London Fashion Week kicks off in earnest today. But last night, as Florence Pugh walked for Harris Reed in the Tate Gallery’s Turbine Hall, something more disruptive was taking place across town in Soho. Slightly to the side, but very much holding our attention, was Oxfam’s alternative fashion show. Fashion Fighting Poverty 23 showed a collection of second-hand garments, worn by a cast of celebs including model Erin O’Connor, TV presenter Miquita Oliver and the trans activist Munroe Bergdorf.
The charity, whose main aim to end world poverty, is a stalwart of the British high street. Anyone can tell you that there’s always a bargain to be found in its racks of pre-loved items. Stylist Bay Garnett has selected the looks which will then be auctioned by the show’s sponsor, eBay. Funds will go to Oxfam’s poverty-fighting work around the world.
Garnett and Oxfam have worked together previously on projects including a pop-up at Selfridges in London and a campaign with actor Michaela Coel. Speaking about the show, Garnett said: “I’ve always loved second-hand fashion and I love the planet. Clothes can be superficial, or they can have deep meaning. I love the idea of having purpose in fashion, so styling Oxfam’s fashion show is a magic combination and I just can’t wait.”
The show looks to elevate humble second-hand clothing, putting it center stage. If a second-hand Dior suit is good enough for a London runway show, then it’s definitely good enough for our wardrobe. In fact, favorite items can often be found in vintage or charity shops. Bergdorf said: “my favorite ever charity shop find was a pair of Burberry trousers. They no longer fit so I passed them on to a friend. Sharing clothes is all part of sustainability.”
And the demand for second-hand is already here. The Guardian reports that “the clothes resale market in the UK grew by 149 percent between 2016 and 2022. It is forecast to rise by 67.5 percent from 2022 to 2026.” While many brands are looking for innovative ways to manufacture more sustainable materials, it’s worth noting that consumers are also looking for ways to buy second-hand. The North Face has been taking advantage of this with its collection of patched up outdoors gear. There’s already a huge wealth of clothing in the world. Let’s find a home for it all that isn’t landfill.
You can shop the auction on eBay, and – for another fresh take on vintage garms – check out Sean Wotherspoon’s collection of digital wearables.