The Beckhams have donated several bags of their old clothes to a Red Cross charity shop. If you fancy bagging a similarly swish bargain, and doing a little good too, here's our guide to the swankiest charity shops in the country.
David and Victoria Beckham have donated a haul of old clothes and shoes to the British Red Cross Shop Drop to raise money for victims of the typhoon in the Philippines. They will go on sale at the charity’s shop in Chelsea, west London on Friday. But you don’t need to wait for a celebrity windfall to find designer bargains in Britain’s charity shops. There are truffles to be found if you know where to go (chi-chi areas) and when to look (essentially, every week until you get lucky – this can be labour-intensive shopping). Here are some of the best shops to start with:
British Red Cross, Chelsea, London
As well as being the place to pick up the Beckhams’ cast-offs – rumoured items include pairs of Victoria’s Jimmy Choo shoes, and David’s Dolce & Gabbana suits – this Chelsea shop has long been a destination for bargain hunters. As a seasoned charity shopper, I think it’s brilliant – I’ve picked up cashmere sweaters for around £20, a silk Chanel shirt for £50 and I’ve spotted, but not bought, Manolo Blahnik shoes (secondhand shoes are a step too far for me, even beautiful ones). It’s not cheap – the staff know the value of each item, and they haven’t announced the prices for the Beckhams’ collection yet – but with donations from wealthy residents, and the charity funnelling its designer donations from other areas to this shop, it’s rare to leave empty-handed.
Shelter, Stockbridge, Edinburgh
Shelter’s flagship store in Stockbridge, Edinburgh, brings in more money than any other of the charity’s other shops. The highlight has become the annual “January launch”, which includes fashion and antiques and is next held on 6 January. Shoppers queue for two hours or more for the sales, which have previously included pieces from Burberry and Marc Jacobs. That said, a rummage will still reveal hidden treasures the rest of the year – at the moment, for example, a pair of brown leather Donna Karan trousers will set you back £40.
104a Raeburn Place, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH4 1HH; 0131 343 2963
Cancer Research UK, Wilmslow, Cheshire
This is one of a handful of shops in Cheshire that scoops up the castoffs of wealthy football WAGs. The shop has sold items by Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Armani in the past. In September, the shop raised around £8,000 after one resident donated several handbags by designers including Chloé and Mulberry, each selling for around £150.
21 Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AE; 01625 533184
Octavia Foundation, various locations, London
With stores in some of the wealthiest areas of London, including Kensington, Richmond and Hampstead, the 18 Octavia Foundation shops are renowned for stocking quality items – in the past including vintage Vivienne Westwood and Ossie Clark, as well as pieces by Christian Louboutin and Stella McCartney. At the moment, you can pick up a pair of Alexander McQueen boots for £45 in the Brompton Road branch.
RSPCA, Northern Quarter, Manchester
Opened in January this year, this beautifully designed gem gets all the best picks from donations given to the charity’s other shops in the area. The focus is on vintage clothes – dresses are usually around £10, though some will be more expensive – but there are designer finds as well. “We have sold Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney, Barbour jackets as well as the more expensive end of the high street like Ted Baker and Coast,” says assistant manager Kate Studley. Her favourite piece at the moment is a vintage Windsmoor floral sleeveless dress, £30 (“very Mad Men,” she says).
Mary’s Living and Giving shop, various locations, London and Edinburgh
The fashion writer Melanie Rickey may be slightly biased in recommending the 11 charity shops set up by her partner, the retail expert Mary Portas, and run by Save the Children, but they are fantastic – the interiors are beautifully designed, and they often receive stock from designers and affluent locals. “People give a lot of designer stuff because they know the staff [recognise the value of the pieces] and will price them to raise the most money,” says Rickey. The Primrose Hill branch is currently selling a pink, wool Lanvin dress for £195, a fraction of its original price.
109 Regents Park Road, Primrose Hill, London, NW1 8UR; 020 7586 9966
Oxfam Boutique, Westbourne Grove, London
Oxfam’s eight "boutiques" are higher-end shops that sell some of the best, handpicked items in an uncluttered, carefully arranged shop. “We get men’s designer suits, Bottega Veneta bags, great shoes from Prada to Gucci to Jimmy Choo,” says Tim Quye, who works in the shop. He remembers one vintage Yves Saint Laurent crystal dress that was donated and eventually sold at auction. If you’re in the market for a new winter coat, good news: they have one on sale, by APC, for £90. In the days before charity shops wised up to designer prices, and this was just a standard Oxfam shop, I once picked up a Louis Vuitton bag here for £20 (I felt so guilty about my “luck” I returned it the next day – I think they resold it for £100).
245 Westbourne Grove, W11; 020 7229 5000Where are your favourite charity shops, and what have been your best finds?
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