Looking for the best way to shop for clothes more sustainably? You have options – shop less, buy from sustainable clothing brands, or even upcycle and repair old clothes through great platforms such as Sojo. An alternative choice – and one that doubles as a great day-out activity – is charity shopping.
London is brimming with choice. Whilst the wide range of charity shop choice is good, it can be difficult to pinpoint the best places to visit, particularly according to what you’re looking for. East London boasts a feast of thrift shops, with overflowing rails of edgy and daring items. Central and west London, by contrast, offer more the higher-end charity shops, where the price tags might make your throat tighten a little but some real designer gems can be found.
Before heading out to shop, you need to work out what you’re looking for, and target specific shops accordingly. First off, I’m going to highlight four charity shops in West London that fit into the latter category; they’re more pricey than typical thrift shops, but they are charity shop-royalty, reigning over others in terms of their reliability and the unique designer items available. This isn’t to say that they are unaffordable. Yes, you can find a £150 Rixo dress, but you can also source some total bargains, from Zara dresses at less than half their original price to & Other Stories tops at a reduced price that will make your heart jump!
Royal Trinity Hospice, Portobello Road
Whenever I go into this shop, I buy something; ask my housemates. It’s got to the point now that I have to ration myself only to go there once or twice a month, a self-restriction that testifies to the solid reliability of this shop. The rails are refreshed regularly so that there are always new items to discover. Organised effectively into colours, as well as clothing types, the shop is also easy to navigate. The more expensive, designer clothes are marked off clearly on specific rails, ensuring that you don’t waste your time sifting through items that are out of your price range. I’ve bought great work clothes from this shop, including yellow velvet trousers and a gingham, frilled shirt, as well as a green, floral playsuit for a summer party. It’s affordable, and reliable; I couldn’t recommend it more.
FARA, Elgin Crescent, Notting Hill
Located just off Portobello Road, you can hit up FARA on the same trip as Royal Trinity Hospice. Notting Hill is home to some real fashionistas, with no lack of money to spend, so you can often find some real steals – I sometimes wonder if they realise what they’ve given up! My friend bought a beautiful brown suede jacket from here and she wears it everyday. High-quality clothes, at bargain price given their label, are guaranteed.
Cancer Research, Marylebone High Street
This charity shop, located in another wealthy area of London and on a street that’s jam-packed with expensive brands, is great if you’re looking for something jazzy. It’s not the best place if you want everyday items, but it’s guaranteed to sort you out if you want to spice up your wardrobe a little, or if you have a special party coming up. I recently sourced a vintage Zara floral wrap midi-skirt – unlike anything they offer these days – and a beautiful embroidered and tasselled velvet wrap. It really sorted me out for my bank holiday parties!
Oxfam, Marylebone High Street
You can visit this shop straight after Cancer Research as it’s just a 2-minute walk away. Uniquely, there is a great shoe selection here – something that other charity shops often lack. It’s sometimes tricky to find a suitable pair of shoes at a charity shop, but make sure that you check out their offerings; I saw a great pair of knee-high black suede boots the last time I visited. Whilst browsing their clothes rails, you can also check out their selection of homeware, books, and cards. It’s a multi-purpose shop that ensures you can kill a few birds with one stone if you want!
Don’t let the variety of charity shops that London hosts befuddle you – decide on your purpose, then select your shops. On the lookout for everyday but unique pieces, at a still affordable price? Head to Royal Trinity Hospice on Portobello Road and Oxfam on Marylebone High Street. In need of something glamorous for a birthday party coming up, and perhaps even a pair of shoes to go with it? Check out FARA on Elgin Crescent and Cancer Research on Marylebone High Street. West London doesn’t always mean costly extravagance; you can discover some fantastic items at a price that, given the label and the quality, is more than reasonable.