The Kids Want to Thrift. Their Parents Won’t Have It.

South Asians are the masters of reusing everything from Danish tins to yogurt containers. But don’t mention other people’s clothes.

GettyImages-138091266 Thrifting
Sharmin Hossain, a 20 year old Bangladeshi-American, speaks on her cell phone while shopping January 2, 2012 in a thrift store in Brooklyn, New York (Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

Kiran Sampath


July 8, 2024


8 min

When 20-year-old Imaan Rao went to the Goodwill in Monroe, Michigan with her friends, she promised her mom she wouldn’t buy anything. But then she saw a red Nike sweatshirt from the ’90s. “It had that vintage writing, the patchwork, everything,” gushed Rao. One perfect red sweatshirt richer, she went home, where her mom predictably told her: “If you wanted something vintage, I probably have some old clothes lying around.”

South Asians invented “jugaad,” the colloquial Hindi word that means a workaround or hack. It expresses the ingenuity of reusing or fixing up objects — Danish cookie tins, glass Heinz ketchup bottles, patching up old jeans. But other people’s clothes? They don’t seem to count.

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