Sociology and anthropology major Mireille Guy ’15 is combining her interest in the economics of consumption and her love of vintage clothes in a thesis exploring consumer culture in secondhand shops, both in Philly and the virtual world.
In addition to her economic interest, Guy also hopes to explore the aesthetics that inform vintage wear — essentially, why consumers find it appealing to curate a distressed or well-worn stylistic sensibility.
According to Guy, thrift scholarship is relatively sparse — for that reason and others, friends and faculty have expressed interest and support for the project.
Guy’s research will involve interviewing sellers and buyers of vintage clothing and conducting ethnographic observations of thrifting-in-action. She’ll be attending Philly’s Punk Rock Flea Market in December — one of the biggest second-hand sales in the city — to examine the dynamics of clothing consumption and commercial exchange.
Informing Guy’s inquiry is her own experience on both sides of the proverbial counter. With an Etsy website modeling bargain finds called “BadMouth,” she plays both the customer and the seller in the fashion market. Her thesis work overlaps with and informs her business endeavors: in December, for example, she plans to move her web-based retail to the streets of Philly for the famous flea market — when she’s not conducting ethnographic research, of course.
She hopes to continue her business following graduation, and believes understanding more about clothing consumption will inform her practices for the better.
Recommended Reading: Stitched Up, Fashion: A Philosophy, Retromania
Favorite Philly Thrift Shops: Goodwill, Philly Aids Thrift (South Street), Circle Thrift (the Fishtown location), Greene Street Consignment (for slightly more expensive finds)
This article is part of a series featuring senior theses.