The charity shop’s fashion tastemaker on the stylish power of preloved

Apr 30, 2024 | News

Preloved fashion has exploded in recent years, largely due to the cost of living and the rise of eco-consciousness. Secondhand sales are now expected to reach 10% of global sales. eBay has also just eliminated fees for sellers of preloved clothing.

In our Second Nature Series, we explore this growing trend. We also meet the pioneers of preloved who are helping it become mainstream. Preloved is no longer the moth-eaten, austere item of the past. It’s now stylish, expressive, and fun.

Jen Graham, a secondhand style stylist, wants to inspire others to buy more clothing from charity shops. She has a large following on Instagram and TikTok and shares tips and tricks to curate the wardrobe of your dream using pre-loved items. She is based in Cheshire and is passionate about the affordability of charity shops, which allows people to be more creative with their style.

Jen Graham

“I charity shop because I love rummaging and because I know that the money goes to charities who are not funded by the government but are there for us when we need them,” Jen Graham, aka Charity Shop Girl, says.

When you have an eye for a bargain like Graham, PS5 can go a long way, netting you – say – a great pair of jeans to wear with a vintage Jaeger blazer (pictured). When you are a bargain hunter like Graham, PS5 will go a long ways. You can get a pair of jeans that you can wear with an old Jaeger jacket (pictured). She says, “It’s got shoulder pads and it’s very “me”, very Princess Diana.”

Graham dispels the myth that charity shoppers are colour-clashing, maximalists. She describes her style, which she calls ‘off-duty supermodel 90s’. She finished it off with a pair of Converse sneakers that she bought on Facebook Marketplace. She says that her goal is not to teach people how to dress, but to encourage them to embrace their individual style. Charity shopping is an excellent way to do this. “When I was growing up, I thought I couldn’t buy anything in high-street shops, but when I discovered charity shops, I found treasures.”

Graham gently encourages first-timers to look past the initial overwhelm and discover what is available in charity shops if they are willing to dig. She suggests that starting with the more curated boutiques is a good idea, as well as having a mental list of what you like and dislike. “If you already know what you like and what you have, it makes it easier to choose.”

Charity shoppers are no different. Donations to charity shops come in many forms. Graham inspires a wide audience, from teenagers to an 80-year-old woman who shares stories about the looks she wore in their youth. “It is a great compliment. I’ve inspired people to visit charity shops who had never done so before. “Even if people make small changes, it’s a big deal,” she says.

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