This season, It’s Out with the Old and in with the Renewed.
By Allison Hata | Contributor
SPRING 2023 ISSUE
Photos courtesy of South County Outreach, Elsewhere Vintage, and Haute Legs
Spring is here — it’s time to clean out your closet and refresh your wardrobe.
But before you ditch old trends and toss those skinny jeans in the trash, here’s a stat that may give you pause: According to the EPA, an estimated 11.3 million tons of textile waste ends up in landfills on a yearly basis in America alone. That nets out to roughly 81.5 pounds per person annually.
“We have perfectly good clothing and people are just trashing it,” says Sarah Lindenfelser, a San Clemente fitness instructor who is the co-founder of a new online resale boutique called Haute Legs.
Haute Legs was born from a series of personal setbacks. After losing her mother to cancer and developing an alcohol dependency that ended with a stay in the hospital, Sarah made a commitment to focusing on her health and following her passions — which included a lifelong dream of a career in fashion.
“I lost a bunch of weight from giving up the alcohol and I had a closet just full of clothes with tags on them,” she says. “Spending money on clothing was one of my vices and I realized it wasn't filling that void anymore.”
In April 2022, she began shopping her own closet to curate outfits that she sold on Instagram under the handle @haute_legs. “Used fashion is still cool, it’s still fun, it’s hip, and it looks great,” Sarah says. “I’m very passionate that money is not the answer; the brand label’s not the answer. Style is about being yourself.”
Timing for the launch of Haute Legs was ideal. Secondhand shopping surged during the pandemic. In fact, research cited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce predicts that the resale market for clothing is anticipated to grow 16 times faster than non-resale over the next four years.
It’s a great fix for the fast fashion waste accumulating in landfills. And, there’s no better time than spring cleaning season to start decluttering — and shopping — consciously.
Nonprofits have long been worthy benefactors of closet cleanouts. Gently used clothing and accessories are sold at social enterprise thrift shops, with proceeds pouring back into the community in the form of critical programs and services that combat hunger, homelessness, joblessness, and more. In addition to nationally known nonprofits like Goodwill, Orange County is home to myriad independently run organizations that accept donations for resale, including local assistance leagues, Working Wardrobes, Laura’s House, and South County Outreach, among others.
Haute Legs also accepts closet cleanouts from the community, operating under a business model that ensures every item is sold, upcycled or given to a local nonprofit.
“The reason why we wanted to accept donations was to be able to give back,” says Haute Legs co-founder Vanessa Benavides. “Thirty percent of revenue from those donations go to our give partners. Every quarter we have a human give partner and an earth give partner.”
If clothing isn’t sold in 90 days, it’s donated to one of Haute Legs’ charitable partners or the textiles are brought to emerging fashion designers to be upcycled and repurposed, ensuring they won’t end up in a landfill. Later this year, the team says it will also be launching a pilot partnership for monthly clothing recycling with a city in Orange County, and has plans to roll out an app that will highlight the carbon footprint of every donation.
“When people donate within the system, they’ll be able to see it takes 1,800 gallons of water to make enough cotton for a pair of jeans,” says Vanessa. ”You can see that you just donated five pairs of jeans that equates to this much water saved. For me, it’s about the impact.”
And after you’re done decluttering, consider trading in your fast fashion for “slow” shopping — a sustainable approach rooted in buying with intention, shopping secondhand (especially local), and reusing materials to upcycle your wardrobe. The result? A curated closet full of favorites you’ll reach for and and can re-style with each wear.
When you’re ready to shop sustainable, here are four secondhand boutiques in Orange County making a difference for the planet, one outfit at a time.
FOR CHARITABLE GIVING: UPSCALE RESALE BY SOUTH COUNTY OUTREACH
Located in Laguna Hills, the Upscale Resale thrift store operated by South County Outreach benefits the nonprofit’s food insecurity and homelessness programs serving clients throughout Orange County. In addition to accepting donations, the shop sells gently used clothing, accessories, and jewelry in-store and on Ebay, offering everything from seasonal apparel to special occasion dresses. You’ll find a mix of brands here, from fast fashion staples such as Steve Madden to high-end designers like St. John Knits.
SCO-OC.ORG/THRIFT-STORE | IG: @UPSCALERESALE_THRIFTSTORE
Also try: Hanger Boutiques by Working Wardrobes, Laura’s House Resale Store, RARE by Goodwill
FOR VINTAGE FINDS: ELSEWHERE VINTAGE
Old Town Orange is an antique haven, so it’s no surprise you’ll find an array of authentic apparel and accessories dating as far back as the early 1900s in the retro city center. Whether you’re looking for vintage cocktail rings, a glam gown from the 1930s, or a 1950s-era terry cloth set, Elsewhere Vintage has a wide selection of high-quality items.
Also try: Joyride Vintage in Orange, Swellegant Vintage in Newport Beach
FOR DESIGNER GOODS: ONQUE SYLE
A Corona del Mar mainstay, the luxury boutique on East Coast Highway is a go-to spot for pre-loved designer wares. From shoe staples like Manolo Blahnik Hangisi pumps to coveted leather goods from Hermès, OnQue has everything a fashionista needs to step out in style. You can also bring in your own items to sell outright or on consignment, or trade it in for credit to shop the boutique’s well-stocked shelves.
ONQUESTYLE.COM | IG: @ONQUESTYLE
Also try: Bellissima Consignment Boutique in Corona del Mar, Twice the Style in Costa Mesa
FOR AFFORDABLE FASHION: HAUTE LEGS
As an online boutique specializing in contemporary fashion for women, Haute Legs does the styling the legwork for its customers. On the shop’s Instagram profile, the team curates on-trend outfits using recycled pieces, creating looks that work for every style and occasion. Shoppers can DM the lot numbers to the team and purchase the entire look or shop on the new e-commerce platform launched last December. The company also hosts pop-up events with DIY upcycling demonstrations so shoppers can learn to add patches or embroidery to their own clothes.
HAUTELEGS.ORG | IG: @HAUTE_LEGS
Also try: Dee Lux and Full Circle, both in Orange