Thrift Shop Song: Liverpool Edition
From the quaint docks to the underground pubs, the port-side city of Liverpool and I developed a personal relationship. I drank in the renowned Cavern Club, walked along Albert Dock past ships and swans, and danced all night to rock ‘n roll classics. Most famous for being the birthplace of one of the most influential rock bands of all time, The Beatles, Liverpool pulsed rich with culture.
I took back a little bit of Liverpool with me through thrift shopping. I’d like to think Liverpool’s acoustic melodies played around the corner of alleyways, are trapped within the threads.
Thrift Shop Song: Liverpool Edition
Thrift shops resell clothing that people donate to it. For low prices, you can buy lightly-used clothing and items. It’s difficult not to get Mackmore & Ryan Lewis’ song “Thrift Shop”—the one that has plagued the radio for quite some time now—stuck in your head when thrift shopping.
“One mans trash, that’s another mans come up”
There’s something exhilarating about finding a unique piece of clothing in another country. Maybe I’m just programmed to want to shop and hoard, even though I was traveling with limited space in my backpack. Clothing has come to be my favorite souvenir. It gives me a prolonged sense of nostalgia about a place, long after I’ve left it. People get tired of their clothes, or outgrow them, so they donate to thrift shops. To them, they are old, but to me—especially as a foreigner in their country—they are new.
“Only got twenty dollars in my pocket”
When backpacking, you might not have a pocket to spare. If I’m going to buy anything when traveling, it’s going to be something lightweight and it has to have enough value to me to take up space. It has to be worth its weight. This means I did not buy shoes, which are heavy and bulky to carry. After a few weeks with my whole wardrobe on my back, it was nice to have new options of what to wear. What I bought, I carried. This gave new meaning to the phrase, “beauty is work.”
Most thrift stores give their proceeds to specific causes, so when you buy something there you are giving back to those in need. In Liverpool some of the thrift stores, for example, supported people with disabilities or with heart conditions. I like knowing that simply buying something can affect others positively.
“Probably shoulda washed this, smells like R. Kelly sheets”
It’s a common misconception that all clothes from thrift stores are like old junk left in an attic—gross and dinghy. In reality most clothing is there because someone grew out of it or didn’t want it in the first place. There are even clothes with tags still on them. Clothes are washed, and sometimes actually smell quite appealing; I found this particularly true in the UK.
“Imma gonna take your grandpa style”
In Liverpool, my finds were a little posh, and a little rock ‘n roll. I don’t know if I intended to go for a certain look, but I thought that what I ended up buying resembled a local flair. I was not taking someone else’s style—just enhancing my own. Most thrift shop clothes are actually current brands, but sometimes you can find vintage clothing there as well. If you go to a store that strictly sells vintage clothing, everything tends to be higher in price. Each piece sold at a thrift store is unique. The one downside to this is if you find something that is not your size or that you want in a different color, there is not another option.
“Bout to go and get some compliments”
One of the main reasons people try thrifting is they want to embrace a different look. What does it mean to be different? I think before you can let yourself look different, you have to feel different. With fashion you’ll always have staple items that you are the most comfortable wearing. When you travel, you are likely coming out of your comfort zone. As you change, so do your tastes. Let them. I want to be a different version of myself—the version I find, let grow, and change. The most authentic version of myself just happens to have a little Liverpool flavoring now.
“From that thrift shop down the road”
When someone asks you where you got that, isn’t it satisfying to say “Oh, I got it in England” or Italy, or France, or wherever you just were? Like taking on a new place, fashion can help you make something your own. You are not the same person you were before, especially because traveling is a time of transition. Just like when you are tasting a new food, listening to different music, or exploring a new place—you become more involved with a culture when you interact with it.
I have a piece of Liverpool with me now, even if it is just a pair of rounded sunglasses, a high-necked jeweled dress, and an interestingly patterned skirt. It’s the little things we take away from our travels, and allow into our lives, that shape and culture our identities.
Thrift Shop Song: Liverpool Edition photo credit: Orin_Zebest