When talking about clothes shopping the expectation is always to go into the newest trendy shop, right? We never see influencer YouTube hauls from charity shops. Partly, I imagine, because it isn’t considered glamorous. When you own up to buying clothes in charity shops the response used to be a nose wrinkle and a quip about someone having probably died in it. However, in the last few months I’ve seen a subtle shift. The environmental impact of fast fashion has come to light and more consumers are looking for ways to get their clothes ethically.
Of course, at first, this meant shopping at incredibly expensive ‘eco’ clothing boutiques and sneering at those who couldn’t afford it. Cut to September 2019 and people seem to have remembered second-hand is a thing.
Before fast fashion took off, and even earlier when textiles were imported at great expense on masted ships and the like, all clothes were remade or handed down. Even those at the top of the tree had their gowns resewn into ‘new’ garments. It’s why there are so few original historical garments in the world now. Textiles were remade until they needed handing down and then handed down and handed down and handed down until they were literal rags. They were then sold to ‘the rag and bone man’ (no, not the singer) who’d sell them on to make paper and such.
In present times, though, we’ve become used to cheap textiles we consider disposable. And this is having plenty of devastating consequences on our environment. Through sheer necessity we seem to be heading back in the direction of actually using the items we take into our homes. Using or selling on/ donating. Swap shops and Depop seem to have had a surge in popularity (my own Depop is @TheRGibson, shameless plug) and this month charity shops are getting involved.
You may have seen a campaign making the rounds on social media recently called Second-Hand September run by Oxfam. Honestly, my first thought was ‘are there really that many people who find not buying clothes for a month a challenge?’. My second was ‘who the heck has the money to be buying new clothes every week?’.
However, after my initial (probably exhaustion-induced) bemusement I completely got on board with this campaign. Finally, an eco-trend that doesn’t alienate the working class. I can control exactly how much I spend when buying second-hand and there really is a way of doing it for every budget. Personally, I’m a fan of Ebay. I’m also mighty good at hunting out the bargains. Due to moving away soon, and my own lack of budget resulting in lots of holey garments, I am actually in dire need of new clothes. So I’ll be posting my second-hand finds on Instagram over the next month. Are you going to take on the second-hand clothing challenge? I’d love to hear about your own bargains and unique finds too!