Is your wardrobe full of preloved designers and high street brands?

River Island & Per Una preloved jeans

We have all been busy during lockdown and decluttering has been one job on the list.  Now that British charity shops are gradually re-opening, clothes, homeware, footwear etc are being dropped off at charity stores across the country. Now is the best time to look for a bargain.

Personally I am a massive fan of preloved clothes and my wardrobe is full of high street brands such as M&S, NEXT, Laura Ashley, Monsoon, Principle, and designer brands such as DKNY and Donna Karan etc.  I refuse to pay the full asking price for a designer brand or celebrity name so I hit the charity shops that are worth it. 

Which charity shops are the best?

Furniture in charity shops

Basically, it depends on what you are hoping to find and where you are. 

Here’s some examples:

  • British Heart Foundation, Driffield – mainly furniture.  
  • Dove Hospice, Hessle sells a majority of clothes for £1 each.  
  • Sue Ryder, Orton Goldhay, Peterborough is quite plush with its new  large store selling preloved stock and new furniture. 
  • Beverley, East Yorkshire is an affluent town so like other well-off areas you pay more but remember – it is all for a good cause.  
  • YMCA, Beverley, you can pay several hundred pounds for furniture,  but if you wait then gradually they reduce the price.  But of course, by waiting you run the risk of losing the item.

When is the best time and day to visit a charity shop?

Charity shops are becoming popular to find top branded clothes

If employed then you may only have your lunch hour and it’s often so crowded, and normally with other workers as well as locals or visitors.  Avoid weekends and instead opt for early morning during a weekday. Chances are you’ll be there in time for when volunteers stock the shelves.  

You might bag a bargain.

Why are some charity shops so expensive and which are the best areas?

Prada clothing can be found in charity shops

Wealthy areas tend to have more designer clothes and accessories although you may hit lucky elsewhere. I have many times.   Top end charity shops are more likely to stock designer labels are in the following locations: 

  • St Andrews in Scotland
  • Chelsea in London
  • Oxford
  • St Andrews
  • Bath
  • Beverley in East Yorkshire
  • Edinburgh.  

So, find those charity shops where you know the wealthy live! 

If you want to ooze expense, look for natural fibres such as cashmere or silk instead of synthetic materials.

Are charities becoming more aware of product value and pricing accordingly?

Charities are becoming more knowledgeable about brands and collectables hence another reason why prices being high in some areas. I’ve noticed in Beverley that if a clothing or footwear item is in good condition, you can pay more too. But – if a designer brand, and here is an example, Mind in Tunbridge Wells are regularly given designer goods, with or without the label – Prada, Armani, Gucci. A silk skirt by Erdem worth £1,100 they priced at £245 so you see, it’s a bargain still.

Read the article about Mind’s designer donations here

Cancer Research in Marylebone opened a high end fashion store in February 2019 and sells Dior, Channel.

Read Woman and Home’s published article which you can read here. Just look at the impressive store layout and design.

How are individual top designers helping the charity industry?

As an example Ted Baker donates faulty returned goods to NewLife charity, and other clothes to both Oxfam and AgeUK.  So here is the breakdown.

  • 30,225 items given to Oxfam in 2019 and raised a staggering £604,500
  • 22,551 items given to AgeUK in the same year raised £286,636
  • Since 2014 any faulty returned goods help Newlife which they sell as secondhand items
  • Other worldwide charities are helped too

Click here to read more about Ted Baker’s charity work 

Mary Portas, the retail consultant, has twenty-five stores with more yet to open.  Called Mary’s Living and Giving shops, they raise money for Save the Children. You’ll find her store at Notting Hill or you can buy online.

Are celebrities helping with the giving to charity craze?

Buy celebrity cast offs in a charity shop
Celebrities donate designer brands to charity shops
Victoria Beckham donated her daughter's cast off to Mary Portas store

Designers Ralph Lauren and Stella McCartney donate to Mary’s Living and Giving, and Victoria Beckham donated her daughter’s unwanted outfits too.  So, do your research and again, it is worth visiting certain areas. Remember, whilst cast-offs from celebrities can be purchased for rock bottom prices, the price tag will still be high for those on an average wage.  Don’t buy on a whim and get yourself into debt. 

According to a recent forum I found, Alderley Edge, Cheshire, is perfect for WAG’s preloved clothes such as Jimmy Choo, Armani and Prada.

What about high street brands helping the charity industry?

Laura Ashley jumper bought from YMCA in Beverley
High streets brands found cheaply at a charity shop
Find good quality clothes and brands at charity shops - Next top

Many companies will detag unwanted clothing being donated so the item cannot be returned to the original store, and a charity shop cannot, I believe, advertise these brands as available inhouse.

My tip is, take note of multiple detagged clothes. You might be able to deduce which brand and possibly more will be donated at a later date.

M&S is one store that does leave the tags on and one particular charity they donate to is Oxfam for goods and fashion. My advice is to use Google search engine and key in your selected company, designer, etc and which charity they donate too.

Where can I find niche bargains?

According to research online, some charity shops sell niche preloved products. An example is Newquay for surfing, Cotswold for horse riding gear and for music it is Camden in London. If you are into mountaineering you could perhaps research charity shops in Scotland.

How has the charity shop changed?

Well, let’s see. Technology, social media, apps, ordering online … the list goes on.

To begin with, and as mentioned before, charities are becoming more aware of identifying collectables, designer goods and costing these accordingly.  Charity shops are becoming more boutique-like, which makes them more appealing. 

Oxfam has a superstore, a plush store at Oxford Business Park North in Oxford. They specialise in furniture, handcrafted gifts and homeware.  It even has a cafe.  Charities have set up shops on eBay, have websites and advertise on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.  These avenues provide nationwide coverage for designer or sale announcements.  We could also call it marketing to sell and make profit for the cause. 

Did you know that the eBay app can be used to scan an original barcode to find what a product is worth? This is great as you can then resell for a higher value and earn money yourself.

What have been the best finds or locations by people?

Following research on Google, I discovered the following:

  • A Mulberry bag at a bargain price but did not mention how much.
  • Magimix ice cream maker for £5
  • I bought two Next chairs for £30 which are worth £600 total.

How has Covid-19 2020 affected incoming donated goods to charity shops?

Because of the Coronavirus, incoming goods need to be in a quarantine period of 48 hours at least before being placed on the shop for resale. No doubt, there will be high volumes of donations, which means a backlog and slower input in displaying, so be patient.

Conclusion

I mentioned previously that Mind received regular donations of Prada, Gucci etc, and  Cancer Research, Marylebone is more boutique in style and sells preloved  high end fashion.  These are prime examples of how charity shops have changed over the years.

It’s worth visiting secondhand shops, not only for high end fashion, but simpler goods such as old-fashioned crockery or glassware that would fit in a home as a retro item.  Furniture that with the right paint can be upcycled and created into a piece that looks specialised.  So if you are anti- preloved, just experience it, if only the once.

You will find a list of charity shops on eBay

And Money  Saving Experts offers Second Hand Buying Tips

Written by Lesley 

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