In an effort to manage my raging shopping addiction (and its drastic affect on my pocket), I decided to attempt a new challenge: acquiring fun additions to my wardrobe at no extra cost.
Boutiques specialising in the selling of vintage and second hand couture have helped dispel any qualms about the purchasing of reclaimed clothing. In fact, these exclusive stores enjoy patronage from stylish celebrities like Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansen and Sienna Miller.
Even charity shops have cottoned on to consumer demand. Oxfam recently opened a store on the exclusive New Bond Street in Mayfair. A visit from Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham to their branch in Notting Hill also helped raise their profile. Another success story is that of TRAID (Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development). They sell pre-owned clothing and feature a line, TRAIDremade, which recreates discarded garments into new fashionable items. Their end of season ‘£3 per item’ sales are a firm favourite.
But what I was really excited about was visiting the string of retro exchange stores in Notting Hill Gate. They offer cash or in-store credit for your goods. Having heard that they were extremely selective about what they bartered - I had some relentless sorting to do. My wardrobe was laden with items of clothing that I had either forgotten about – or simply no longer wore. I separated them into various piles: old and forlorn, wearable but not fashionable, outdated designer, unique but no longer my style and redundant accessories.
After bundling them as neatly as possible into separate bags, I headed off on what I hoped would be a very satisfying, inexpensive shopping spree. I dumped the ‘old and forlorn’ into a TRAID textile recycling container, donated the ‘wearable but not fashionable’ to the nearest charity shop and then hauled the rest all the way up Portobello to Retro Woman.
I loved the fact that they have a range of stores (featuring designer, retro and unique finds, men’s and interior) all within walking distance of each other. The window displays are extraordinary and set the tone for rail upon rail of amazing finds. Glass cabinets line the walls, filled with designer shoes and bags.
“Twenty-five pounds cash or fifty pounds in-store credit for these.” She muttered, fingering the more considerable pile. I was so relieved to be offered some sort of compensation that I didn’t even bother trying to haggle. I opted for the in-store credit and floated upstairs clutching the Monopoly-money like vouchers to my chest. There was no immediate obligation to spend the credit, but I was determined to leave with something spectacular. Their limitless stock and range of prices (from £1 to well above my £50) made finding that special something seem effortless. Besides, part of the joy of shopping in these types of stores is that you can spend hours upon hours discovering unique and beautiful garments.
I eventually settled on the following:
1) Pretty summer dress, any girl’s wardrobe staple for the current season!
2) ‘Miracle’ original designer brooch (with jewellers mark on the back)
3) ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ inspired violet dress: perfect for a friends wedding later that month
I was so impressed with the success of my shopping adventure that I stopped a few people on Portobello to get their view on recycling fashion: “I think it’s great!” says a long-legged blonde beauty. “Being a student I am always strapped for cash, but I can still buy something edgy and unique at a fair price.” Another fashionista on her way to grab a coffee said: “At first, I wasn’t convinced. Then I saw these D & G pumps at a stall on Portobello for a £1. I just spent twenty quid on having them resoled and heeled and now I have a smashing pair of designer shoes!” “I have used those stores (Retro) before. I got rid of some unwanted clothes and managed to get £20 cash to spend on a coffee date,” says a dishy fella weaving his way through the crowd toward Notting Hill tube. Recycling has never been this fun or rewarding. I will definitely be returning to barter me beautiful!