Best charity shops: 11 to have on your radar for finding designer clothes and fashion gems

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  • Across the UK, these are the ones to pop into for some seriously sustainable steals.

    If you’re searching the Internet for the best charity shops, likelihood is, you know that practicing circular fashion has never been so high on the agenda.

    More and more people turning to clothing rental stores (even for their wedding dresses) and online vintage stores in a bit to save money and live more sustainably.

    This Second Hand September – that is, an entire month dedicated to celebrating pre-loved and vintage items – we’ve rounded up the very best charity shops for you to scroll. While they used to have a bid of a bad rep for old clothes, you can often find some barely used designer or high end clothes at a fraction of the cost, so it’s well worth a trip to your local. Some of them even have a small selection to shop online.

    With many shops having closed during lockdown and therefore not able to accept donations, chances are they will have had a big drop off of clothes, so now’s a good time to shop.

    Plus, you’re donating money to a great cause, whether it’s Cancer Research or the British Heart Foundation. With that in mind, keep reading for our a guide to the best charity shops. Don’t forget to scroll our charity shopping hacks for some great pointers on how to bag the best fashion bargains, while you’re at it.

    Best charity shops: 11 to visit for designer clothes and vintage steals

    1. TRAID Westbourne Grove

    Where: 61 Westbourne Grove, London, W2 4UA (020 7221 5448) and online on Depop

    What: Although there are TRAID shops all around London, the Westbourne Grove brand is known for the designer and high rend cast-offs of its well-heeled clientèle, so it’s definitely worth a rummage. They also have a Depop store for those who can’t travel. TRAID aims to put a stop to throwaway fashion by diverting clothes from landfill to stores, and proceeds go to global projects improving conditions and working practices in the textile industry.

    2. The British Heart Foundation

    Where: In stores nationwide and online on its eBay store

    What: Although there are many great British Heart Foundation stores, such as Reigate, Balham and Oxford where you can find some high end fashion and furniture, the online shop has some great rare gems too, including (at time of writing) a Burberry blazer for £25, a Barbour jacket for £39 and a Jenny Packham N.1 dress for £12. Proceeds go towards funding research cures and treatments for heart and circulatory diseases.

    3. Oxfam

    Where: Oxfam online

    What: There are so many great finds on the Oxfam online store, and they’ve got a huge sale on at the moment meaning you can grab even more of a bargain. It’s great for high street finds you might have missed from Zara and Topshop, but also for more affordable styles from JOSEPH, Whistles, Jigsaw, Ted Baker and REISS. If you’re getting married, there are also plenty of wedding dresses, from vintage styles to new ones with tags still on. Proceeds go towards ending poverty worldwide.

    4. Mary’s Living and Giving Primrose Hill

    Where: 109 Regents Park Road, NW1 8UR (020 7586 9966) – temporarily closed due to COVID

    What: Statement fashion pieces and high end finds, donated by the Primrose Hill crew. The East Dulwich and Bristol stores are also said to be great for high end bargains. Proceeds go to Save The Children around the world.

    5. FARA

    Where: Various locations across London – head to the FARA website to find your nearest.

    What: After reasonably priced vintage and secondhand bargains? Then you’ll love FARA. With 41 charity shops across 27 London communities, if you’re London based, there’s bound to be one near you. Money goes towards helping vulnerable children and adults with learning disabilities and at-risk youths.

    6. Retromania London

    Where: 6 Upper Tachbrook Street Victoria, SW1V 1SH (020 7630 7406)

    What:  Part of the FARA Charity (which helps vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people in Romania), this speciality shop focuses on everything a vintage lover might want, including hats, bags, scarves, dresses, menswear and memorabilia as well as iconic designer items.

    7. Cancer Research UK

    Where: In 600 stores worldwide, as well as in its online stores on eBay, Depop and Vestiaire Collective.

    What: Depending on what you’re after, all three online stores are well stocked. The eBay one is great for high street finds from the likes of Whistles, Ghost and Karen Millen, while the Depop and Vestiaire shops are a treasure trove of designer items. Currently on Vestiaire are a lustworthy Celine bag, Manolo Blahnik heels and a Dolce & Gabbana jacket. Proceeds go towards funding research to beat cancer.

    8. Barnardo’s

    Where: Online on eBay

    What: Although you can shop literally anything on its eBay store, from homeware to toys, the clothing is where it’s at. There are Dr Marten’s boots, Cos and Calvin Klein coats and an L.K.Bennett dress amongst the hundreds of items you can shop online now. Proceeds go towards helping vulnerable children, young people and families in the UK.

    Best charity shops: A rail of secondhand clothes in a charity shop

    9. British Red Cross

    Where: Various locations across the UK, check out their locations on the British Red Cross website.

    What: Selling everything from pre-loved clothes, to secondhand furniture, to books, vinyls, accessories and more, the British Red Cross has long supported the millions of people in the UK and around the world who find themselves in need when crisis strikes. FYI, they also sell online, so check out what they’ve got stocked on eBay, ASOS, or their online gift shop.

    10. Shop From Crisis

    Where: Various locations around London, check out the Shop From Crisis website to find your nearest.

    What: Crisis is the UK national charity for people experiencing homelessness. Shopping at Shop from Crisis means you’ll be helping homeless people not just financially: their stores offer training and employment opportunities for homeless people keen to work in retail, too. Neat.

    11. Salvation Army

    Where: Various locations across the UK – they have over 400 shops across the country, two charity superstores and 13 donation centres. Head to the Salvation Army website for more information.

    What: Fun fact for you – the Salvation Army were one of the first charities to open a shops back in the 19th century. Then, they offered affordable clothes to people who otherwise wouldn’t have the means, and in the 150 years since they first opened, their main aim hasn’t changed that much. Head in-store to pick up some secondhand bargains and support those in need, while you’re at it.

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