Macklemore & Ryan Lewis aren’t the only ones poppin’ tags at thrift shops.
In light of the hip-hop duo’s multiplatinum No. 1 smash “Thrift Shop,” musicians including Debbie Harry, Miguel and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder discuss their adventures in buying used clothes, even after their careers took off.
The thrift queen
When Elle Varner made her debut in the music world with her first music video, she did so in a hand-me-down.
“The jacket I’m wearing in the ‘Only Wanna Give It to You’ (music video) was $4 at Goodwill,” she said of the bright orange blazer that got attention on urban blogs when the video was released in 2011.
“It’s hot – and wasn’t everyone wearing colored blazers after that?” she asked happily, giving herself credit for helping to push the trend.
Grammy-nominated Varner, a rising R&B singer who counts first lady Michelle Obama as a fan, says she loves to shop at thrift stores. She even called herself “a thrift queen.”
Debbie Harry loves to search for unique items at thrift shops, but sometimes the Blondie frontwoman had to do it because times were hard.
“At various times in my life, (it has) been really necessary to shop like that,” she said.
Harry, 67, said she also hit up thrift shops to fuel her creativity when deciding what to wear to an event or photo shoot. Her favorite used item? A silver 1960s Betsey Johnson jumpsuit.
“Let’s face it, when you don’t have a lot of money and have to dress cool, it’s the best way to go,” she said.
The singer says she loves thrift shops in Florida and that as a kid her bargain shopping annoyed her father.
“My dad was horrified when I was in high school and I would come home with something from Salvation Army,” she said. “He was terrified that I would be bringing a large population of bugs.”
She also enjoys thrift shopping because it’s somewhat of an adrenaline rush.
“In a way it’s a sense of adventure, too, because you’re not walking in and seeing a rack of clothing,” she said. “You have to go in and hunt, and it can be very entertaining.”
Clothes with character
While on his latest international tour, Los Angeles-born Miguel was happy to meet his fans with different accents. He was also hyped about his fans’ thrift shops.
“I tried to do it while we were on tour in Europe. I did a little bit in Stockholm, Sweden, a little bit in London,” recalled Miguel, who was sporting his favorite rag – a red one from a thrift store, of course – in his back pocket.
The pint-sized R&B singer is known for his smooth sound and chic style. His look is mostly clean – fitted blazers and tight jeans are his forte. He’s also an accessories guy.
The Grammy winner says he prefers clothes from thrift shops because “it’s like clothes with character.”
Teenage T-shirt swag
How old are Ryan Tedder’s favorite T-shirts? Super old.
The 33-year-old OneRepublic singer and songwriter says his favorite shirts are the ones he bought when was a teenager – and they’re from thrift shops.
“I’ve thrift shopped since I was 13, and half of my wardrobe to this day are still the same shirts I had when I was 17, 18,” he said, looking down to see if he was wearing one of his classics under his leather jacket.
But for the producer behind hits for Beyonce and Adele, thrift shops aren’t just about clothes. They serve as gift shops, too.
“Me and my best friend back in Colorado, as a joke every year, we’d go to the DAV, Disabled American Veterans, thrift shop and pick out the nastiest trophy, and that would be the Christmas present we’d give each other,” he recalled, smiling.
You can’t jack her style
You can’t deny the uniqueness of Janelle Monae: Her sound is a mixture of rock, funk and R&B beats; her songs sound space-like and are inspired by things like Muhammad Ali’s fists and Walt Disney; and she rocks a pompadour.
But her onstage ensemble is a familiar one: the tuxedo. Although that’s not always the case.
When she’s not working, she loves to rock used clothes simply because others can’t jack her style.
“I like one-of-a-kind pieces,” the singer said. “I don’t like everybody walking around in stuff that I have on.”