Preloved Clothing

From £10 Gold Valentino trousers found in a charity shop to my bargain vintage Gucci dress, I have always loved shopping second hand. There’s a thrill of discovering a unique garment buried under a mound of what seems to be junk. As the old saying goes, ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’.


A few years back in an ‘Everything for a pound pile’ in a charity shop in Brixton, I found a pair of very short, very red Sergio Tacchini Tennis shorts for a quid. I wore them all summer as part of my go-to festival outfit. I later found out that they were actually a very rare pair from the McEnroe era and people are selling them on ebay for up to £150.


This gold Gucci dress was bought from the fantastic Clerkenwell Vintage Fair which takes place every month – the next one is on 23 November 2014.  It was originally purchased by the person from whom I bought it and she wore it on Blind Date 25 years ago.

Cilla Black complemented her on the dress and she was picked for the date, a day racing cars around the track.  I know that she was very attached to this dress and was happy that it had gone to a good home.

I sent her through some photographs of me wearing the dress, photographed by Paul Pickard, and she replied

Wow fantastic! So glad my stunning Gucci dress has  lived on to have a fabulous life  x

Credit: Paul Pickard

Credit: Paul Pickard


This week, the Centre for Sustainable Fashion had a Tweetchat on the theme of #beinghuman as part of an event called Wear Your Culture.  I tweeted:

#beinghuman is to love. How can we love our clothes if we dispose of them before growing attached, before they’re part of our history.


Part of what I love about my gold Gucci dress isn’t just its beauty, or the quality of the fabric (it is so heavy!) but the fact that I know it’s story, I’ve met the woman who wore it on Blind Date.  I fully intend to give that dress new stories to tell, from the first time I wore it at my Sixth Form prom, to the many more times I intend to wear it in years to come.

The Centre for Sustainable Fashion replied to my tweet saying:

Beautifully put. All those stories and memories, so precious to us in our fragility as humans on this wonderful planet.

What stories do your clothes have to tell?  Stories from before you owned them, stories about the makers, about a previous wearer, about your life?  What secrets do your clothes hold in their threads?

Next week, the fashion reuse charity TRAID launches #SECONDHANDFIRST Week, 17 – 23 November 2014, to encourage us to buy more of our clothes second-hand, rather than buying new.

TRAID will run events and initiatives in its 12 charity shops throughout the week celebrating all things second-hand including a repair workshop with master mender Tom Holland, in-store stylists to help customers make the most of their purchases, short film screenings about the garment industry, late night openings and special window displays.  Events include:

  • Tuesday 18 November, Book an appointment with Sustainable Fashion Stylist Marta Krolewicz, 10am – 2pm at TRAID Shepherd’s Bush
  • Wednesday 19 November, The Clothes Club Swap for Food Cycle and TRAID
  • Thursday 20 November, Late Night Shopping and Junky Styling Upcyling Workshop at TRAID Shepherd’s Bush, 154 Uxbridge Road,
  • Friday 21 November, Knitwear Repair Workshop with Tom Holland at TRAID Dalstons,
  • Friday 21 November, Book an appointment with Sustainable Fashion Stylist Marta Krolewicz, 10am – 2pm at TRAID Shepherd’s Bush

Check out the Traid website for updates:


There are lots of ways to get involved along with ideas and resources provided by TRAID including taking the #SECONDHANDFIRST Pledge to source more of your wardrobe second hand, to keep clothes and other resources in circulation for longer by lending, swapping, mending and donating, to visit your local charity shop, run a clothes swap and lots more. Maria Chenoweth-Casey, CEO of TRAID said:

“The power of second-hand to create a more sustainable society is enormous. The garment industry makes huge demands on scarce and diminishing resources, like water, land and oil while unwanted and still wearable clothes are sent to landfill. #SECONDHANDFIRST Week reminds people to use what we already have as a way to reduce waste, landfill, carbon emissions and consumption bringing major benefits to our increasingly fragile environment.”


The charity is also appealing to all its supporters to donate their unwanted clothes to help TRAID reach its target of collecting an extra 7 tonnes of textiles for reuse during this special week. To book a free home collection from TRAID go to

If all of your wardrobe is new and you’ve never given preloved clothing a go, #secondhandfirst week is the time to make a start! Go out and find some clothing which has been loved before and which you can love again.