CHARITY shops are taking an increasingly professional approach to fashion.
“We look in magazines to see what the trends are,” says Christine Baker, who is manager of the newly-opened Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice shop in Huddersfield town centre.
“We’ve got a lot of university students in town so we try to keep on top of the fashions,” she added. “It’s surprising how many donations we get that are right on trend. We find that people nowadays, particularly the younger ones, are more willing to part with clothes, they don’t hang on to them for as long as they used to.”
Because of this most charity shops can put together seasonal collections that mirror fashions seen on the High Street.
To illustrate this we went along to the Forget Me Not shop, opposite Huddersfield Railway Station, to find four new season outfits – all for less than £100 in total.
Some of the garments came from other outlets in the chain. It’s common practice among charity shops to send clothing from one store to another if it doesn’t sell straight away.
Huddersfield University English student Jess Ewart, 19, a volunteer at the shop, agreed to be our model.
We focused on five current fashion themes.
Seen everywhere, the trend for putting ankle boots with short skirts is one that can be dressed up or down. High heeled ankle boots and thick tights can be worn with smart skirts, while boots with leggings or skinny jeans and a smock top turns the look into something casual and young.
Autumn colours of gold, russet and brown. A great look for those who can pull it off. Take inspiration from falling leaves for this one and don’t be afraid to put several shades together.
Still very much in evidence, the loose top that can be worn either as a short dress or top over trousers and leggings, has gone seamlessly from summer into autumn and was a big look last winter too.
Glam rock is making a comeback so for evening wear pile on the sequins and wear metallic fabrics. Team with platform shoes and killer heels for a real vintage Eighties look.
This year it’s all about jaguar spots rather than leopard print, but who knows the difference? Animal prints no longer have that Bet Lynch feel about them. Snake print is also a fashion must-have.
The town centre Forget Me Not shop opened two months ago and was the seventh in what is now a chain of eight shops belonging to the charity in the town. Its frontage bears the new corporate colour purple – a dramatic change from the former blue.
“Footfall has been slow to pick up,” says Christine. “I don’t think people know we are here, particularly as we’ve changed the colour of the shop fronts.
“But we have some great bargains,” she added. “We get some nice designer things (a Ted Baker skirt for just £10 was on offer the day we called) and it’s amazing how many donations we get that still have the price tags on them and have never been worn.”
In the end our four outfits cost just £72.50. We estimate that to buy comparative garments new would be £300 or more – sourced from moderately-priced High Street outlets.
Of course buying from charity shops is about more than just saving money and having the fun of finding a bargain. It also has a feel-good appeal. Charity shops are now a major source of funding for charities and for those who have a environmental conscience they also tick the recycling box.