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ASU students embrace vintage fashion through secondhand suppliers

University Street Market helps amplify personal style with affordable, accessible and sustainable vintage clothing

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The University Street Market sign pictured outside of the Memorial Union on the Tempe Campus on Tuesday, April 4, 2023.

Style can be defined by everything from the earrings someone pairs with their bracelets to how many holes they cut in their jeans. Style can also be embracing aspects of older fashion to incorporate into a modern outfit, hence the popularity of vintage fashion.  

With the resurgence of corduroy jackets, bell-bottom jeans, flared sleeves and graphic tees reminiscent of the 90s and early 2000s, secondhand clothing has become a hot commodity in the modern age. 

"A lot of my favorite things about vintage fashion ... is no one else has the same style that you have," said Peter Bartos, a Fashion Collective club member and freshman studying English. "No one else has like the same prints. And if they do, it's going to be very, very rare."

The affordability and quick availability through shipping has made fast fashion the new mode of buying clothes and building a wardrobe for many shoppers.

READ MORE: Mindful garments: sustainable fashion at ASU

"I think fast fashion is heavily flawed," said Nikita Anand, a junior studying business law. "I think it's harder to find, like unique pieces of fast fashion, whereas, like, vintage and secondhand thrifting you can find more."

However, with the uptick in popularity for fast fashion, many younger shoppers and self-proclaimed fashionistas have turned towards online browsing for their clothes. Websites like SHEIN, Forever 21, Cider and H&M have skyrocketed in popularity thanks to online shopping hauls and unboxing videos. 

While fast fashion contributes to pollution and mass waste, recycled clothing can become repurposed to create an individual look for students, making it not only unique, but also more sustainable; a key piece in the University Street Market's partnership with the University Sustainability Practices for Earth Month.

Providing a large variety of thrifted articles of clothes, the University Street Market is a nonprofit organization made up of different thrift vendors that have returned to ASU to help bring vintage fashion back to students. With affordable pricing and sustainable pieces to choose from, there's something for everyone to find at this not-so-hidden gem that donates proceeds to the ASU Fashion Collective.

"Instead of driving 20 to 30 minutes to the mall to get some fast fashion, we bring it to campus," said Eddie Pan, a University Street Market vendor and coordinator. "It's accessible, it's affordable, and also ... sustainable." 

"The purpose of having a University Street Market ... is to show that fast fashion has large detriments to the environment," said Stephanie Georgiou, an ASU alumna and Sustainability Practices program coordinator. "We're encouraging individuals to shop secondhand and opt for products that were pre-owned, or might already (have) been loved once and can be loved again."

Hosted in the heart of campus outside of the Memorial Union, with the occasional event hosted at the West campus, students don't have to look far to scour top-quality, secondhand vintage pieces.

"Pieces that, like you see somebody on the street, they're not gonna be wearing that same outfit as you," Anand said. "It's something that you can pick out yourself and you find that uniqueness and you can fix that to yourself."  

 A person's style is the outer most reflection of their personality. Like a canvas, they've chosen to decorate themselves with clothing that feels right. And for many, nostalgic, older pieces meshed with more modern articles of clothing combine to create an entirely new medium of expression for students. 

"A lot of people in the Fashion Collective are heavily into secondhand clothing, myself included," Bartos said. "A lot of people will have all the same like, you know, Pacsun, Forever 21 ... they'll all have like a similar closet to one another. And I think with vintage fashion, students are able to be extremely individual in what they choose to wear."  

READ MORE: Vintage shops near ASU campuses use style as a tool for confidence

In a new environment as vast and crowded as ASU is, it may be difficult for students to try to stand out in a student body comprised of tens of thousands of people. To curate a distinct style through vintage pieces could be just what students are looking for.

The University Street Market, and thrift shop vendors like it, provides not only accessible vintage pieces, but also affordable and sustainable articles of clothing. 

"The vendors are just super down to Earth, really nice people. And they get that we're students too. So like, they're not stocking up the prices and being like '$100 for this jacket' kind of thing," Anand said. "They're very understanding that we're all just trying to be sustainable, and all just trying to look good."

Students can check out the University Street Market at any of their upcoming events held independently or partnered with the University Sustainability Practices on both the Tempe and West campuses, as well as at Kiwanis Park.

Edited by Claire van Doren, Reagan Priest and Anusha Natarajan. 

Reach the reporter at and follow @anxieteandbread on Twitter.

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Analisa ValdezEcho Reporter

Analisa Valdez is a reporter with the Echo, focusing on covering the arts and entertainment world. Analisa has been apart of the State Press for two and a half years and is in her third year at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. 

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