Since the dawn of fashion, humankind has been overwhelmed by choices, consumerism and more clothes than we know what to do with. Our rails, racks and wardrobes overflow with gotten goods and yet we still never seem to know what to wear. Thus we turned to charity shops, donating our unwanted clothing in the name of charitable giving. We turn up with our bin bags of used, dusty and out of season styles, and leave them at the mercy of the store volunteers – to be sorted and sold. It’s a therapeutic release for those donating, and, in more recent years, a gold mine for shoppers desperate for those pre-loved vintage thrifts.
Thrifting is the magical art of transforming a vintage, retro or pre-loved garment into something stylish and wearable. Driven, as everything is, by a wave of uber-stylish thrifters across digital media, thrifting has now become one of our most popular and sustainable hobbies.
Not only is thrifting beneficial to the clothing industry, but it’s also budget-friendly too – with thrifted items typically being sold with serious reductions from its original price.
So how do you get started?
Luckily for us, thrifting is one of the most accessible hobbies out there! Every high street will have at least one decent charity shop – and if you’re lucky, a great vintage shop too! Whilst bigger cities do tend to hold the bigger brand names in their charity shops, for the more luxury or boutique finds, smaller towns and villages definitely have their uses.
There are some key elements to look out for when you first start thrifting – brand, quality and value. Does the item you’re thrifting come from a good, sustainable or respectable brand? Can you see a label or brand tag on the product? Is this piece of clothing actually good quality? Does it have an ‘unfixable’ issues, such as stains, missing pieces or burns? And is it actually worth the money? You never want to be paying more than half the price of the original store for a thrifted item.
Where else can I go to thrift?
Sometimes it helps to get creative when you thrift, especially after draining all of your local hot spots. Flea markets and local car boots can often produce some really unusual pieces, particularly those with vintage or antique stalls. The advantage of local markets is that you do usually have some haggle room, so if you feel you’re being overcharged, it’s always better to ask for less!
Another great route into thrifting is Kilo Sales or Worth Your Weight events. These are essentially huge exhibitions of vintage, second hand and pre-loved clothing in one space – typically a community centre or university. You simply go in, grab a bag, find some great pieces and pay for the weight of your finds. The only downside? You do not want be finding your next pair of chunky Dr Martens in one of these sales!
If you are finding your local space a bit flat, then it’s always worth exploring places a little outside of your usual route. Explore the charity and thrift shops in different cities or far out villages, as these can often carry a bigger variety of brands and clothing pieces depending on the wealth and location of the area.
What can I do with my thrifted pieces?
Sometimes, if you’re like me, you’ll pick up a beautiful thrifted item, bring it home and find that it’s just not right for you. Luckily, there are plenty of options to re-donate, resell and even profit from your thrifts. Apps and sites like Depop, Etsy, ASOS Marketplace and even Facebook Marketplace are all great for selling vintage and thrifted pieces online.
All you have to do is watch that commission charge, take some good quality photos of your item and get selling!
Who can I watch for some thrifting inspiration?
Many bloggers and influencers have recently adopted thrifting as their latest hobby, and are making careers out of re-selling their vintage finds online. I’ve recommended a few of my favourite inspirational thrifters below:
Ashley aka BestDressed – Great for styling thrift hauls, Goodwill finds and DIY thrift flips.
Hayley aka Hayley’s Corner – Great for big thrift hauls, brand hunts and finding trend-setting pieces.
Jennifer aka JENerationDIY – Great for creative thrift hauls, DIY flips and thrifting tips.
So hopefully now you’re ready to head out there into the big wide world of thrifting! If you’d like to check out some of the pieces I’m selling on Depop, I would recommend heading over there now: @nikki_mccaig!