For the last year we have spent more time at home than ever before, leaving more time to clear out overflowing wardrobes, overstuffed drawers and attics packed with clothes from who knows when.
When charity shops opened on the 12th of April in England they were inundated with donations. Whilst most of us are happy to donate our old belongings, we are often hesitant to make purchases. This view of charity shops being purely a place to send clutter is quickly changing as awareness of sustainability grows and TikTok influencers give insight into what can be found inside these establishments for a fraction of the retail price.
The hashtag ‘charityshophauluk’ has 1.7 million views on TikTok and ‘charityshophaul’ has 11.6 million views, with some TikTokers dedicating their entire platform to charity shops finds. I contacted a few popular influencers to hear their thoughts on the impact TikTok has had on the popularity of charity shops recently.
@lourdesguii: ‘What I like about thrifting is knowing that you’ve found this one-off piece that you know no one else owns! I also think the main enjoyment comes from flicking through every single item and finding vintage pieces that you love!’
@glowybychloe: I’ve always loved a charity shop, but I feel as though since I’ve been doing TikTok hauls some people who have never been in a charity shop have now. The main reason I love charity shopping is because the money goes to a charity and not a multi-millionaire business.’
@antoniajanecole: ‘I feel as though consumers aren’t educated enough on the effects of fast fashions and therefore aren’t able to make any responsible decisions on where to shop but recently shopping sustainably and in charity shops etc has become really popular which I think is amazing thing that has so many benefits and hopefully is the beginning of change.’
After speaking with these TikTokers I wanted to see what I could find in my local charity shops in South London, and I was shocked; designer handbags for less than £5, Levi denim for £10, brand new clothing still with tags on for £1! I very quickly understood the appeal to the rails of second-hand fashion.
However, the stigma around second-hand clothing still exists. I asked several individuals if they would consider shopping in a charity shop, some were open to the idea whilst others gave responses such as ‘it could be the clothing of a dead person’, ‘you don’t know where it was before you bought it’ and ‘I don’t see the point because I would still buy new clothes’. This last statement raises the issue of realistic sustainability, can shopping in charity shops eliminate fast fashion when factors such as style, budget and location play a significant part in their success? The largest obstacle for charity shops is the fickle nature of the fashion industry, trends change every season and social media platforms such as Instagram unintentionally promote these trends. Fast fashion businesses that produce dupes of high-end fashion items for an affordable price make it very easy for individuals to keep up with what is on the runway that season. Charity shops rely on donations and these donations are usually given once the item is no longer of use or when that trend is now dated.
The TikTokers that I spoke to clearly had an eye for vintage finds, but this is not everyone’s taste. To encourage more people to shop at their local charity shops more needs to be done to promote the good causes the money goes to and the other things that can be purchased such as furniture, jewellery and books.