slim woman with vintage photo camera on chair

close up photo of denim jeans on a clothing rack

The term second hand September has been floating around the internet for the last three years. But what exactly is it? The campaign, started and coined by Oxfam, focusses on encouraging shoppers to give up buying new clothes for the whole month of September, and direct people towards buying second hand goods from stores such as charity shops and vintage retailers. The goal? To give clothes a longer life, promote sustainable living and reduce landfill waste. The idea is to helps consumers curb their fast fashion retail habits.

In addition to this, large fashion brands, such as Superdry, are finally catching up with the ‘new generation of conscious consumers’ through providing ‘Give Back’ boxes in their stores, to allow their customers to donate ‘pre-loved clothes’ via Oxfam. The company will make a donation to the charity for each item donated.

For the thrifty shopper amongst us, browsing second hand shops may sound like a walk in the park. God knows I love spending my weekends milling through car boot sales and vintage markets looking for the next unique jewel to add to my wardrobe. However not everyone knows how to navigate the charity shop stalls or even where to go in order to achieve this objective.

Here are my five top tips to help you achieve your secondhand September goals and browse secondhand stores and charity shops like a pro:

  1. Know what you are looking for.

Charity shops and secondhand stores can be a minefield when you first step in and haven’t got the foggiest clue of what you’re  looking for. Some stores and stalls are organised i.e. sorting jackets with jackets and the like but some have different clothing types all meshed together on one clothing rack. If you know what you are looking for this prevents you getting distracted from the task at hand. Top tip: approach the sales assistant and alert her to what you are looking for. They will know exactly what items have come into their stores that week and could prevent you from spending an hour sieving through the clothing racks.

  • Keep an open mind

Ofcourse it is always best to have a good idea of what you are looking before you go shopping, but it is also helpful to be flexible. The real beauty of charity and vintage stores is that most of the time you can end up finding an item of clothing that is even better than the one you had in mind. What also helps when shopping is that if something you have found is close to what you are looking for but doesn’t quite meet the brief, you could try heading to a local tailor to have them fix or upcycle the product to your taste or even try it yourself. Buying vintage or second hand also means you can get really creative with your own style and think outside the box when planning outfits. Top tip: Online videos such as Youtube videos are rife with upcycling ideas to try.

  • Venture outside of your local area

There is a child like feeling you get when you know the weekend is approaching and you can travel to the next town and go on what is effectively a ‘’treasure hunt’’ for unique goods.  Cities can be full of great charity shops, especially in the more affluent areas where you are more likely to find expensive one off designer pieces. However, you may have a better chance finding a bargain in less urban areas. Top tip: plan your assault on the strip and know which charity shops you wish to target before arriving at your destination. Sometimes, pop up vintage stalls can be a last minute pleasant surprise.

  • Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate

The fun with second hand shopping is that you can test your bartering skills and discuss with the shopping assistances the price of the item you want to buy and whether it can be reduced. Unlike shopping in large retail stores where prices are fixed, second hand stalls mostly allow abit of to and fro, especially where an item of clothing may require mending or has a stain. Even if your efforts amount to nothing, its still an educating experience you would not get in a normal retail store.

  • Browse online

If you are short on time and don’t fancy trawling through rails of clothing then look no further than from the comfort of your own home…ONLINE! Some people don’t even realise that you can shop for clothing gems online and charities such as Oxfam even have their own online stores. Online it is possible to filter what particular brand, style and colour you like…. talk about being more productive!

Hopefully these 5 recommendations will persuade you to give second hand September a try and curb those fast fashion retail habits. After 30 days, who knows, you may never be able to shop the same way again!

If you like this article feel free to share and use the hashtag #SecondHandSeptember on social media to help raise awareness.

By Yames & Co

Sustainable Fashion Blog

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