• gigi eligoloff

Will you buy second hand clothes? #LFW

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

I have a friend who recoils when I tell her I am wearing something I bought second hand. She literally, recoils. I'm not offended, far from it, I can see there is something deeply triggering for her, and perhaps lots of people around the whole notion of buying second hand. But in a world drowning in fast fashion with brands still enticing us to part with our money, isn't it time to 'set the trend with second hand'. At least when it comes to buying children's clothes?

Full disclosure, I was raised in a single parent family in the seventies. My mother was a spectacular drama teacher, so wages were low, and creativity was high. She (wisely, in retrospect ) spent her hard earned money on theatre trips, books and obscure foreign 'holidays' where we hitched lifts to get around and knocked on the doors of people she had briefly met, to take up their offer of a bed for the night.

This is how I saw the world, and I did it for the most part, wearing hand-me-downs and clothes she had bought in jumble sales. My grandparents, both children of immigrants, were not so keen on our preloved clothing aesthetic and some of my earliest memories were shopping with my grandmother in Barkers ( a large department store ) in nearby Kensington High Street.

As a parent, I find I am quite unable to shake my prevailing 'second handed' experiences and once the baby-gro period ebbed away, I found myself gravitating to an ever growing number of local charity shops for clothes for myself and my children. I just couldn't help it, I was like a homing pigeon, airborne and fixated on bargains and surprises behind every door. It was partly the thrill of the chase, and partly the self-satisfaction of seeing my children dressed well, for less.

No matter how much I earned I found it really hard to part with large sums of money for clothes which I knew I could get for a fraction of the price. Not only that, but we're talking about clothes for children, items which would be worn for a matter of months before they appeared to shrink to doll-size proportions in comparision to their owners.

The happiness I gain from knowing that much of my monthly clothing budget goes to good causes, is immeasurable. I buy better, and help out. And after that dress, pair of shoes or designer hoodie no longer fits the bill, I donate them all back. Benefitting good causes with every transaction. the other thing that benefits of course is my artisan chocolate habit, and other less saintly consurmerist addictions. Call it vintage, or just charity shop stuff, but if you don't already why not start to buy the odd second hand piece every now and then and teach your children that spending more money on things, isn't always better. There are very nice charity shop chains on every high street now too, specifically for childrenswear where you will find great quality designer labels at a fraction of their original cost. You never know, you might just get hooked!

The coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted income in the charity sector; during lockdown Oxfam lost £5m a month.

The BAFTA award-winning actor, director, screenwriter, producer, playwright and poet Michaela Coel is the new face of Oxfam’s #SecondHandSeptember campaign, which is designed to raise awareness about the impact of fast fashion on the planet and garment workers.

Coel will feature in the windows of more than 500 Oxfam shops nationwide, showcasing clothing from the Oxfam Online Shop, and the clothes that she is sporting will be available to buy from Oxfam’s pop-up shop in Selfridges London Designer Galleries for four weeks from 7th September. This year, Oxfam is asking consumers to only buy second hand clothes for the month of September, and to share their pledge using #SecondHandSeptember and tag @OxfamGB.

Michaela Coel said:

“I’m honoured to be the face of Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign this year. When presented with the data from Oxfam on the impact of fast fashion I felt compelled to add my voice to this cause; I hope it raises awareness and encourages us to reflect on our buying habits and to consider how small changes can have a huge impact on the environment – and in turn the fight against poverty.”

Oxfam created #SecondHandSeptember last year, amid growing demand from shoppers wanting more sustainable and ethical clothing. According to the Co-op, the total ethical consumer market – including food, drinks, clothing, energy and eco travel – has increased to over £41bn. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, charity shop sales had increased four-fold from £133m to £732m in 20 years as many people are buying vintage and second hand clothing. The Oxfam / Selfridges pop-up shop will stock an iconic 90s Gaultier PVC red suit, as worn by Coel, Ossie Clarke dresses, original leather flying jackets, and 90s sportswear. There will also be a collection to buy on Selfridges.com.

Bay Garnett said:

“This project is a fun way to change the perception of charity shop second hand clothes – shifting them into the luxury context and space of the big guns! With all those bells and whistles – but, crucially keeping the prices the same as they would be in any Oxfam shop.”

To find your local charity shop you can now use this clever store locator 'widget-thingumabob' at charityretail.org.uk

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