Patience and a good eye will help you discover some of the best charity shops in London. Having a genuine love for charity shops and being known for my skill to dig out their treasures, I’ve been asked the same questions over like “where are all the best charity shops in London?”, “can I really get good stuff from there?”, “aren’t charity shops dirty and dingy?” and “aren’t charity shops and vintage shops the same thing?”, so let’s clear up the misconceptions.
Charity shops are places full of hidden treasures. The mistaken belief and one of experience is that they are whiffy and grubby places full of ‘used unclean stuff’. When on the contrary they have increasingly become boutique styled shops with vintage and sometimes brand new items seeking homes.
Initially, charity shops were mostly used by the elderly and the less financially privileged for their cheap bits and bobs. Nowadays, they’re frequented by stylists, fashionistas, the everyday worker and all ages to find those quirky, vintage and unique pieces.
The great thing about charity shops is that pieces can be donated by anyone and everyone. So you never know what great finds you’re going to stumble across.
Some of the finest pieces I’ve come across on my fashion travels included a pair of Emerald Green Manolo Blahniks for £40 from the Ikosi Store in Brixton. A £20 pair of purple silk Ralph Lauren pants became mine from The British Heart Foundation in Swiss Cottage. Other finds include a £75 Harley Davidson Leather Biker Jacket and a Vintage bag for £3 from Traid. Most astonishingly, my best find was a white Gold, Diamond and Jade ring for £1 in Camden (clearly the shop owner didn’t know the value!).
NEW VS OLD
For the few still apprehensive of entering a charity shop, some like Barnados even receive donations from retailers like Mecca. It’s their unsold stock from previous seasons, while some customers donate never before worn pieces too, oh the luxuries!
When you come across some of the pieces in charity shops that have had their fair share of wear and tear, they can usually be put into one of two sorting piles. Either it’s a vintage piece and its ‘tired’ look adds to its “authenticity” or its just plain old! For those who don’t know or just use the word loosely, vintage is referred to items mostly produced between the 1920s and mid-1980s.
A great point to note is that a vintage shop is not necessarily a charity shop. They are mostly profit seeking organisations but can accept specified donations. Whereas a charity shop can possess vintage items but also sell a variety of goods to raise funds for various causes.
CHARITY SHOP AESTHETICS
Nowadays charity shops have thankfully started paying more attention to their aesthetic appeal as well as their causes. A few, like the Fara Charity shop in Lavender Hill and Shelter in Swiss Cottage are like plush boutiques. Bear in mind, some charity shops depending on their locations cater to specific customers. Like Age Concern in Albert Road, Portsmouth which hosts shelves of bric-a-brac most attractive to the elderly or Oxfam in West London hosting rails of designer gear aimed at the fashion savvy.
No matter who a charity shops desired consumer is, their definitive desire is to raise funds for their specified cause. So as well as livening up your wardrobe and adopting key pieces, always remember you are setting your charitable conscience free.
The ultimate rule for charity shopping is ‘If you don’t look, you won’t find!’, so the next time you walk past a charity shop, think ‘what treasures could I find?’