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Charity Shop Chic


Posted At: 18 February 2009 11:45 AM
Related Categories: Environmental, Retailers


Charity shops date back to the 19th Century, when the Salvation Army began running second hand clothing stores to provide lower class urbanites with cheaper clothing. Their popularity increased during the Second World War as the efforts to raise money for the fight increased, and the first ‘modern day’ charity retail unit was opened by Oxfam in the 1940s. There are now over 7,500 across the UK, aiding charities such as the aforementioned Oxfam, British Heart Foundation, Bernados, Cancer Research and Help The Aged, amongst others.


While essentially the same ethos remains– selling contributed products and donating the profits to the specified cause – the nature of charity shops and their consumers has changed over the years.


Think charity shopping is all about tolerating that weird old person smell, and scrabbling through unorganised rails of lavender knit? Not really…


And as for the consumer…well, while 94% of the British public believe that charity shops are a good way to raise funds, and 78% have donated goods, historically, few would admit to having bought their wardrobe in the jumble. Until now…

Charity shop shopping has gone chic.


Reported in the news this week, £2,000 worth of Jimmy Choos left at an Oxfam store in Woodbridge, Suffolk, over the weekend. Unfortunately, it was just too far for me to travel, but never mind, it appears this isn’t a unique case! A quick Google brings up tens of stories about designer clothing being donated to charity shops across the country – shoes, clothes, accessories, you name it – and low and behold, the organisations in charge are catching on.


Oxfam now has three designer boutiques in London, specialising in second-hand designer clothing and items reworked by up and coming designers. And although the clothes in this boutique retail for more than items in traditional stores, the ‘charity shop chic’ trend is spreading across the country, with celebrity donations increasing the profile of the industry.


Coleen Rooney, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Moss have all donated items in the past, and apparently scouring the charity shops of wealthy suburbs is an age old secret of fashionistas on a budget. Having never been aware of the phenomenon before now, I feel slightly protective over my discovery, but nevertheless here are my top five shops in which to swag a bargain;


There are lots of articles on the web that containing lists like this so I won’t go on, but it is a genuine shock to me that you can find this stuff in those shops! Good job, celebrities and rich folk, more Jimmy Choos for meeee!

Finally, it goes without saying, a rebirth in popularity may be happening, but these stores still need people to donate – and not just designer goods either. The Association of Charity Shops website can help you find the shops in your local area, and provide guidance on what to donate.

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