Tired to trendy: how youth are revolutionising secondhand shopping

May 5, 2022

Collage by Exposure with t-shirts image by meandcolors, jeans image by LindaLioe and clothes rack image by angelsover, all from Pixabay

Nicole Colucci and her fashionable friends are saving the planet one garment at a time

With the hashtags #charityshop, #secondhand and #depop racking up between 143 million and 1.6 billion views on TikTok, it’s safe to say that the number of young people shopping second hand has massively increased. But what has caused this change of heart?

From online marketplaces such as Depop and Vinted to traditional charity shops, the stigma once attached to wearing used items is slowly phasing out as more and more young people are integrating circular and vintage fashion into their wardrobes.

“When I was younger, charity shops were really sort of frowned upon, whereas I think everyone’s now realising what you can find and get out of them at a good price,” explains Cancer Research employee, Ruth Byford.

Situated in charity shopping and fashion hotspot, Portobello Road, Byford believes that the key to the store’s peak in demand stems from our growing consciousness of sustainability and its increasing role in our consumer decisions.

Meanwhile, as fashion becomes less about following trends and more about sourcing the rarest, most unique pieces for our wardrobes, second hand stores have a lead on the high street in terms of exclusivity and price. To prove it, I asked some of my friends and family to show me their favourite second hand finds.

Nicole and friends are fashioning a sustainable future

(1) Ece: The dress, £25, is a dupe of a Realisation Par dress that usually retails at £235
(2) Nicole: After admiring this £129 Ralph Lauren cable knit in a department store, I was able to find it on Depop for just £18
(3) & (4) Jason: This Nike t-shirt and pair of ‘grandad’ trousers came to a total of £11 in his local charity shop

According to eBay, 17,771 tonnes (the weight of 1,404 double decker buses) worth of fashion items were saved from landfill in 2021 thanks to second hand sales, proving that our efforts really are making a profound impact.

And it’s not just my fashionable friends saving the planet one garment at a time…

At this year’s BRIT Awards, singer-songwriter Holly Humberstone wowed fans with her ethical outfit sourced entirely through Depop and second hand clothing. The artist explained, “I love vintage, and really care about sustainable fashion – I find most of my clothes second hand, so it just made total sense to keep it circular for the BRITs.” This refreshing outlook is something we should all be working towards, and I personally can’t wait to see other recycled red carpet looks!

If you are feeling inspired, here are a few tips to help you find the best second-hand items in-store and online:

1. Run a quick Depop or Vinted search
If there is a specific garment on the high-street you are after, run a quick Depop or Vinted search for it first. Search for the item using the exact product name where possible- you are likely to find it in good condition and at a much lower price.

2. Familiarise yourself with charity shop hotspots
They are popular for a reason! Affluent areas such as High Street Kensington and Notting Hill are usually praised for having popular labels at a more affordable price.

3. Know who donates where
If you are a fan of a particular brand or designer, check to see if they are partners with any charities. For example, Zara is partnered with the British Red Cross, therefore you are likely to find several of the brand’s pieces in store.

4. Follow your favourite Depop stores on Instagram
You are likely to have early access to the best items a few days before they are listed.

5. Be patient
Dedicate time and patience to your searches. You will not always find things you like at first.

Happy shopping!

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