The way to my heart is through cheap clothes. We’ve covered why fast fashion is unsustainable and one of the main alternatives but now I present you with the nuclear option of cheap clothing – kilo sales and pound sales. These terms are pretty self-explanatory; a kilo sale refers to a store where you are charged for the weight of the items you want rather than the value of an item itself. There’s a vast range of prices going for these sales but in the London area, you’re looking at around £15 a kilo. Pound sales, on the other hand, refer to sales where each item is individually priced but every item available is the same price – a pound.
The latter variety of sale is the one that I have some first-hand experience. Who doesn’t want to pay basically nothing for a super cute outfit? And when I say everything is a pound, I mean it. The particular store/event I went to happened at the East Ens Vintage Clothing Store in London. They are open 6 days a week (not Fridays) and sells everything from leather jackets, woollen jumpers to party dresses. I’m very much a shirt and jeans kind of gal who just so happens to be completely unprepared for the winter. So jumpers were my main goal from the shopping adventure. Somehow I felt that freezing to death in my first winter away from home wouldn’t exactly instil much hope in my adulting skills for my parents.
These kinds of sales have become incredibly popular over the last couple of years; coinciding with the re-emergence of demand for vintage clothes and a shift towards a thrift shop mentality. The sale I went to was absolutely packed with every type of garment you could imagine, in almost every size imaginable. I average a UK size 16 – 18 and had no trouble finding items that fit me. I even managed to grab a glimpse of a few pieces in bigger sizes but the gods did not allow me to get pictures before they were snagged by some other intrepid buyer.
While it’s quite frankly amazing that these sales exist, they are REALLY busy. Anyone remember the scene in the Hunger Games were they’re all waiting to grab the weapons and kill each other? That’s what the queue to get to the clothes was like! My friends and I made the effort to haul ass out of bed and get there early so luckily we were the first through the gates when they opened. While it’s true that most stores will restock the sale throughout the day, you don’t want to miss something that you’d love to pieces because you’re stuck in the queue outside.
The atmosphere was amazing for the first few minutes; you feel so excited to be surrounded by so many clothes, with endless possibilities for my fellow make do and menders… Then the adrenaline wears off a little and you realise that it’s more like a Black Friday, fire sale. But in England. In the middle of October. It’s cramped, the clothes smell slightly damp and you wish you could pretend to be a tank and barge your way through the crowd to that dress you just saw someone else put down. Other buyers may be the thing stopping you from reaching the promised land of cheap clothes but remember that we’re all in the same boat. Being an asshole isn’t going to make anyone’s experience better and could make someone feel like they don’t want to come back.
The smell of damp does go away! It only smells like that because it’s been sat in the stores warehouse for a thousand years. A couple of shots of detergent and that vintage American Football jumper will be ready to rock.
At the end of the day, these sales are all about what you make of them; if you go into it with an open mind you’ll be amazed at what you’ll come away with.
Photographer, nursing student, LGBT activist