Where do you shop when you shop first-hand?

I have just spent a very enjoyable weekend catching up with some old friends in Stratford upon Avon. I wish I could say we had a very cultural time taking in all the Shakespeare sites but we spent most of the weekend talking, eating, drinking and …. shopping. Not all of my friends are converts to charity shops so I find it really interesting when trawling High Street stores with them.

Last weekend made me realise how infrequently I visit first-hand shops. In the past six months I have acquired one pair of trousers from Debenhams and received two items of clothing as a Christmas gift from Sainsburys. When I go clothes shopping my route is dominated by where the best second-hand shops are, which often takes me away from the ‘High Street end’.  I also realised that while my friends are shopping in those stores aimed at stylish forty plus women, with more expendable incomes, I’m still stuck in the student rut of paying lower prices for used clothing. When I do go into chain stores these tend to be either department stores (M&S or Debenhams) or those shops which I think I should have outgrown by now (Oasis, Top Shop, Gap).

For example last weekend was the first time I had stepped into a White Stuff shop. Funnily enough I do have a second-hand dress from the store. Likewise I have a Seasalt coat (but bought from Oxfam), cardigan from Boden (acquired at school jumble sale) and those jeans from Toast. But I would never normally wander into those shops and was pleasantly surprised by the clothes on sale.

Having just posted about Rana Plaza and #whomademyclothes? I also thought I should try to find out more about these stores. Whether I buy first-hand or second-hand these clothes have been manufactured by someone.

White Stuff is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative and have a dedicated Ethical Sourcing team and an Ethical Code of Conduct which all suppliers have to sign up to. Likewise SeaSalt are also members of the Ethical Trading Initiative and are increasingly looking to use more manufacturers based in the South West of England and Guernsey. Boden, also an ETI member, has a lot of information on its ethical credentials on its website.

These clothing labels certainly aren’t cheap but, judging from the second-hand versions I have in my wardrobe, they certainly last. Yet…. there is something I don’t enjoy about chain store shopping. I find the clothing very samey and, as ever, am worried that if I bought something from them I would bump into someone else wearing the same thing (this actually happened with the Sainsbury’s dress I was given at Christmas – a neighbour has the same one and looks gorgeous in hers!). I also suspect I don’t shop in Fat Face or The White Stuff for the same reason I refuse to listen to Radio Two and instead listen to BBC Six Music: I don’t want to admit that being in my forties means I have to wear or listen to ‘age appropriate’ stuff and I don’t want to be a grown up just yet!

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