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Have charity shops gone too posh? Fashion blog uk | Men’s clothes | Women’s Clothes| Blog online

Have charity shops gone too posh?

Our intrepid charity shop explorer, Emma Waight, has discovered a new line of posh charity shops. But is this right?

red shoes

What does charity shop mean to you? I always find it really interesting to talk to people about their views of charity shops, not least because I’m studying second-hand consumption for my PhD.

The people who haven’t stepped inside a charity shop for years tend to hold the stereotypical view that they smell, are dusty/dirty and have few modern or fashionable clothes. In contrast, the concern of the avid charity shopper is that prices have gone up and it’s harder to find a bargain. Indeed it can be frustrating when you see a Primark dress second-hand for roughly the same price as it would have been new (you know what I’m talking about).

Charities are squeezed more than ever and it makes sense for them to capitalise on their retail streams. There are still bargains to be had, but a new trend is emerging for charity shops which are more closely aligned to vintage stores. These ‘posh’ charity shops have popped up in London and affluent market towns, specialising in designer and vintage pieces.

Charity shops have undoubtedly benefited from the trend for all things vintage with many now incorporating a vintage section into their stores. As other high street retailers have struggled to keep in business, charity shops have moved into the empty store fronts, moving from the side streets to prime high street shops. They have become more professionalised, offering a larger range of new stock (gifts, food items and cards) and showcasing window displays to rival independent boutiques.

I recently attended the launch of the newly refurbished Fulham Road Octavia Foundation charity boutique on the edge of wealthy Chelsea. The shop certainly has a boutique feel with exposed brick walls, plenty of accessory display space and smart paper shopping bags. The stock reflects the well-heeled residents of the area – a Burberry trench, Marc Jacobs handbag and Christian Louboutin stilettos. It’s a destination shop, well worth the trek from South Kensington, but you need to go with money to spend. The event night raised £2500 for the charity, which goes to support local people in times of difficulty and crisis.

I whole-heartedly welcome these posh charity shops but the price needs to reflect the quality. I can see the sense in spending £50 on some second-hand Jimmy Choos if you are a fan of designer labels but perhaps not £15 on a Topshop day dress.

These boutique style shops are set up for a different type of shopper to your average charity shopper. Maybe we need to rethink the term charity shop and all it represents? In a way a charity shop should provide for the less well-off in society and posh shops just don’t do that. What they do do, is ensure that quality clothes and authentic vintage pieces continue to be loved and reused by people like me; people who could never justify a new Burberry trench but who one day may be able to get their hands on one in exchange for a sizable charitable donation – a double whammy feel-good factor you might say.

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