La Dolce Thrift Club: “I’d been thinking about starting it and one day I just did it”

November 2022

Alanna Reardon (she/her), 24, born and raised in St John’s. is currently working on a degree in Communications at Memorial University; this follows two years of studying Fashion Management at Humber College in Toronto, during which time she founded La Dolce Thrift Club.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I’ve always had a creative side, whether it be painting, drawing, knitting, sewing, making jewelry, baking, etc. My family has always supported me in my endeavours, mainly because they are all very creative themselves. My Nanny is a painter, singer/songwriter, baker, and poet. My Poppy is a musician. My dad cooks amazing food. My brother can basically pick up any instrument and play it without a lesson. But my fashion influence came from my mom and her sisters through the pictures I’ve seen and the stories they have told me from when they were young adults in the 1970s and 1980s, to when they grew older through the 1990s, until now. They all have the best hair and the most beautiful wardrobes anyone has ever seen, filled with clothing and shoes that they’ve collected over the years.
My mom and my Aunt Trish are hairstylists, so as a child in the early 2000s, I was surrounded by 20-something-year-olds that worked at the salon, with blue hair or a spiky mohawk and the coolest and grungiest style. My mom would always take me to hair shows which pretty much doubled as a fashion show, so I grew up experiencing unique style concepts including the infamous Y2K trend. My style mostly comes from the memories of these times.

When did you start thrifting, and how did that lead to your business? What kinds of goals did you set for La Dolce Thrift Club?

I started thrifting when I was around 13. I would always go with my friend and her mom and they made the experience so much fun. I would go all the time and the more I went, the more I felt this nostalgic feeling towards the clothing pieces I would find. A dress that looked similar to one my mom was wearing in a photo from the 1990s or a pair of Jordache ‘mom jeans’ that my aunt told me she had.
Around the time I started thrifting, it became really popular on Tumblr. Tumblr was a blog website and you could repost photos of anything, but fashion had a big impact. This reintroduced the vintage styles from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, and suddenly celebrities were following these trends so fans were as well. Everyone I knew in school would thrift for oversized sweaters, mom jeans, or vintage graphic t-shirts. It became a new normal for people my age.
I thrifted most of my wardrobe, especially when I was living in Toronto at the age of 18. At this point I was going to Humber College and pursuing a degree in Fashion Management. I wanted to keep up with the trends but also needed money for food and rent, so Value Village was my retail haven. I never considered reselling thrift finds until one day I found a lime green Christian Dior t-shirt, in perfect condition. After that, I downloaded the app Depop, made for resellers of thrift finds, and started selling items to people across Canada.
Then came the Shein era and the controversy around that. I used to order so much clothing from Shein because it was cheap and trendy. I was a student and didn’t have much money to spend. Though I love thrifting with all of my heart, it is time-consuming and I didn’t always have the time to spend looking for clothing or a source of transportation. Once I realized what was happening with Shein and did my research, I gained a whole new perspective on sustainability and how to practice it. I wanted to make a difference, even if it was small, so I started The Dolce Thrift Club to promote the use of thrifting without actually going to the thrift store and spending hours searching for an item while also being sustainable.
When I first started The Dolce Thrift Club, I was reselling beautiful items that I searched long hours for and did well with sales. I wanted to sell things that were unique and different from other resellers, but then I got some feedback from followers and read even more about the on-going Shein controversy. Shein is inclusive to every size and shape and is also very affordable. Many thrift resellers are exclusive to particular sizes and they are typically very expensive due to long hours of searching for particular items, brand names, fabrics, and materials. The size exclusivity and price of resellers’ clothing forces customers to shop at Shein. People want to stay on trend but also fit into their clothing comfortably and affordably.
My goal for The Dolce Thrift Club is to accommodate every size and every price range while equally staying on trend resulting in the practice of sustainability.

I’d really like to get into the concept of thrift, not just the hows but the whys. What are the practical aspects to it? What is the philosophy behind it?

The textbook definition of thrifting would be a store filled with used clothing, shoes, household items, and books at a discounted price. Kind of like a giant flea market or garage sale. People thrift for the affordability aspect, the environmental aspect, the charity aspect, or maybe they are a collector of vintage clothing, records, magazines, or glassware.
Everyone has different reasons for thrifting. I thrift and donate clothes for two reasons. One is to lengthen the lifespan of clothing and because it keeps clothes out of landfills. Every year, 92 million tonnes of clothing is wasted into landfills. It can take up to 200+ years for a clothing item to decompose and even if it does decompose, it can generate greenhouse methane gas and release toxic chemicals and dyes into our ecosystem. The second is is because I personally think you can find items that are unique and better quality than in any other retail store. There is no better feeling than finding a jacket or a top that is so cool and different. It feels like you just won the lottery.

Would you consider thrift the most popular fashion style today, and is “fashion” the right word to use?

Since Covid has started, social media has been at an all-time high and has influenced many people in a fashion sense. You see videos of people being interviewed in the streets of New York, being asked where their clothes are from, and most say that at least one thing they are wearing is vintage or thrifted. Bella Hadid is pictured walking down the street wearing a pair of Nike Shox from 2005 and a vintage tracksuit. You watch a 20-minute video of someone showing what they recently bought from the thrift store. All of these people are very influential, so I would absolutely consider thrift the most popular way of dressing today. Although I wouldn’t consider thrift a type of style because you really can find a wide range of items depending on your personal taste. Right now, fashion trends are coming and going so quickly that it’s hard to stay on top of one particular style. We’ve gone from 1990s grunge (a baggy band tee, a plaid mini skirt, and a pair of Doc Martens) to Y2K (low-rise jeans, a baby tee with a crystal butterfly on it, and some platform boots) to Gorpcore (parachute pants, Salomon hiking sneakers, and an Arc’teryx jacket) to Indie Sleaze (ripped tights, Converse, flowy mini dress, and dark makeup). Although we’ve moved past these trends fairly quickly, I think collectively everyone is at a point where they mix all trends together to create their own.

What’s next for you?

Starting my small business has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I’d been thinking about starting The Dolce Thrift Club for a few years now and one day I just did it, without even thinking. It’s not easy, especially with no previous experience and no employee to help. Staying up until 3am to finish pricing, steaming, tagging, photo editing, and responding to messages. Applying to be a vendor at various markets. Preparing for markets. Curating clothing, jewelry, and accessories, locally and internationally. Staying on top of social media and our website. It’s been a learning-as-you-go experience and it can be overwhelming and I’ve definitely thought about giving up a few times, but at the end of the day, this is what I love and I work hard for it because I believe in it.
The Dolce Thrift Club is always growing and always coming up with new ideas. Right now I am relearning how to use my sewing machine in hopes to start repurposing old clothing to make something new and trendy and inclusive to everyone, size-wise and affordability-wise. I am also continuing to create jewelry from clay but now incorporating beads and charms from thrifted jewelry to make sort of mixed media, one-of-a-kind pieces. I’m excited for what the future holds for Dolce and can’t wait to show my new projects!