I only recently came across the term ‘thrift flipping’, despite having done this activity myself in the past.
Thrift flipping is described by some as simply buying items from second-hand shops and selling them for more money. Others state that thrift flipping includes altering the item to increase its value/attractiveness and then selling this altered item for a profit. Considering that ‘house flipping’ involves renovating the house, not just buying and selling it, to me it seems that improving the garment should be part of thrift flipping.
I’ve recently thrift flipped three items: two men’s button-down shirts, and a denim skirt. I bought all three at charity shops (the UK equivalent to thrift stores). All three were still in an excellent condition but I don’t think they would have been very popular as all three were quite plain. I turned both shirts into women’s camisole crop tops and I made the denim skirt more attractive by adding applique. You can see the results in my previous post.
One question that is sometimes posed when discussing thrift flipping is whether it is ethical, because one of the aims and/or consequences is that an item is taken away from the second-hand offering to reappear at a higher price (supposedly taking away a garment from someone on a low income). In my view, if someone is making changes that make the garment more attractive (whether that is by changing the size, dyeing it, adding applique, adding trims, altering sleeves, changing the fit etc.), this is a net positive. A boring garment that may not have sold otherwise is elevated to a more desirable garment that consumers might want and could not find before. Additionally, the crafter who did the work on this garment gets paid for their labour, which I think is a good thing (not everyone wants to work at an office or become a manager).
As long as the crafter is honest about the garment being second hand, I don’t see any issue with thrift flipping. And with regards to cheaper second-hand items disappearing from the offering: I have been to hundreds of charity shops over the years and none of them lacked lower-priced clothes. I bet most of these shops receive more clothes than they can sell and end up taking a lot of the donated clothes to a wholesaler/rag man.
There’s an interesting blog post on The Eco Hub if you want to read more on this topic!