Ten Tips on Shopping Second Hand (Even If You’re Not Into Thrifting)
It’s no secret that the fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters, but it’s a fact many can conveniently choose to forget. Extinction Rebellion’s Boycott Fashion movement reminds us that “globally we produce up to 100 billion pieces of clothing a year,” which is projected to increase by 81% in the next decade. Whilst the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) reports that UK households disposed of a whopping 300,000 tones of clothing into landfill in 2016 alone. Faced with the environmental implications it is inevitable to re-consider our shopping habits and think about it consciously rather than allowing conspicuous consumption to take over.
With initiatives like Oxfam’s Second Hand September gaining nationwide momentum, comes a prompt to not only mend, re-sell or donate your old clothes but of the gems that can come from shopping in charity shops, at vintage fairs, online or at markets. If you’re a vintage virgin, retro rookie or just a terrible thrifter, you’re in luck as there are boutique-style e-stores ready to help you out. Using their cumulative fashion industry experience to bringing you carefully curated edits of second-hand clothes, here are three of the best e-boutiques perfect for shopping vintage and pre-loved pieces.
“We set up 3am Eternal for women who want to shop, who care about fashion and style but are concerned with the real effects of over-consumption and excessive waste on the environment,” says designer Caitlin Price, who set up her e-store as a sister company to her eponymous mainline label with her sister Emily earlier this year. “We wanted to find a way to encourage a new spirit and energy in the world of up-cycling and circular fashion,” she explains.
The online store takes its name from The KLF’s 1991 rave track; inspired by the lyrics “time is eternal”, a sentiment thatr struck a chord for the pair whilst thinking about the pace of fashion and trying to extend the lifecycle of garments. Wanting to explore using existing materials and garments rather than always using new fabrics, the idea for 3am Eternal formed. “Caitlin and I have a natural way of working together, which has a sense of playfulness and surprise,” says Emily. “I already run my own vintage clothing business and we had been discussing the possibilities of working together so this seemed like a natural progression for both of us.” Emily is an avid thrifter, sourcing and selling vintage pieces from a stall and online, always on the watch for one-off gems. Caitlin too has always used original sourced pieces, both in her own wardrobe and as starting points or for reference whilst designing.
Consisting of 17 looks, the debut AW19 collection is a curated edit of one-off pieces all “up-styled and re-designed” by the sisters, retailing both on online and via Depop. “Up-styling, re-designing and re-imagining feels necessary in bringing the garments back to life and making them feel contemporary. It’s always been our way even with our own wardrobes,” Emily adds. Ranging from eveningwear to sportswear via tailoring, the fit of pieces have been altered and drapery added, all sharing Price’s signature sexy street-centric aesthetic. Although each piece is a one-off, sizes range throughout the line and the customer is able to shop by size online.
In addition to the clothes, Autumn accessories have just landed, a jersey edit will be launching in the lead up to Christmas. And a SS20 lookbook will be dropping in the new year, so keep an eye on Instagram for updates. Their advice for thrifting? “Identify current trends and styles that you like and try to find things that are similar. Have fun dressing up at home and try things on from the back of your wardrobe to see if there are different ways you could piece things together to create a new look,” says Emily. “Create your own identity and nobody will be wearing the same dress as you at the party!”
3am-eternal.com | @3am_eternal
A collaborative project, Atijo is an online store focused on extending the lifespan of pre-loved vintage pieces, founded by a group of four friends and London-based stylists Anu Odugbesan, Caitlin Moriarty, Londiwe Ncube and Safiya Yekwai. Meeting whilst working in luxury fashion the four bonded over their shared love for vintage, inspired by the culture behind concept stores. “We wanted to extend that feeling to vintage shopping, to take away the connotation that second hand or vintage pieces can’t be curated or elevated and fill in a gap between fast-fashion and luxury fashion,” they explain over email. “It was also important for us to extend the life-cycle of pre-loved clothes and give slow-fashion a more desirable aesthetic.”
Atijo is sleek, incredibly stylish, with an Instagram feed of beautifully composed still life shots and editorial imagery acts as their storefront, with purchases taking place via DM. Pieces are available from brands including Burberry, Hermes, Gucci, Prada and (old) Céline as well an array of ultra-chic timeless vintage pieces. “At different points of our lives we’ve all come into having a true sense of appreciation for finding one of a kind vintage items,” they continue. “Your relationship with clothes and getting dressed changes, it becomes more personal and you care about the history. It’s also been a big part of the journey of self-expression for all of us to be able to build up a wardrobe of special finds and one-off pieces.”
Not only a destination for the crème de la crème of pre-loved clothing, Atijo is a lifestyle brand also stocking accessories (they’ve done a jewellery collab with Soulvisionary) and handpicked homewares, looking to involve their customer’s interests in areas of culture including music, interiors and travel alongside fashion. “We want to keep our brand diverse and representative because the customer is basically us and we all have different backgrounds, cultures and influences,” says the team. “Our customer is, however, fashion and environmentally-conscious; clothes are not disposable to her as she’s building a lasting wardrobe!”
Atijo’s tips for someone looking to invest in more second-hand pieces are as follows: 1. Never compromise on quality, look for pieces that are made well. 2. Don’t be put off by sizing, get it altered. 3. Look out for great fabrics, get luxury fabrics for fraction of the price of contemporary pieces. 4. Look in the most unexpected places, second hand is increasingly available online too so you don’t always have to be trekking around. 5. Get inspired! Shop less for trend pieces and more for classic styles that you can re-wear. Over the next few months, Atijo will be doing a few pop-ups and will be launching menswear too. Stay tuned.
Ex-Selfridges buyer Ruth Hickman set up Rex as an antidote to the vastness of vintage. Hickman’s handpicked-pieces are curated in a directional online edit, inspired by Cher’s iconic closet organiser in Clueless to bring you a searchable treasure trove of exciting second-hand pieces available to shop at your command. “I wanted to create a destination that is full of all those amazing, unique vintage finds you always hope to hunt out, but which at the same time is open to everyone and accessible,” she says.
Vintage shopping can feel overwhelming en mass or often intimidatingly elitist in boutiques, Rex is trying to rectify that and make great things more easily attainable. “Over the years I’ve found that the more curated or specialised vintage becomes, the more likely it is you need a password to get through the door, or a shit load of money. At Rex it’s not about specific designers or brands or decades, it’s about encouraging a personal sense of style, something that can often get lost in the big vintage warehouses full off plaid shirts, band tees and cut-off denim shorts,” Hickman explains.
An avid thrifter since day and an eye for those pieces you will be wearing in three seasons time, Hickman’s love for thrifting really grew whilst she was working as a womenswear buyer at Selfridges. “On a selfish note, wearing vintage meant that during fashion week or during market or at events I wasn’t going to bump into someone wearing the same thing as me,” she laughs. “But, more importantly, it became the perfect antidote to the world I found myself in, but on the flip, it meant I really started to engage with vintage.” Rex is aimed at a customer like Hickman herself, style-savvy millennials, a little bit older than the Depop-aficionado Gen Zs, who are “the generation ridden with environmental guilt,” and often have preconceptions about shopping second hand. The kind of person who, as Hickman puts it: “are eager and confident to experiment with vintage, but perhaps not having the time or inclination to start rummaging.”
For 2020 Hickman is beginning to look into sustainable IRL pop-up spaces, whilst still investing in the growth of the digital experience to elevate and align it to the level of shopping new season pieces. “Go with your gut and don’t second-guess yourself – it might not be there tomorrow!” she advises when shopping vintage. “For me, the joy of second hand is that it encourages you to be experimental. It’s about forming your personal sense of style, rather than simply following trends, so don’t be afraid.”
rexvintagestore.com | @rexvintagestore