Second-hand shopping: embracing someone’s sloppy seconds and shunning fast fashion

It’s time to shake off any germaphobe heebie-jeebies you might have about buying other (possibly dead) peoples’ garmz/furniture/bric-a-brac, head to one of these second-hand havens and cash them ousside, HOW BOW DAH… 

*Wins bet with brother to work cashmeousside into a blog post*

A big part of living sustainably is that you shirk the fast-flying and fleeting trends that lure you into spending a small fortune in High Street chains and online shops (I’m looking at you, ASOS!). Like stalking your ex on Insty or using the slightest whiff of alcohol to warrant an evening of chain smoking and chips, this is a habit that’s hard to shake but one that, in the long run, is better for you (and the planet).

So what do you do instead? Well, if you have an ounce of self-control then you buy stuff and you keep it for years and years and years without feeling the need to replace it as soon as a marginally cooler version of it comes along. But if you are, *gasp*, a mere mortal who fancies splashing a bit of your overdraft around to refresh your look on the reg then you should at least do it sustainably… cue second-hand shopping.

For the romantics and the overly-attached, second-hand shopping’s charm lies in its ability to inject life and love into stuff that thought it wasn’t going to live or be loved ever again (this, coming from the girl who used to experience Catholic guilt if she hadn’t cuddled one of her teddies in a while). For everyone else, it might take some getting used to… it’s slower, requires more work and might initially feel a bit weird to be buying someone else’s things. But the slower pace and the act of searching means that you’ll develop a more meaningful relationship with your “stuff”, so it’s not just stuff, but stuff that you looked for and found… stuff with a story.

And pushing aside the romance of it, second-hand shopping/-selling/-donating means you’re reusing something that would’ve otherwise topped a mountain of rubbish far enough away somewhere that you can stealthily and conveniently ignore it.

So these are GFL’s recommendations for the best places to lose your second-hand virginity…

Old Spitalfields Market

Achingly cool and seriously eclectic, this is the perfect ogling destination. Plan your visit so you get exactly what you came for and avoid the IKEA effect of coming home bewilderedly clutching a new tea set when you went for an extension lead. Thursday is vintage and antique day, Friday’s the day for record collectors, there’s a themed market every Saturday (e.g. handmade, the best of Spitalfields traders, affordable vintage, etc) and Sunday is a mishmash of everythang, or as their website puts it: “something for all the family”… to argue about.


Traid, Brixton

This Brixton shop is part of the Traid branch, but it’s decided it’s a strong independent woman that don’t need no man and has become its own entity. Late night opening hours, personalised styling sessions and DJ sets make this shop the cool big sister of charity shops. Its Brixton location means the clothes and bric-a-brac are likely to have an inherent cool factor, too. The previous owner of your poncho is probably a floaty, yoga-practicing Professor Trelawney-type with a great taste in poncho as well as a penchant for herbal tea… Or it’s a girl from the home counties who’s ditched the disco pants of her uni days for a new “young profesh Londoner” look, AKA all black everything. In any case, it’s a cool shop, OK?!


Brick Lane Market

Brick Lane Market is like the sustainable version of H&M to me. When nagged as to where they got their clothes, my coolest and most stylish friends either say “Oh this? I just picked it up at H&M” or “[…] Brick Lane Market”, to which I have to resist the temptation to get all up in their face and screech “HOW, I HAVE NEVER ONCE FOUND ANYTHING COOL THERE?! TEACH ME YOUR WAYS YOU BEAUTIFUL CREATURE!” But, alas, apparently Brick Lane is the home of second-hand treasures, even if it does require some rifling and a beady eye.

Brick Lane

Alfie’s Antiques Market

Don’t be fooled by the slightly drab exterior, Alfie’s is home to antiques and bric-a-brac with the Condé Nast factor – i.e. pricier and a bit fancier. You can get stuck in this Narnia-esque emporium for HOURS. Spread across several floors and mazing through winding staircases and corridors, you’ll emerge from Alfie’s blinking in the sunlight, slightly woozy and substantially poorer but laden with some of the hippest interiors in the game – ya win some, ya lose some, hey? P.s. I stand by my use of the word hip – fight me.

(c) Pinterest


THE app to use if you want to get your hands on that High Street staple that seemed to sell out in seconds. It’s also the app to earn some money with for the clothes you no longer wear/never wore – there’s a small fortune to be made on Depop. It’s seriously easy, you either search for the exact type of clothing, size, colour and hey pronto, you’ll finally have that Zara dress that was snatched out of your hands in the midst of that weird shopping rage women get when they’ve been shopping for too long without any snacks or water (the struggle is REAL). Or you take a quick pic of the clothes you want to sell, pop it on the app in the same way you would an Instagram photo and wait for the offers to roll in – or not… there’s a reason culottes come in and out of fashion so quickly.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s