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These charity shops aren’t like the ones you’ve grown up with, full of bric-a-brac and puzzles with missing pieces. The Haute Heel team have been scouring neighbourhoods for the best charity shops in London that you’ll want to stop at first, before you venture into your favourite high street store. Think pristine, labels-on evening dresses, designer mules from the early 2000’s and a Zara pieces from years ago that have held up surprisingly well because things probably were made ‘better’ back then. This month, we hit High Street Kensington and Notting Hill, a short walk between each quaint area, dotted with plenty of thrift stores and buzzy cafes.
Oxfam is one of the biggest names in charity and aims to tackle world poverty and fight for women’s equality. The shop on Kensington High Street is spacious, with lots of room to peer at shelves and rifle through racks of clothing. Donations include lots of wearable high street clothing, particularly good for workwear. There’s plenty from popular names like Zara and Cos. Relying on what’s given to them, this store didn’t have a wide range of sizing where most things ranged from XS-M. There was a healthy selection of classical literature and a few coffee books to grab at a fraction of the price. As with most Oxfam stores, they also stock a selected range of curated goods, like reusable coffee cups, bio-detergents and a range of Moomin merchandise.
Look out for: occasion wear, the premium buys are hung up behind the counter. You can expect a 100% silk, printed Alexander McQueen shirt for £200 and a Carolina Herrera maxi skirt at £150.
On the busy main road of Kensington High Street, Cancer Research gets around 100 new pieces of clothing a week onto its shop floors. They also provide a home collection service. You’ll find everyday casual pieces, expect lots of brand new Zara and pre-loved J. Crew. The real gem of this shop is its menswear collection that boasts some impressive labels, like Balmain, Hugo Boss and Hawkes and Curtis tailoring, not to mention a few pairs of Rag and Bone denim when we visited.
Look out for: something for the men in your life, most of the clothing were like-new and came in a variety of sizing.
Formerly known as another charity shop named Geranium, Vision Foundation supports services for the blind and visually impaired. We noticed a wider selection of clothing in larger sizes and rather than your typical high-street hand-me-downs, much of it looked vintage with nondescript labels. The atmosphere here is relaxed, no memories of shopkeepers eyeing you down as your teenage fingers gingerly picked through clothing.
Look out for: Kids clothing, we spotted a Burberry trench!
Royal Trinity Hospice, Kensington Church Street
Whoever said the high street was dead hadn’t ventured into this treasure of a charity shop that specialises in high end labels. Royal Trinity Hospital occupies a vast corner with a beautifully curated window display that rivals its neighbours Jigsaw and Massimo Dutti. No surprise that it was as busy as any other retailer there! When we visited, there were great buys that start from £45 upwards for a Hugo Boss fitted blazer and charming Whistles maxi dress with original tags. It’s also likely one of the shops that fashion agencies donate to – we saw samples of past collection Cameo Collective in varying sizes, in pristine condition with showroom scan codes on the tags.
Look out for: great statement pieces for upcoming weddings or events. Head to Royal Trinity Hospice before trawling through pages of fast fashion online – this is likely to last much longer and cheaper than buying new occasion wear.
A short walk from the thrift shops lined up on Kensington High Street, is the Notting Hill neighbourhood. There are three Oxfam shops in the area, and this one is our favourite. Packed with amazing finds, this is not a charity store you’ll come away from without a knit from Sandro or a silk Comptoir des Cotonniers blouse on your mind, if not already a new addition to your wardrobe. Check out the one at Portobello Market for books.
Look out for: your everyday outfits, this store is well stocked with on-trend items in almost-new condition. Shopping sustainably is made too easy here!
Interested in sustainable beauty? Kjaer Weis the luxury brand is ahead of the curve.
Words by Andrea Cheong and Anushree Gupta