Everyone has gone through the cruel cycle of throwing away a piece of clothing and it then coming back in fashion years later, only to leave you filled with regret when the price to buy it is now double what you originally paid! It’s a hurdle we all need to overcome, to learn to appreciate our clothes from the offset, even if they may seem hideous at the time.
According to the Textile Recycling Association (TRA), it is estimated that 700,000 tonnes of textiles are collected each year, ready to be reused and recycled again and around 350,000 tonnes being sent to landfills each year as waste, highlighting our consumerist habits. Textiles being recycled rather than simply thrown away, has all been influenced by the growing desire for second hand clothing.
Director of the TRA, Alan Wheeler said, “There are three main ways in which clothing is collected by our members: through charity shops, used textile collection banks and local authority collections, often in the form of door to door collections.” In today’s day and age, every little helps and members are looking to expand their services that bit further to make a difference.
Rummaging through charity shop rails was also a thing of the past and popular amongst the older generations – but not anymore. Recently, Oxfam UK and Marks and Spencers have recently teamed up in a ‘clothes shwapping’ scheme in which our once loved garments are given to Oxfam by the retailers to be resold, helping to reduce the amount of clothes we waste each year.
Brenda Ryan from the Oxfam Support team told us that the donated clothes aren’t just distributed to stores in the UK. Oxfam is also the proud owner of Frip, a company in Senegal where the clothes are really making a difference, being sold on to those who need it.
it employs local people and we sell to the local community, who sell the clothes in local markets to the people who need them to be able to support their families.”
Oxfam strongly believes that recycling textiles needs to continue to not only fulfill our desire for vintage trends, but more importantly help provide support for those that need it and gain from the recycling schemes.“All profits from Frip go to support Oxfam projects in Senegal and West Africa again, promoting livelihoods for disadvantaged women.”
But not only can these vintage trends be found in charity shops, second hand thrift stores are now emerging as a hotspot for finding hidden gems. In the vintage haven Beyond Retro, you cannot beat the musky smell that hits you and rails upon rails of vintage wonders catching your eye. The innovative retailer thrives on celebrating all fashion, whether it be old or new. A member of the Beyond Retro team, Hannah Wilkinson said, “We stock a range of eras from the 20th-century in all its outrageous and exotic glory. From corsets to couture, pencil skirts to punk and everything in between, we chronicle a century of magnificent style.”
Fashion needn’t always be thrown away and disregarded. If you’re one of the lucky ones you can sometimes even snap up a bargain in the second hand stores, “rumour has it that a girl snapped up a vintage Chanel piece a few weeks ago- a real bargain. We were thoroughly jealous she spotted it first.” Hannah discussed how the industry is beginning to change for the best, but there is always room for improvement-
There are big waves being made in the fashion industry with savvy-second hand shopping thankfully on the rise! There are lots of changes to be made, but we are striving to turn fashion into a force of good.”
With us all becoming more aware of sweatshop scandals and faulty fashion, second hand shops are determined to promote themselves as the eco-friendly option for shopping in the 21st century, “Beyond Retro’s aim is to change the face of fashion, whether its the perception of recycling for the consumer, or the lives of the team whocreate it. As a brand we are not just about clothing, we are about way of life and how clothing makes us feel.”