Van Wagenen: Protect the Planet … and Look Good Doing It


Madeline Van Wagenen

Display shelves in Vantage in Salt Lake City on April 15, 2023. (Photo by Madeline Van Wagenen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Madeline Van Wagenen, Photo Director


The second you walk into Vantage, you’re greeted with throwback tunes and a wide selection of vintage gear to peruse. Vintage t-shirts line the walls, with shelves and racks full of clothes. And in the back of the store, you’ll encounter a whole room full of shoes — mostly Doc Martens and leather cowboy boots. The atmosphere is fun and vibrant, complete with funky decor and knowledgeable staff members.

Vantage is a great place to shop for vintage and previously-owned clothing. It’s sustainable and helps protect our planet — and you get to look good doing it.

The Fashion Industry

It’s no secret that the fashion industry contributes literal tons of waste to the environment every single year. The U.S. alone contributes an estimated 11.3 million tons of textile waste every year, according to the EPA website.

In an interview, Vantage co-owner Andrew Aldridge explained how, while Vantage was founded out of a love for all things vintage, he quickly realized that selling vintage clothing has great potential in keeping usable clothes out of landfills.

“For us, 99% of our inventory we’re buying from textile recycling,” Aldridge said. “One of the warehouses we go to is over 100,000 square feet and has over 8 million pounds in clothing.”

We discussed companies that portray themselves as environmentally conscious, such as Patagonia, and how even they contribute to pollution. Aldridge explained secondhand shopping will continue to be big “unless companies can really come up with a way to produce stuff with zero waste.”

The current fashion industry is not built to be sustainable. According to The Guardian, many young adults consider a garment “old” after just one or two wears. These clothes are designed to be thought of as disposable and are not designed to stand the test of time.

“There’s way more clothing out there than people think,” Aldridge said. “A lot of it gets discarded with the fast fashion model.”

Thrifting When You Don’t Need To

The secondhand fashion industry has faced backlash regarding the ethics of some of its shoppers. People who can afford to buy new clothing — or thrift in bulk — buy “the good stuff” from thrift stores for cheap to resell for exponentially higher prices on platforms like Depop.

Some say that those who can afford to shop at sustainable companies should do so, leaving the clothes in secondhand shops to those who truly need them.

But some vintage clothing store staff raid thrift stores and take their finds to sell at their own shops for higher prices.

Vantage doesn’t operate like this. The vast majority of their stock comes from “rag houses,” where deadstock or excess donations are stored and kept until they’re inevitably dumped in the landfill.

Vantage’s Salt Lake Community

Co-founded by Aldridge and Paul Curtis, Vantage specializes in ’90s vintage clothing, though some of their stock dates back to the 1950s. Sharing a love for ’90s fashion and celebrating six years of business this July, they wanted to bring a specialty store to the Salt Lake area.

The inside of Vantage in Salt Lake City on April 15, 2023.
The inside of Vantage in Salt Lake City on April 15, 2023. (Photo by Mageline Van Wegenen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Sophie Seeley, a staff member at Vantage, elaborated on the community Vantage created in Salt Lake.

“Vantage definitely has a good crowd of people that come in,” she said. “I think everyone is super welcoming. Everyone has their own vibe. It brings a lot of different people, but they all have one shared love for vintage clothing … I love the community here, and I don’t really think any other place has something like it.”

Even the University of Utah has its own thrifting community. Off the Rack provides students with a space to buy and sell secondhand clothing on campus, creating a community of students who share a love for thrifting and vintage fashion.

Other Salt Lake vintage clothing stores include Copperhive Vintage and Decades.

If you’re looking for more thrift stores, Chronicle arts writer Ethan Blume recently published a story ranking the best thrift stores in Utah. From worst to best, his rankings include Savers, The Other Side Thrift Boutique, Deseret Industries and more.

Regardless if you’re a secondhand veteran or a newcomer to the scene, Vantage is a great place to shop. And between its extensive selection, helpful shop attendants and overall good vibes, you’re sure to find something amazing.

Plus, as an added bonus, you can help shrink textile waste by giving great clothes a second chance.


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