SECOND-HAND SEPTEMBER - My guide to sustainable fashion
Updated: Oct 13, 2020
So, here is my guide to more sustainable fashion. In this blog post, I will share my tips for online second-hand shopping as well as throughout, showing you some of the pieces I have bought myself over second-hand September as it is now coming to an end. Don't worry though, I have also included alternative ways to shop sustainably if second-hand just does not appeal to you.
Why is shopping sustainably important and what is 'fast fashion’?
'Fast fashion' and 'throwaway fashion' is inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends which is not only putting increasing pressure on the environment, but also on workers behind the scenes of these big corporate companies. In order to keep up with the quick pace of online fashion styles and trends, large companies are exploiting workers (with reports of lack of PPE during COVID-19), encouraging over-consumption and generating excessive waste. The worst offenders in the UK are some of the newer online brands, notably: Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, Nasty Gal (all of which are owned by Boohoo), and Missguided. All brands I have shopped from before and I bet a lot of you reading this have as well. My personal experience with previously shopping from fast-fashion brands was purely based on the convenience of it all, its all so cheap with guaranteed next day delivery, there are new items being constantly added yet the quality of items weren't always the best. I was constantly sending things back for being poor quality or it looking completely different online to what it did when it arrived. Now up until recently, I've never sat and considered the impact of my actions from buying my clothes like this and I know a lot of us probably don't, but its time we do. We are ALL responsible for contributing to climate change and all that comes with fast fashion such as the treatment of workers and it is time we did something about it, even if it's something small, it helps.
Now before I begin, I do want to say that I totally understand the convenience of shopping from big brands and that second-hand shopping doesn't always sound appealing and I'm not perfect as I have shopped from these bigger brands for years but I am willing to REDUCE AND TRY. However, even if you just reconsider some of the other actions you may be taking, you can help. According to Oxfam, 'Every week 13 million items of clothing ends up in UK landfill.' That figure is unbelievable. I've personally never thrown clothes away instead I always donated clothes I no longer wear or that I'd never worn to my local charity shops. There will always be exemptions as some items will no longer be suitable for wear but you could always try and up-cycle them into something new or keep them for when you next need to paint your room or dye you hair or literally new dusters, at the end of the day its material that can easily be repurposed.
My guide to shopping second-hand :
Shopping online - what websites do I use?
The most popular website/app at the minute for second-hand shopping is Depop but as well as this, i've recently discovered Vinted.
I have found that Depop is good if you are wanting to find branded vintage items or just branded items in general however they tend to still be on the more expensive side. However, Depop is a platform that has made it easier for handmade businesses to sell their items therefore supports independent businesses ranging in all different sectors such as jewellery, clothing and i've also seen a number of art prints on there. My only issue with Depop is that items can sometimes be overpriced for what they are but on the other hand you can land on bargains from time to time.
Whereas, my experience with Vinted has been that prices are a lot lower than those on Depop. It also offers a range of shipping options starting at 99p with Hermes collection point delivery but also offers a more expensive Hermes direct delivery and Royal Mail delivery.
Comparing the two, although they both allow you to add your own sizes to automatically filter your searches, I've found that Vinted is easier to navigate than Depop and if you want more reasonably priced items, Vinted is your go to.
As of today actually, I heard about ASOS marketplace which is home to 900+ small businesses from 50+ countries. Now, I haven't used this website so I couldn't tell you what its like and honestly i'm not entirely sure how I feel about it as ASOS are very big contributors to fast-fashion and the exploitation of workers. However it gives independent businesses and boutiques an accessible, international platform to push their work which I will always encourage. You can also buy and sell pre-owned items similar to both Depop and Vinted.
Cheetah print dress bought from Depop for a total of £15
Brand - GioRgia
Condition - New with tags
Retail price - unknown
I instantly fell in love with the messy chic look of this dress, it kind of has a tacky vibe to it with the cheetah print pattern against all the ruffles and laced trimmed bow which I was so down for. I styled this with my nude/cream coloured converse and whenever I wear this dress on a summery day, I pair it with my cheetah print glasses from Nasty Gal because my little head needs some big bitch glasses. This dress is so easy to dress down and dress up with a pair of heels (if you can walk in them unlike me) and a black blazer.
Tips and Advice to make second-hand shopping easier :
*Search brands that you normally would buy from. Often you'll find current stock they still have online for cheaper or you'll find some old gems you might have missed. You will also find a lot of them being new with tags as they might have missed the return dates (we all know online returns are always the thing we push to the back of our agendas).
*Be specific - don't search 'black top', put subcategories or actually search for the specifics you're looking for in the item eg. crop top, corduroy, polka dot etc. Have an image in your mind of what style you're looking for
*ALWAYS MESSAGE BEFORE BUYING - I can't stress this one enough, this will help you avoid falling upon accounts that are inactive but still have items up for sale. Also, people tend to put items up for sale on multiple websites and might not have updated the status of the item yet. Avoid having to deal with someone who is stubborn about refunds!!
*Make sure the item looks legit - unfortunately, there are people out there that love to scam especially if it is a popular item/expensive item. I've nearly fell for this many times before thinking wait i've seen these flame jeans everywhere sold out, why is someone offering them double the price, brand new with one stock image and no previous sale history. Check for actual photos of the items, preferably multiple instead of one stock image. Also, check seller history reviews (just click on the sellers profile and they should be rated as well as giving you the ability to read previous written reviews)
*Add filters - if you're only willing to shop second-hand items that are brand new with tags ( I know a lot don't like the idea of having someone else's clothes) then make sure to filter in that into the condition of the item, it will save you so much time. Also make sure to filter in your sizes before you start scrolling, Depop and Vinted give you an option to put your preferred sizes into the settings to automatically do this for you.
Green plaid crop top and wide leg black denim jeans both purchased from Vinted for total of £13.66
Jeans brand - H&M
Retail price - £24.99
Vinted price - £8.83
Top brand- Nasty Gal
Retail price - £22.00
Vinted price - £4.83
TOTAL SAVED £33.33
I styled these items together and I can't wait to pair them with my new platform trainers I ordered today from Vinted for £20 (RRP £40 from Topshop) - yet to be received. The Jeans are such good quality and were brand new. I love the whole trend of wide leg trousers so i'm so glad i've found a staple item for my wardrobe.
Shop from sustainable independent businesses !
I would always encourage everyone to go support independent businesses that make and sell clothes, jewellery... you name it. So I have reached out to a few independents over on my instagram that make the most gorgeous items. (click their names to go to their instagram page) PREPARE YOURSELF FOR TALENT. It is also so important during the uncertain times that we are in at the moment with COVID-19 that we support our local/smaller businesses.
These handmade and reworked items are unreal. The talent that has gone into these items, I want them all!!
Etsy and Depop - @lucyflorenceshop
These are just so gorgeous, I fell in love instantly !! These tops are by the @looseends are up-cycled from other items and re-sewed back together to get these lovely patterns.
They are a mother and daughter ran business based in Wiltshire, selling handmade pompom earrings made from 100% vegan yarn. How bloody adorable!! They come in different sizes from small, medium to large and ranging in all different colours and designs. If you aren't lucky enough to visit their fabulous looking stall, catch them online on their instagram account (click name @ to take you to their page)
Emily makes handmade up-cycled garments & accessories, turning normal long sleeved shirts into these beautiful front tie crop tops. She is also currently making face masks that are reusable!!
North Yorkshire based sustainably made clothing business, all made from reworking other items of clothing. A lot of these items actually are branded items also which adds that unique style to them all. These are so damn cool and she is only 15 YEARS OLD!! Unreal, go show some love.
Handmade sustainable crochet clothing, custom orders available!! The perfect little co-ords and cardigans, they're so damn cute. There are so many different styles, this girl is unstoppable!!
This independent business makes such cute handmade jewellery. I purchased some of their earrings a few months ago and I am actually wearing them in the photoshoot I did for this post as they are my go-to silver earrings, I love them. I bought 'believe' as a reminder for me to always believe in myself and what i'm doing with this page, if you believe then you're more likely to succeed.
Handmade garments made from sustainable materials, based in Manchester. (they also take custom orders as well as what is available on their page) I just love the tie dye with the re-sewed look in all different styles, they looks so grunge and gorgeous!! Also they make such beautiful fully boned corsets with hand placed rhinestone detailing.
Handmade crochet using plant based and recycled materials, based in Scotland. Not only does she make beautiful tops but also such cute plant holders! Absolutely love these.
This independent business makes the most beautiful and unique garments, all handmade using sustainable materials. Custom orders are available as well as what is on her Depop (click to see). Currently, this business is donating 10% of profits to charities supporting BLM & trans lives so go give some love and support.
Cropped sleeveless shirt and black velvet corduroy flared trousers both purchased from Vinted for total of £16.73
Top brand - Vintage
Retail price - unknown
Vinted price - £3.83
Trousers brand - H&M
Retail price - £19.99
Vinted price - £12.90
KNOWN TOTAL SAVED £7.09
The pattern of this top is so 70s to me which I loved. It is a button up, tie-knot front which you can make as cropped as you want. I had also been looking everywhere for some black cord flares for so long so for a pair of trousers for £10 (without postage) you can't go wrong. The trousers are another staple item which will go with everything and are so easy to style either with a crop top or an oversized t-shirt for more of a casual look. A good pare of flared trousers are such a good edition to the wardrobe and are so in style right now.
Second-hand shopping - Charity Shops vs Thrift stores:
Before online second-hand shopping became a thing, charity shops were the only way to shop second-hand. Over the past couple of years, thrift shops have made their way to the UK however the only thing i've found with this is the price is almost the same as buying the item from retail but they have such cool, unique items as they are picked by to be bought as opposed to donated. The UK thrift shops target more towards the 'indie' styled generations as it has almost become trendy to shop in them which I respect a lot as it is allowing people to reduce their contributions to mass production etc sometimes unknowingly. Big thrift shops such as 'thrifty store' have dominated the scene by labelling things as 'vintage' as opposed to 'second-hand' which sounds much more appealing. However, the classic charity shops are always great to support as of course, the profit benefit charity so not only are you helping reduce mass waste of clothing but also supporting and funding a charity. Charity shops have actually got easier to donate to as they now supply local clothing bins in which you put all your clothes in a bag to deposit there in a sealed 'bin' that will be collected and taken to the charity shops for you, it's that easy. Not sure where yours is? A simple google will locate the nearest bins to you.
It is hard to give advice for shopping in charity shops as sometimes it is based upon luck and location. For example, we've just gone through a lockdown (potentially going through one now) so it has given people more time to sort through their wardrobes and donate what they no longer wear so now should be a prime time to find some gems. (You should also think about when you donate, think about others that use charity shops nearer a time of need such as the winter) There is a big stigma surrounding shopping second-hand and particularly shopping in charity shops, for some reason people seem to think charity shops are only for those short on money when that isn't the case at all. Everyone is welcome to shop at them and at the end of the day the same money no matter who it comes from is going to benefit charity. I will admit though, shopping second-hand is a good, sustainable way to save on money as you do find that the prices are lower than retail. It's really just a win, win situation.
Checkered beige button-down cropped waistcoat vest from Vinted for a total of £7.90
Brand- Nasty Gal
Retail price - £28.00
Vinted price - £7.90
TOTAL SAVED £20.10
As soon as I saw this item, I NEEEDED IT!! This wasn't included in the main photoshoot because as much as I love it, it needs tailoring in slightly on the sides (job for my nanan hehe) to fit how I want it. I call this look my grandad chic'. I cannot wait to style this but it goes so well with some skinny black jeans to compliment the silhouette of the item but would go well with so much more. It gives you a neutral palette to work with which I love.
Still not convinced? Here's some high street brands that are the most sustainable
The very popular brand H&M has in this past year become more transparent with their brand and they actually have a whole blog type section on their website about sustainability and how as a brand they are trying to become better. This is so good to see and I really hope it sets as an example for other bigger brands as for me it has become such a good selling point as it is still a way I can 'shop' and still be reducing. According to H&M, they overall it use 57% recycled or sustainably sourced fibres, with a goal to reach 100% by 2030. This might not seem a lot but trust me, in comparison to other high-street brands this is a BIG step forward for H&M.
Another brand is one of the biggest denim contributes, Levi's. Now just to put into perspective, according to Oxfam, 'it would take 13 years for one person to drink the water needed to make one cotton t-shirt and a pair of jeans.' So Levi's are trying and reduce the amount of water it takes to make their jeans which is apparently now 96% less water used in each pair of jeans.
An example of brands recognising they need to become more sustainable that I actually wore throughout the photoshoot of these unintentionally are converse, they brought out a range of shoes that were made with recycled materials...now instead of a range, lets make them all this way because yes, life is too short to waste.
Now these brands and many more aren't 100% there yet but to see some of the biggest corporate brands making a change and taking that initial step in acknowledging and beginning change in direction of becoming more sustainable is so good and I hope it spreads to more brands. We need to push for the end of fast fashion and the beginning of new ways of shopping, a more sustainable way. By brands like these becoming more transparent in their processes and their engagement in becoming more environmentally friendly we can hopefully push for more brands to do the same.
Black shoulder bag - longer strap included bought on Depop for total of £10
Brand - Skinny Dip
Condition - Brand new with tags
Retail price - £40
Depop price - £10
TOTAL SAVED £30
Saved probably my favourite till last! This was such a bargain as it came basically new with tissue paper still inside and the longer extra strap still in the plastic wrap. This is such a cute bag that goes with so many outfits and just adds that little bit extra. The fluffy handle is so soft and even when the longer strap is added, makes the bag just so different and I LOVE IT.