Selling preloved clothes – or thrifted clothes, as it is lovingly called – is no stranger to the Bruneian market. With the rise of many different types of businesses in Brunei, though, the increase in the numbers of Instagram accounts and stalls at Bandarku Ceria selling affordable clothes cannot go unnoticed. Thrifting has become a culture in itself, promoting multiple benefits for our climate, especially in the world of fast fashion.

For Thriftsmith Collective, selling preloved clothes started as a way to declutter the closet, but for Creative Director  Wathiqah Khalidi, an entrepreneurship major student, the idea of turning a simple declutter into a viable long-term business came. Next was strategizing how to stand out from the multitudes of existing thrift stores and laying the foundations of business plans and solutions.

At the time, thrift had already been around, but it was not as big a trend as it is now, and more importantly, it was not considered a go-to stop to buy clothing. The thrifting culture’s customer concerns and complaints that Wathiqah heard usually consisted of the clothing pieces being “unhygienic” and “unattractive”. This was what she wanted to change – people’s mindsets and views of thrift clothing. That point there was the market gap, she discovered; Thrift had always existed in Brunei, but not as an organized online thrift store, with modern marketing strategies and production quality. The mission, then, was to elevate the thrifting game so it becomes more socially acceptable and perceived as a go-to stop for quality styles, whether online or in person. And so, Thriftsmith Collective was born. 

The growth of the thrifting business and culture comes hand in hand with customer wants and pursues. With the comeback of vintage fashion, such as the early 2000s or “Y2K” styles, it was easier for people to filter their closets for their older pieces to offer to others. Online content surrounding the ways thrift could shape individual styles with little cost also became attractive as big influencers and content creators such as Youtuber “best dressed” and “Nava Rose” made videos about thrifting as a form of fashion. The individuality that thrift is able to offer hinges on how old or unattractive clothes can be transformed – or “thrift flipped” – into a piece that one desires best. In other words, we have control over the kinds of styles we desire best, instead of relying on the limited catalogue of ready-made clothes that fast fashion offers at a higher price.

With the rise of thrift culture comes the increased awareness of the danger that fast fashion imposes on the environment, as well as a long history of hard, unfair and exploited labour. Fast fashion factories contribute to numerous cases of pollution, water and energy waste, along with the depletion of non-renewable sources and emission of greenhouse gases. As more people become aware and more open to discussing these dangers, thrift continues to thrive. Even more so now that many preloved pieces come with great styles and various methods to decorate, sew, design, cut and personalize these pieces are being shared millions of times across multiple social media platforms.

At Thrifsmith Collective, we believe that thrift is about what fashion can be, that fashion is not limited to what we see before our eyes but the multitudes of ways we can manipulate, style and design any piece of clothing. This is why thrift culture in Brunei grows largely and expeditiously – because it allows everyone and anyone to embrace and craft their own style.

Find Thriftsmith Collective on Instagram @thriftsmith.co