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Davis, California

Friday, February 23, 2024

Tensions rise between local artists and clothing resellers in Davis

With clothing reselling gaining popularity, the Davis Art Market has made efforts to resolve artists’ concerns


By KACEY CHAN — features@theaggie.org 

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The vintage and art markets in Davis have been gaining popularity and the number of sellers has been increasing weekly, as clothing resellers recently joined the artists at the Davis Art Market.

Reselling has been on the rise these past few years. In 2021, Statista estimated the global market value of secondhand and resale apparel to be $96 billion. The secondhand market is expected to reach $70 billion by 2027 in the U.S. alone, aside from the countless other reselling markets around the world. 

Even fashion brands themselves have hopped onto the trend in the past decade. Labels such as COS, Lululemon and even luxury brands, like Coach, have launched resale programs for their own products in-house. Online platforms like The RealReal, Depop and ThredUp have soared in popularity to accommodate the new market of customers buying pre-loved items when searching to expand their closets. 

Thrifting has gained popularity online as well. On social media platforms, such as Youtube and TikTok, thrifting and reselling have become entrenched in the consciousness of younger generations. It is understood that thrifting is not just an option for buying expensive items at significantly lower prices; it is also a way to find unique, eccentric clothing different from what mainstream stores offer.  

“I have a shopping addiction, and reselling has become a good way for me to channel that,” said Mia Blake, a local reseller and student at Solano Community College. “I started thrifting and I ended up pouring all my energy into reselling.”

Blake usually shops at the same thrift stores, a couple of which are non-profits to help the unhoused community in Vacaville. It has become a fun side business allowing her to channel her passion. 

“I choose things that fit my style and are cute,” Blake said. “I’m obsessed with slip dresses and lingerie, and I find it is more enjoyable to select clothes to sell in that way.”

Blake also added that — in regard to the business side — it is far easier to estimate the value of clothing if it is a product she is familiar with. For Blake, there is a creative and personal merit to curating clothes to resell. Through thrifting, resellers are able to have fun and tailor a personal brand image all while making money as well. 

“While starting is super difficult, and I did have to spend a lot of money to acquire enough stock, I would 100% say I get a good return for the time and energy I put into this,” Blake said.

However, there has been criticism online of the proliferation of thrifting and reselling in recent years. Some call this the “gentrification” of thrift stores, wherein low-income shoppers have been priced out of their local options because of the increased popularity of secondhand reselling. This criticism, it seems, is mostly targeted at the extremes of this trend, in which resellers build up excessive stock and then mark them up to “turn a profit,” according to a Vox article on the topic. 

The Davis Art Market is a popular event on 3rd Street that features not only vintage clothing resellers but also many local artists in Davis. 

Sofie Kanayama, a fifth-year design and Japanese double major, is a local artist who used to sell ceramics at the market. 

“I first started selling last school year during winter,” Kanayama said. “I volunteered at the craft center and I was able to take a free class there.” 

Since then, she said she has grown to love the craft. But according to Kanayama, the commitment doesn’t match the profit. 

“I totally don’t get a good return for my time and energy at all,” Kanayama said. “Because I rely on the community studio, it can sometimes take up to even a month to make one piece, so the money is nothing in comparison to the time required.” 

Kaiden Zaldumbide, a fifth-year art and theatre double major, agrees with the lack of profit turned at markets.

“Of course, I sell my art, but there is ultimately a curse to art, and it is difficult to be incredibly profitable unless I become super famous,” Zaldumbide said. 

While it is often common for events such as the SoSo Market in San Francisco and Berkeley or the SacTown Market in Sacramento to host both clothing and craft vendors, some in the community have raised concerns over how each type of seller should be regarded by the market organizations. 

“When you see my products, you’re not just seeing the thing I made in the moment but also the years of education and practice that went into getting my skills to where they are today,” Zaldumbide said. “While what clothing resellers provide is certainly still labor, you’re not creating something new, which is a whole other skill set.” 

There is also the concern of promoting your work as a small, local artist. While local markets like the Davis Art Market may have had fewer clothing vendors in the past, they have clearly multiplied, naturally bringing in what is popular — clothing and fashion. 

“What makes artists different is that there is more of a navigating process in terms of customer engagement,” Zaldumbide said. “For a reseller, if someone has bought the piece of clothing in the past, then someone will buy it again.”

Zaldumbide said that going to the market almost seems like a full-time job because a large number of sellers means there is a lack of space on 3rd Street.

“You have to wake up super early to be sure you get a good space, and now that the market is open until 3 p.m., going there and setting up is a far bigger effort,” Zaldumbide said.

While a key attraction for the market has been its freeform nature, for both artists and vendors, some have said that ground rules do eventually need to be set up.

“The street market is more of a ‘do-your-own-thing’ vibe because there isn’t a market manager, and you don’t have to pay a vendor’s fee,” Kanayama said. “This is what attracted me to the event at first, but since then, I have found it too difficult to sell there.”

Because of these concerns, the market has recently taken a more administrative approach. According to a post made by the market organization’s Instagram account, @davis_street_market, on April 28, a new rule has been established delegating one half of the street to clothing resellers and the other half to local artists. 

“I think, ultimately, the heart of the issue is the tension between resellers and artists and the lack of space on 3rd street, which can heighten things,” Kanayama said.


Written by: Kacey Chan — features@theaggie.org