Second-hand clothes shopping is gaining mainstream popularity among fashionistas and celebrities alike, so we asked three readers about their experiences of wearing second-hand clothing.

The resurgence and popularity among the fashion conscious for wearing second-hand clothes can be attributed to many reasons. From an increased commitment to sustainability, a yearning for timeless styles typified by fashions of yester-year or simply an effort to keep on top of shrinking fashion budgets in these cost-of-living times, the number of people rifling through the rails of charity and second-hand clothes shops is clearly increasing.

The popularity of pre-loved clothes shopping is helped by campaigns like ‘Second Hand September’ run by Oxfam charity, now in its second year. This year’s campaign saw mum and daughter duo Andi and Miquita Oliver speaking about their love of second-hand clothes. In a Guardian interview, Miquita said: ““I want to show that anyone can look and feel beautiful in second hand clothes.”

In the article, Miquita full embraces the idea of second-hand clothes. She said: “I don’t use the word vintage … as that makes it sounds expensive. When you say ‘vintage’ it sounds like the doors are closed against you. I want to be like, I’m on TV wearing a skirt that cost £2 in a charity shop. That’s where the joy is.”


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In this piece, Melan Magazine speak to three women of different ages who wear second-hand clothes and discuss their experiences in doing so. It is something that both older and younger generations alike are embarking on.

Second hand clothes: Lily’s story

Second hand clothes
Lily “I buy second-hand clothes because it’s cheaper to buy new things from there.”

Lily is a London-based mother of two. Born and raised in Ethiopia, she moved to the UK and worked as a volunteer in a charity shop during her early years of moving to the UK more than a decade ago.

A regular shopper of second-hand clothes, she tells us about how she started shopping from second-hand stores in 2010 when she worked as a volunteer at the charity shop, SENSE. “When I shop from charities, I look for clothes with a tag as many companies donate their clothing to charity shops”. She continues: “I buy second-hand clothes because it’s cheaper to buy new things from there. You can find clothing for unbelievably cheaper, compared to if you were to buy it new from a brand.”

And it’s not just clothing that Lily buys for herself, as the 48-year-old shares: “I also buy kids costumes and clothes for school for events like book day or nativity shows, as they are pricey just to wear for one day. For this, it’s better to check charity stores. They also sell party clothes, wedding or bridal dresses. You name it.”


Second hand clothes: Chioma’s story

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Chioma: “I have always had an eye for fashion since I was a little girl.”

Proving shopping for second-hand clothing is a worldwide trend, Lagos, Nigeria-based Chioma is a fashion designer who also buys pre-loved clothing. She said: “I like to say I’m an all-round fashion babe. I have always had an eye for fashion since I was a little girl. I started designing my own clothes because I couldn’t afford to pay other fashion designers to bring the designs in my head to life. It’d have been a lot.”

Chioma touches on where she tends to buy pre-loved clothing from: “I buy mostly from thrift markets around me”, she says. In Nigeria, there’s almost always a small thrift store in the most random places and I’m really good at spotting them. There are also stores on Instagram that I buy from once in a while.”

Explaining why she buys second-hand clothes, she shared: “Second-hand stores are way more affordable than stores for brand new items. Their items also have more character. Definitely more quality than fast fashion brands and they are also less common. I’ve never really had the problem of walking into a place and seeing someone else wearing what I’m wearing. Thrift clothes have helped develop a very unique sense of style.”


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Second hand clothes: Elma

Second hand clothes
Image credit: John Ferguson

In-store charity shops aren’t the only places to buy pre-loved clothing. Elma, founder of social enterprise, Aspire Black Suffolk CIC, says she is: “…obsessed with Vinted! I’ve just bought lovely jewellery from there for my 50th birthday party! I’ve also bought T-shirts and coats from them as well as some new autumn shoes.”

The 50-year-old from Suffolk adds: “I often pop into charity shops too in case there’s a bargain to be had! They’re brilliant, for household items and bits for the garden.”

Sharing why she buys from second-hand stores, Elma says: “It’s much more sustainable – as long as you’re selective, you’re likely to save clothing from landfill and hold on to it for a long time. I grew up in the 70s and 80s when wearing hand-me-downs and second-hand clothes was just how people lived. Without access to fast fashion that we have now, our clothes lasted for longer. And our mums and grandmas repaired tears and holes.”

Elma continues: “Most families had a sewing machine too. I don’t know why you wouldn’t buy second-hand. Buying everything new doesn’t make sense to me. Especially when the item is only going to be worn a few times and discarded, as it’s too poor quality for charity shops to accept!”

Have we sparked your interest in buying second hand clothes? We’d love to hear your stories of shopping pre-loved clothing, in the comments below.


Maxine Harrison

1 comment

  1. I think it’s a great trend that you can find very nice clothes in the second-hand clothes market, and when those clothes are displayed in the mall, there’s a good chance you’ll have to give them up because of the price.

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