My mission to prove second-hand can be luxurious
Simply sign up to the Fashion myFT Digest -- delivered directly to your inbox.
Bay Garnett is on a mission to make thrift stores as luxurious as any boutique on Bond Street. This month, the fashion editor and Vogue contributor has worked with Oxfam and Selfridges to create a pop-up shop to sit alongside some of the biggest names in luxury. It’s part of a broader Project Earth initiative by the department store, aimed at challenging consumers and brands to think and act more sustainably.
“I liked the concept of shifting thrift and second-hand clothes into a different context,” says Garnett. “I just wanted to play with the idea of doing a really good edit, and then putting those items next to Gucci or Celine or Prada, in a store that has all the bells and whistles of a luxury space.”
Opening on 7 September, the store will be located on the second floor of Selfridges, selling clothes, bags and selected homewares that Garnett has sourced from Oxfam’s shops and warehouses. Those pieces include a “really brilliant jumpsuit by Jean Paul Gaultier, like a superhero outfit”, as well as heritage jackets and maximalist dresses, à la Alessandro Michele’s Gucci.
Crucially, all the pricing has been done by Oxfam, so you won’t see the big mark-ups that often come with second-hand clothes. Money from the sales will go straight back to the charity.
Garnett has long campaigned for buying second-hand clothes. In the 1990s, she edited Cheap Date, a London-based, anti-establishment fashion magazine dedicated to thrift shopping. Within its pages, she made fake campaigns that changed the names of luxury brands to second-hand buzz words: “Yves Saint Laurent became Salvation Army, Christian Dior became Charity Donor, and Burberry became Borrowed.”
She started working with Oxfam four years ago, first on a fashion show called Fashion Fighting Poverty, which kicked off London Fashion Week in 2017, and then for Second Hand September, an initiative challenging consumers to refrain from buying new clothes for a month. The face of the first campaign was supermodel Stella Tennant – this year, the charity has enlisted I May Destroy You star Michaela Coel to front the cause.
“Now so more than ever, because of sustainability and all the stuff that’s just become urgent, I feel really quite passionate about it,” adds Garnett. “Second-hand clothes are, really, the only sustainable way to buy clothes. And I know that’s not realistic – and I don’t just buy second-hand clothes, but I think there has to be more of it. In a way, this is a nice pointer to that.”
The Selfridges x Oxfam pop-up will be at Selfridges London from 7 September to 4 October; selfridges.com