Charity shops, thrift stores and wholesale vintage — there are more ways than ever to shop vintage and avoid excess cost to your purse (not to mention the environment). Here, our deputy digital editor visits a kilo sale to see what she can come out with for the cost of one kilo of new clothes
There’s little I love more of a weekend than to peruse the rails of a charity shop and uncover some second-hand bargains. Shopping vintage and second-hand has become increasingly popular in recent years due to a number of factors – the fatigue of fast fashion; the fact that most of our trends stem from vintage aesthetics anyway; and, the big one, the environment.
The fast fashion machine has bumped the industry to become the second most environmentally damaging in the world. There are about 23,000 tonnes of clothing collected every year by charity shops registered with the Irish Charity Shops Association – which means lots of second-hand material for us vintage lovers, but also that we are dumping a massive amount of our wardrobes having barely been used.
In Ireland, the response to the fast fashion problem has been a large scale movement. Organisations such as Sustainable Fashion Dublin make it their business to facilitate the growing appetite for slow fashion alternatives, with flea markets, swap shops and upcycling workshops. Irish-owned vintage shops like Nine Crows (Dublin) and Spice Vintage (Limerick), among many others, source on-trend alternatives to the high street, at prices that rival the mass-produced rails.
But while these options are open to all, the idea of an exclusive dive into second-hand bargains, that only comes around every once in a while, is bait to vintage lovers like me. Enter the humble kilo sale. Taking the middle man out of the equation, kilo sales allow shoppers to go straight to the source of second-hand clothing, make their way through dozens of rails of clothing and accessories, and buy them at a knock-down price, usually €20 to €25 per kilo.
Kilogarm’s Vintage Kilo Sale is Ireland’s largest such sale, and last weekend, took to the Radisson Blu hotel in Dublin city centre for shoppers to find some bargains. I headed along to see what I could make it out with for the price of a kilo.
What was it like?
The sale was packed, with the target audience seeming to be teenagers and early 20-somethings. I got the early-bird ticket, which gave me access to the sale an hour early, but even with this advantage, there were over a hundred patrons already at the rails. The early bird definitely catches the worm with these kinds of sales.
I’ll be honest — the clothing was very much teenage-trend focused. Y2K trends, like shell jackets, sportswear and crop tops were the name of the game, so me, as a 25 year old, found it a little harder to source a full outfit. I’m much more into a granny-chic aesthetic when it comes to second-hand wares, so this may not have been exactly my haven for clothing.
Regardless, I still easily came out with a kilo of clothing, and could have came out with more had I had more time (and less competition) on the rails. The clothing I gathered was purely based on pattern and outfit potential — I didn’t find any big labels or particularly good quality materials, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there to be found. On the way out, I spotted a guy with a Barbour jacket, and a girl with an embroidered Wrangler denim jacket, so there are lots of gems available.
I came out with a blouse, a dress, a leather waistcoat and black Bermuda shorts. Here’s how I styled them.
You’ll rarely find vintage clothing that is exactly your ideal size and fit — often, you have to go into it with an idea of how you can upcycle and tailor clothing to suit you. This double-breasted 80’s blouse, with statement buttons on the waist, was a size 14 on the label, but looks well oversized, especially with a nipped in waist, which I did with the shorts and a belt.
Bermuda shorts are a big micro-trend for the upcoming summer season — nipped-in waist, with billowing legs and a culotte shape is the perfect cover up for those who are conscious of going too short. These are probably a little big for me, but I may take them up a little in length and in on the waist so that they fit my shape in a more flattering way. But with plain black shorts, that can be worn over tights or on their own, you can’t go wrong — they’re a staple piece.
This 70’s print dress with an accentuated collar actually fits me better than a lot of other items in my wardrobe. It has a pleated skirt that hits just at the knee and the colours and collar is what really drew me to it, as we all know detail collars are big at the moment.
I styled it under what is probably the best value piece from my kilo sale haul — a leather waistcoat with a belt to nip in the waist. The statement collar over the black leather makes a statement, and the waistcoat is similar to a lot of pieces on the high street right now, so it’s great that I found it second-hand.
The leather is very faded, but it’s nothing that a touch up of black polish couldn’t solve. This is the mindset you have to have with vintage — something may be imperfect, but if you’re getting it for a good price, you can usually balance any cost of repair and recycling.
All in all, I did pretty well out of a kilo sale, but I learned the importance of strategy. Get in there early, and be unafraid of competition at the rails — when there are gems to be had, you can’t afford to be lazy. If you’re worried that a kilo sale might be a little out of your style, remember that pieces similar to these are lying in your local charity shops as we speak — don’t be afraid to get stuck in, and you can find some bargains too.
Read more: The 10 best outfits I saved on Instagram this week
Read more: How to look after your clothes and make them last longer
Read more: 8 Irish Instagrammers you need to follow for sustainable fashion inspiration
If you’re stuck in a fashion rut, there’s no need...
The inauguration got us thinking about coats, so we dove...
Vice President Kamala Harris' fashion choices are not only intentional and important, they're vital to a diversifying industry, writes New York-based fashion editor Freya Drohan.