In recent years, many Brits have had a shift in their thinking when it comes to buying vintage clothing. Also known as “pre-loved,” secondhand clothing is fast becoming apart of the movement to save the environment. Buying pre-owned clothing is seen as a greener way to enjoy fashion, plus save money.
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Fast Fashion Bad for the Environment
Modern fashion is often seen as too trendy and expensive for most people. According to Ceclie Wickmann, founder of resale website Rebelle, “The fashion industry is one of the most polluting in the world and consumers increasingly understand that extending the life of a garment has a big positive impact.”
The problem has increased with the availability of cheap, fast, online shopping. More people are beginning to pay attention to their shopping habits and how this all effects the environment.
Statistics on Shopping Secondhand
A recent study of 2000 adults shows that up to a third of adults are quite satisfied buying used items including clothes, gadgets and more, as a way to help the planet. They believe shopping “green” is more important now than ever.
There’s even a growing movement called “Don’t Feed the Monster” that promotes buying secondhand clothing. People involved in this movement are working to promote more sustainable waste management practices, which includes buying secondhand and not throwing good clothing away. Instead, they choose to give it to charity shops or sell their used items in a consignment shop, which keeps clothing from filling up landfills with old clothes.
Stigma of Secondhand Clothing is Shifting
In this era of concern for the environment, the stigma of secondhand clothing is shifting. It used to be that buying secondhand was frowned upon. It was also popular to keep up with the latest fashion trends. Instead, customers are now seeing new clothes as fast, disposable fashion. Older items are often now thought to be better made and offer more value for the money than new clothing, including the high fashion brands.
Another trend is to buy secondhand and then upscale the items, making something almost new in the process. It’s no longer a shame to buy used clothing and improve it. In fact, many look at this as fun.
Some of the most popular places for many people to buy used clothing are charity shops, followed by auction sites and online stores.
Resale Shops & Black Friday Offerings
As the move to secondhand clothing continues to grow, more and more people are beginning to find that resale shops are now competing with regular retailers. They offer everything from sales to free shipping and more, making this an easy and inexpensive way to shop for pre-owned clothes.
If you’re looking for some wonderful Christmas presents, and would like to have some expensive labels to give, look no further than resale shops. You’ll find bargains on famous labels, along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
Some of the most popular websites to shop for pre-loved clothing includes Hardly Ever Worn It, Videdressing and Designer Exchange. These shops mostly offer clothes for women, though the market for men is also seeing growth.
How to Buy Secondhand Clothing
If you’re interested in buying pre-owned clothing, here are some tips to help you find the best bargains:
1). Get organized: it’s a good idea to create a shopping plan before you go on the hunt for pre-loved clothing deals. Also have an idea of what you’d like to shop for. Do you need formal wear to attend a wedding? Or are you interested in fall and winter skirt? Would like a comfy sweater for the winter?
Make a list of what the pieces of clothing you’d like to buy, including colors and patterns. Know what styles look good on you, too. This way, you’ll be able to focus on buying what you need, rather than making purchases on the fly only to find you have clothes that don’t work for you.
2). Where to buy: find local charity shops to find that next beautiful trench coat or vintage skirt. You may want to visit more than one when you’re out shopping, too. Not every shop will have things that work for you, so visiting more than one shop can help you find the perfect pieces.
You can use the Charity Retail Association tool to find shops near you. The tool also gives you information on the types of items that each shop sells.
Buying from a charity shop not only helps you find something “new” to wear, but your purchase will also help others.
3). Best days to shop: are usually during the week, when new arrivals are more numerous. However, the weekends can also be a fun time to shop.
4). Shop regularly: once you find some shops you like, be sure to visit them on a regular basis. Once a week is a good goal, because the shop’s stock will change on an almost daily basis. You’ll have more like finding what you want with regular visits; however, remember to stick to the list you created in step 1 and only buy what you need.
5). Shop for designer fashions: if you’re interested in high end and designer fashions, then you’ll need to look for resale shops that offer these specialties. Even Oxfam and the Red Cross have specialist shops that focus on designer fashion items.
6). Be ready to dig: you’ll find a wide variety of clothing items when you visit resale shops. It may seem like a bit of a jumble; however, with a little “digging” you may just come across that gem of a skirt you need.
7). Carefully examine each item: you may come across a great find that has something wrong, such as torn seam, stains, etc. Check each item carefully before you buy to make sure you don’t have any “fun” surprises and disappointment when you get home.
If you believe the item is fixable, then carefully consider how much it will cost to repair or alter the item. Can you mend it yourself? Do you know how to sew or make alterations? If not, then you’ll have to take the clothing to be mended, which can be expensive depending on the type of work you need to have done.
8). Read the care labels: you’ll want to make sure the clothing fits, but you’ll also want to check the care directions. Keep in mind that dry cleaning can be expensive and it’s not friendly to the environment.
Another concern is if the clothing needs a lot of ironing. Do you have the time for that? If not, pass on to something else that takes less care.
Look for clothing you can handwash and put in the machine. These will be easier to care for and less expensive in the long run.
9). Have a swap party—get clothes for free: yes, we’re serious—it’s possible to get secondhand clothes for free. You can arrange a clothing swap party with family and friends. Not only is this a fun gathering, but you can get some new-to-you pieces for your wardrobe. Everyone invited to the party brings clothing they no longer want. At the party, everyone adds their unwanted clothing to a pile and then everyone who contributes can rummage through the pile for pieces that may work for them. It’s fun for everyone.
Things to Consider
If you’re shopping for designer fashion, such as that great Channel bag or a Gucci dress, be expected for prices to still be higher than other types of pre-owned clothing. While the price will be cheaper than buying new, it still won’t be cheap. Be sure to align your budget to these higher prices when shopping for name brand labels.
Another thing to be aware of are fakes. This is a problem with some clothing and other items bearing famous labels; however, reputable shops and resale websites usually check to verify the items are genuine. Be aware, though, that some shops do charge a fee for this.
When buying pre-loved designer fashions, also bear in mind that these are generally available only in smaller women’s sizes. Most designers don’t offer clothing above a UK 14 dress size, so if you’re a curvy lady, it may be harder to find designer duds in your size.
Only work with stores and businesses you trust, no matter if you’re buying from an online shop or a physical store. Make sure to get the shop’s contact information and know what their refund and return policies are before you buy.
If you’d like to stay current with what’s on offer from your favorite shop, check to see if they offer an app or a newsletter for notifications. When something you want shows up, be ready to buy it quickly, or you could miss it.
Remember, buying secondhand doesn’t just apply to clothing. Some of the popular things to buy secondhand include books, collectibles, ornaments, retro games, vintage magazines and more. You may even be able to find a deal on a great retro game console. You never know what you might find, but resale shops, especially charity shops, may offer a wide variety of pre-owned items you can buy.
Shopping for secondhand clothing not only helps the environment, but you’ll save money, too. With the revolving door of fast fashion trends, you’re sure to come across items from the past that are fashionable again. Happy shopping!