Kate Moss wants to get married in a vintage dress, Agyness Deyn buys most of her clothes from markets and Alexa Chung is a self-proclaimed raider of children’s rails in Oxfam.
Second-hand clothes are not only environmentally friendly, but they’re cheap, unsupportive of sweatshops and seemingly fashionable as well. Even Lily Allen has a mock-vintage line in New Look; therefore it must be cool.
As penniless students on the brink of a recession, there is no better way to save a couple of quid than to cut back on buying unnecessary things. Nowadays, one can get a whole outfit for a fiver by only buying “previously-owned” clothes and accessories.
Arguably, in a time where Penneys, H & M and Dunnes can kit you out for only a little more, it may not seem worth the hassle of rummaging through second hand shops. But it is this type of attitude, dubbed “disposable shopping”, that can be the most socially and environmentally harmful.
We buy a top for two euros, which we may or may not wear, simply because it is only two euros. It only costs us two euros because the Indian child who made the top was paid two euros for the fortnight it took her to make five hundred of the same top.
In actual fact, many second hand shops contain never-worn high-street garments anyway. Why not look there first?
Unfortunately it is sometimes obvious why they have never been worn.
Dublin hosts a plethora of charity shops, all too happy for custom and just to make things even better, money spent goes to a good cause. (Though I did notice Oxfam closed for a couple of weeks in June for ‘refurbishment’; debateable whether the wall’s need for paint is greater than the African’s need for food.)
Similarly conscious-salvaging is the idea of minimising global warming. Clothing factories are significantly detrimental to the environment; by re-using other people’s unwanted clothes we are undoubtedly lessening (albeit perhaps not to stratospheric measures) our personal contribution to universal meltdown.
What’s more, we can avoid any responsibility for the horrendous working conditions and miserable wages of the sweatshops. Green and Al Fayed can never feel this guilt-free.
Finally — though benefits are quite possibly limitless — every girl worries about turning up to a party in the same dress / top / earrings as someone else. Heaven forbid the rival should be taller, thinner, browner and blonder than she.
With second-hand clothes one can be almost assured your pieces will reign unchallenged. (Though be careful not to stumble past a Ballsbridge W.I. meeting in a vintage floral number as you may have to compete with an array of original versions).
All in all, second-hand clothes are practically faultless. I should note that it can take a bit of practise and often lots of time to find the real gems.
I’ve known kitchen tables adorned with mermaid shorts and brown suede shirts lying nervously in the shadows of new owners’ proud, peering faces.
But this is surely a risk we should be willing to take, especially if it helps us on our route to St. Peter and his pearly gates.