“I think it’s important to encourage the behavior of getting vintage pieces, and by having them so cheap it’s accessible.”
Someone’s old cowboy boots may now cost more than a shopping spree at the Prudential.
As a result of cutthroat competition and increased demand for vintage goods, prices in the vintage resale market have skyrocketed. Online sellers make a generous profit, while IRL buyers can no longer rely on second-hand goods for affordable prices like they used to.
Bullshit Boutique offers another way to shop sustainably. The Boston-based vintage resale outfit sells most of its clothing for under $20.
Kaylla Damaceno, founder of Bullshit Boutique, started the brand in 2020 as an online marketplace. She focuses on affordability to dissuade people from turning to fast fashion for low prices.
“I think it’s important to uphold or encourage the behavior of getting vintage pieces, and by having them so cheap it’s accessible,” she said.
A recent report estimates the US secondhand market will more than double by 2026. The fastest-growing sector is online resale, which will account for half of the market’s total value by 2024.
Using platforms like TikTok and Instagram, online marketplaces often take advantage of cheap prices at thrift stores to make a large profit. Damaceno said she once saw a vintage seller source a dress for under $10 and resell it for $400.
“It’s kind of like a greed aspect almost because you’re taking advantage of people,” she said. “We both know it isn’t worth that much.”
Furthermore, when resellers buy mass amounts of thrifted clothing to upsell, low-income communities can lose out on the only source of affordable clothing available to them. To combat this, Bullshit Boutique mainly sources its pieces from Goodwill bins. The bins house unsold or soiled garments destined for the landfill.
Damaceno said sorting through the bins is “a real mental game.” However, the low prices allow Bullshit Boutique to continue making a profit without having to resell its garments for more than $20.
Even in their case, most of the brand’s marketing happens on TikTok, where Damaceno often critiques vintage resale’s soaring prices. Some sellers take the criticism personally and accuse her of trying to control their business strategies; one TikTok user even fabricated a story about Damaceno making a 200% profit on one of her garments.
Damaceno, who is also a college student, runs Bullshit Boutique on her own. She said single-handedly dealing with hate and managing her business can be overwhelming.
“There’s just so much to do all the time,” she said. “I’m just one girl.”
Lack of personnel hasn’t hindered Bullshit Boutique’s success. The brand boasts more than 100,000 TikTok followers and its collections sell out in days.
Last weekend, Bullshit Boutique collaborated with local skating collective Lonely Bones to host a skate and phop popup at Lynch Skate Park. Event goers enjoyed live music, skating, and free Yerba Mate.
Claire Lee is the co-founder of Lonely Bones, which holds regular events aimed at making skating more inclusive. She said Bullshit Boutique and Lonely Bones place similar importance on accessibility, making for a successful collaboration between fashion and skating.
“They obviously sell authentically vintage stuff at really affordable prices, and that’s kind of what we’re into because skating has not always been the most accessible to people financially,” she said.
Lee commended Bullshit Boutique’s unique role in the secondhand market.
“Ridiculous markups for stuff you bought for 50 cents is, I think its probably a controversial topic, but I think that’s fucked up,” she said. “And so Bullshit Boutique is super cool.”
Within an hour of Saturday’s pop-up starting, most of Bullshit Boutique’s racks stood empty. Jasmine Allen managed to buy two vintage blouses. She described the brand’s selection as “very cool and unique” and appreciated that the garments weren’t cheap or plasticky like other vintage resale brands. Allen added that Boston is notorious for overpriced thrift stores.
“Vintage pieces or secondhand where everything is under $20 is never before seen in Boston,” she said. “It’s a very big deal.”
Jazzleigh Bailey, who also bought from Bullshit Boutique at the pop-up, touched on Boston’s secondhand shopping scene as well. She said most Bostonians she sees thrifting could probably pay full price for garments, driving up vintage resale prices.
“It’s nice to see that people like Kaylla exist, who are trying to undo that and keep everything affordable for people that actually need it that way,” Bailey said.
Damaceno said the best word to describe Bullshit Boutique is “accessibility.” She hopes to one day open a physical store in Boston to improve the city’s thrifting scene and tap into its youth culture. Although some adults in her life expressed concern that the name “Bullshit” would affect a future storefront’s marketability, Damaceno maintained that the word is integral to her brand.
“Bullshit is loud, it’s colorful, it’s in your face and it’s not afraid to do anything,” she said.
Sujena Soumyanath is a journalist interested in fashion, politics and global affairs. She enjoys learning new languages and reading Murakami.