Porch Finds: an unconventional perspective to the way we shop

Sage Schwer
5 min readAug 7, 2017


Clothes, you either like wearing them or you don’t, but according to laws in most countries everyone has to wear them. Clothing isn’t just something you use to cover yourself; in our modern world, the clothes you choose make a statement. And although almost all of us share the need and desire to wear clothing, many people don’t fully understand how important and influential the fashion industry is.

Fashion comes as second-nature to me and my love has been driven by my ability to make a statement and show my personality through the clothes I wear. When majoring in Fashion merchandising at the University of Delaware, I received countless snide remarks and looks of disapproval. People didn’t realize how much fashion affected them on a daily basis. Many believe fashion is simple, superficial, and even vain, but I never took these comments to heart. The truth is, whether it takes you 5 or 50 minutes to get dressed in the morning, we are all participating in the largest industry in the world. An industry that affects the lives of billions of people and that is a major driving force within our economy. Sure, it’s easy to get distracted by the beautiful models, controversial cultural appropriation, and materialistic mindset, but these problems only exist on the surface level. These are the issues that disguise and distract from the real ones.

Have you ever wondered about the lifespan of your clothes before you bought them in the store and after you’ve gotten rid of them?

Just like all other major industries, such as tobacco, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals it is important to look past what is advertised and see each industry from a broader and more in depth perspective. From start to finish, there are many sustainability issues within the fashion industry. The rise of fast fashion companies like Zara, H&M, Gap and Forever21 has caused a shift in consumer behavior. By rapidly marketing trendy clothes at attractive prices, the consumer has become addicted to snagging great deals and buying on the spot. There is a reason clothes at Forever21 and H&M are so cheap. Have you ever bought something from one of these stores and realized the clothings’ lifespan was shorter than Britney Spears’ 55 hour marriage? Chances are you didn’t mind because it was less than $20. But the lifespan of your clothes before and after you wear them is the most impact on the world around us.

According to the EPA Office of Solid Waste, Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year.

Fast fashion clothing is typically made with cheap material by cheap labor (commonly child labor). Clothing is no longer made to last, it’s made to satisfy a short-lived trend and because of this, the clothes fall apart and rip easily. Why are we throwing away clothes and purchasing new items that fuel companies who are producing them unethically and unsustainably?

During my time at UD, many of the professors in my major got me thinking more deeply about these issues. If 85% of clothing and textile waste ends up in landfills every year even though 95% of it can be reused and recycled,

I wanted to find a way to transform our consumer culture into being open to second-hand sustainable pieces that made them feel informed, unique and trendy.

As I learned more about the impact the fashion industry has on the environment, I began talking to my friends and family about the harmful effects of fast fashion. To my surprise, people who cared deeply about sustainability and preserving our environment had no idea about the danger of this growing trend. I began shopping at secondhand stores and trying to rework old pieces to remain sustainable. Not only was I recycling, but I was finding amazing, one of a kind and retro pieces of clothing. I absolutely loved every aspect of it knowing I was breaking away, not looking like everyone who shopped at the same stores and encouraging others to be sustainable as well. Being informed about the industry made me feel empowered. I wanted everyone to feel this way and inspire them to look deeper into industries like this one.

With my natural love for fashion and inspired attitude to change the way consumers thought about second hand shopping, I had been dreaming about running a store from the front porch of my college house. With the help of my friends, my brain child came to life when we transformed a dingy concrete porch into an intimate boutique. I loved creating the atmosphere while also helping people find unique (and environmentally responsible) pieces they loved!

Porch Finds is meant to inform and empower shoppers to break away from the crowd and find unique, dope pieces as a sustainable alternative.

While my house on Choate street inspired the location and original platform for my idea, my roots in Jersey City continue to inspire me and the clothes I choose for Porch Finds.

After graduating, I made it a commitment to pursue Porch Finds and change the way the world views second-hand clothing and the fashion industry in general. Porch Finds is now a second-hand retro online clothing store aimed to encourage sustainable shopping, Individuality, and the desire to stay informed. I’ll do the dirty work of searching through thousands of clothes, cleaning them and fixing them up to be awesome retro additions to your closets. But now that you know the other side of the fashion industry, it is your job to pass that knowledge along, and your decision whether you want to participate in an industry that harms the environment or one that works to protect it and our individuality as unique humans and consumers.

My friends have supported me and my dream to create Porch Finds beyond what I could have imagined. I owe it all to them for their unconditional support and innovative perspectives on life. Thank you for believing in me as I do in all of you. What lies ahead is nothing but positive.

Want to hear more? Checkout our website PorchFinds.com or this awesome video by John Oliver https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdLf4fihP78

Top illustration by Blair Files