Ditched Designer Gear and Cast-Off Cashmere: London’s Eight Best Charity Shops

Thu, 12 March 2020

We’ve finally woken up to the ethical impact of our wardrobes: fast fashion is clogging up our landfills and the industry is one of the biggest polluters to the climate crisis. Steer yourself away from “add to cart” and shop consciously; charity shops all over London are a haven for barely worn bargains, eco-friendly finds and stockpiles of designer labels. Besides, one person’s trash is another’s treasure.

Rummage the rails at these London charity shops for a guilt-free shopping spree.

Geranium Shop Kensington

Bougie neighbourhoods are by far the best for second-hand finds, so it’s well worth trawling through Marylebone’s charity shops. Pay particular attention to the wares in the Geranium Charity Shop, which helps raise funds for the blind and partially sighted. Androgynous Alexander Wang blazers and pristine pairs of classic Gucci loafers often crop up.

Fara Pimlico

Sashaying upon a pristine Chanel handbag may be the stuff of thrifting legend, but if there’s one London charity outpost where this could happen, it’s Fara’s Pimlico boutique. Sézane shirts and Erdem maxi dresses regularly rock the rails here, and it’s not uncommon to find several pairs of freshly steamed-and-pressed COS trousers displayed. Treasure-hunter tip: the newest garbs are often hung on the walls.

Boutique By Shelter Kings Cross

In keeping with hip Coal Drops Yard, Shelter’s flagship boutique is decked out with edgy industrial interiors – including a brickwork centrepiece filled with a hand-picked selection of the store’s top picks. This isn’t your typical ramshackle charity shop; barely-worn premium items and colour-coordinated high-street staples line the rails.

Mary’s Living & Giving Primrose Hill

Queen of Shops Mary Portas can be credited with giving the musty charity shop an upmarket makeover – Mary’s Living & Giving windows are as well-dressed as those at Selfridges and stocked with a comparable selection of high-end pieces. Prices may be on the steep side, but when you’re picking up a Lanvin dress – tags still intact – for less than a pair of Topshop’s Joni jeans and saving the world one hanger at a time, there’s little to complain about. Plus, we have it on good authority that Victoria Beckham regularly donates here.

TRAID Brixton

On a mission to tackle the environmental and social impact of the textile industry, TRAID encourages us to reuse donated clothes. It has locations all across London, but the Brixton branch is our firm favourite thanks to its retro denim aisle and dedicated vintage section – 70s suede cowboy jacket for less than a Pret lunch? Yes, please.

Shop From Crisis Finsbury Park

This charity-cum-concept store stocks everything from eclectic shirts and never-been-worn Converse to vinyl records and an eclectic selection of books. In a bid to help end the capital’s homeless epidemic, Shop From Crisis offers training and employment opportunities to homeless people looking to work in retail. Stop by the on-site coffee bar for a post-retail refuel and a (vegan) doughnut.

Little Lives Tooting

A far cry from jumble-sale piles of odd shoes and Primark cast-offs often associated with the charity stores, this tiny store on Tooting High Street presents neatly size-ordered rails. Brand samples that haven’t made it into production and designer stash are frequently donated here, plus there’s usually a rail reserved entirely to cast-off cashmere. We’re sold.

Cancer Research UK Notting Hill

It’s no surprise that Cancer Research UK’s Notting Hill branch is stuffed with barely-worn designer threads. Pop into the store regularly to sift through its impressive label selection – on our last visit we scooped up a YSL two-piece suit and a classic Burberry trench. If you can’t make it to the store, keep an eye on Cancer Research UK’s eBay page – a well-curated selection of the best donations from all stores are put on there.

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