The Stylist: A Guide To Shopping Vintage (Mindfully)

By Tiffanie Darke

2 weeks ago

Tiffanie Darke is on the hunt for a (vintage) bargain

The vintage market is booming – and Tiffanie Darke is taking us along for the ride in this edition of The Stylist.

The Country & Town House Responsible Buyers’ Guide

The Stylist: How To Get Into Vintage Shopping

It takes 278 steps to make a Chanel flap bag. Apparently, the craftmanship that goes into making these iconic bags is akin to that of a Chanel jacket – which may explain why one now costs over £10,000. This amounts to a 75 percent price increase in the last five years, but it seems the higher they’re priced, the more desirable these bags become. How does luxury get away with it?

The rise of the secondhand market offers a clue. Luxury goods are now investment pieces, whereby you may not just recoup the money you spend, but if you buy wisely, you could get it back with interest. ‘Revenues from reselling luxury bags and clothing now add up to around $200bn a year,’ reports The Economist. For the sensible (and mindful) shopper, the resale market is beginning to eclipse buying new.

Woman holding pink bag

(c) Sellier

However, a warning. There is no sign the rise of the secondhand market is slowing the rise of primary (first-hand) goods – in fact it may even be fuelling it. Shopping preloved is not a sustainable choice in itself – shopping preloved mindfully is. Personally, I’m trying to buy only five new things a year, and another four secondhand.

So, what are the rules? For leather goods, Sellier London, Vestiaire and Xupes are where most of the marketplace goes down. If you can’t bear the scroll, Reluxe Fashion and Hardly Ever Worn It (HEWI) offer a more curated experience. For clothing, go elsewhere. It’s hard to do any kind of return on these platforms and the seller is not always honest. I bought a Gabriela Hearst shirt last year that arrived with a button missing and a pull in the fabric. I have yet to wear it.

Instead, go to an actual shop and do some actual shopping. Chelsea’s Sign of The Times is a treasure trove of goodies, as is SK Vintage in Kentish Town and (for cool streetwear vibes) Chillie London on Portobello Road (trawl the excellent market while you’re there too).

Vintage shop front

Chillie London’s founders Lydia McNeill and Natalie Hartley outside their store

But best of all are charity shops. Not only is your money going directly to a good cause, but you could pick up a major bargain. One well-known influencer told me she deposits piles of gifted clothing in her local Oxfam (Hampstead), meanwhile the Charles Tyrwhitt partnership with British Heart Foundation means you can find brand new, quality shirts for just £10. At these prices, who’s going to Chanel?

Featured image: Sellier