A business which rather self-cures

As with house clearances, so with charity shops:

Move over fast fashion – second-hand clothing is cool again. And entrepreneurs from Generation Z are making a mint, reselling designer items bought on the cheap at huge mark-ups on new online marketplaces, today’s digital car boot sales.

Many of these young sellers are buying old clothes by the kilo and trawling through charity shops in well-heeled areas with an eagle eye to what will sell. They have clocked that it’s young buyers being drawn to environmentally friendly credentials and a “vintage” aesthetic that has catapulted it into the mainstream.

That the waste stream of society contains things that can be reused should not be all that much of a surprise. That a detailed sorting of that stream can uncover those things and a profit be made, well, that’s obvious from the first point.

The thing is, once the pickers at one end of the process have worked it out then pickers closer to the source get switched on to that knowledge.

Charity shops already sort clothes for what can be resold, what should be sent to Africa. Imperfectly perhaps, but given this money making they’ll get better at it.

As with house clearances. As with an old acquaintance (for Bathonians, Robbie at bottom of Walcot St) who did house clearances. Over the years he got a good eye for what was value, what was junk. A fine collection of first editions was a part of his pensions savings.

The capturing of that value started with people scouring the second hand bookshops he’d deliver to in bulk. Once he cottoned on then that picking moved a stage up the process.

The same’ll happen to clothing here.

13 thoughts on “A business which rather self-cures”

  1. Note the middle-class British tone here. Throwaway fashion is bad, recycling is good, but they still look down their noses at the grubby traders who actually make a profit from it.

  2. It’s a bit sad that discarded clothing not good enough to sell gets sent to Africa. It would be so much better if those Africans were working to make themselves richer by making cheap clothes to sell to us.

  3. I’ve a friend has a shop in Camden Market’s been doing this for 30 years. And done very well out of it for 30 years. Even did something similar, myself, back in the early 70s. (Although that involved marketing the stock of a bust theatrical costumiers). I love the way journalists periodically discover something that’s been going on forever & think, because it’s new to them, it must be new to everyone else.
    I have another acquaintance has a second hand designer clothes shop. Although no doubt she’d say “previously owned”. It’s rather clever, really. She buys from her customers as well as sells. Women like to have that special outfit for that important do. But it costs an arm & a leg & they can only really wear it once or twice because that sort of stuff sticks in the memory. So they buy from her, wear it, then they can sell it back to her as long as they haven’t damaged it. And round & round. So she makes the turn. I’d like to do one here. Marbella’s ripe for it. Hundred grand & the premises would kick it off. Need just the right location, like she has. Just off of the right street so the punters can go there without being seen to go there. It’s sourcing the commencing stock & pricing what you buy in. Takes someone who knows the schmutter. Wish I could find the bint.

  4. “. As with an old acquaintance (for Bathonians, Robbie at bottom of Walcot St) who did house clearances. ”
    Known in the antiques trade as a “knocker boy”.
    The clever ones are those that buy from one antique dealer & sell to another.

  5. BIS,

    “I love the way journalists periodically discover something that’s been going on forever & think, because it’s new to them, it must be new to everyone else.”

    The thing of raiding charity shops in Ascot and Cirencester for upmarket gowns has been known about since the 90s. I worked with a woman who would come to work events looking like a million dollars by doing this.

  6. I found a shop in Malaga imports second hand togs from the States. Sells it by the kilo. Apart from a couple of Levi 501s (the Yank jeans are in another world, quality wise & cut, from the Euro toot) it’s supplied me with an extensive range of genuine Hawaiian shirts. Some of which are only safe to view through welding goggles. They make the statement I always wish to promulgate. I really couldn’t give a fuck. Tomorrow’s fashion is what I’m wearing today.
    (Jeez clothes are horrid down here. The average dago looks like a refugee from Mr Byrite. The Brit contingent all seem to shop at the same suburban shopping malls. I can foresee an oncoming shopping expedition to Barcelona or even Paris when the slight sniffles problem is out the way.)

  7. Is this any different in principle from the old habit of buying a dinner jacket second hand and then selling it on when you get too fat for it? Or buying an academic gown second hand? (Though a friend of mine once bought one of the Wrong Sort and got a terrible teasing.)

    I am amused to learn that it’s possible to be a snob about jeans.

  8. Bloke in North Dorset

    The thing of raiding charity shops in Ascot and Cirencester for upmarket gowns has been known about since the 90s. I worked with a woman who would come to work events looking like a million dollars by doing this.

    Indeed, the charity shops in Marlow became a great source very good clothes for Mrs BiND when we moved to the area in ’92. One of the few things she misses since moving here is the lack of decent stuff in charity shops.

  9. “I am amused to learn that it’s possible to be a snob about jeans.”
    The Yanks, dearieme, still seem able to produce hard wearing workwear. Europeans seem to prefer fashionwear. I was in what purports to be the Levi Shop in Madrid a while back. They were offering gents 501s in 5 different cuts from tight to spray-on. None could you do a day’s work in or expect to last more than a month if you did. But I expect there’s rather more Yanks capable of doing a day’s work.

  10. Yer actual physical work? I used to wear a boiler suit or, when younger, dungarees. Under those might be shorts or nothing (summer) or any old breeks (winter). We didn’t ponce around looking for fashionable jeans.

  11. You used to be able to find interesting first editions of old books in the charity shops – nothing particularly special, but 2 or three pound a pop, then flog it for a tenner or more.

    They got wise to that pretty quickly.

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