Are charity shops an answer to help sustainable fashion?

There was a time when you would not have seen me in a charity shop, but as time passes so do we. I have become more and more interested in sustainable fashion and with that very conscious of the amount of fast fashion that I was buying. So, over the past few months I have been venturing into charity and vintage shops and today thought I would share some of what I have learned.

Charity Shop or Vintage Shop?

Charity/Thrift shopping to me is slightly different to vintage shopping. Although people may argue on how much of the money you spend in charity shops goes to the charity, to me personally a charity shop donates some/all of the profits to a specific charity so you are supporting sustainable fashion as well as those in need. It is a form of recycling and you can find some gems – like a new North Face puffy jacket that only cost €30 or an amazing dress for €10 that can be tweaked to suit your own body shape.

Vintage stores can offer a more curated offering in it’s offering and generally an item will have a story, be from a certain time and could be rare. And vintage since you are paying for an item from a specific era that may be very well preserved, you will more than likely pay more than you would in a charity shop. And on a side note, buying a ‘vintage’ slogan t-shirt from a high street retailer is not buying vintage!

My tips for shopping in Charity Shops

  • I have found that certain stores tend to lean towards a certain type of clothing. Sometimes this is driven by the people donating the clothing and sometimes by the person running the store. You should not give up after your first time in a charity shop – quite literally shop around and see can you find one that suits your own personal style more.
  • Check for stains and rips – yes you are buying secondhand but you need to be sure that you can clean the item or repair it. There is no point in bringing home something that you cannot wear.
  • Look beyond what you see. What I mean by that is you may see a shirt that is too big but you love the print, can you take it home and tweak it and get it taken in?
  • Shop in both the women’s and men’s section – sometimes due to the varying items that the shops received that some items may get mixed up. So have a quick glance through the men’s section as well as the women’s section.
  • Wash the items when you get home, this is a personal thing and I also do this with new clothes as you don’t know who tried it on before me and it’s just a weird hygiene thing for me 🙂 And make sure to check those labels before buying – can the item just be thrown into the washing machine?
  • Have fun with it – charity shops are NOT like your normal high street stores. They are not well organised with different sizes of the same product on a rail – you need to look more closely. And take a friend with you, it can be fun and there can be some crackers to be found.
  • We generally do wardrobe clean outs at the start of Summer to put away Winter clothing and again at the end of the season as we prepare to start layering all the clothes – this can often be a great time to see an influx of items into charity shops.
  • And generally we also do clear outs at the weekend – so the best time can often be Monday or Tuesday to pop in to take a look.
  • And don’t just stop at clothing – there are often games, DVD’s books etc. Many can be unwanted gifts and I have often found items unopened and at a fraction of the cost compared to what you would buy ‘new’.

Do you shop regularity in charity shops? Do you have any tips that you use when shopping in them?


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