Having the choice of buying all of my clothing and accessories pieces secondhand is actually a massive privilege, one you may not realise to which is why I’m here to explain.
This was something that I never truly realised before and I really understand how selfish that sounds. I’ve been doing loads of research into it so that I can educate you guys as well about it because I think it’s very important your privilege and change your attitude if necessary.
As a pretty standard size 8/10 female, that already gives me huge privilege. Clothing in charity shops and on places like Depop tend to be around size 10, I rarely see clothing plus sized. This means that when I walk into a charity shop I have rails and rails of options to choose from, I also tend to buy larger clothing and then upcycle it to fit it, but there are many people out there who can’t do that.
Therefore many people have to shop from fast fashion outlets because they can’t find clothing their size in charity shops. And that’s absolutely fine! No one should be judged for shopping from high street stores because for some people it’s the only option.
The amount of times I have bought things that are more of a size 6/8 and have tried it on when I got home only to find out that it doesn’t fit. I really consider myself lucky to do that because they’ll still be loads of other pieces in my size to choose from, and financially I am lucky to be able to do that.
Shopping secondhand is interesting because in some ways you save money and in other ways it can be quite expensive. If you go into an actual charity shop they can be quite cheap, you’re looking at roughly £3 for a top, things don’t tend to go above £10. It does really depend on where you are shopping. I must admit I have noticed that prices have gone up over the years as it becomes more popular. You can save a lot of money in here, buying multiple items of clothing for the price of 1 thing if you were to buy it new.
Sometimes if they consider something vintage then they’ll up the prices as well because vintage clothing stores are really expensive, in my opinion. I go in them all the time because I love them, but it’s rare to find an item of clothing for less than £15. Again this is a matter of opinion because for some people that’s really cheap.
On the other hand places like Depop are quite expensive and I know so many people get their whole wardrobe off there. I find myself browsing it to be nosy and find that people charge SO much for some pieces! I’ve bought a couple of pieces from there during this lockdown but that’s only because the seller reduced the prices on them, even things like handmade face masks are expensive with people selling them from over £8 which is honestly ridiculous. When things have a good brand logo on it, people really ramp up the prices which for a lot of people is not financially viable. I get that a lot of people do this to make a profit, I really do, but not everyone can afford like £40 for a branded jumper. I do consider myself privileged to be able to afford things off of Depop, I just chose not to buy off of there often.
I love Oxfam charity shops, they always have good stock, and they also have an online store. However even that is so much more expensive than the actual shops itself because they are selling the good stuff. Anything with a branded label on is immediately so much more expensive,and not everyone can afford this which is why many fast fashion stores offer knockoffs that are so much cheaper. It is a privilege to be able to be able to afford the real things and not the dupes.
This may not be something you realise but your location can really depend on the type of secondhand shops around. It’s common that those in wealthier places, like London, stock much better stock than low income places. You’re much more likely to see more designer labels and it’s gonna cost you a lot more as well because they tend to charge more. I have only been to a couple of charity shops in London and can vouch for this because they were over double the price of the ones around where I live.
So I live in an area that is classed as being low income, on the southeast coast. One of my nearest towns has about 4 or 5 charity shops and they tend to stock decent stuff but I never see any designer labels. There’s even one that sells half their stock for only £1 which I’m sure helps out a lot of people on lower wages.
The other town near me was once the town with the most charity shops in, around 20! I found an article about it HERE which was funny to read, there’s only a couple of actual high street stores, all the shops are basically secondhand. It was a few years ago so other places have caught up and overtaken Bexhill. I can spend an whole afternoon wandering round all the charity shops and usually find some decent pieces. However, not to be rude, but the town has an older population because it’s a great place to retire to you very rarely find stuff that’s on trend if you know what I mean.
While they may not have the nicest stuff I still feel privileged to have so many on my doorstop and to also have the time to look round them. I think that most places nowadays have at least one charity shop but you’re not gonna have to find everything you need in one shop. For a lot of people, they have to shop in fast fashion places because they may need something urgently or are looking for something specific.
Which leads me onto the next point which is about time. Loads of people shop online because of the convenience, it’s so easy to just click and buy things nowadays. Less and less people actually visit high street shops which will eventually lead to them closing down I think, and this whole pandemic isn’t helping as people are shopping online more than ever.
This links to my point about money because charity shops are so much cheaper than the secondhand options online. But for a lot of people, they don’t have the time to wander round the shops because they have a job or a family or other commitments etc which is why it’s easier for them to just click and buy online. I consider myself very lucky to be on a gap year and having all the time in the world to wonder round these places, I am probably never gonna have this much free time in my life again.
If there were more and cheaper online secondhand stores then I’m sure they would gain some popularity, but for many buying all their stuff on depop to be sustainable is just not feasible. The point I am getting at with this post is that for many people fast fashion shops are their only option and that’s okay!
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT
I consider myself to be rather privileged in the sense that I can find secondhand clothing in my size, there’s loads of shops in my area and I have the money and time to do so. However I know this is not the case for so many people and they have to shop in the high street or online in fast fashion shops for one reason or another.
And that’s fine!
But if you are wanting to live a more sustainable lifestyle then it’s important not to go overboard. If you have to shop in fast fashion stores then you should try to reduce the amount that you buy and only buy things when you really need them.
Use your social media platforms to promote sustainable lifestyles, spread the word!
Finally, don’t ever feel bad for buying fast fashion if it’s the only option. But remember the most sustainable clothing is the clothing that you already own, don’t buy clothes for the sake of buying them, only buy things when you really need them!
I’d love to know if you shop secondhand and also if you have loads of charity shops where you live?!
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