separating LA from the Bay.

Mikailah Ives, a second year nursing student, spoke to this Californian fashion dichotomy. Even though eye-catching statement pieces seem to be nearly ubiquitous in LA, there are still limits. Ives said she feels there’s this unspoken dress code in LA as opposed to the Bay Area’s free-spirited fashion.

“In the Bay Area I dressed a lot more hippie and in Los Angeles I dress a lot more plain,” she said.

“I think LA has a look that you’re kind of supposed to fit into; there’s a pressure to conform.”

Maybe this ‘look’ has something to do with the city being such a fashion epicenter, a creative and innovative hub where new trends are constantly emerging.

“I feel like some locations have the tendency to get trends sooner. New York and LA are definitely more fashion-forward,” said Aria, an environmental science student from Seattle, Washington.

Although Aria said the differences could possibly be attributed to the weather, she said she definitely notices that people are more conscious of their fashion choices here in LA. They have a desire to look trendy when they step out onto the street.

Looking good has recently become almost synonymous with consuming ethically. When asked what their primary motivators are for thrift shopping, an overwhelming amount of students at the pop-up told me that affordability and sustainability top their list.

“I’ve learned so much about the textile industry and how much waste it produces,” said Kristita, a student who said she’s been exclusively buying second hand clothing since March. “One t-shirt takes so many materials and resources and human labor, and it just isn’t worth it.”

As people are becoming increasingly aware of the inhumane conditions and environmentally harmful impacts of fast fashion, they are also becoming less reluctant to shop for used clothes. And as this thrifting trend only continues to explode, I predict we’ll see a seismic shift in the fashion industry—where upcycling vintage clothing is preferable to shopping at name brand department stores. And maybe since LA is so fashion-focused, we’ll see the shift beginning right here on UCLA’s campus.

But ultimately it doesn’t matter if you’re from the City of Angels, its Northern California counterpart, the Pacific Northwest, or even the opposite coast. Thrifting has become omnipresent—and I’m convinced it’s here to stay.

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