Conversation#100 "VINTAGE PRIMARK"
I recently overheard a colleague complementing another on her dress. The dress wearer thanked her and, as is often unfortunately the case these days, told that it was from Primark. Except in this instance she had bought her Primark dress from a charity shop. Faced with a bizarre combination of something I love (2nd hand clothes shopping) with something I am not so keen on (consumption of mass produced, cheap clothing in a crap retail environment) I was slightly confused as to how I felt about the purchase. It is an unfortunate fact that many of the garments in charity shops are now cheap retail cast offs and garments the charity shop would find hard to sell for less than the original price of the garment. Can a charity shop justify selling any recent garment second hand for more than would have been paid for it on the high street? Often the answer is no, as this won’t make the money charities need to run many aid and development projects. Good quality items are essential for the charity shops, as people are willing to spend more on a quality vintage item, but won’t spend more than £5 for a t-shirt they can buy for the same price new. The need for good quality stock has lead to some charity shops requesting that Primark items are not donated, as to avoid the charity shop looking like a dumping ground for the worn out, faded fast fashion basics. However, for many people the destination for unwanted clothing is either charity shop or the bin...and with charity shops wanting to improve their image and encourage good quality donations, they simultaneously increase the proportion of ‘waste’ clothing that is 'worn out' before it’s time and has no destination other than landfill. Contributions to the growing waste stream of textiles is the last thing we need, so considering the aim of many charity shops the advise would be that if you are going to buy cheap clothing, don’t consider it to be disposable. Keep it. If possible, save up and invest in something you love so much you will want to wear every year. We all need basics but we don’t need these to wear out quickly – we don’t have to spend less money on more stuff. Value the materials that you buy...and slow down the unsustainable nature of buying clothing as if it’s going out of, well...fashion.