Hello I’m new here and I have decided to write about something I really love doing, as a shopaholic and a fashion enthusiast: thrift shopping. Or as it is called in Tunisia; Frip Shopping.
So before we head to the 10 reasons why Frip or thrift shops are better than Boutiques or regular Shops, let us define the origin of the word Frip.
Frip is short for the French word: Friperie; which means “used clothes store”. And it can also stand alone as a Noun: Frip that means “someone who wears used clothes.” But when converted to an adjective: Fripped, it can hold a negative connotation; like the clothes are really, really, really used they became ragged and chubby. And, for my greatest happiness, I just discovered in Urban Dictionary (par. 6) that it can be also converted into the verb: To Frip; so one can safely say: “I went Fripping this morning.” without cringing. But again, this is all linked to the context, as the word also has several meanings including Marijuana; or the act of taking drugs; which is funny because Frip shopping is as addictive and as money consuming/making as drugs are.
And now that you’ve fully grasped the meaning, let’s move on the ten reasons why I prefer to go Fripping (yeee I used it!!) instead of Regular Shopping.
1/ Price vs. Worth:
As a student, or probably just a normal person who just doesn’t have millions of cash to squander, Frip is ideal for a low budget if you have a 20dt bill you’ve kept in a drawer for a week or two, or for a bigger one if you want to have the maximum number of items you can get, either because you’re a shopaholic like myself, recently heartbroken and need to feel like you’re actually spending money, or in a phase and just want to change your whole wardrobe as soon as possible. A single shirt’s price in a store can be around 20 to 60dt or more, but think about how many items you can get with that amount of cash, or how much money is left for other stuff when you get a similar shirt from a thrift shop!
But that doesn’t mean that thrift shops are always cheap! In fact, many big Super Frip stores set high, non-negotiable, standard, fixed prices for their items even given the fact they are used! (Cc Mahrez Fripe) And let us not dive into other small matters such as original price tags, brands and designer names that set even higher standards and make a simple item worth 10 times that from a regular store. But you can’t argue with that, because the main argument against you would be..
I’ve been to many “iconic brands” ‘s stores and was very disappointed by the quality of their items. I’m not going to say any specific names, but I’ve seen pseudo-leather jackets, or synthetic leather jackets getting sold for hundreds of dinars when real leather jackets in Frip barely reach 90dt in the worst of cases. I’ve seen mini faux-fur coats sold with twice the price of a big, real fur coat. I’ve seen shoes with no quality at all sold for money that can buy dozens of sustainable, amazing, designer ones from thrift stands on a weekend.. not to mention shirts that easily wear out and trousers that get quickly old and saggy and bags that have nothing special neither in aesthetics nor in function and pathetic pieces of jewelry…
When it comes to 70% of the stores, expect to find a generic, simple item for an inexplicably high price and shamelessly low quality; and what hurts more is that these products have a large number of consumers! While in thrift shops you find sometimes the same brands but with a wayyy better quality and 1/10th the price and more brands that don’t have any stores in Tunisia (sad reacts only) and even luxury ones that people here perhaps never heard about.
Been laughing my ass off this morning when I thought of girls buying fake, low-quality sweatshirts with the Champion logo printed on, for about 30dt; while I got a real one with the logo carefully embroidered on for 3dt only, that looks waaayy more expensive even by a subtle look. Sometimes I wonder.. why? Is it laziness, or having unnecessary amounts of money you have nowhere to put? Oh, think twice, ’cause it’s another day for you and me in paradise.
Styling like a BAWS.
If you have a specific clothing style; either Street Style, Grunge, Punk, Goth, Vintage, 90’s Babe, Kawaï (like me), or any other style I haven’t mentioned, I doubt you can find anything you need in regular stores. Of course, I’m talking about Tunisia and not New York or Britain or any country where there’s always the possibility of online shopping or finding diverse vintage, Gothic, Cute, ORIGINAL stores lead by people who have small brands that you can actually relate to.
Usually, fast fashion sets rules for shops to follow: specific cuts, prints, colours and styles; and each big brand tries its best to make something special out of these criteria… but in the end, all the clothes look vaguely similar.. and either this shop or that would sell you these rules, that others are following, so you all look like one homogeneous army with uniforms you’ve been given the illusion they look different. And oh boy how people love to blindly imitate one another… it’s not like they mind it or anything! But on the contrary, they see you as someone tasteless and unfashionable if you don’t follow the rules.
What a satirical situation; those who are really tasteless make the person who actually has taste, tasteless. That is, my amigos, what we call Common Taste. Do you want to fit in? Fine, but do not insult those who don’t think the same as you do. You do not own the absolute truth (neither do they but at least they’re trying and not insulting others in the process.) – says the person who just insulted people who shop from Zara.
So you resort to Frip where everything is available, and creativity is a must. You don’t have mannequins there with ready outfits, you make them yourself! And only you can see the possibilities an item can offer and what or not it may match. All extremes are allowed, all the designs and colours in the world are before your eyes, waiting for your imagination and sources of inspiration, to work together in order to spot and take what you want.. You are the one who sets the rules, not the opposite. And that is the sort of freedom any real fashionista wants.
4/ One of a kind:
I don’t know if you are like me, but one of my biggest, day-ruining, problems, is dressing the exact same as another girl; or just in the same exact item as another girl near me. I’ve bought this black and fluorescent pink, oversized jersey in a local thrift store and was very happy to have it until I noticed it is literally every-effin-where!! In different colours and sizes, in multiple thrift shops and stands.. and of course, they will be bought and everyone will have the same item as mine!! So needless to say I never worn the jersey again outside of my house.
The same situation happened with tops and tee-shirts I bought from fast fashion stores, but that is when I learned to only buy basics from these stores, i.e. no statement shirts or special designs.. because I’d have to share that with half the population. But colours are free and nobody can own a colour! Well unless you’re Barbie or Tiffany & Co.
But usually what draws me to thrift shops is the fact you can find special items that 80% can never be sold again then and there at least, and usually, they are outdated and not that trendy, so you can look unique in your own way.. unless your taste is similar to many others’, and in that case, you better start working on being unique from the inside sister!
Work that Body meanwhile…
5/ Alternative Workout:
Carrie Bradshaw, one of my idols, once said: “Shopping is my Cardio.”; because shopping takes a lot of effort; moving from one store to another, in 5-inch heels, with shopping bags all over your arms, besides your heavy handbag hanging over your shoulder… An average shopping trip can work your muscles more than an hour and a half at the Gym!
Yet of course, this is Tunisia we’re talking about; not New York; so even if you go window shopping or actually enter each and every store in a small city like mine, you won’t be making any kind of effort.. but Frip on the other hand; covering large surfaces in many areas a city, is the real deal. Try walking back and forth in 4 or 5 whole streets or in a space the size of a stadium or a parking spot, filled with goodies and twists and turns, while moving your eyes to see everything and digging with your hands to examine items you liked… That is some muscle exercise.
Time has gone too far making everything easy for us, while deep inside some (like me) still have the instinct of a hunter, and would actually like to work an extra muscle in order to reach what they want.
6/ Game of Chess:
In Frip, it’s all about Strategy. You can spend 100dt on 3 items and go home early, or spend 30dt on 9 items after 3 hours of searching and jumping from one rack to another. Also, negotiations have an impact, and days of the week; you can either come on the first day of the Frip “cycle” where the prices are at their highest, or postpone your trip 2 days later to have both the good quality and good price formula, or settle for the end of the cycle when they become mediocre and you can then buy dozens of things you may or may not need.
Also, it’s like being in a stealth game, you either see the potential of a specific thrift stand or learn the place of that one thrift shop that brings 500$ hoodies for 3dt, in order to have a successful shopping trip; or know the exact time and effort to waste on stands because not every stand is worth it.
And if you are like me, you’d already think of an outfit for each item you like.. if you can’t, then throw it, you don’t need it.
But Thrifting is about exploiting brains, experience, and social skills to get the best; your best anyway, unless you like the same items everyone else likes, and in that case, prepare for fights!
.. and your Soul.
7/ Searching Process:
The searching process is one of my favourite parts about Frip for exactly what I mentioned before: physical activity. But also, it makes you see different stuff you’ve never seen before; you find funny, weird, unexpected things that might make your day or push you to look at the world from a different perspective.
Some items you’ve only seen on the internet give you a whole new experience in real life; some toys can give you the happiest day of your life and some clothing designs can give you the biggest laugh when you imagine them on or just see them casually laying around (underwear for example; mocking sassy boxers and festive G strings with bells and feathers is my favourite activity of all time.)
This experience can rarely be found in regular shops where everything is so classic and usual and appealing to the general taste. Not to mention family-friendly. No bueno.
The mood in Frip differs from shops in 2 aspects: The Space and The People.
In Space, Frip is found everywhere: directly on the street, under plastic tents, in tunnels and garages, in fake rooms made with wood and Zinc sheets, under trees, in abandoned buildings.. they may be established in the worst conditions ever, but that gives them a special charm you can’t find in clean, modern, refined stores with perfect lighting, air conditioning, shiny floors, colourful painted walls and glass windows. There is something adventurous about going to places that are far away from modern and civilized, and even muddy, dark slum-like buildings.
In People, Thrift merchants are funnier, more “genuine” and warmer than shopkeepers with their fake exhausted smiles and judgmental stares, trying to sell you anything they have. A thrift merchant would say good morning and hello to you simply because you are passing by, and not because he wants your money. He may tell you jokes or discuss with you deep issues in life or just show you something special he wants you to buy, maybe give his opinion when you’re trying on something.. unlike shopkeepers who’d say you look good even dressed like a potato and would propose to get sizes and colours you didn’t ask for, and don’t even give you time and space to breath and concentrate on whether you’re buying or not. And Thrift merchants remember you as a customer and give you privileges and bonuses; while in shops, everything is mostly professional, if not, it is superficial.
Interaction can be sometimes all you need, and millions worth of clothes can’t equal one smile or a moment of connection. And in Frips where all kinds of people are around, you can easily talk to people to ask for their opinion or give them yours, exchange fashion tips and learn more things casually. Fripping is already an activity that goes well with other people, so thrift shopping with a friend can be a real delight and can open lots of subjects that would have probably never crossed your mind in a restaurant or a café.
But even when you’re alone, you can meet impermanent friends there who don’t even exchange names and contacts with you, but share way more important things with you like a simple, natural human connection you won’t find in regular shops for sure.
Do it for the Cause!
10/ Less Selfish :
A simple look into the fashion industry’s dark secrets would make you hate going to fast fashion stores. One day, I’ll explicitly talk about that, but keep in mind that new clothes are produced every 2 weeks, that require fabrics and materials; and that need work.
And big companies that want to save money on the process would opt for ugly ways to get the materials and would make children in countries like China, India, Bangladesh, … and other countries where child labour is still allowed, work hard to make a certain amount of clothes, and extras would be thrown away 2 weeks later for a new cycle and more abuse of these people who don’t even know what fashion is or what trends are and can barely afford the clothes they’re making…
By boycotting stores and going into thrift shops, I feel like I contributed better with my money. I know that my money is going to feed a family and not towards a big company that will thrive even more, and thus cause more pain and sorrows to people I don’t know, and exhaust the environment and the animals as well.
So these are my 10 Reasons. Got any better? Got reasons why stores are better? Share your opinion with me and let me know! I am a Fripper, are you?
So, after making me want to go fripping even more (I already love it) I was so disappointed to get to the end of the article and not find a list of your favorite frips. I also find that it is very hard to figure out where some of these places are. People will say the Frip in Menzah 8 but unless you know it is by the post office, you will never find it. How about a map–and any tips about specialities? Thanks!