When I was a teen, so called thrifting is what my friends and I did every time we met, like a 'place' to hang out. Endless days were spent at markets and charity shops in the same way other girls marched up and down Oxford Street in London. Things have changed and not all for the good. Vintage or pre-loved may be the new posh names for second-hand goods but developments in the practice of hunting out the odd fabulous find at a bargain price are lees than classy, especially when it comes to being charitable. .
First we have the bargain hunters whose sole aim seems to be to buy at a penny and sell for pound on an on-line auction. Triumphant stories abound, celebrating a win over some unfortunate volunteer by buying a possible 'Picasso' for 50 pence. Extra squeals of delight as the hunter recounts extra percentage off for lying to the octogenarian help that it came out of the bargain basket. It's good to know that these precious things have a second life and continue to be enjoyed after their original owner no longer can or wants to, but not just to make a quick buck on-line.
The other development in charity shops is the so called designer, vintage or boutique rail. Where once there was a mutual gratification of both the charity and often poor people doing well out of the trade of decent clobber, one has to be fairly rich or have a degree in fashion history to an find overlooked sartorial gem. Over priced and usually the worst examples of any era, the shop treats their precious stock as though it was Dame Shirley's own wardrobe when in reality their rail usually comprises of 90% of yesterday's high street designer rip-offs. Who needs a Karen Millen Dress from 1999 at double what it cost in the sale? Not everyone values a multiple-coloured maxi dress over last year's Gap effort, why should the vintage maxi cost so much more just because some idiot pop star is wearing her stylist's-own version?
And where have the desirable labels and kooky precious things gone that should be on the bloody boutique rail? They are lifted out by keen fashion student and car booter volunteers, who devote an hour a week of their expertise in the back room during the process of supposedly sorting the 'wheat from the chaff' as a 'reward' wardrobe or new stock for next Sunday morning's cash-in-hand 'hobby'.
The problem is balance and fair play seem to have lost their way. While charities become 'smart' businesses trying to maximise their profits with their boutique rail so only affluent trendies can buy something that looks like it comes from a charity shop or grandma's closet the seasoned hunter will of course fell gleefully victorious if they find an item that 'got away' from the self-proclaimed expert.