Charity shops, second-hand stores- whatever you want to call them, let’s face it. You either love them or hate them. That musty smell and the thought of wearing old-lady clothes is enough to put most people off when there is the tempting option of cheap, cheerful, never been worn before clothes in any number of stores along the same street. Why spend the time trawling through stuff that used to belong to someone’s granny when we have online shopping at only a click away? It does seem crazy, but trust me; there are some reasons hidden beneath all that floral kitsch and mustiness.
So we all know that “vintage” has become the by-word for anything vaguely hipster and individual these days. It’s hard to come across a street style blog without the word popping up all over the place. Whether it’s the hard-hitting recession or the yearning to combat the fast-fashion culture we have grown accustomed to, vintage and second hand clothing have seen sales sky rocket. Vintage simply means an item of certain time period, and generally of high quality, but because of the demand these days; prices in specialist vintage stores have also been sent sky high. So why not hit up a local second hand store and go on a bit of a treasure hunt? There could be any number of designer items hidden underneath all that junk! It may require effort, but that is the joy of shopping for unique, one-of-a-kind pieces; that rewarding feeling at the end. And just knowing that there is a story behind this piece of fashion that you’ve managed to save from obscurity is enough to want to shout it from the rooftops rather than be ashamed that what you’re wearing used to belong to someone else.
The British charity, Oxfam, has stores all around the world and it seems to be leaving the stigma of shopping second hand far behind with their Oxfam Vintage line. This means that the stock donated has been sifted and searched through for the best bits and the fashionable, high quality, wearable items have been tagged with the label Vintage to make those sought after items more accessible. They’re even available online at www.oxfam.org.co.uk. It also means that beautiful, pre-loved items can be bought at an affordable price, rather than at the pumped up, pretentious, “vintage” prices in other shops. The ironic thing is that perhaps Oxfam should be charging these prices, since it’s all for charity.
Although the bright lights and killer visual merchandising of your favourite high street stores are certainly tempting, second hand stores offer a different experience. We all love the feeling of owning items that nobody else has right? And hate the feeling when you walk down the street and you see someone pass you wearing the same top. It’s practically impossible to avoid, but a charity shop investment is pretty much a guaranteed one off- except maybe for the chances of seeing it on a senior citizen at some point.
So as well as bagging a bargain and having a unique piece that no one else has, there’s the other added benefit that no other shopping experience can offer; the charity element. Charity shops do all kinds of work, from helping the local homeless community to aiding humanitarian crises worldwide. The stuff may be cheap, but the money that you give is invaluable. You may be out for a bit of retail therapy, but that feeling when you’re weighed down with bags and your bank balance has taken a hit can last longer than you think when you know the money is going further than just someone’s pay check. By helping these charities you’re doing more than improving your wardrobe, you’re improving someone’s life.