Where and How to Shop Secondhand
Shopping secondhand is now more accessible than ever. Whatever your budget, size or style there are ways to find great secondhand pieces. Secondhand can take a little more time and effort, but I think it’s totally worth it. Shopping secondhand is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, avoid putting money into the unethical treatment of garment workers, to save yourself money and to creat a unique style that is all your own. Oxfam are currently running a campaign called #secondhandseptember to encourage more people to shop secondhand. Rokit Vintage are also running a campaign called #greenmatters to promote a sustainable lifestyle, which included shipping secondhand. Rokit are committed to sustainability throughout their business, they also upcycle pieces, use local suppliers, offer clothing care advice, and champion other forms of sustainability, such as reducing food waste and cycling on their sustainability page. They also have sustainability heroes, one of whom is the lovely Laura from Reduction_Raider1, (give her a follow!)
I’ve broken this post up into two sections; In real life and online, because both have advantages and disadvantages. Online is way more accessible, if you live in a small town with little access to large vintage stores, online if for you, but IRL you can try items on before buying them. Many secondhand sellers on places like depop, don’t offer returns if an item doesn’t fit.
Probably the most accessible way to shop secondhand irl, is the charity shop. Your usually find at least one in most small towns, and they are incredibly cheap. Plus the money you spend goes to charity, so you can feel good about your spending.
The best way to shop in charity shops, is not to have an exact idea of what you want. Go in fairly regularly, as stock rotation is high. Be prepared to go in and find nothing you like. Ladies make sure to check the men’s section too, you can find some great oversized tees, and jumpers. Also having some basic sewing skills so you can take items in, reattach buttons, or shorten items is a great advantage. Alternatively you could take pieces you find and love to a local tailor.
- Fave places to shop charity shops
South Kensington is the home to some of London’s wealthiest people, while I can’t afford to shop with them I can afford to shop their cast offs. The charity shops around South Ken are full of gems. Be sure to check out the Oxfam designer boutique on the King's road, prices maybe heftier than your big standard charity shop but I love looking at all the beautiful vintage designer pieces.
Traid are a charity working to help garment workers and reduce the negative impacts of fast fashion. They also have amazing window designs, they have shops in Dalston and Peckham.
The Oxfam in Dalston (just down the road from Traid) is also one of my fave charity shops, it's really large and has a large section for househols items and records as well as clothes.
Sydenham high-street is my local high-street and had to get a mention, it has 5 charity shops within a mile. I know cos I counted them. With this many shops to pop into as a I run errands like going to the post office, I’m always accidentally buying myself cheap treats.
Vintage shops are so popular now, and many have websites too, but I do love having a irl pole around. They are the slightly more boujee charity shop, with a vast array of clothes from different eras.
The best way to shop in vintage shops is to hunt hard. You can have slightly more of an idea of what you are looking for, as most vintage shops have a rail of jeans, cut off denim shorts,
Tees and a box off scarves and hats. But still be prepared to just find a gem. Rails are often organised but rammed, so make sure to check carefully through items. Once again having some sewing skills is an advantage. Also try to familiarise yourself with fashion decades. True vintage is anything from 1900 - 1960. Pieces from these eras command a higher price than modern vintage which is anything from the 60s to the early noughties. Pieces from the noughties should also be relatively cheaper than pieces from say the 70s, although it does all depend on the designer, and the condition of the clothing. If you know how much pieces should be worth, you can tell whether you are getting a fair price for your vintage. Remember vintage shops have to make money so they inevitably mark pieces up, but really you shouldn’t be breaking the bank for a T-shirt from 2004.
- Favourite places to shop vintage
Brick Lane is at the heart of trendy shoreditch and has multiple vintage stores. Make sure to stop at Rokit for some of the freshest vintage, and their amazing upcycled range; Rokit Originals, which is all made in London. They also have stores in Covent Garden and Camden too.
Dalston’s Beyond Retro
This Beyond Retro has a place in my heart as it’s two minutes from Jamie’s house. I’m forever popping in here just to have a look.
The Marais Quarter
If you love vintage fashion and just happen to be in Paris, head to the Marais quarter for countless vintage shops. I love Hippy Market, where I found a bargain lilac Marc Jacobs jacket which is my pride and joy. Markets/ Carboot sales and Flea markets
Another way to find great vintage clothing is to head to a market or carboot sale. Most markets offer a range of not just clothes but brickabrak too.
The best way to shop at markets is to just go along for the fun of it. Don’t have a definite outcome you are looking for, but browse the lovely stalls and let your heart lead you. Get good at haggling and you will bag bargains. I’m not the best at haggling but I have had some success, I mostly bat my eyelashes, or look like a sulky toddler if they won’t give it to me for the price I want. I once did cry in a Turkish market, so the salesman took pity on me, although I’m not sure I would recommend being this manipulative.
- Favourite markets
Deptford market is full of weird and wonderful items. Clothes are often laid out in huge boxes or sometimes baby cots, so you really have to rummage but you can find some goodies I promise. I once found a wizards cap, and have been kicking myself for not buying it ever since.
Just down the road from Deptford is Greenwich. Greenwich actually has two markets, outside and inside. I love both but I think I prefer the outdoor one for bargains, and indoor for food. The markets are very old and full of loads of amazing antique stalls. In amongst all the antiques you will find great vintage. Fun phoebe trivia, my dad used to have an antique stall on Greenwich outdoor market.
Vinegar Yard is a fairly recently developed market, where the stalls are housed in old shipping containers. I found a gorgeous purple dress here earlier in the year for an absolute steal. I love the big green space which has a bar and space to sit, and the view of the shard.
Birmingham rag market
Birmingham rag market has had a place in my heart ever since I went to uni at BCU. As you can probably guess from the name the rag market is full of exactly that rags. There’s plenty of haberdashery stalls, so you can customise your secondhand finds yo your hearts content. There also many stalls selling clothes, watch out though as quite a few of them are selling cheap fast fashion.
Fill a bag / kilo sales
A great way to shop for vintage cheap is to get along to a bulk sale. These are often pop ups for either a day or weekend. The idea is that you pay in weight or by the number of bags you buy.
The best way to shop at bulk sales is to get there nice and early. Plenty of professional vintage sellers use these sales as a way to buy cheap vintage, they will be there grabbing all the best bits, so get there nice and early so you are right along side there with them. My plan of attack is to grab items I like the look of and to keep hold of them. Grab as much as you can, before going to the changing rooms and trying them on. If you put items down you run the risk of someone else snapping them up. Also remember weight costs money here, so things like bulky jumpers and coats cost more. Choose 3 T-shirt’s that you really like over a jumper you are not sure about. And remember to keep weighing as you go along, a kilo is a surprisingly small amount of clothes.
Fave places to shop in bulk
Eastend Thrift Store
The Eastend thrift store is a great vintage shop generally, but every few months they do big sales and these are not to be missed. They usually make Facebook events, so be sure to like their Facebook page. Queues get long so get there early.
Preloved Kilo is a travelling vintage kilo sale, they go to multiple locations up and down the country. Follow them on Facebook or Instagram to find out where they are heading next.
Swap shops are a great way to get rid of clothes that no longer fit, or are your style while picking up some great new pieces. They are often super cheap, normally you pay an entrance fee and can take as many items as you bring, but each swap shop will have it's own rules.
Get along early for the best selection, and follow my grab as you go method, don't put anything down that you think might be a contender. Can't find a swap shop near you that floats your boat. Organise one with your friends!
- My favourite swap shops
A London based treasure in aid of WaterAid, Fool's Gold events offers rails of secondhand clobber, beers and food. This swap shopping for the trendsetters.
Revival Collective Swap Shops
If you don't follow Revival Collective by now, what are you doing? But did you know every once in a while they host a big swap shop for a worthy cause, in Brighton. Keep your eyes peeled for more.
Organise your own
Most of my favourite clothes have been given to me by friends. And all my girlfriends have way way too many clothes. What better way to offload some of your unwanted items than by giving them to a friend. Get together for a girls night, everyone bring a bag of clothes and get swapping. You can totally do this informally but if you want to be a good Samaritan why not try raise some money for a charity while you're at by asking for a small contribution from each of your mates.
The cool girl of online shopping, depop is a one stop shop for all things trendy. You can filter items for size, brand, and price. It’s a great way to buy secondhand high street items too. So if you see a girl on insta rocking your dream dress but it’s from miss guided, check depop for that exact dress.
The best way to shop depop is by being specific. Unlike shopping secondhand IRL, it’s easier to be very specific when searching for what you want online. You can also follow sellers who style and items you like. That way you get a feed tailored to your personal style. Keep an eye out for sellers selling brand new pieces, as they are most likely buying cheap fast fashion online and reselling it. Most sellers will say when an item is brand new. Another giveaway is if they have the same item in multiple sizes and/or colours. Although multiples can sometimes be vintage deadstock. Message sellers for clothes specifics, a lot of sellers don’t allow for refunds so if you’re unsure whip your measuring tape out.
- Favourite depop selllers
Rokit also sell vintage via their Depop; Rockit Starship.Their Depop range is all their clearance range, so you can pick up some real bargains!
The Adorned Duo
Adorned sell ethical and upcycled pieces on their website, but depop is where you will find handpicked thrifted pieces, and vintage jewellery.
Christie is the ultimate cool girl, think clueless meets Parisian chic. Everything in her shop is hella cute. She does have a few brand new pieces but most are vintage finds. You can always ask her if you’re unsure.
Isabel sells the coolest plus size vintage. There’s plenty of bright colours, and pieces from the 70s, 90s, and 00s.
Eliza sells vintage designer gems, and unique one of a kind pieces. I love her collection of boots. The designer pieces are mostly out of my price range but a girl can dream.
Go on help a girl out, follow my Depop while you're at it. I don't have to much on there right now, but I plan to try add more Autumn based items soon!
Before depop there was eBay. And guess what your mums mate Jean is still on there. Guess who has loads of now trendy 90s clothes? Your mum’s mate Jean. I’ve been shopping on eBay for years, it’s the ultimate way to win a bargain, and the bidding wars give you that adrenaline kick like no one else. Be warned being outbid at the last second is a whole new kind of grief. Items with a buy it now option offer a calmer transaction, good if you have an addictive impulsive personality like me.
Best way to shop on eBay; be specific! I now what I like, and I like what I know. My go to searches on eBay are brands from the 90s/00s. I always start with Morgan de toi, (maybe my fave brand for looking like a 90s tv witch ever) and then try Kookai, Jane norman and Miss sixty. I also type in decades and items, so maybe 70s dress. Be sure you are on eBay UK if you’re from the UK, so you don’t spend hours scrolling items in America only to realise you have to pay silly shipping prices.
I don’t real have favourite eBay sellers it’s just happy hunting!
ASOS marketplace is great for vintage and up-cycled pieces. They also have plenty of small brands, but be sure to check on the ethics of these if you are thinking of buying from them. This Summer it also ran charity boutiques for festival season. I really hope they make this a more regular feature as I liked the idea of being able to shop from your favourite charity shops online.
The best way to shop on ASOS marketplace is to follow boutiques you like. ASOS marketplace is all about making online vintage shopping easy. They make sure the boutiques on their platform have good quality photos, and accurate descriptions. You can filter items by product type, brand, size, price, condition, colour, style, material and era. This is secondhand shopping in the style of fast fashion, and is much more familiar if you haven’t shopped secondhand before. However that is reflected in the prices. I find items more pricey than depop and a lot more than eBay. ASOS marketplace is my go to place for when I need something fancy, and I don’t have much time!
Favourite ASOS marketplace boutiques
Dirty Disco source the most gorgeous vintage items. Everything is handpicked, and I find they have a good range of sizes. Not just 6-10.
Dark Paradise Vintage
The lovely lady behind Dark Paradise Vintage is another one of my all time insta style heroes. I’m obsessed. Everything on her shop is to die for. Keep an eye out for an impressive collection of Harley Davidson T-shirt’s and cool girl boots just made for walking! Plus they are a green company, they do plastic free shipping and use eco detergents when cleaning the clothes!
My fave boutique for 70s fashion, Peekaboo Vintage offers tons of 60s-80s items. And everything is just beautiful. They offer 10% off if you follow their boutique.
Etsy is great for ethical and handmade items, but it also has a wide selection of vintage items. I use Etsy probably the least out of the all the online stores listed to shop secondhand as i tend to find its quite pricey. So maybe better if you have a bit more of a budget. I also find that a lot of Etsy vintage is “true vintage”, which explains the higher price tag. Great if you’re a vintage connoisseur. I’ve scrolled through pages and pages of beautiful vintage jewellery, and only half decided on the engagement ring I want! They also have plenty of vintage antique furniture and things to fill your house with, so a great way to source other types of secondhand items.
You know how to use the internet, scroll! No but for real, filter items, be specific, or not if you got time, I'm running out of ways to tell you how to use the internet. Etsy is pretty user friendly you'll be fine. But make sure you're on your countries Etsy to avoid pesky mamoth shipping costs.
- Favourite Etsy Shops
A bit out of my price range, but if you want quality “true” vintage and designer pieces I would highly recommend checking out Souvenir. She’s also based in France so check delivery prices before you commit.
Head to Rarify if you are after the perfect 'it' girl shirt dress. They have a wide selection of vintage items, not just shirts, but their shirt collection is impressive. Rarify is also very reasonably priced.
Vintage shop websites
It’s the 2019 so most of your favourite vintage shops now have an online presence too. Heading to their websites means seeing stock they reserve exclusively for online. They also often have search bars so you can search for specific items without searching through rails and rails of 80s prom dresses.
The best way to shop vintage shops online is to check them regularly. Items often go quick, but if you follow your favourite shops on Instagram, they will often notify when a new stock drop is coming. Following them on Instagram, will also give you an idea of how to style the pieces in their shop. If you’re new to vintage fashion, styling can be scary but once you’ve figured it out it’s hella fun!
Favourite vintage shop websites
Rokit have the largest collection of vintage in the UK online, if you can't find a vintage dream here, where else can you?
We Are Cow
I first fell in love with Cow when I lived in Birmingham, as they have a massive shop near The Custard Factory. They also have a store in Manchester. But for us Southerners they have a website!
Dirty Disco sadly don't have an IRL shop, yet! But in the meantime their website is where they regularly update their stock. Follow them on Instagram to find out when stock drops are coming and for their beaut styling.