Image description: Three items of clothing, a shirt, polo shirt and quarter-zip jumper, purchased for a fraction of retail price on second-hand websites.
It’s January, post-Christmas, and of course, the sales are still on (did they ever end?). If like me, you live somewhere that isn’t a city and isn’t very exciting, Westgate is probably home to more clothes shops in 100m than in 10 miles from you. With bright red banners and discounts promising great deals on last winters clothes (even though our winter will last until June), it can be very tempting to freshen up your wardrobe for less than half the price.
However, there is a cost to this mass market, fast fashion: the cost to the environment of producing such vast quantities of clothing, and the potential for waste that comes with buying new clothes, causes consequences ranging from fossil fuel use to water pollution. Yet, most do occasionally need new clothes to replace old or combat changing seasons.
Charity shopping is often finding a diamond in the rough and many don’t have the time or interest to look for it
Often, charity shops are suggested as an environmentally friendly alternative to the high street, but for many, there is a turnoff to buying discarded clothes and obscure fashion pieces; unfortunately, charity shopping is often finding a diamond in the rough and many don’t have the time or interest to look for it. Instead, I suggest looking to the online second-hand market. Since discovering this for myself, it is remarkable how many quality pieces of clothing, often from well-known designer brands, are available from established sellers for a fraction of the price of the current retail equivalent.
Moreover, because you are buying second-hand designer items, though they may be ten or twenty years old, the quality of the manufacture ensures they will last even longer. Brands like Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, Nike and more are readily available on platforms like eBay or ASOS marketplace, but the best vendors are the sites dedicated to selling vintage items. Most of these are UK based, known for their social media interaction with customers and a personal feeling to the clothing you buy. My personal recommendations are gullygarms.com, deadstockofficial.com, and ricksretro.co.uk.
Each sells both rare and more basic items at a range of prices and operate on a model of ‘drops’ releasing between 30 to 200 unique items in regular batches. While these are my picks, there are dozens more you can find on Instagram and elsewhere that sell similar stuff, stocking not only one-off pieces but also must-haves like t-shirts and sweatshirts (at a fraction of the retail prices). Items usually have minimal wear and flaws are made clear alongside accurate measurements, plus there is the added bonus knowledge that you are not contributing towards a destructive fast-fashion economy.
So next time you get the urge to explore what deals may be had in the January sales, think twice about whether you really need it, and if you do, perhaps consider buying second hand. You might be surprised when what you do find quickly becomes your favourite item of clothing.
Image credit: Josh Boddington