Post-Holiday Gifting POWER and reflection

Post-Holiday Gifting POWER and reflection

Greetings secondhand lovers- I’d love to introduce our newest voice for PORTER people to enjoy and engage with. Kara is an ethical fashion advocate and fashion stylist based in San Francisco.  Her handle is both a tribute to her Filipina roots and sharing the other side of fashion that up until the last few years, was not often talked about in the influencer space when it first started.  She often saw a sea of designer fashion labels on former budget-conscious folks when, in fact, it was their ability to achieve that individual style with thrifted and/or vintage finds that drew her to them in the first place.  

You’ll find that Kara’s account is filled with colorful looks reminiscent of that summer vacation we haven’t taken yet.  She loves to highlight the pieces she owns from local and/or independent BIPOC and women-owned businesses. 

Kara’s style services merge her experiences as a digital creator, bold color lover, sustainability advocate, and merchandiser.  She styles campaigns for brands with a like-minded focus on ethical manufacturing, inclusivity, and conscious consumerism.  Additionally, she offers virtual wardrobe consultations that include closet audits, advice on how to donate items in a sustainable way, suggestions on how to repurpose or rework that one piece you just can’t seem to get rid of, and a curated list of sustainable brands based on your lifestyle, color choices, likes/dislikes, etc. Welcome Kara to today's discussion which centers around choosing to gift UNIQUE items that already exist and have a history.


As we settle into the new year post-holidays, post-Valentines, it’s the perfect time to reflect on how you’re currently feeling. 




A little existentialism?


All of these feelings are valid! Especially with the state of our world taking its toll on our mental health, while still carrying the imposed pressure to maintain the very on-brand status quo of—yes, I’m about to go there—over-consumption.

The thoughts that run through my head every time another highly commercialized holiday comes around the corner are plenty and often contradictory.

“Do I really need to be forced into giving people new items when every other person I know is struggling/getting laid off?”

“But my love language IS gift-giving!”

“I’m actually pretty broke right now, can we just skip gifts altogether?”

“This is the year I can finally convince more of my family to be ok with gifting secondhand!”


On the subject of my love language being gift giving–it’s true.  I remember when I first started dating my husband all those years ago, and we’d curate music playlists onto CD’s (yes, CD’s!) that spoke to us, sharing not-so-subtle hints about these new and exciting feelings we had towards one another. 

Whenever I travel to a foreign country, I always try to get my best girlfriends a piece of jewelry as a token of my appreciation for their impact on my life.  I’ll scour all the jewelry shops and local markets to find just the right style that feels like an extension of each friend’s personality.

Even moreso, I’ll heavily research the best thrift shops or vintage markets from CDMX to Madrid, because not only am I immersing myself in the fashion culture, but I more often than not find something unique beyond the tourist shops and high fashion streets.

With overconsumption at an all-time high, especially during special occasions, gifting can feel more like a race for time, an obligation, rather than this fulfilling joy of showing someone you care. And that was always the point wasn’t it?  That gifting is personal.

Oftentimes, the art of finding the perfect gift, be it Valentine’s, an anniversary, or the dreaded December season of back to back events, can feel at best monotonous, and at worst physically, emotionally, & financially draining. Even more frustrating is how competitive it can all be.  Gifting is often marketed alongside current trends.  Trends that seem to come and go even quicker than an Amazon shipment, sometimes. 


But what if we stopped to sift through all the marketing emails, gift list articles from R29 that often include the nearly identical products from various fast fashion corporations, & microtrends on *insert it girl influencer here_________*?  What if we actually stopped to think about the person we are gifting for rather than what the “best, most trendy” gift should be?

If you know me, you know I’ve been on this imperfect journey of sustainability for years now. 

From promoting conscious brands, to advocating for fair pay for garment workers both here and abroad, to disrupting the styling industry as a stylist who sources mainly secondhand, locally, and from conscious brands.   So, whenever the holidays approach I always feel conflicted about this pressure to gift new for friends and family who just don’t seem to be on the same bandwagon of conscious consumerism.   


This year, I recently became an ambassador for the incredible organization, Remake.  If you don’t know them already you absolutely should.  They have consistently fought the good fight to uplift garment workers’ rights for years now, and I participated in their #NoNewClothes campaign, even organizing a secondhand styling and shopping event in partnership with them and local vintage sellers including Porter.

It feels good to be a part of implementing a shift in shopping habits, even on a local level.  Yet the numbers are clear— In 2020 alone, according to the Optoro 2020 Impact Report, consumer returns in the US created 5.8 billion pounds of landfill waste which resulted in 16M metric tons of CO2 emitted from returns transportation. 

Which brings me back to gifting and the pressure to buy new.  While, of course, those stats don’t just directly equate to gift-giving alone, it’s a reminder of how often those very same new items that you’re spending hours in line or in online queues for are simply not as valued.  I can’t tell you the number of times I told my uncles, aunts, and even my parents that I don’t need more new clothes only to have a ton of Macy’s knits and scarves sitting in a pile waiting to be swapped or repurposed.


I used to feel guilty for not being as grateful growing up, but just like we work through practicing boundaries in therapy, we must work towards finding the root cause of said guilt (hello, 1st generation scarcity mindset!) and then eventually effecting change within our own communities. 



What does that look like? For me, it was being real about my financial circumstances without shame and telling loved ones we wouldn’t be gifting or wanting much (after all, gifting new often equates to status and there’s still much to work through as a society with the stigma around secondhand gifting.)  Maybe next year, it’ll be implementing and enforcing online wishlists for my parents and in-laws.  For you, it might simply have been sparking a conversation of how low the quality of clothes has become in recent decades.  If you’re reading this, you are probably aware of that fact, and you’re already practicing conscious consumption by shopping from local sellers like Porter Vintage whether you realize it or not.  You’ll notice how much longer lasting vintage brands are compared to that Zara designer dupe whose seams probably fray all too quickly. That knowledge alone can get your parents or in-laws, who grew up with less clothes on average in their closets than us, to ruminate over where they’re gifting from next year.

Maybe we don’t have all the perfect answers in 2024 when it comes to de-stigmatizing secondhand gifting.  But secondhand shopping, although an imperfect industry, is becoming more normalized with Gen Z and beyond.  The fact that over half of U.S. consumers alone shopped secondhand apparel in 2022 (Thred Up) and the projected number for the secondhand market in 2027 is $70 billion is something to be hopeful about.

And, on that positive note, if you’re looking for a place to start your journey as secondhand consumer or you’re already a seasoned second hand shopper but having trouble gifting for that special someone… Porter Vintage is your place to start! Stop by their weekly weekend pop up in the Mission or hit them up online to book a consultation with stylist and owner Katie Porter. 


May your 2024 be abundant, thoughtful, and filled with secondhand gems. 

Much love,


Kara at the PORTER Pop up in Mission on Valencia and 18th (City Station Parking Lot)

Kara at the PORTER Popup at City Station Parking lot on Valencia and 18th

I love photographing people like Kara who are willing to LIVE and move in their outfits because essentially life is not a step and repeat. We're busy doing shit.

Like many fans and shoppers of Vintage, Kara's outfits are inspired by what she can find, not by 'TRENDS'. She's a true artist and creator curating basically fashion sculptures with what she finds.

Kara and our fearless leader, Katie holding one of my weird paintings. Shopping local is not just supporting your community. It's INFUSING with your community. So many people meet here at the pop-up. They forge relationships, friendships, working partnerships or just get their people watching fix. It's beautiful.

Speaking of THE pop-up, here she is. COME ON DOWN every weekend from 12-6pm Friday - Sunday at City Station Parking lot at Valencia and 18th (701 Valencia street, San Francisco CA) and say hi to Katie, Celine, Rhone, Denise or Summer xoxoxo

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