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My second-hand wardrobe

Buying second-hand clothes needs to be a lifestyle choice not a quick fashion statement to remain on trend. Words by Emily Smith

When was the last time you bought a new dress and really thought about the person who cut, stitched, and ironed the garment before it ended up in your wardrobe? Or what about the amount of water it took to make your new season denim? And I’m guessing you’ve never wondered whether a charity shop had the same top you were after before you purchased it from a high-street retailer.

It seems that people think carefully about what they put into their bodies because of both the environmental and health benefits, but why is it not the same with what they wear?

The fast fashion industry is hugely damaging to our planet and the rate with which we, as humans, consume is destroying the very place we call our home. Despite countries in Asia having huge populations, the average Briton consumes four times more resources than the average person in India. And with consumption comes significant damage to the environment.

The fashion industry alone produces up to 10% of the world’s carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of the planet’s water supply. Scary facts to take in as we scroll through reams and reams of clothes online and think about where our next outfit will come from.

"What happens next to our planet and the rate of the damage we cause is up to every one of us."

We must act now, and we all have the ability to make small changes which will make huge high-street names, such as Topshop, Boohoo and H&M, change the way they do things. It’s common place now that the retail giants are bringing out so-called ‘conscious collections’, recycled fabrics and donating to good causes, but take a closer look and many of them are still not paying their workers a fair, living wage.

For me, my journey to a second-hand wardrobe started last year when I took part in Secondhand September, a campaign ran by Oxfam. I love fashion. I love finding unique pieces and throughout my teens and 20s I was always buying new clothes. But buying second-hand doesn’t mean I have fallen out of love with fashion, it means I have made a conscious decision to try to limit my impact on the planet whilst still fuelling that interest.

Celebrities, magazines and social media do not help. We are forced to feel like we always need to be seen in the latest seasonal trends and we can’t be seen wearing the same outfit twice in one week, when, in reality, we can.

For me clothes are about showing my personality. I love wearing bold colours and prints and standing out from the crowd and I can achieve all of this by buying second-hand. Not only is buying preloved stopping clothes ending up as landfill, it will also have a massive impact on your purse.

There are so many ethical clothing brands out there now, one of my favourites is Lucy & Yak. It really pays to research a retailer before you purchase something from it. It’s very easy to have a quick internet search and see how much the people are getting paid, where its clothes are made and what materials they are made from.

For me, there is so much excitement about walking into a charity shop and not knowing what you are going to find. I have managed to grab a Ralph Lauren dress for under a fiver, a Seasalt coat worth £99, in perfect condition, for £10. I bought the dress I wore for last year’s Jersey Style Awards on Facebook’s Jersey Buy and Sell page for £30. The best thing? No-one even knew.

We are so lucky in Jersey to have such a great range of charity shops, which often have new pieces and each time you buy something preloved from, you are directly supporting those charities which help so many in need.

What happens next to our planet and the rate of the damage we cause is up to every one of us. So please, next time you want to treat yourself, have a browse through our amazing charity shops first. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Charity shops in Jersey

Cancer Research, Halkett Place

Silkworth, Burrard Street

Jersey Hospice Care, Beau Pre

St Ouen and Union Street

Autism Jersey Boutique, 13 the Parade

Durrell, Peacock Farm

Mind Jersey, New Street

Salvation Army, Minden Street

Company of Dogs, Victoria Street

Oxfam, New Street

Cry Jersey, New Street

British Red Cross Jersey, Queen Street

Acorn, La Rue Asplet Trinity

Headway Jersey, New Street

JERSKEN, St Clement’s Road

Age Concern, Windsor House


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