On a bleak December day in the early hours of the evening, I walked along in Vesterbro and was distracted by very inviting decorations waiting outside Vesterbrogade 101. A magnetic force pulled me inside what was to become my new favourite shop. A proper treasure chest for secondhand clothing.
The name is Thrift Planet. It is a small shop, decorated like the birthday slumber party the thirteen year old would dream about having. There are all sorts of vibrant colours and shiny balloons and funky accessories, surrounding what is the greatest wardrobe you'll ever see.
It isn't stocked wall to wall with a mess of old goods, as many thrift stores are, but is instead six racks, cleanly arranged, by colour scheme, or by season, or by a curated outfit. At this point, I remember one rack, completely suited for New Years Eve, with glitzy, sequin dresses, being both extravagant and sexy and from a variety of eras.
It first began as a webshop in 2015, then branching into a pop-up shop. Following that success, Mette opened Thrift Planet in its current location in November of 2016.
I sat down with Mette for morning coffee in her shop. She tells me she's from Denmark, from a semi-small town in Jutland. She started collecting vintage clothes in her teens, but more concretely for the last eight years. In 2008, she moved to Berlin with her girlfriend and spent a year there. She reminisces about this year of her life, how affordable it used to be and how dreamily minimalist her lifestyle was.
"While in Berlin, I made it my mission to visit all the thrift shops. So, I made a list and every day after German classes, I would hop on the U-bahn and go around the city."
It's a goal that genuinely intrigues me, so I can't help but eagerly ask if she managed to do it:
"I did! There's lots of secret gems in the city. But of course, shops open and close all the time - There was one shop on the outskirts in a district called Wedding and it was the store of my dreams. It was cheap and had the best selection and they would always give me discounts because I went there so often. But the last time, I tried to go back and it had turned into a nail salon."
She returned to Copenhagen and did a bachelor's degree at Copenhagen University. Fast forward to today, although situated with her shop in Copenhagen, Mette returns to Berlin very often. It is the major source for the secondhand clothes she's picked for her shop. Just last year, she made seven visits, and as she knows the Berlin thrifting scene like the back of her hand, it's an easy trip. She knows which shops to go to and which to avoid, and with this knowledge, she's been able to orchestrate her collection of clothes.
I ask Mette why she chose to focus small selection:
"I wanted to make a shop that was my vision. It's also fun to handpick the clothes. I did a lot of research before starting this, of other thrift stores and how it all worked. A lot of people get overwhelmed when there is too much to look through.
"I wanted it to be like high fashion stores where I could assemble the outfits so they can visualize the way I do. I picture a type of person that would make a certain look."
She gestures to the rack of clothes behind me with a "# Urban Girl" sign at the front of it. It is sporty with classic Adidas stripes peeking through, but with a casual yet composed trend to it.
I think of the thrift stores I've been to before - massive and often a huge mess. Personally, I have a hard time shopping in circumstances like this because I get anxiety. I fear that I'll pass the perfect find if I don't scan the overflowing racks well enough. There's a serenity in Thrift Planet, the harmonious way the clothes and decor is arranged, and the collection always inspires me.
I inquire what influences Mette when deciding what to bring back:
"It's a mix. I follow the fashion magazines and do research before I go shop to see what current trends are, but I also pick what I like. Sometimes, I find a random thing that I like but maybe won't sell, but I can't say no to it."
The garments I see in the shop are always nice on the eyes. Not easy on the eyes, but nice. They're stunning colours, often vibrant and quite contrary to the calm Scandinavian colour scheme and black, white and grey. The interesting styles, made of quality materials, give each piece a unique look to them. There isn't a single article of clothing that Mette has chosen that I wouldn't want in my closet.
I give Mette the challenge of describing her own personal style with only a few words:
"Wow...that's hard... Kind of a fashionista. I follow trends, I look at street style, but I also do my own thing. I like little jackets but I also like florals. So maybe kind of edgy, bohemian. I don't ever wear an entirely vintage outfit, I usually combine the old and new. I find sometimes with wearing only vintage clothes, it can feel like a costume."
I nod my head in agreement. Then, in regards to Scandi-fashion, Mette expresses:
"I don't feel like myself if I'm dressed in black head to toe. I need to wear something that is that little bit off."
There comes a moment that Mette brings an interesting point to the table:
"Clothes produced today won't last 30 years. Like today, we're able to have garments from over thirty years ago, and they're somehow still in good condition. But this, (she tugs on her white t-shirt) it won't last that long."
I think about what she's said and it's something I've never really thought of before. There are a set amount of clothes from these time periods, the way there are set amounts of events that have already happened in the world's history. And while world events and clothes continue to be produced everyday, the clothes being made today aren't permanent in the way that moments of history are. There is a shortage of what is vintage. With sincere worry, Mette expresses:
"It's kind of a sad thought but...is vintage going to die? Maybe vintage won't be a thing anymore. Things from the 80's will run out! Will we run out of sequinned 80's dresses?"
What Mette says is true. Clothes are no longer being made to last decades. The rate of consumerism is so quick and in demand, articles of clothing are being damaged and disposed of at an alarming pace.
Coming back to the present, I ask Mette why she thinks secondhand shopping is valuable to the consumer society today:
"There's the environmental part which is an important thing. Of course, I am transporting my clothes and when you think about it, even though these clothes are second generation, the first time around, maybe they weren't made in the most sustainable way. But there are small differences that help and secondhand shopping doesn't use as many resources as making a brand new shirt. I wash all my garments myself. The fast fashion industry is the second worst industry after oil, so it's good to not contribute to that."
And when considering the ethics:
"Somewhere in the chain, someone is getting underpaid, and this is something that I think about a lot. I know a lot of people who work in the fashion industry and I've seen a lot. Some brands just don't even care."
Ending on a more optimistic note, she considers how secondhand shopping is valuable to the individual:
"It helps in having a unique style - this can do so much for your wardrobe."
I ask Mette if she always had this shop in the back of her brain. She ponders for a second and tells me that yes, it was her dream. And after speaking with her and witnessing the passion she carries for this job, I can see that too.
"People come in not expecting to buy something but then they find something that they can't live without. And I love that."
** Thank you to Mette for all of her photographs of Thrift Planet!