Clothing a family can be expensive. It would certainly be enough for me to feel faint if I had to pay full retail for all of the members of our household. But in reality it is not just the cost that hits the back pocket. It is also the cost of money that can’t be invested into our local community in other ways as well as the environmental cost.Yes, looking for quality secondhand can save you and the environment a packet. As highlighted just over a year ago by Craig Reuscassel in ABC’s War on Waste, Australia’s fast fashion results in the dumping of 6 tonnes of clothing waste every 10 minutes. I don’t know about you but in seeing the pile that was the example of just ten minutes was visual enough for me to be gobsmacked.
When looking for alternatives, we are going to give you our top five first stops for day wear and fashion clothing before you even consider looking for retail of any kind including markdowns and sales.
1. Friends and Family
Oh yes, the classic hand me downs. The great thing about these is that you can pretty much look at them with some give and take and make agreement with the person you are getting them from as to what is going to happen with any that items that aren’t the style or type you are needing, as well as what happens when items are outgrown. Once you have an agreed plan, the rest is easy.
I was so blessed when I was given what was literally garbage bags of clothing for our new arrival from a girlfriend who simply had an abundance beyond what her own unborn child would also ever need. Again, she was passing on the blessing of choice because her own hand me downs from family were well in excess of her needs as well. The great thing about hand me downs is the ability to also pass on the blessing to others as well.
2. Pay It Forward groups
These groups are pretty amazing when it comes to clothing. Everything from women’s fashion, men’s work wear though to all things kids. It really is well used by those who don’t have someone suitable in their friendship and family circles to pass items onto and the benefits in building community are real. As a result of a few items picked up in ‘pay it forward’ groups I have met other Mums with children just a few months old who will be great contacts in the future as I look for others to hang out with whilst on maternity leave. There is nothing quite like a spirit of goodwill as the starting point of future friendships.
We compiled a list of ‘Pay it Forward’ groups in South Australia for you which you can access at your leisure.
3. Marketplace and ‘Buy, Swap & Sell’ groups
There are some great groups out there for picking up clothing items. Be discerning though and know what the retail equivalent is because there are those who will ask more than a ticketed price for new. What we have found to be great from these groups are individual pieces of women’s clothing and bundles of children’s wear. Often the bundles have almost a complete set of clothes for day to day wear which is amazing and, again with those items that are outgrown before they are outworn, can be pooled with any extra purchases to cover wardrobe needs to bless someone else afterwards too.
4. Opportunity shops
Op shops have been the subject of much debate in some groups I am in lately. It has been interesting to see people’s take as some have items that are also priced above a retail rate for new. I guess one of the challenges we face is that so many department stores still have clothing that is supplied from sweat shop labour making them cheap and depriving people overseas of a decent income also. And, then in contrast, most op-shops, even if staffed with volunteers, have the crazy overheads of most shops such as lighting and heating/cooling costs as well as commercial leases in many cases. This is what has put many in a rock and a hard place as really they cannot compete as well as seller direct options online such as marketplace and buy, swap and sell groups. The only true advantage being the ability to touch and feel before committing to purchase and to examine individual items for marks and wear beforehand.
One particular store that has attracted a lot of attention on this front is Savers. They offer a discount card which they stamp each time you bring in a bag of donations. If you in a position where decluttering is on your agenda then this may be a great idea. Other op shops have weekly or daily specials based on the colour of price tags or whether you have a pension card and some have special ‘fill a bag’ days. To find out how to get value from these stores you just need to pop in and check them out.
5. Secondhand Fashion BoutiquesWhen you need something extra special that you just can’t find in an op shop then definitely consider secondhand fashion boutiques. Some also offer garment rental as well which is a great way to cut your costs. We have compiled a list of alternative sources of women’s clothing both for purchase secondhand and for hire. We have also added sources of pre-loved bridal wear as well for those who are looking.
In respect to bridal, many of those sites listed allow you to list your own garment for sale as well. With changes in the nature of tailoring and fashion movements these days, the notion of holding onto wedding dresses to hand down quite a thing of the past. You may well be better off selling the dresses and investing the proceeds instead. That is, if you have not gone above and beyond and donated your dress to Angel Gowns.
Give a garment a new lease of life.
Giving clothing a new lease of life not only will save your hip pocket but will also make a massive difference to others. The same avenues also exist when you are thinning out wardrobes also. As you look to make room for additional Winter wear consider those avenues that will give clothing that new lease on life and help keep it out of landfill for as long as possible as well as blessing another household.