What exactly happens to the clothes you donate?
The first port of call for a new bag of donations is the storage and sorting area, down in our undercroft, where Companions and volunteers work together to examine each piece for quality and saleability. Some items are quickly weeded out: anything obviously ripped, stained, moth-eaten or smelly goes straight into a rag bag, to be taken away by textile recyclers. Everything else is then checked for small flaws that perhaps the donor didn’t notice, such as missing buttons, indelible spots, bobbled sleeves or frayed cuffs. Sadly, many garments are discarded at this stage because canny buyers will be looking for similar defects once they reach the shop, and faulty items simply won’t sell – so please check your items at home before you bag them up!
Once each piece passes muster, they are placed on hangers or in boxes, and wheeled up to the Outfit store in the old Chapel. There, in the sorting area behind the tills, they’re given a final check, sized and priced. Any special items, like designer dresses or high-end shoes, plus clothes not appropriate for the current season, are separated and stored in the gallery area above the shop. The rest are slowly fed into the store every couple of days to keep the stock fresh and the rails full.
Right now the range of merchandise in the shop is extraordinary. Jeans, shorts, skirts & tops, dresses for evening or everyday, footwear, men’s shirts & trainers, bags for every occasion, all with an average price tag of a fiver or less. Quality items can be found in the designer section – a pair of shoes recently sold there for £150! But there are also many items for a pound or two, and jewellery for 50p, so there really is something for everyone.
One request – we could use some more men’s clothes. Men tend not to replace clothes as often as women, and can be reluctant to part with things, even when they’ve not been worn for years. So please think of us if you’re planning an end-of-summer clear out.
And please keep all quality donations flowing in. It provides low cost clothes, reduces landfill and helps the planet - together we can change the future of fast fashion.