For the first in our series of ‘ten questions with’ influencers, we have put our questions to Becky Hughes, a sustainable fashion blogger who has been supporting our #GoodCauseSantaClaus campaign.
1. How often do you use charity shops?
I’m always popping into a charity shop whenever I can. Usually on the weekends. These days I usually go to browse rather than buy excess clothing because I want to buy items I truly love and know I’m going to wear a lot. I always think you can find the most special and unique bits in charity shops, that’s why I like to take my time outside of work.
2. Do you use them to buy presents?
I do! Last Christmas I bought my mum, dad and sister presents from charity shops. What was even better was that I bought three scarves from the charity shop to wrap them up with which not only made the present zero waste, but also looked pretty! My family were happy they had an extra present also.
3. What do you think about online charity shopping?
I have shopped online before and enjoyed the experience! I’ve bought a couple of bits from Oxfam Online Shop, and it’s been fast delivery and the prices have been very reasonable. However, I think my favourite thing is popping into the charity shops locally.
4. Do you find charity shopping enjoyable – any general observations to make it easier/better?
I like to make ‘a day of it’ when I go charity shopping. There is nothing better than going for a mooch around the shops and then heading to a coffee shop for a break. I cannot wait to do this for Christmas. To make the experience better I think it would be good to maybe give examples of how items in charity shops can be styled. For example, I always see charity shops that have an abundance of different scarves. Now I’m seeing a lot of people style scarves at tops! I think it would be a good idea to try and show the public how they can be more creative with their outfits.
5. What would you say to a member of the public who was unsure about
A) Shopping in charity shops in general
B) Buying presents from charity shops
A) I think that showing the public how they can create a full outfit out of charity shop clothes is important. I also think it’s good to home in on the benefits of buying second-hand for the planet too. Most people are now waking up to the climate crisis. By including some statistics on how much CO2 a person has saved by choosing to shop second-hand that day might make people shop second-hand again.
B) I think it’s important to give people examples. Maybe something like an online gift guide showing people the sort of things you can find in charity shops that would be good as a gift. I think similarly to my previous answer it would be good to wrap a second-hand present up that I can include a little card in it that says. ‘You’ve saved X amount of CO2’, ‘by buying second-hand you keep clothes out of landfill,’ ‘you aren’t giving your money to unethical fast fashion corps etc’ and then that’s something nice for the person receiving the gift to read as well!
6. What can our sector do to attract the sceptics?
I think focusing on the amazing pieces you can find in charity shops is a good shout. I think charity shops should shout more about their benefits – ‘you can create your own unique style’, ‘wearing the same as everyone else is so yesterday’, ‘let’s keep clothes out of landfills’ ‘let’s avoid fast fashion’ etc !
7. Do you think charity shops have a high enough profile as a sector. Any suggestions for what chains can do on a limited budget?
A bigger idea I had could be a fast-fashion-style campaign like those you see on TV, but the models would be wearing all second-hand. I think those adverts are iconic so it would be good to show how it can be done more sustainably. For a limited budget, this might work well online, working with influencers etc. It would also be a good idea to maybe target schools/workplaces, showing people how the clothes they buy can have a wider impact.
8. What are your three top tips for finding the best items?
- Take your time, don’t make quick decisions, be meaningful with your purpose
- Make a wish list before you go so you know what you are looking for
- Don’t limit yourself to a section. I like to see charity shops as unisex. There are always loads of secondhand ‘men’s’ shirts in charity shops and I love styling them in multiple ways
9. Recruitment is one of the most reported issue in our sector currently. What are your thoughts about careers in charity retail and attracting, especially, shop managers?
I think a career in charity retail could be made to seem more exciting if maybe the job was promoted as something other than just ‘retail’. For me, a shop manager at a charity shop has the power to make real change especially in this current climate where the focus is turning to sustainable fashion. Seeing the job as a type of ‘green job’ would be a good idea as it gives shop managers a focus and steer toward sustainability. I used to volunteer at my local cancer research, and I loved the fact that my manager would use what we didn’t sell to make window displays and upcycle bits to make them sellable, if they weren’t already. She was also very good at visual merchandising which made the shop much more appealing to be in and look around.
10. Can you see a time when buying second hand will be as mainstream, or more so, than shopping for new?
I think realistically in the next 5-10 years’ time we are going to see a massive shift in consumer’s looking for more sustainable ways to shop. Corporations will have to start waking up to the fact that consumers don’t want millions of new clothes anymore. My hope is that fast fashion in its current form with cease to exist and make way for a new western culture of looking after the clothes we already have, buying more slowly and buying second-hand. I also hope to see people treat their clothes with more care – upcycling and mending them rather than a clothing item’s value depreciating as soon as we buy something.
You can follow Becky on Instagram @beckymaryhughes