Thrifting, charity shopping and buying second hand online has become the norm for many people recently.
In December of 2021, I was scrolling through Instagram when I saw an advert.
I usually tried my best to ignore adverts, but the promise of a “Kilo Sale,” a clothes sale where you paid by weight rather than what you bought intrigued me.
Clicking on their website, I discovered that 6 T-shirts usually weighed one kilo, which would sell for £18, and decided to spend the £2 to book myself a ticket. If I didn’t buy anything, it was at least a day out, which I had begun to crave more and more as winter set in.
On February 27th, I took an Uber to the sale and was amazed to discover rails and rails of t-shirts, shirts, jeans, coats and more. There were even jewellery and belts arranged over a trestle table, and a station where you could make your own tote bag. By the end of the day, I had bought myself another lumberjack shirt and a utilitarian jumper for £8 altogether and decided that thrifting was definitely my thing.
Over 2022 I proceeded to attend three more Kilo sales, two clothes swaps and began charity shopping as well, aided by the range of charity shops and thrift sales in Nottingham. Many were held at my University’s student union, and I would visit between lectures or on my way to meet with friends.
The only issue was that charity shop clothing tended to be old, and not in the best condition.
The cuff of my lumberjack shirt split away from the sleeve shortly after I wore it for the first time, and my jumper had developed a small hole also in the cuff after I put it through the wash.
I couldn’t return them or get a refund, since I’d thrifted them.
Then I remembered several videos I’d been seeing on TikTok recently- a trend called visible mending, where people patched holes with darning techniques in brightly coloured thread or embroidered patterns over holes in clothing.
I had a sewing kit- I’d picked up cross-stitching the year before. How hard could it be?
Soon, my grey jumper had a bright pink patch covering the sleeve and my shirt had a large black stripe binding the cuff to the sleeve.
It had been fun, really fun. Suddenly, the hole in my shirt was no longer something to be embarrassed about and was now a conversation topic. I took pride in showing people the patches in my shirts, or the sewn-up hole on the back of my jeans. I learned how to darn, a skill I’d only read about in books, which became a skill I used regularly.
Then, I turned to thrifting to get any new clothes. I needed a new pair of boots to wear on industry days as part of my course, and I went straight to a charity shop and found a beautiful pair in black for only £2.
The greatest find, however, had been a Tommy Hilfiger shirt. A quick check online told me that similar ones retailed for almost £55, whereas I’d got it for six. That was almost 90 per cent off!
I began to seriously consider just how much I’d saved. Comparing prices from brands, I managed to calculate just how much I’d managed to save on clothes over 2022.
At charity shops and thrift sales, I had spent £38 across six items. The retail value of these items altogether was £218, which means I had saved £180, and spent 82 per cent less money than I would have done if I bought the items outright. Buying the items new wouldn’t have given me the joy of my new repairing hobby either.
I attend my first Kilo sale of this year on Thursday, and am already planning on looking for some new items, name-brand or not. For me, the joy comes from finding something I can fix up easily, adding my own personal touch to it, and getting to show it off to friends. I love my grey jumper. and the two plaid shirts I own can be tossed over any outfit to keep me warm.
By the end of 2023, I want to have saved even more on clothing, both because of the sustainability aspect, and because of the cost of living but ultimately, I want more people to know that no matter your sewing skill, you can patch up anything you own and give it a new lease of life.