Nicole McLaughlin Talks the Gentrification of Thrifting on ‘Vintage Shopping’ with Jazzelle

In the latest episode of 'Vintage Shopping,' designer Nicole McLaughlin talks the gentrification of thrifting, upcycling, and more with Jazzelle.

Complex Original

Image via Complex Original


In the fourth episode of Complex’s Vintage Shopping, Jazzelle takes it back to thrifting basics with designer and queen of upcycling, Nicole McLaughlin, at the 25th Street Goodwill store. McLaughlin, who used to work at Reebok, is no newbie to the thrifting game. She frequently sources materials for her upcycled designs from thrift and vintage spots. In this episode, she’s sporting a cream knit cardigan, a spackler hat, and a black mini skirt. 

While she and Jazzelle are sorting through selections at Goodwill, McLaughlin takes us through her design process, which originally started with her “thrifting” from her own closet and evolved into finding pieces with imperfections, such as holes or stains, at thrift stores. A major conversation point in this episode centers around the “gentrification of thrifting,” a recent phenomenon where people go into thrift shops and end up selling their hauls on sites like Depop for double or even triple the price they originally paid. McLaughlin says, “I think that there’s a balance because we definitely need to keep thrift stores for the people that really, truly need them, but also there is so much. We have wasted and made so much clothes in the world and we definitely need to try to find ways to shop and buy things that are second hand without sacrificing people’s resources.”

The designer continues to clue Jazzelle into her process of upcycling, which includes sourcing the second hand clothes and using the fabric to dictate what each new piece will be. She photographs the final piece before deconstructing it, and adds the materials back to her library in hopes that they can be used for something else. The materials she uses aren’t limited to clothes either as she often breaks down sneakers and other shoes to build garments. She even uses a lavender puffer vest off the rack to show Jazzelle how she could reconstruct its pocket into a design for a shoe. 

McLaughlin’s haul includes the quilted puffer vest, an Easter Mountain short sleeve button up, a variety of Polo Ralph Lauren button up shirts, and a cropped cardigan. I’m sure we will see all of these pieces used somehow in her future designs.

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