Where do you buy designer clothes second-hand? This Winchester-based boutique dress agency shows us how high fashion doesn’t have to carry an environmental cost.
When someone says second-hand clothes to you, your first reaction probably isn’t to picture someone fashionably dressed in Armani, or Prada. But designer clothes can get a second lease of life too, and that’s exactly what happens in this tucked-away independent clothes agency in the small historic city of Winchester in Hampshire.
Re:dress storefront, Winchester
Re:dress has been a staple of Romsey Road for 15 years. The owner, Lindsay Leman, opened the business to sell on those nearly-new clothes that fashionable shoppers have dropped off after decluttering their wardrobe. Despite the designer brands on offer, she is far from a ‘label snob’ and the only criteria is that they match her standards: clean, immaculate and fashionable. The clothes are sold on commission and the client gets 40% from every item sold.
“Winchester is a wealthy city,” Leman says. “So we often get beautiful unworn clothes.” Reselling the items gives the original owners a way to make money from expensive items they bought but ended up not wearing, and encourages the reuse of resources. Systems like Re:dress highlight how the “Reduce, Reuse & Recycle” mentality can appeal to a whole range of consumers. As students, it’s easy to focus on the cheapest second-hand items in charity shops and trendy vintage outlets, but second-hand shopping can appeal to all budgets and all styles.
So who shops at Re:dress? Leman has a base of regular loyal customers dropping off clothes to be resold and those who come in to browse, knowing they can guarantee the high quality of the items they buy.
Although a smart boutique agency doesn’t have students at the heart of its target market, Leman has noticed an increase in the number of students shopping second-hand and developing awareness of the benefits of buying nearly-new items. “The vintage clothes industry has taken off in the last two years and is really booming,” she says. It’s interesting to consider whether this consumer movement, largely driven by millennials, towards secondhand shopping will lead to a change in behaviour of fashion retailers.
Speaking of the future, are there are any plans for Re:dress to expand? Leman tells me she doesn’t want to expand the shop, because by keeping to her current premises she can devote her attention to carefully choosing the clothes on offer in a way that would be more difficult if she had to split her time between shops or delegate to new staff. “I have a style in my head and I know what I will and won’t take,” she says. There’s no doubt that quality is at the heart of this small dress agency in Winchester, a reminder to all us sustainably-minded shoppers that a reduction in environmental impact doesn’t have to mean a reduction in quality outfits.
Re:dress is open Monday – Saturday from 10am until 4pm on Romsey Road, Winchester, Hampshire. Check out their website here.
We want to know how you stay fashion-conscious while shopping sustainably. Tell us in the comments!