Thrifting Abroad

London is great for shopping, but this can be costly. Luckily, large cities offer so many outlets for sustainable fashion that are not only better for the environment and your bank account but also offer unique pieces that carry charm from generations. These pieces have historical character that can authentically showcase the fashion trends of the country. Next time you are thinking about stopping in a Zara or a Primark, walk a couple doors down to a small vintage or charity shop.

The most popular charity shops in the UK are Oxfam and The British Heart Foundation. Like many other charity shops, these stores donate a portion of their proceeds to lifesaving research and worldly causes. The sales associates in these shops are hired as volunteers. Donations make up 90% of the goods while the new items are from fair trade organizations. Stores are typically organized on a color-coded basis, so the variety and selection are not overwhelming to shoppers. Stores typically carry clothes, jewelry, shoes, linens, books, and decor.

In just my local university town of Twickenham, there are seven charity shops! For my English Literature module the required books are not always available at the library, but I found them at an Oxfam on the classical literature shelves. Although I do love books, my favorite second hand find so far has been my coin purse. I probably would not have found a coin purse like this in a bigger store for the price of £1 . I have also acquired several coats that I could not resist to take off the rack. The savings and secondhand scores have been incredible in just these few weeks here.

My favorite souvenir so far.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Fiona_Gorman_Thrift_Coat_3-2-819x1024.jpg

One of the thrifted coats

Other places to get vintage or secondhand goods are vintage markets around London. World renown locations like Camden Market and the Portobello Market in Notting Hill are easily accessible using public transit. Although these markets can be on the pricier side, it is truly an essential London tourist experience to visit one. While walking through the rows of vendors you notice people from all around the world selling the coolest items that you can keep in your wardrobe and home forever. These markets offer more than a purchase but also a cultural immersion into London.

Vintage watches from Portobello Market.

Secondhand shops operate off customer donations. At the end of my study abroad trip I will make it a priority to go through all of my belongings and acquisitions to make what I bring home truly meaningful. Any clothing or excess goods that will be better in a new home will make a perfect drop off at the Twickenham charity shops.

Fashion is a significant aspect of culture evident throughout the streets of London. Charity shops provide an outlet to sustainably participate in this culture and adding some personal expression to your abroad experience.

Fiona G is majoring in Elementary Education and minoring in Special Education at Salve Regina University while studying abroad at St. Mary’s University Twickenham, London, England.


Comments are closed.