30 reasons to shop preloved this September - and all year round
Since 2019, Oxfam has been beating the preloved shopping drum with the creation of #secondhandseptember . The campaign shines a light on the dreadful environmental impact of the fashion industry, and all the positives that come
with shopping second hand. It's really a win-win, as we will come to conclude - but read on for the other 29 reasons to shop preloved this month, and every month!
1. The joy of the find
The process feels like a treasure hunt, espe
cially if you've been lurking around for a specific item for a long time. Or if you happen to find an incredible piece sitting between two unassuming jumpers in the charity shop. There is a thrill element that differs from fast fashion shopping where everything is available so readily, it almost becomes too easy.
2. It's not an all or nothing.
You don't have to go all in. In fact, a survey from YouGov in 2021 revealed only 2% of Britons shop exclusively second hand; whilst 63% had bought at least one second hand item in the previous year. If everyone does a little bit, it can have an incredible macro impact. It's also a case of practice makes perfect. Even if it feels overwhelming at first (so many places to look at, how do I search?), you then discover your favourite hangouts, save your searches and slowly start to make it part of your shopping routine.
3. Spend less.
In a world of soaring costs of living, 67%
of Britons claim it's their number 1 reason for choosing to shop second hand. Whatever you are in the market for, you can always find it cheaper preloved if you take the time to look in the right places - often in amazing / as new condition!
4. Get better quality for your bucks.
Look out for vintage / older garments, made using higher quality fabrics with more intricate finishings - standing the test of time compared to low quality fast fashion items. These clothes have been going through the decades unscathed! And the chance is you will be able to pass the item on to another loving home once you are done with it, reducing your footprint even further Another win-win.
5. Save items from landfill.
The environmental impact of fashion is HUGE. 92 million tonnes of textile waste is produced every year, with an average person throwing a whopping 37 kg of
textile a year. Out of this, 85% ends up in landfills or incinerated, and only 15% is recycled or re-used. When the unwanted textile is exported to developing world countries in gigantic bales, most of it is either not in good enough condition or not suitable for the climate, so it ends up being dumped or burnt, adding to the pollution and growing health concerns amongst the local population. Any action no matter how small of rescuing an item from landfill can end up making a big difference on a macro level.
6. The joy lasts longer.
Because buying second hand is usually part of a more considered shopping process, nearly a quarter of us say the thrill lasts longer when we buy second hand (according to a study commissioned by Oxfam). Almost half (47%) enjoy shopping for brand new clothing - but report that the thrill doesn't last long. For 22%, the excitement of the item's 'newness' fades fast. A further 17% start to doubt if they actually liked what they'd bought once their shopping high subsides.
7. Unearth something truly unique.
Because the second- hand offering is much broader than the current trends curated by the high street, you can source pretty much anything, from a designer timeless classic to a handmade vintage find.
8. Find sell-outs items.
You got influenced by that instagrammer or you were all over that high-brow collab from your favourite high street brand, but the garment you were coveting sold out before you got a chance to press buy? Fear not! You might be able to find it on second-hand marketplaces. Sometimes at a bargain price; sometimes for much higher than the RRP if some sellers stocked up on new items to resell at a profit. But genuinely used pieces can re-appear months after the hype and it's the chance for you to finally bag that item.
9. Let go of size expectations.
Take note of your measurements and you will be able to find true gems that might have been grossly mislabelled! Having tried on many pieces from the consignments I receive, I can say sizing is all over the place, depending on the brand, the fit, the era of production. Vintage pieces come up notoriously small; some Zara current pieces are incredibly oversized. I think it's another chance to try different fits as a large size can also look great as a relaxed fit on a smaller frame.
10. Discover your original style.
You can mix and match to create your unique style, going maximalist or just peppering your outfit with key accessories. Because the clothes tend to cost less, you can experiment more without breaking the bank. I have made many mistakes (usually when trying to fo
llow a trend or influenced by someone!), but these faux pas have helped me understand my likes and dislikes and my key words when it comes to defining my style. Why not try to come up with your own ‘Fashion Manifesto’ as explained by Anna Cascarina.
11. There is something for everyone.
No-one is left behind in the second-hand world. You can find any style from any era provided you know where to look. I used to find second hand's sizing tended to gravitate more towards smaller sizes (after all, the main reason for people parting with their clothes was that they didn't fit any more, they have outgrown them). But there are more and more second-hand resellers specialising in size inclusive offering.
Also - the preloved landscape changes every single day, with more items uploaded by more people - so you could find that amazing blazer tomorrow even if you didn't get any luck today!
12. Become part of a beautiful community.
If you're interested in smaller second hand resellers, there is an amazing community out there that is very keen to spread the preloved word! I encourage you to have a look at different offerings to select the styles you are the most into, so you can follow and check out their regular ‘drops’. The Redirectory offers a starting point to check out these wonderful brands, and here are a few to get you started:
13. Do your bit for the current world.
Shopping second hand means reducing textile waste; reducing consumption of new clothing therefore lowering demand for natural resources -
less water, energy, raw materials. I still can’t get over the fact it takes 700 gallons of water to produce one new cotton shirt - OVER 3,000 LITRES, mind blowing! It certainly helps you put things into perspective.
14. Do your bit for the future generation.
By adopting certain habits for you and your family, you show the next generation what they can do to preserve their future. You can make second hand shopping exciting for the little ones by going on treasure hunt around charity shops. I don't think anyone needs new toys especially when they use so much plastic and there are so many that have been never used sitting on ebay, Gumtree or at your local carboot sale.
15. Get access to sustainable, designer and luxury brands more easily.
My wardrobe has never looked so good since I've started shopping second hand. As you progress on your second hand journey, you can become more demanding with the quality of your items, and because prices are lower, you can suddenly afford brands that are out of your price range when new. It's also the occasion to invest in a luxury piece, maybe that design
er bag you have been coveting forever. Or these slow fashion brands that produce locally and in small quantities. Try out these brands in the second hand market to assess if you might consider buying them new in the future.
16. Join the circular economy.
Enter the virtuous circle of clothes recycling. You rescue a piece from landfill, and when you are done with it, you can also sell it yourself (or shout to become one of our consignment clients ). There is no guilt that pieces will go unused, and when you don’t want / need any more you can fund your new (to you) purchases
17. Help charities close to your heart.
According to the Yougov survey from 2021, this is the second reason why people shop second hand - to support a cause close to their heart. The British high street offers such a breadth of charity shops (on my high road alone there are 10 of them!) you are bound t
o find the cause and the item you will love! Some of them like Royal Trinity Hospice follow a strict curation policy, with amazing window display and merchandising and look like independent boutiques!
18. It’s easy.
Today it's easier than ever to shop second hand, whether it's online or in real life:
- Online marketplaces: vinted, ebay, Vestiaire Collective for luxury pieces. Here you can choose your preferences and set alarms up so that when your favourite brand come up in your size, you are the first to know. For more vintage items you can try Etsy or Depop
- Online independent resellers: see point 12 about the m
yriad of amazing small businesses that do all the hard work for you, hunting, curating, prepping so you can shop in confidence
- IRL: charity shops, but also look out for special events such as kilo sales and pop-up events in independent boutiques or large retail space like Charity Super.Mkt. Department stores such as Selfridges regularly dedicate some of their store space to luxury preloved pieces.
19. Discover amazing new brands.
Since shopping second-hand, I’ve been more exposed than ever to new brands, and it’s been a joyful discovery. This is likely to happen when you search by item type, rather than when you shop for new items and go directly to your favourite brand site or brick and mortar shop. The choice is vast, it helps broaden your horizons and compile an ever changing virtual rolodex of brands. Also when you hear about a brand in a magazine or on social, it's always worth
browsing the preloved market first for some amazing deals.
20. Put a brake on fast fashion.
Exploiting people and resources, copying other brands and always tempting you to buy into the next trend, buy more clothes than you need, whilst being shady about their production process. The Shein, Boohoo and Pretty Little Things of this world have some serious soul searching to do. Sure, it's cheap as chips but it's basically disposable clothing, that joins the millions of tonnes of clothing waste that ends up in landfills or incinerated - producing methane, a greenhouse gaz 25% more potent than carbon dioxide (Ellen MacArthur Foundation). The planet is basically being suffocated by the throw-away fashion! Choosing not to buy these brands and buying less, more quality, and possibly clothing already in circulation can have a massive effect to reverse the situation.
21. Become more mindful of what you buy.
Because it might take a little longer to source what you are after, the whole process helps you create a more considered wardrobe, with pieces that work for you. You become aware of the winning fit, colours, fibres that are unique to you and your style. Eventually the thought of a capsule wardrobe might sound appealing.
22. Access items that are new with tags!
The stigma attached to second hand with bobbly, stained, smelly items is long gone. Because of the online bulk buys, consumers often don’t have the time or energy to send back when the item is not to their liking. When it enters the second-hand market, via private sellers or consignment services, it is resold, in perfect condition, at a fraction of the price!
23. You can often return if you are not satisfied.
Even for the most experienced shoppers, it can be tricky to find the correct fit online. Look out for the seller's return policies. Returns can range from one week to a whole month, so can shop with the peace of mind that if it’s not right, you can g
et a refund. What I also like is that with small resellers, the piece will be advertised again and likely find its right home eventually – whereas with massive retailers, the logistics and costs of putting a returned item back on sale is so high that too often they’d rather dispose of it, adding to their already huge environmental impact.
24. Support small businesses.
Creative small businesses are the backbone of the economy, but the day-to-day can be gruelling. If you shop with independent resellers, most of these are a one-woman band who pour their heart and soul into sourcing the most unique and pristine items for you. Every time they hear the ping of an order, they do the little celebratory dance! Also likely you will enjoy a more personalised customer service, making you want to come back for more!
25. Reduce your packaging waste.
When you buy preloved, it’s likely
you avoid unnecessary large and complicated packaging (looking at you Amazon). Most resellers actively source environmentally friendly packaging made of recycled materials that can be re-used; or re-use old packaging themselves to keep waste to a minimum.
26. Source amazing fabrics for your upcycling project.
The condition of the item should be clearly mentioned when shopping preloved. Is there a stain or hole? This might not matter if what you are after is a piece of fabric or part of an item for your project. I bet it will be cheaper and more original than Hobbycraft, and you can customise, alter, and make it completely your own.
27. Source timeless classics.
You might have been fantasising about owning the perfect piece of tailoring, silk shirt, timeless cashmere knit – an item that automatically enter the very select club of your wardrobe essentials. The chances are it is probably available in the second-hand realm, if not today, then definitely tomorrow - sometimes all we need is a little patience. Once you have identified t
he piece of your dreams, have a browse amongst all your favourite second-hand sellers and marketplaces. Preloved is the way to acquire luxury quality classics that won’t go out of style.
28. Acquire clothes with a story.
It can be fascinating to dig into the history of a vintage piece of clothing, why, where and when the item was bought and how it travelled through generations. This can help you feel more personally connected to your purchase, cherish it even more and create your own piece of its story.
29. Take a stance against the culture of throwaway fashion.
Fast fashion brands and social pressure can encourage you to wear a new outfit once, showcase it on social media before disposing of it. This can’t go on, that’s why I like the countertrend of outfit repeaters so much – for example the series from Alexandra Stedman on five ways to wear a piece of clothing, thinking about different ways to style it. If you go through the effort of sourcing a second hand garment, the chances are it will be a hard-working piece that can be worn in many different ways, reducing cost per wear and environmental impact all at the same time.
30. It’s a win-win!
Everyone benefits from it! You because you bag an amazing piece at a great price; the environment as you put a piece back in circulation and away from landfill; the small business or charitable cause you’re buying from helping them to thrive!