Words by Robyn Cowie
Whether it is; Oxfam, Marie Curie, Cancer Research, British Red Cross, Mary’s Living & Giving, Age UK, Shelter, Martlets or The British Heart Foundation, I am quite literally counting down the days until I can go for an exploratory look around the local charity shops of Brighton.
One big part of the last year which I have seemed to become far more conscious of is my relationship with shopping, consumerism and fast fashion. Now, I have always loved to see what treasures could be unearthed at any local charity shop growing up. I had all my favourite spots down to a fine art, Hampstead High Street, Kings Cross or Primrose Hill as they are always a good shout if you are ever in North London and looking to find some high end pieces in the donation piles, or try the likes of Finsbury Park, Dalston, Marylebone and Camden, for some more unusual garms and one off pieces.
My teen years were spent travelling across the capital on a monthly basis seeking out within my favourite spots, never sure what I was going to find, but once I did and if it fitten like a glove, then it had to be mine. And for a long time this worked well, and then coming to uni, the lures of the high street and online fast fashion, things I had never been that fussed about previously seemed to be the place lots of my peers shopped and so I followed suit. And for several years I was content with that, all until with shops being shut again, I if anything became disillusioned with online shopping and am subsequently longing for trips to the local highstreet to enter the quaint setting of the humble charity shop, not sure what I was looking for and to be able to support a good cause whilst also buying something deeply individual, which means I would treasure it even more.
There are enough clothes in this world for us all to appreciate, with fast fashion quickly becoming a leading contributor to global warming and the environmental crisis, attempting to move away from it is a powerful thing to do. And to be honest I am simply bored of it, the facade of its green washing, where brands create a small collection which does in fact seem environmentally friendly, but that failed to counter the lasting damage the rest of its company is doing to the planet. And instead am attempting to be far more conscious in my consumption, and to engage more in slow fashion, where by the fashion you do by, you do so knowing you shall fully appreciate an item of clothing, be it new or second hand.
Quite frankly the most environmental way to engage in fashion consumption is to love what you already have but if you are going to shop, your local high street charity shop may be the best place to start. Our charity shops need us now more than ever, even though the first lockdown feels like a lifetime ago, but cast your mind back and ask yourself, did you in a way fill time declutter both your house and wardrobe, dropping out bags of items now deemed as unnecessary? Well those cast offs have not gone away. If anything charity shops are more items that they know what to do with! And as the old prose goes, one person’s trash is another’s treasure…