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Fleeced for a Fleece!

Why are second-hand clothes now so pricey?

A technicolour dreamcoat. But at what price?

Something strange has happened in the fashion world lately. It’s really rather a paradox. Believe it or not, “thrifting” is no longer for the thrifty. Yes, the market for second-hand clothes in the UK is not the bargain hunter’s paradise it once was. If you want to buy “pre-loved” garments now – whether from vintage shops, charity shops or online resale platforms like Depop and Vinted – you’ll actually need to splash some cash.

Never mind the pandemic, you really know we’re living in an absurd world when you see tatty, second-hand tweed jackets, quite literally moth-eaten, on sale for £80 in retro shops. It feels more absurd still when a pre-owned, banal grey Nike hoodie is being sold for £150 online. Fancy a worn, North Face gilet? That’ll be £140, please. (Just £60 less than a new one!)

These prices are unconscionably high. I remember buying a traditional overcoat about eight years ago in a vintage shop for £30. Long, made of wool and in very good condition, it’s still going strong today. And, except in the warmer months, I’ve worn it almost daily. In fact, I’ve even worn it to four weddings and a funeral. (…OK, not strictly four – I’ve worn it to one wedding and a funeral. But the point is that it was a bargain and has served me incredibly well.) If you’re looking for comparable second-hand overcoats now, the price will be almost quadruple what I paid.

Now, I’m no economist, but this clearly isn’t just a helping of your everyday inflation. So how has this happened? And why? Well, it looks like the market is very much a victim of its own success. Back in 2010, when the YouTube hit video “Being a Dickhead’s Cool” first went viral, it was only a select group who were wearing retro clothes and “having new age fun with a vintage feel”. Now, twelve years on, both the fashion and lifestyle have gone completely mainstream.

Granted, it’s currently more hip to vape and use CBD oil than it is to stare death coolly in the face and smoke rollies; and, right now, you’re more likely to be mown down on the pavement by an electric scooter than by a fixed-wheel bike. However, beneath these minor shifts, that pick n’ mix vintage style at the heart of it all hasn’t really changed a great deal. What has happened, though, is that the fashion’s popularity has been exploited by those with a bit of commercial nous....

Read the complete article at Menswear Style, an online men's fashion and lifestyle magazine, and one of the leading digital publications in the UK.


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