Darcey Sergison looks at the items you should be buying second-hand to help the environment and reduce the effects of fast fashion.

It can be daunting going thrifting, whether you are a regular or a first-time charity shopper, but it is worth giving it a go. With September being the month to buy items second-hand, I recommend looking for items which are durable and timeless. Platforms such as Depop have risen in popularity as more people, particularly young people, are looking to buy vintage and thrifted pieces. Many people have even gone as far as to upcycle pieces they have found and design their own unique items.

As fast fashion continues to damage the environment as well as risk workers’ rights, thrifting is the most sustainable way forward for the fashion industry. When I first went thrifting with friends in Paris, I was sceptical about the quality of second-hand clothing and whether it would be worth the purchase. But now I am completely hooked! I think there is nothing better than finding vintage pieces at the bottom of a forgotten pile and giving that piece a new lifespan. These pieces may also already have a story behind them especially if you find them with their original labels or tags.

For any first time thrifters, or anyone looking for some inspiration, here is a guide to the five items I would recommend keeping an eye out for when your next at a charity shop or second-hand platform:

1. Leather coat: Leather coats are one of this season’s biggest trends. Taking inspiration from Bella Hadid or even the Matrix, leather coats are forecast to be a staple for the colder months to come ahead. Leather coats are a trend recycled straight from the 90s, so thrifting is crucial to not aid the fast fashion cycle. With the trend filtering through to the high street from high fashion designs, fast fashion is producing thousands of leather coats as we speak. Zara and Weekday are among the most popular today. But I highly recommend that there is a higher reward for the price and style with the success of finding a leather coat at your local charity shop. Alternatively, Depop is a great place to find leather coats. Due to their popularity, Depop provides great prices and quality for a variety of styles as well as lengths and sizes.

2. Shirts: A variety of shirts are an essential for any charity shop. From oversized men’s shirts to fitted and tailored women’s shirts you will be sure to find at least one at even the smallest charity shops. With autumn ahead of us, a traditional flannel or check shirt is a great find while out thrifting. Dior has incorporated multiple check patterns into their latest collection so if you want to be part of this trend be sure to find the shirts from a more sustainable and lower-cost alternative.

3. Graphic t-shirts: Thrifting a t-shirt or sweatshirt with vintage graphic designs of old cartoon characters or reminders of old brand logos is one of my favourite parts of thrifting. Essentially thrifting does not always have to be about finding last season’s collection at a reduced price but going back further can be even more exciting. This summer I have seen many influencers sporting graphic t-shirts as a casual beach cover-up or paired with shorts. But these graphic designs are also great for winter. These can be layered with a simple long sleeve underneath to keep you warm while staying on board the 90s trend look, similar to those seen in Friends.

4. Jeans: Jeans are one of the worst offenders for water wastage within the clothes industry. The majority of the fashion industry’s use of water is for cotton cultivation and wet textile processes like bleaching, dyeing, printing, and finishing. The global production of cotton is estimated to use 222 billion m³/y of water. Even just to make one pair of jeans it is estimated that 10,000 litres of water is needed. By thrifting a pair of jeans, you are giving a second life to a clothing item which has a huge environmental cost. Brands such as Wrangler and Levi are a top pick amongst second hand jeans. By finding high quality brands it will ensure that the jeans, although thrifted, will still have a long lifespan when you buy them.

5. Scarfs: Most charity shops will have ‘that’ basket. It may look like an intimidating number of scarfs and bandanas, but it is worth the rummage to bag yourself a new stylish accessory. Scarfs are one of my go to items to thrift. The designs will be unique or limited so wearing them as a headband or around your neck will make you stand out. Whether you are at fashion week or at brunch, adding a stylish scarf is a must. Most designer scarfs from the 70s onwards can be found in charity shops around the country but I highly recommend taking a trip to Notting Hill where there is huge choice of designs.

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