By Landmark Report special contributor Imogen Reed
In the past, charity shops have had a reputation for being fusty junk stores reserved for elderly. But since vintage, boho and shabby chic style hit the catwalks again in the early 90’s, charity shops, jumble sales and markets have become contemporary, prime places to pick up stylish clothing and accessories. The trends have been made even more popular by celebrities such as Sienna Miller and more recently Alexa Chung, whose effortless, casual, vintage style saw her win the British Style Award 2011. It seems that today’s population appreciate the classical, simple beauty of vintage design and will shop anywhere to find it. Here are five reasons why second hand shopping is the new way to achieve up-to-the minute style on a budget.
One of the best things about picking up clothing and accessories in charity shops is that they are often one-of-kind pieces. Shopping in popular High Street brands is great, but you could probably walk out of the shop and see ten other people wearing the same dress that you just bought. Be the envy of your friends and pick up something totally different. It is also becoming more common for charity shops to stock large ranges of accessories that are brand new and not sold anywhere else – the most common example of this would be handmade jewellery. So even if you don’t fancy any of the second hand goodies, it’s still possible to buy something unique yet brand new.
In light of the global recession, many people are eager to bag a bargain and create stylish outfits on a budget. The main perk of charity shops and markets is that they are gloriously cheap, with accessories such as bags, scarves and jewellery often been sold for under £5. However their discounted price doesn’t mean that they are less worthy of being sold than brand new items and often (if you take the time to look at labels) you will find that many items of clothing and accessories have indeed come from familiar High Street brands and are just that little bit older.
The popularity of vintage clothing has rocketed since the early 90’s partly due to visibility. Top models and celebrities such as Julie Roberts, Kate Moss, Rachel Bilson, The Olsen Twins and many more have been photographed wearing vintage garments and as such have made them desirable for the everyday market. With top fashion designers such as Coco Chanel and Vivienne Westwood also creating and endorsing vintage collections it seems that this is a style that is timeless. Current blasts from the past that have been spotted on this seasons catwalks include printed trousers, 1950’s style dresses, 1970’s block colour patterns, bold lipsticks and headscarves.
Bagging a bargain is bound to make you feel good, but you should feel doubly happy knowing that your money is also going to charity and helping those less fortunate. This is especially relevant when you consider that most money spent on the High Street only lines the pockets of large firms, many of which use controversial means of production such as sweatshop workers to create their fashion lines. Charity shops also provide benefits to the environment as re-selling and reusing items prevent them from going to landfill. Most charity shops have a policy that anything that isn’t resold is recycled so they really are doing their duty in ensuring that other people’s unwanted goods are responsibly disposed of.
Wandering around charity shops and markets can often be an insightful and interesting day out. Lots of the items on offer are old and as such come with a history of their own. Sometimes you may even be able to find out where your latest vintage purchase came from and gain a little knowledge about its previous owner and life before you picked it off the rail. Aside from clothing, lots of vintage stores also stock old household items such as telephones, ornaments and coaster fine furniture so you can really get a feel of what life in another era was like and turn your home as well as your wardrobe into a vintage haven.
In fact, in the last few years charity shops have become so popular with the younger generation that people have commented on a noticeable hiking of the prices. But with all takings going to charity and so much fine vintage attire on offer, who are we to grumble?