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The thrift that keeps on giving

  • Features
By Syraat Al Mustaqeem, BA English

The most eco-friendly form of consumerism is not engaging in consumerism. That being said, we all like to look good whether it’s on a budget or treating yourself on payday. Looking for affordable, sustainable fashion in this day and age is like waiting for rain in this drought – useless and disappointing. For those looking for a middle ground, here is my list of thrifting options for the fashion forward Londoner.

1.      Atika, Brick Lane

The high ceilings and statement furniture pieces scattered around set the stage for their stock to shine. This is fitting as the store actually resides in an old furniture factory! The vibe is definitely more ready-to-wear than other stores as the items collected are cleaned before being sold. As with most stores, the trends are in the front and the cheaper older things are hidden away in the basement. This means for a student budget, head straight down and get digging.

2.      Brick Lane Vintage Market, Spitafields

The entrance to this store is small and takes you underground so it gives you the satisfaction of a real find! As soon as you walk into this space there is an array of sunglasses and jewellery on display, drawing you in with trinkets before the mesmerising maze of apparel. The selection offers high street prices for items that will last far longer in your wardrobe. Each area is pretty well organised, with entire sections dedicated to Jean Jackets – a staple of any good vintage clothing store.

3.      East End Thrift Store, Stepney Green

This is less of a store and more of small storage unit hidden under some rail arches. If London Thrift Culture is a thing, then this embodies it. Racks and piles of off-smelling pieces that you should double (and triple) check for stains. My last trip was timed with one of their infamous £1 sales and I came away with coolest items that I still wear over a year later! Although I went to find items that I could tailor and customise it is definitely possible to find things to fit. The trendier things will usually not be included in sales but search well and you will find.

4.      Rokit, Covent Garden

This well-known store has multiple branches around London including Covent Garden, Camden, and Brick Lane. The variety in this store is exceptional, especially at the flagship in Covent Garden. If you’re looking for a last minute costume, some typical Americano style fashion, or trendy accessories, this is the place to check out – and they have cool badges which scream “i ThRiFt oN tHe WeEkEnDs”.

5.      Charity Shops, Anywhere

I won’t include any particular branch because charity stores are like a box of chocolates – you never know which one smells like pee. Or something like that. What I will say, is keeping an eye out in your local store can bring forth some treasures. Play the long game and maybe even befriend the volunteers who work the stores because not everything is about you. It may be worth visiting charity stores in well-to-do areas to increase the likelihood of finding high end pieces. Although you may not entirely buy into the idea of brands, I’m sure you can admit that vintage designer pieces just hit different.

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