Where do you buy clothes?

I’ve blogged about this before but I still often find myself wondering where I ought to be buying clothes from. There are a lot of ethical issues involved in the manufacturing of the clothes that hit our high streets but where do you buy if you can’t afford boutiques and bespoke? Most high street shops seem to have a set of policies in place regarding the conditions and pay of workers but do they ever actually check that the factories are adhering to the agreement? I know there is a great argument for shopping in charity shops but does the fact that the item has been recycled (which is great) make up for the fact it was made under who knows what kind of conditions? Just because it is from a charity shop doesn’t mean that it wasn’t made in a sweat shop. I really don’t know who to believe when it comes to ethical trading. I’ve noticed quite a few shops selling ethical lines but, to me, all this does is highlight the fact that the rest of the stock must be unethically (is this a word?!) produced! A few years ago it wasn’t too hard to get a bit of guidance online as to who to support and who to avoid on the high street. Now it seems that every store has some sort of policy in place regarding the working conditions, pay etc of the workers in the factories where the clothes are produced. But how are we supposed to know how much of it can be believed? Or has there really been a massive shift due to consumer demand (I’d love to think this was the case but I think it is unlikely somehow).

It has left me more confused than ever as to where to shop. At the moment, and I know this is probably wrong, but once I’m on the shopping on the high street, I’ll shop almost anywhere because I tend to think that most of them are as good/bad as each other. I avoided Primark for a couple of years but then I read a recent article about their improved standards and policies so I’ve been back. A month ago I bought a cardigan for £12 (which looks like it cost 3 times that) and a few other bits and peices, including some much needed underwear! I can afford Primark – it fits very nicely within my budget. But should I shop there? A lot of people ask how Primark and similar shops can sell stock for so little. Is it because they are ‘dodgy’ or because they profit from high turnover? Are other shops just buying it in at the same price but putting a higher mark up on the prices? I don’t know. Do you?!

PS I do look in my local charity shops. A couple of months ago I found a Per Una jumper in my size – it is the first thing I have found in years that I would actually want to wear. I am very jealous when I hear other bloggers talking about the amazing and cheap things they can get in chairty shops. In my neck of the woods the charity shops mostly sell books ashtrays and clothes for the 80+. I’d never be able to put my entire wardrobe together from them…

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Categories: Budget beauty, Frugal ideas | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Where do you buy clothes?

  1. I buy from charity shops mostly ( 99.9% of the time, underwear is an exception ). This way, it is helping others, recycling and usually those cheap, sleave labour type clothes ( Primark/Supre in Australia and so on ) have usually died a pilled death by the time they reach the charity shops so I can’t buy them even if I wanted to. So I guess it’s about cost, about helping others and not buying from rip off/slave labour places…I always feel well dressed too…so that’s good 🙂 Love your blog btw.

    • shoestringalley

      Thanks! I had another look in my local charity shop today. Picked up two great books (one of which is to go in my gifts box) but all of the clothes in my size seemed to be for someone a good 40/50 years older than me. I must try to remember to check out the charity shops in my closest city next time I go. I might have better luck there!

  2. Hi I buy most of my clothes at Car boot sales. I remember watching a programme on tv about Primark & working labour and it really made me feel bad. I like the fact that at a car boot sale I can buy things cheaply and I am recycling other peoples unwanted. I dont tend to find as much in charity shops as I do the car boot sale for some strange reason!

    • shoestringalley

      I actually made it to a car boot sale last weekend for the first time in about three years! It was great. Must remember to have a look at clothes next time I go. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Alison B43

    I have just left a comment on Frugal Queen blog about charity shops. They do vary an awful lot – the ones in the town I work in (Surrey) are well stocked, but quite expensive, and it is often cheaper to buy new, budget clothes. I tried to find a nice dress for a wedding recently (not too dressy) looked in all the charity shops but found nothing. In desperation went up and down the high streeet, and found I would have to pay over £75 just for a dress which I would probably only wear once – I think not!! I am very lucky not to have to buy too many clothes at present, it has never been one of my favourite occupations.

    • shoestringalley

      Ha – I’m with you on that Alison! I love buying accessories but HATE buying clothes. I also agree that the pricing in charity shops can be really expensive. Earlier today I saw a T-shirt top from Tesco in a charity shop for £3.75 which probably cost the same new. As I said on a previous comment, I think I’ll have a look in some charity shops next time I go to a bigger town which might have a better selection and hopefully more reasonable prices!

  4. I am having exactly the same thoughts at the moment. While I am lucky to live in a an area with a some decent and well priced charity shops, it is very difficult to sustain your entire wardrobe on second hand alone! Primark is one of the few shops which is in my current meagre budget yet I feel that I may be wrong to shop there??! I would love a simple list of who not to buy from but, like you said, it’s pretty much impossible to find one these days! No advice form me unfortunately but just wanted to let you know you’re not the only one 🙂

    • shoestringalley

      Ah, we are so on the same page. It’s tricky isn’t it? I think H&M came out okay in some of the ‘ethical’ reviews but that was a few years ago now and things change so quickly. Plus H&M are not as cheap as they used to be!

      • I agree with you shoestringalley, I think Primark and Topshop are probably as ethical/unethical as each other so I may as well buy from Primark which is in my budget. Saying that, when I was a teenager (I am now 27) I used to buy nearly all my clothes from Topshop, but now I can barely afford a t-shirt in there. I am sure they have increased their prices way above inflation in recent years. In fact I beleive that Topshop is now a quasi-designer label now than merely a high street brand.

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