Personal style and fashion blog

Monday, 17 September 2018

My (Near) Lifelong Love Affair with Second Hand Clothing




I go through distinct phases when it comes to second hand clothes shopping. I can date my first experience back to circa 2001 on a family holiday somewhere up in Scotland. I don't remember much about the trip except it being cold and damp and we stayed in an old flat that had something to do with Charles Rennie Mackintosh (which, of course, I completely didn't appreciate at the time).  

What does remain a vivid memory, though, is the guestbook in said flat. In one of the previous entries, one woman wrote that she'd picked up a Burberry trench coat in the local charity shop for £5 (and a genuine one at that, not the many knock offs that were circulating at the time). Five pounds! I was 11 at the time, I'd just started to take an interest in fashion that went beyond Tammy Girl and well, even I could afford £5 with my monthly pocket money. I hot-footed it to said charity shop, ignoring the pleas of my parents to go and experience the local culture and spent a great deal of time searching the racks. Alas, the Burberry trench was a one-off but I had been fully introduced into the world of second hand shopping. My quest for cheap but genuine branded clothing continued into my teens, with most of my Saturdays spent in Liverpool's TK Maxx, my best friend in tow, each of us eager to find the ultimate bargain.


Then came 2008, the start of my university years in Newcastle. Like most other students at the time, my frugality led me to the many vintage shops in the city (no idea if they still exist but the best were around High Bridge) and clearing the date in my diary when the vintage fairs rolled into town and took over the student union. I couldn't get enough, my wardrobe was filled with off-beat, pre-loved oversized jumpers, old silk scarves and reconstructed shirts (as you can probably tell, I was a lot more adventurous in my wardrobe choices back then). 


The trouble is, I overdid it. July 2011 marked my graduation and after the ubiquitous gap year in South America, I was thrust into the real world with my first proper job in London. I was earning above the minimum wage (well, just about) for the first time in my life and armed with my overdraft and the recklessness that comes with being a young twenty-something in the capital, I didn't care for what I started to think of as other people's cast offs. I wanted new, I wanted shiny, I wanted exciting. 

I'm now 28 and I don't think I've gone near second hand clothing for a good seven years. That is, until now. If I haven't harped on about it enough, earlier this year I moved out to Australia and after a bit of travelling, I've been calling Melbourne home for the past two months. Of course, I've been sampling the shops as much as I have the incredible brunch spots, restaurants and rooftop bars and while the high street offering isn't as strong as the UK (yup, I said it), this city does a bloody good independent. 


I've spent quite a bit of time in Collingwood, an inner northern suburb that has some of the best cafes in the city (plus there always seems to be a sample sale going on). Early on in our arrival in Melbourne, I walked past an unassuming shop front on Johnston St but something immediately caught my eye: on one of the mannequins, lo and and behold, was a Marni coat. I looked up at the sign: Recycle Boutique. My forgotten love of second hand shopping and sheer enthusiasm for a bargain came flooding back and I stepped inside. 

Turns out, it was a consignment store and they only accept quality, well looked-after pieces from great brands (I'm talking COS, Acne, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Solace London). I was immediately drawn to these tailored, navy COS trousers that I'm wearing here - in great nick and a steal at $38 (about £20) - and have become a core piece of my wardrobe. This past weekend I went back, expecting my great find to have been a one hit wonder, and then these adidas Originals Deerupt trainers happened. Rather than pre-owned they were a bit shop-soiled on the sole...essentially they were as good as new, and less than half the price. 

Two incredible buys. Maybe it was a fluke, a lucky strike. Or maybe this is a sign to reignite my passion for second hand. 






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