Popping Tags in the Twenty-First Century
The epilogue discusses the contining role of secondhand commerce and style in the twenty-first century United States. Throughout the twentieth century, used goods economies codified and expanded, branching out into million-dollar industries. Vintage exhibitionism and elective poverty merged even more decisively at the end of the millennium. After habitual heroin user Kurt Cobain took his own life with a shotgun in 1994, styles straight-facedly called shabby chic, heroin chic, or poor chic enjoyed greater cultural currency than ever before. Voluntary secondhand dress persists precisely because it suggests both cultural and economic distinction, and shoppers continued to view secondhand venues as exceptions to the social and economic critiques of dominant capitalisms. Secondhand styles satisfy a desire to be seen as different than the average consumer dupe, as willing to invest time in the cultivation of originality without utilizing class and wealth privilege. The success of the 2013 song, “Thrift Shop,” by independent rappers Macklemore and Lewis—born and raised in the hometown of grunge, Seattle— attests to the continuing relevance of secondhand to popular culture.
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