April 17, 2024

How the charity shop got seriously cool

There is a psychological thrill of buying something new for a special event. We get it! Shoppingis a buzz. But while wear-once fashion is at its peak, we’re also in the middle of #SlowFashionSeason (June 21st to September 21st) and #NoBuyJuly has been encouraging us to buy nothing new, because, admit it, you already own *plenty*.

It’s been a tough year for shopaholics. Our favourite distraction therapy is adding to cart but our conscience knows that fast fashion is killing the planet. This month, children’s charity Barnardo’s revealed that during summer 2019, the UK is on course to spend £2. 7billion on outfits we’re only going to wear once. For festivals, holidays, weddings…

Shopping your wardrobe and making up outfits from things we already own is our new hobby, although our synapses are still searching for that little spark of joy we only get from a retail fix. If you’re looking for a loophole we are more than relieved that if it’s recycled, found or thrifted it’s outside the #BuyNothingNew guidelines.

Happily, to coincide with our need to find charity shop gems, the high street’s second-hand stalwarts are stepping up.

For example, Boutique by Shelter (Unit EV8, 1st floor Coal Drops Yard, Stable St, London N1C 4DQ) is leading the charge with rails of second hand designer and high end high street pieces alongside a curated edit of vintage. Then Anthropolgie has teamed up with Traid to create a pop-up shop in their Chelsea gallery space (131-141 Kings Road, London SW3 4PW. ) Open until August 4th, 7pm so be quick!

One of the rules of charity shopping is to visit stores in well-heeled areas where designer donations are peak. At 24 Marylebone High Street, London W1U 4PQ, just North of Mayfair, Cancer Research have opened a ‘Premium’ branch which feels like a chic boutique.

Emma Slade Edmonson, Creative Strategist and Retail Consultant (who has worked with Oxfam, the British Red Cross and Cancer Research), revealed some evidential stats in a recent blog post “The retail sector at large is in decline but in January 2019 Charity Retail saw like for like growth as circa 5. 1% (well above inflation. )”

It’s brilliant news we can shop such cleverly curated rails – but why is it exploding now? Edmondson explains: “There is something very exciting going on. It’s the convergence of the rise of the conscious consumer and the simultaneous focus on innovation, customer experience and an enhanced retail offering within the charity sector. Charity retailers are facing steady growth of consumers who care. 9/10 millennials are ready to switch to brands that align with their values. It’s officially cool to care. ”

But how can you score the best finds? Emily London, a long-term charity shop fan (her best finds include a new-with-tags, J. W. Anderson top for £1 and a silk Hermes blouse, just £20), is Assistant Manager of the Red Cross in Kensington Chelsea and has insider knowledge like no other. Read and learn…

  1. “I never pass a charity shop by. New stock hits the shop floor most days, so there is always a chance that something special has just been added to the rails. ”
  2. “Never look at the sizes of garments. Each brand seems to have their own version of what a size 14 or medium is, so if I see something which piques my interest, I will try it on. You never know how the fit is going to look on you, until you do. ”
  3. “I always look in the menswear section. You can find great shirts, chunky knits, and vintage raincoats that look great when worn a little oversize. I once picked up a vintage Burberry trench coat for £75! ”
  4. “If it’s your first visit, step through the doors with an open mind and a sense of excitement! I’ve never entered a charity shop with an item in mind that I want to buy. I think that’s why I love shopping (and working) in them so much, as you never know what you are going to find. ”

In Chelsea, where Emily works, the British Red Cross store hosts two designer sales each year – see also, incentive to shop. The next one will be on 28th November, 4-8pm. Recently they sold an Hermes Constance bag, Chanel jackets and an iconic vintage Saint Laurent safari suit. Mark your diaries now. (69-71 Old Church St, Chelsea, London SW3 5BS)

Until then, here are the top five Instagrammers you need to follow for pre-loved, second-hand styling inspiration…

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