Secondhand, vintage and preloved shopping in Kent
- Credit: Archant
Kent Life looks at the environmental impact of the clothes we wear and why we need to be checking our shopping habits and wardrobes
Everywhere we look, we are bombarded with images of the devastating effect humanity is having on the planet and its precious resources. But why are we not looking closer to home for those positive adjustments we can all make?
According to WRAP UK: “The value of unused clothing in wardrobes has been estimated at around £30bn. It is also estimated that £140m worth of clothing goes into landfill each year.”
With our love of fashion showing no signs of slowing down, in order to help our planet it is important to re-use, re-wear and re-purpose clothes and accessories as much as we can.
By choosing to shop for second-hand and vintage clothing you can keep perfectly good garments out of landfill, stock your wardrobe with some great bargains, save money and reduce your sartorial carbon footprint.
“I strongly believe charity shops play an important part in helping the environment, by recycling goods and discouraging a ‘disposable’ consumer culture,” says Elaine Maddison, shop manager at the Dogs Trust charity shop in Tunbridge Wells.
“We pick the very best items to sell to our customers and quality fabrics are more durable. We also recycle non-saleable items too.”
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Elaine says her shop offers a boutique shopping experience, without the price tag. “There are so many fabulous benefits shopping for second-hand goods,” she adds. “It’s more creative and also great fun putting together outfits or upcycling projects.
“You will find the proverbial ‘gems’ at times, but also have the added benefit of affordability.”
In fact, if an item of clothing stayed in active use for just nine months longer (extending the average life to around three years), it would reduce its carbon, water and waste footprints by a massive 20 to 30 per cent.
“I believe eco-consciousness is growing quickly and it’s most people’s mindset now when buying anything,” says Georgie Roberton, owner of Peony Vintage in Margate.
Margate is a paradise for vintage shopping, both fashion and furniture, and she describes her shop as being part of a vibrant community of independent businesses in the seaside town.
Georgie is also a fashion and costume stylist whose passion for clothes began when she was a child. “I grew up around theatre as my mum used to be an opera singer and made clothes for drag artists on the side,” she says.
“I was constantly surrounded by flamboyant prints and sumptuous fabrics. I’m passionate about ethical fashion and those who choose to wear vintage are essentially recycling, but they are also very stylish as well!”
Vintage shops are a treasure trove of unique, wonderful things where you’re likely to find one-off fashion pieces that will inject your wardrobe with a heavy dose of personality and style.
“With vintage, you can wear many different pieces from any era, which can be used to create your own individual look,” says Georgie. “Whether it’s a beautiful cut, fabric or print, I just love anything that can make someone feel great in.”
So, surely finding sartorial treasure troves stocked with innovative gems is better?
“There’s no ‘one size fits all’ for vintage clothing,” says Georgie. “I think that’s so important when celebrating womanhood. One of the biggest misconceptions about vintage is that it’s only to be worn in conjunction with a fully styled outfit, including hair and make-up. I handpick every single item myself and work hard to make sure I stock a careful edit of impeccable garments.”
Alongside the many nationwide charity shop chains, it’s worth visiting those devoted to local causes and communities, such as Hospice in the Weald.
“The best thing about working for a charity is that you can see the results of the money we raise,” says Sharon Gill, Head of Retail at Hospice in the Weald.
“The money we make in our charity shops goes towards the £7m we must raise every year for the Hospice. This money ensures our services are free of charge, so local people with a terminal illness, and their loved ones, can get the vital care they need.”
Hospice in the Weald recently opened its latest Kent charity shop in West Malling. It has 26 charity shops dotted in and around Kent and East Sussex, run by a dedicated workforce, mainly volunteers, who give up their time to help the charity raise money each year.
Sharon adds, “We are always looking for high-quality products so that we can offer the best to our customers and ultimately raise more funds.
“Donating your unwanted furniture is a great way to support us and make space for that new item you’ve always wanted. Our furniture shops can receive donations in person or come and collect them from our customers free of charge.”
Andrew Davidson, owner of Paraphernalia, an antiques and vintage business in both Margate and Ramsgate, gives old furniture a new lease of life.
“In my business, it is very important to recycle, re-use and upcycle items which can have another life and play their part in sustainability,” he says.
“The shops sell a lot of home and office goods – both antique and vintage – but also other innovative items, including kitchenalia, rugs, giant vintage French cinema posters, pinball machines, and jewellery.
“I love buying, but I also love selling too, and I really enjoy the chat with customers, telling them about the history of the items I’ve found. We live in such a disposable world, but there are so many positive benefits when buying second-hand goods.
“For example, an item you are looking at could be more than a 100 years old, so if it’s survived that long, it’s probably going to survive another 100.”
To live a perfectly sustainable or self-sufficient life would be impossible for most of us, but we can certainly all try to be a bit more responsible in our impact. Collectively, our positive adjustments in everyday buying habits will make a real difference.
Kent is filled with sustainable businesses that can help make those small changes that little bit easier. So, what are you waiting for? Get second-hand shopping and help save our planet too.
Sustainable shops in Kent
RG Scotts Furniture Mart, The Old Iceworks, Bath Place, Margate CT9 2BN scottsmargate.co.uk
Funky Monks, 21 St Peters Street, Canterbury CT12BQ funkymonksclothing.co.uk
Heart of Kent Hospice Shop, 50 High Street, West Malling ME19 6QR hokh.org
Demelza Charity Shop, 72 High Street, Rochester ME1 1JY demelza.org.uk
Sue Ryder, 21 Monson Road, Tunbridge Wells TN1 1ND sueryder.org
Baboushka Antiques: Antique Furniture, Garden & Homeware, Showroom at The Barn on Manor Farm, Dartford DA2 8DL baboushkaantiques.co.uk
Paloma Studio, 66 High Street, Rochester ME1 1JY, kisskissheart.co.uk
Marie Curie Charity Shop, 15 Rainham Shopping Centre, Gillingham ME8 7HW mariecurie.org.uk
Chart Sutton Antiques Centre, Pleasant View Garden Centre, Maidstone ME17 3SA chartsuttonantiques.co.uk
Madam Popoff Vintage, 4 King Street, Margate CT9 1DA madampopoffvintage.patternbyetsy.com 01843 446072