What I want to do in this article is offer some insight into the world of Thrifting and how it can appeal to The Savvy Shopper. The Fashionista on a budget. The Interiors enthusiast. The budding Antiques expert. The Environmentally Conscious or Fashion re seller.
We all know that feeling when we sit at the edge of our seat watching the Antiques Roadshow. when the expert takes a deep breath and announces to the sweet old lady, holding a little teapot that she bought for 50p in the local charity shop, that it's actually from the Ming dynasty and worth ten thousand pounds!
Well this, at least, is what drove me to take an interest in delving into the world of charity shops, auctions and car boot sales. The hunt, the thrill of the chase, the moment I’d turn that vase upside-down and, like unwrapping a bar of chocolate in hopes of seeing that golden ticket, I’d find faint Chinese markings inscribed on the bottom….it has yet to happen!
With that said though, throughout my years of thrifting, it has evolved and expanded into different areas such as (and mainly) clothing and accessories with Hermes, YSL and Louis Vuitton among some of the treasures I have found. I will go into more detail about those in a further blog.
I want to talk first about why there has become such a move towards thrifting or shopping preloved. I mentioned previously there is a mass appeal when you look at the avenues available in the second hand retail sector. You can peruse your local charity shop or specific Designer preloved stores, furniture retail or online.
Where to shop
First and foremost you have your one stop charity shop. In most cases when you enter your local charity shop, you can shop fashion, books, furniture and bric- a -brac.
The charity retail sector, while still sometimes still preserving a reputation as disorganised and not always having the most desirable odour emanating from the clothing .This reputation is being left behind as charity shops now realise that their offering is now so valuable to such a wide customer base. They are cleaning up and organising their stores.
Clothes are sorted, steamed and even categorised into Men’s, Women’s, Plus size, Brand new with tags, Managers picks and High End labels.
Gone is the musty smell of old and in are the reed diffusers and scented candles. From disorganised chaos to well laid out areas and departments with size tags on hangers to glass cabinets with more coveted items such as designer handbag , shoes and jewellery.
I never like to pick one charity shop, as the key to thrifting is to shop them all. Each having specific appeal. Some of the shops having greater public support thus getting larger amounts of donations. While other charity shops offer a better price point if you are looking to resell an item you purchase. There are of course the charity shops that are not so well organised, that are not so educated on fashion brands, these ones you will pick up a designer item for a couple of euro. So best not to have a favourite, just shop them all if you can.
For the fashion savvy out there who don’t want to rummage through rails of clothing in the hopes of finding a high end item , you can simply take a trip to the Designer Exchange of Siopaella in Dublin City. There are also more of these types of Consignment and preloved designer stores elsewhere in the country such as Tara’s Designer Exchange in Naas Co. Kildare and the Wardrobe in Kilkenny.
These shops are offering designer clothes and accessories at a fraction of the original retail price as they are preloved or gently used. In some cases, never used at all. The best part about these shops is that you can follow them on Instagram where they update new items daily. If you are looking for something specific you can contact them and go on a waiting list and if they source the item they will contact you. I can say I have dealt with all of these shops (as I worked in the charity Retail Industry ) and they are professional, trustworthy and very efficient when it comes to buying and selling with them.
Both of these above apps are fantastic sources for a whole range of preloved items, from vintage clothing, designer items to antiques, furniture and bric-a-brac.
You can shop by category in the Antique’s section or make specific searches if you have certain items in mind. I, at least once a week, will do a search by Designer, this will pull up ads for clothing and accessories. There are of course drawbacks to this type of online shopping. The items are sold As Seen so Buyer Beware. I would, 99 % of the time only purchase a designer item if it comes with a proof of purchase. I did, some years ago buy a pre loved Louis Vuitton Speedy 30 from a seller in immaculate condition with a valid proof of purchase for 50% of the RRP. So always be perusing these sites just be mindful of what you buy.
For those interiors enthusiasts who love to follow the latest trends in home decorating or sit for hours languishing over the latest edition of House and Garden. If you are dreaming of adding a buttoned back ottoman to your sitting room but don’t always have the sometimes thousands of euros to flutter away on the latest furniture trends. Both sites/apps can be a brilliant source for furniture. You will sometimes find people have bought furniture that does not suit their room or in some cases to big/small and need to sell it on at a fraction of the cost.
FURNITURE CHARITY SHOPS
For those who wish to dabble in furniture up cycling, furniture charity shops can be fantastic. You will pay very little for the item and with a little bit of elbow grease and a lick of paint the results can be breath-taking. NCBI Home on Francis st. Dublin and their store in Harold’s cross is a labyrinth of vintage, antique and new furniture. Also St. Vincent De Paul in Naas Co. Kildare have a great selection of furniture. Again you can always ask the staff if you are looking for something in particular, they might have stock in storage or call you if the item comes in.
Why Shop Preloved?
I can see some of you cringing at the thought of shopping second hand. “Oh the smells!, the stigma, what will people think?!” If you look at @sustainablefashiondublin on Instagram. Taz and Geraldine are leading the cause of fashion sustainability and at the same time promoting shopping preloved. Young people are making it trendy to thrift. Soon the stigma will no longer be the charity shop but the stores that refuse to use sustainable fabrics in their clothing and continue to send tonnes clothing to the landfill.
There are so many reasons we should take a moment and ask ourselves why shop preloved.
Going back all those years when we look at our parents and grandparents, who knitted their jumpers, who sewed there skirts, who darned their socks. Why, because the world of fast fashion was non- existent. Clothes were cared for and lasted longer. Quality over quantity was the saying of the day and taken very literally.
These days with the explosion of fast fashion, clothes are pouring off the rails on The high street. One click and you have access to every clothing item you imagined or didn’t know you wanted. You name it, you can have it. How do they mass produce all this clothing? Kim Kardashian is photographed in an outfit and within days a copy is available online. How? Some person in Bangladesh has produced it for us out of cheap polyester to satisfy our need to be bang on trend.
According to statistics the fashion industry is responsible for 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. (Ref: www. commonobjective.co) It produced 8 % of manmade CO2 emissions in 2018.
In my opinion, this is one great reason to step out of big brand high street stores or click off of Boohoo.com and browse a charity shop or designer consignment store. When you shop charity, not only are you giving back with proceeds going to a good cause but you are doing your bit to extend the life of clothing that might otherwise have ended up in the landfill. If you made an effort to make 30% of your fashion choices sustainable by buying pre loved that would be a great start.
If it simply goes against every grain in your soul to wear something that was gently used, you will find clothes that have never been worn. Often clothes that have tags on will end up being donated by the public. We have all done that thing when we buy clothes and leave in the wardrobe, tags still attached and eventually donate it. Oxfam, for example are in partnership with Marks and Spencer. Any clothes that are left unsold or do not make it to the shop floor are donated to them. Many charity’s are following suit and seeking similar partnership with large retailers. You will often find band new with tags, banded item in a charity shop that has come direct from that retailer.
You can still follow fashion trends and shop sustainable, it may take some adjusting and you may need to visit a couple of extra shops but it can be done.
That actually brings me nicely to the topic of...
How to Shop.
Regardless of your reasons for shopping charity, preloved or sustainable. Frequency and consistency are key. Have an open mind and know your brands and designers. This applies also for interiors, antiques and bric- a- brac.
As I said before, I don’t have one favourite charity shop that I frequent, I visit them all. I shop in car boot sales, markets, Ireland, Europe wherever I am. If there is a vintage shop , charity shop , market or car boot sale , I’ll do my best to get in for a browse.
I’m always on the lookout for designer items that I can resell so that would be my main reason for weekly visits to a number of charity shops. The stock moves very quickly in a charity shop or vintage clothing store as these are one off items. There aren’t masses of the same coat in every size. If you are looking for a winter coat for example, you might need to visit a number of stores just to get your size. That’s why it’s important to shop with an open mind and frequently.
If you were to research the latest fashion on the catwalks and high street. Check out Instagram influencers, you could take key items, such as colours, fabrics and styles that can easily be replicated with some clever shopping.
A good example would be the midi skirts and sweater trend. The fashion concept is a patterned midi skirt with a chunky knit layered on top. As this is also a homage to the 90's. You will find these skirts or dresses very easily in a vintage, charity or designer consignment store. Don’t be afraid to shop in the men’s section for sweaters so as to maximise your options. Below is a silk Max Mara skirt bought for the princely sum of six euro in St. Vincent de Paul brand new with tags still attached.
I really must add at this point, beware! Don’t over shop, don’t buy it just because it’s a bargain! You have to ask yourself, will you wear it? If it’s a designer and you want to resell, know your market, just because it’s a designer or high end brand it doesn’t mean it will sell. The last thing you want it to end up with an accumulation of stuff you didn't need and you can’t sell or make use of.
It’s vital that if you shop to resell, know what’s “ Hot right now! “. Know what are coveted items in the fashion world, in the world of antiques in the world of interiors. Know what fabrics, patterns, colours are trending.
If you find a piece, Google the comparisons or “ comps” online. If you are looking at furniture, go for small one off pieces that can fit into any size room. Bear in mind if you are selling it, customers like to be able to fit it in their car and take it home straight away.
If you find antique or vintage china, make sure there are not cracks and chips, it will likely not sell unless it is very rare and difficult to find.
I feel like I have only scratched the surface on this topic but I hope this motivates you in one small way to consider reevaluating the way you shop. Look at the world of fast fashion. Ask yourself whats stopping you? Maybe you just never thought about it before. Maybe you didn’t know there was such an availability of fabulous items out there, away from the high st. Of course some of you reading this may already shop sustainably and hopefully this will inspire you to tell you friends to do the same. Whatever your reasons for reading this blog, stay subscribed for more on treasures I have thrifted and how to shop more for less and lots more!