At the beginning of the year, I took a pledge to only buy clothing second hand or from independent/sustainable sources. It’s getting to the end of the year and I can confirm that I have stuck to it, and actually found it very easy and my wardrobe is a lot more exciting and unique than before. We currently live in a world where fashion is changing so frequently and people don’t realise the damage ‘fast fashion’ has on the planet, not to mention the dire working conditions of those making our clothes.
Fashion is the third most polluting industry in the world. No one really thinks about how making fabric uses so much water, energy, and chemicals. We need to start talking more about sustainable fashion and how we can make small changes in our day to day life that could end up making a big difference.
Giving up the high street chains doesn’t mean you have to skimp on keeping up with trends, it just means you may have to be a bit more creative. Charity shop shopping is a bit like a sport. You need to have a game plan before you set off, and a good eye. Some of my friends find the task a bit overwhelming. I don’t come from a family of money so all my life I’ve shopped in charity shops, and my mum is even the manager of a charity shop warehouse (very useful) so it’s fairly engrained that they’re great places to frequent.
Here’s a few top tips for having a successful charity shop haul:
1. Plan which charity shops you’re going to tackle. My friends and I used to plan trips to Bexhill purely to spend the day rifling through endless charity shops due to the vast amount of them in a small area. We also found we could get a lot of higher quality items for very reasonable prices.
2. Don’t just look in the sections that say they’re your size. Often things are given to the charity shop due to the sizing being wrong on the label. Or sometimes things get put on the wrong hanger or placed back in the wrong place.
3. Choose charity shops that you support ethically. I won’t shop in Cancer Research UK or the British Heart Foundation etc due to their stance on animal testing. Essentially, if I wouldn’t give the charity money on the street, I won’t buy items from their shops.
4. Think outside of the box. Is there an item that you like but can’t work out how to style it? Have a look round for accessories and other garments to see if that gives you some inspiration. Found something that is beautiful but too big? It will still be cheaper to buy it from there and get it tailored. There are many options.
5. I like to go into shops such as Urban Outfitters or Topshop to get outfit inspo, then I have a little challenge with myself to find items in charity shops that are similar/achieve a similar look. Also, I have so many pieces of clothing from high street and high end stores that I’ve found in charity shops for a fraction of the price.
6. Shopping secondhand can be VERY hit and miss so don’t give up if you cant find something all day. The beauty of charity shops is the quick turn around with donations. Every day they will have new items to rifle through. Now that’s the kind of fast fashion I’m into.
Also, if more people donated clothing and shoes to charity shops, think of the variety of items we’d find?! You may have seen lots of other secondhand clothing sales such as a Kilo Sale or a swap shop. There’s also apps such as Depop which are great for finding great individual items and doesn’t involve leaving the house! Though Depop can become a bit addictive so you have been warned…
Is anyone else becoming more conscious of their fashion consumption? What steps have you been taking?
Photos by: Ava Shepherd Photography