Time to ditch the sales and shop second-hand instead

Ethical and affordable, second-hand shopping has sharpened its fashion credentials

Vintage appeal: according to the thrift website ThredUp, last year 64 per cent of women were willing to buy pre-owned pieces compared to 45 per cent in 2006. Photograph: John Greim/Getty

Vintage appeal: according to the thrift website ThredUp, last year 64 per cent of women were willing to buy pre-owned pieces compared to 45 per cent in 2006. Photograph: John Greim/Getty

 

The Christmas sales are in full swing and it is tempting to fill our wardrobe with fresh clothes for the new season. But if you would like to begin the year as a responsible shopper, you should consider buying second-hand instead.

When you buy something that’s “pre-loved”, you’re entering the circular fashion movement, helping to extend the lifespan of clothing and reduce what ends up in landfill.

Ethical, affordable and unique, it’s time to ditch any preconceptions you might have, as second-hand shopping has definitely sharpened its fashion credentials. Whether you call it vintage, consignment, charity or resell, finding a second-hand gem that no one else has is hard to beat. And it’s never been so fashionable.

Buying and wearing pre-owned clothing has many celebrity advocates, with both Kim Kardashian and Meghan Markle making the case for sustainable fashion. Even high street and fast fashion brands are beginning to move into the second-hand market, with & Other Stories carrying out pre-owned test projects in Sweden.

Siopaella on Wicklow Street, Dublin. The store has a carefully curated collection of pre-owned clothing
Siopaella on Wicklow Street, Dublin. The store has a carefully curated collection of pre-owned clothing

A study by the American vintage clothes website ThredUp predicts that the second-hand market could overtake fast fashion within a decade. Last year, 64 per cent of women were willing to buy pre-owned pieces compared with 45 per cent in 2006. The report predicts second-hand clothing will make up a third of our wardrobes by 2033.

Imagination and time is required for second-hand shopping. You enter any high street store and all the hard work is done for you – perfectly organised, colour co-ordinated, in all sizes and styles. Shopping for pre-owned clothing requires more of a hunt, but when you find something you love it’s more special.

Don’t focus on labels or sizes; you can get something tailored to fit if you love the print or fabric. Ideally, the fabric should be good quality with no stains or fades. Give the item a good once-over, especially under the armpits and necklines. Imagine the piece out of the context of the shop, styled up with other pieces in your wardrobe – that will elevate it and ensure you will wear it once you get home.

If digging through rails of clothes isn’t for you, there are new specialist fashion resale shops and websites that curate and edit for you. Try Siopaella and Designer Exchange or online websites like Vestiaire Collective and Vinted.

The seventies trend on show in the Celine Spring 2020 collection
Seventies tailoring on show in the Celine Spring 2020 collection
Sixties wallpaper prints in Prada’s Spring 2020 collection
Sixties wallpaper prints in Prada’s Spring 2020 collection
Vintage styles dominate the Gucci Spring 2020 collection
Vintage styles dominate the Gucci Spring 2020 collection

There’s also no need to worry about finding second-hand clothes that still look on-trend – some of spring 2020’s biggest trends reference vintage styles that can be easily found in charity and vintage stores. Think smock dresses at Zimmerman and Caroline Herrera; 1970s tailoring and boho at Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Celine; Princess Diana inspired polka dots at Tory Burch and Wales Bonner; 1960s wallpaper prints at Prada, Rixo, and Etro; and colourful leather at Coach and Hermes. 

And as much as second-hand shopping is good for charity and the environment, you also will nab a piece that no one else will have except for you. Can you think of a better reason do a little second-hand browsing in 2020? 

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