Remember when you only bought your clothes on the high street? It was a time before smartphones and online shopping. Before auction sites and second-hand sales apps.
We didn’t use blogs as a source of inspiration, and we weren’t influenced by Instagrammers.
Fortunately, we don’t live in that time any more.
The internet has changed us
Forbes reports around one third of millennials do the majority of their shopping on a computer, with a further 16% using their mobile device. That’s almost half of Generation Y doing the bulk of their spending off the high street.
Major fashion retailers have known this for years, quickly adapting their clunky websites into smooth-running apps, offering student discounts through web-based platforms such as Unidays, intelligently keeping their doors open 24/7. We’re now living in an age where you can purchase an item from Amazon and have it delivered on the very same day!
But for second-hand fashionistas, and anyone looking to buy more ethically, it seems our options are not quite as great. It’s meant that someone like me - who tends to avoid fast fashion - will end up actively visiting the high street's charity shops to source new clothes. It’s a bother, to say the least. I mean, it’s that or scrolling through lots of independent websites for one specific item. (Does anyone know where to find a good pair of ethically-made gloves?!)
Thankfully, there is a solution!
Charity shops - why you shouldn’t hate them
As we slowly watch the decline of the British high street, charity shops have been upping their numbers. While it’s done wonders for keeping town centres afloat, sadly it has damaged the reputation of charity shopping. In fact, 50% of the general public think there should be fewer.
I’ve also found charity shops are often associated with betting shops and vaping stores, preying on our valuable commercial space where titans Woolworths and BHS once stood. While gambling and e-cigarettes do prey upon addictions and have no social purpose, charity shops deserve the space we give them. The money they generate goes to worthy causes, and they help recycle a huge amount of regretful fast fashion purchases. Their shops even provide steady work experience to the unemployed.
Charity shopping goes digital
This year has seen the migration of charity shops to a new digital realm. And not only that - they have some serious styling too.
The first one that I spotted this year is Oxfam’s Shopping Site. They have invested the time and energy to upload photos and descriptions of items from their stores to their online shop, proving that even with all of their one-of-a-kind items, it’s a massive investment opportunity.
Barnardo’s has gone in a different direction, seizing the popularity of second-hand and vintage bloggers. They now have their own fashion blog, The Thrift, and even created an A/W17 lookbook supported by fashion designer Henry Holland.
In a different twist, street newspaper The Big Issue opened their online store, The Big Issue Shop, which sells first-hand items with an explanation of the social good the item does, denoted as a “Social Echo”. Art prints support marginalised street artists, while baby clothes have all their profits donated to orphaned and abandoned children around the world.
And while it’s going to mean higher bidding by revealing this, Cancer Research UK has an eBay page, with the best high street brands and second-hand items being sold on there.
It’s great to finally have these charities online, so that second-hand shopping still has real social impact. I’m hoping to see more and more pop up, as we continue to increase our online spending habits.