Refurbished Store Launch for Octavia Foundation Charity Boutique

Cupcake

I’ve spent quite a lot of time researching London’s best charity shops. There are loads of great ones; you just need to know where to look. Yes prices are inflated in the capital, but there’s a much higher concentration of designer pieces and fabulous vintage finds so I was delighted to get invited to the launch night of the newly refurbished boutique style charity shop by Octavia Foundation.

If you don’t live or work in London you’re unlikely to have heard of Octavia Foundation but they are a fantastic charity that work across London to improve people’s lives. Some of their work includes:

• Facilitating assistance and friendship for older and vulnerable people through Garden Guardians, a handyman service, lunch clubs and day centres, and outreach and befriending.
• Working with young people and children through youth centres, arts and sports programmes.
• Helping local people with jobs and training through Westminster Works, Future Foundations and apprenticeships.
• Providing advice on money management, welfare benefits and debt.

Octavia Foundation have around twenty charity shops across the capital. The Fulham Road store that I visited last Thursday is small but packed full of amazing finds. It has a boutique vibe with exposed brick walls, a spacious changing room and thoughtful displays. On the event launch night they had 130 guests through the door, who in total spent £2500. The money raised will be used to help local people during times of difficulty or crisis.

After having a good rummage around the store I bought a Moschino Cheap & Chic printed silk circle skirt and my friend bought a gorgeous floor length corset dress. They had a Burberry cream trench coat, perfect condition, for just over £300 – a great buy for somebody but sadly my budget didn’t stretch that far! They also had Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahnik stilettos and a Marc Jacobs handbag. This is a real destination shop; I will certainly be visiting again!

Clothes on offer at Octavia Foundation

Clothes on offer at Octavia Foundation

Bumped into fellow Oxfam blogger Ron from Dresses on a Clothes Line!

Bumped into fellow Oxfam blogger Ron from Dresses on a Clothes Line!

I very nearly bought these red shoes . . .

I very nearly bought these red shoes . . .

But instead I bought this skirt

But instead I bought this skirt

Moschino Cheap & Chic silk skirt, charity shop £36. Jacket, Topshop

Moschino Cheap & Chic silk skirt, charity shop £36.
Jacket, Topshop

My friend Sandeep's corset dress

My friend Sandeep’s corset dress

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Oxfam Fashion Interview: The Future of Vintage Fashion

Whether or not you call it a trend, vintage fashion has clearly made a resurgence over the last few years. Of course there are the vintage trends on the high street, but more and more people are actually choosing to seek out the real thing second-hand. This is of course sustainable, encouraging the principles of recycle, make do and mend. Oxfam have done a fantastic job at making vintage fashions cool again, far more so than any other charity shop. They regularly take their second-hand pop-up shops to festivals and events, as I saw first hand when I went to the Clothes Show with them last December. To find out more I spoke to Thea of the Oxfam Fashion team:

1. Do you think vintage fashion is a passing trend or a permanent shift in people’s shopping habits?

The good thing about vintage is that it is effectively never out of style, although vintage trends can often change according with what is ‘in vogue’. For instance the collections of Gucci, Miu Miu, and Jonathan Saunders for A/W 11 heavily referenced the 1940’s and 1960’s. Go back a couple of years ago in 2006, however, and Alexander McQueen was referencing Nineteenth Century bodice jackets, whilst Marc by Marc Jacobs played with both twenties and sixties silhouettes.

Moving away from high design onto the high street, the pattern of consuming second-hand and vintage items is certainly widespread. Looking at vogue.co.uk’s street style section, a majority of those stopped wear a mix of high street and vintage or second-hand to create their unique looks.

In my opinion, fashion almost always plunders previous era’s for inspiration, but the high street also relies on vintage trends to create their collections and encourage buyers to invest in particular era’s according to the trends of the season.

Whilst popular vintage trends certainly affect people’s shopping habits and the acquisition of certain items, vintage clothes themselves retain a certain wearability, as they can be stored, passed down through generations, and re-worn at a later date. This is why I believe that vintage will not loose its desirability or its place in people’s shopping habits.

2. Do you think there has been a shift in consumer’s perceptions of charity shops and wearing second-hand pieces?

A recent survey produced by Charity finance which highlights that profits in the charity retail sector have risen by 12% (the third consecutive year charity shops have reported a rise in profit in this survey), suggests that consumer perceptions to charity shops are certainly changing. Whilst some may point to the recession to this rise, it is also my belief that it is not just austerity which drives people to charity shops. Charity shops are certainly upping the ante when it comes to changing the face of second-hand clothing, and I believe that the creativeness enacted by the charity sector in creating specialist stores, (such as the Oxfam and the Red Cross Boutiques, and the Oxfam shops at festivals) are examples of presenting second-hand clothing in an attractive way in order to persuade previously disinterested shoppers into charity shops.

3. Does Oxfam fashion have any exciting plans for 2012?

Oxfam Fashion is currently working on a number of exciting projects. We are also really looking forward to Oxfam’s Clothing Conference where we will hear talks from Frip Ethique, and learn more about what happens to our clothing beyond the charity shop. London Fashion week, International Women’s Day, and Fairtrade Fortnight, are also all things we will be involved in, and look forward to! To learn more see @oxfamfashion where we keep our followers updated on all our goings-on!

Follow the Oxfam Fashion blog: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/applications/blogs/fashion/

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