Renting a pair of jeans (try Dutch circular denim brand mudjeans.eu), hiring a dress for a month (check out renttherunway.com), the co-ownership of clothes between friends ('friendrobes') or gifting items to strangers (something I've started to do). It's all going on and whether you're a fashionista who simply doesn't have the space or inclination to hold onto your recent wears, or you're driven by the slowing down of our consumption for fashion, motivated by sustainability or find yourself demanding manufacturing transparency (see:Fashion Revolution Week 23 - 29 April 2018) the circular economy is fashions' hottest topic.
I'm from a generation where from-me-to-you fashion, monthly bin bag drop offs from older cousins was my 'new' and I'm convinced that this was the starting point, the moment that second-hand became my norm. Yes I've bought new and still do, but I've never differentiated between the feeling of new, versus the feeling of wearing somebody else's clothes,after all clothes are, well just clothes. Aren't they?
Possibly for many there's still an issue of stepping into someone else's 'shoes' (I love a pair of second-hand shoes btw, very often donated in excellent condition) perhaps it's a hygiene worry or simple that it just doesn't feel 'right'. The smell of new the constant pull. All I know is that playing with fashion whether new or preloved - the act of dressing up, the wearing of my 'armour', care-free flitting from one style to another - comes at a cost: the up front cost to me of making a purchase and the environmental cost when I decide I've had enough of it. My choice is always to feed the the circular economy. Linear (buy, wear, bin) feels so, last century, darling.
In the week when fashion transparency is under scrutiny I met up with The Pool'sLauren Bravo to chat top-tips for shopping preloved fashion at the most vibrant and coolest of cool charity shops Shop from Crisis (19 Stroud Green Road, London, N4 3FB).
My tops tips are:
Know your body shape: don't buy anything 'because in 6 months it might fit me' it most probably won't and there it will stay hanging in your wardrobe staring back at you. No sad-feeling clothes please!
Know your wardrobe gaps: applies whether buying new or preloved, only ever buy something that is genuinely missing from your collection and that works with everything else.
Get through the door of your local charity shop and try stuff on. Expect clean, spacious changing rooms (often better cared for than the high street), lighting, mirrors.... are very standard in the charity shop world. As are returns policies. Seasonal shop windows and displays and golden nuggets just waiting to be discovered.
Ignore the size labelling: I will leave no stone unturned in my quest to find an ace piece of clothing or accessory (which interestingly isn't my behaviour when looking at new), try menswear for size XS tees, ditto great knitwear and small jackets and trenches. Older kidswear can also be a great place if you are on the smaller size. Vintage generally comes up 2 or 3 sizes smaller. Try everything and anything on. Go on, be brave.
Have a good old rummage: that is essentially what you need to do, stock does get moved around, you do have to flick through rails, you do have to put the effort in, you do come away empty handed BUT this is on-your-doorstep shopping and that's even quicker than one-click shopping.
Interview done and top tips shared Lauren and I split up and went rail flicking (a preloved fashion skill in itself) and what-d'ya-know we both landed on the SAME Marks and Spencer trench. "Awks" as my kids say. "Naaa", we did the grown-up thing and agreed on joint custody. One month living with me in the 'burbs, the alternate month city living with Lauren. Splitting the bill 50/50 felt good as did the excitement of a trench coat co-ownership and a monthly hand-over coffee.