As we've all become more conscious of our impact on the planet – and how fast fashion and constant buying is playing a role – there has been a return to the rails of charity shops in the capital.
Charities are reporting that sales are up, rifle-worthy donations are rolling in and there’s never been a better time to get your hands on a bargain. Plus, the next generation of pre-loved emporiums mean vintage designer and high-end high street are all up for grabs... you just need to be willing to search.
You might never be able to match that urban myth about the woman who found a Gucci bag for 50p at her local donations shop, but as one of the world’s most fashionable cities, it stands to reason that London is full of stylish cast-offs.
That's why we've rounded up the best charity shops in the capital.
Best charity shops in London
For ease, we've divided up the best charity shops by area, so that wherever you are you know you're never too far from a bargain.
Best charity shops in West London
The Exchange, South Kensington
It stands to reason that if you go to an upmarket, discerning area then the clothing on offer at their charity shops will reflect this. The Exchange has a wide range of secondhand designer clothing on offer, from dresses to accessories and jewellery, and is well-known as a one-stop shop for eco-friendly shoppers in need of an upgraded wardrobe.
Keep your eyes peeled for designer pieces in and amongst the rails. Seriously, we've never known a charity shop to have so many glowing Google ratings.
72 Gloucester Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 4QT
Fara Kids, Chiswick
Dedicated to pre-worn designer clothes, childrenswear and books, any parent will know that shopping for your child is twice as fun when the prices are twice as affordable. From gorgeous cashmere knits to detailed summer dresses and everything in between, this is charity shopping for children at its must luxurious.
40 Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick, London W4 1QP
Cancer Research UK, Marylebone
Marylebone's high street is full of designer boutiques and independent labels – and lots of their wares end up on the rails of this upmarket charity shop. Once owned by the glamorous residents of this leisurely neighbourhood, there are vintage Dior pieces mixed with affordable mid-range designers such as Karen Millen and French Connection. Plus, Kate Moss and Sienna Miller have both been known to donate here.
24 Marylebone High St, W1U 4PQ
Best charity shops in North London
All Aboard, West Hampstead
There are branches of All Aboard across north London, but this is the mothership. It's not a shiny, colour-co-ordinated charity shop, but a Pandora's Box of treasures with some real gems to be found if you have the time to hunt. They have a particularly good selection of homewares and statement vintage accessories.
224 West End Lane, London NW6 1UU
Mary's Living & Giving, Highgate & Primrose Hill
Mary Portas —who you might know best for her retail- and business-related television shows — reinvented the humble charity shop to create a pre-loved shopping experience to rival that of luxury boutiques. Raising money for Save the Children, each shop is carefully curated and aesthetically pleasing. Though prices might be slightly higher than other shops, the hand-selected edit and near-perfect condition of the items is well worth paying for.
43 Highgate High St, Highgate, London N6 5JX and 109 Regent’s Park Rd, NW1 8UR
Second Chance, Archway
Though it's location in the middle of a junction by Archway Underground means this charity shop is easy to miss, the people dropping off their donations certainly manage to find it. With more of a vintage feel than a traditional charity shop, vintage and high street clothes nestle up against crockery, sheet music, records, books, old magazines and collectables can all be found here — at particularly bargain prices. No wonder this is one of the best charity shops in North London.
7-9 St John’s Way, N19 3QS
Best charity shops in South London
If you're looking for flair and colour on a budget then Traid is the place to come. Their collection is so comprehensive you could create a wardrobe shopping list and then tick off everything on it. Their whole focus is on ditching trends for conscious, sustainable second-hand clothing (the name stands for ‘Textile Reuse and International Development’).
2 Acre Lane, SW2 5SG
British Heart Foundation, Balham
Bookworms will enjoy the wide selection on offer here, while those looking for some decorative gems can enjoy the quirky, mismatched one-off pieces. The staff are friendly, the clothes are varied and there are often some brilliant footwear options too.
184 Balham High Rd, Balham, London SW12 9BW
Little Lives UK, Tooting Broadway
South Londoner dwellers will tell you that Little Lives is the best charity shop in the city. Supporting various children's campaigns, they stock a wide range of vintage clothing, at really impressive prices. In fact, you could probably pick up an entire outfit here for less than £30 (and that includes the shoes).
87 Tooting High St, Tooting, London SW17 0SU
Its the age-old debate isn't it, when does a charity shop become a retro vintage shop? Well, we don't quite know the answer but we do know that Retromania doesn't feel like a traditional charity shop at all. This Pimlico destination is brimming with Hermes scarves, YSL tailoring, psychedelic blouses and 1950s silk ball gowns, and all reasonably priced, too.
6 Upper Tachbrook St, SW1V 1SH
Best charity shops in East London
Sometimes size does matter, and this Oxfam emporium is so big that the odds of finding treasure are pretty good. Granted, the stock is more ‘fancy dress’ than fancy dresses, but it’s a real lucky dip of flair and colour. Go with an open mind and enough time for a fitting room fashion show.
514-518 Kingsland Rd, E8 4AR
Lama’s Pyjamas, Bethnal Green
Kitsch is the name of the game here, whether you're shopping for crockery or frocks. Raising funds for the London Buddhist Centre, it's impossible not to get swept up in the positive vibes that spill out of this East End thrift store. The staff and volunteers are cheery and there’s a half-price sale twice a year too – put it in your diary.
83 Roman Rd, E2 0QN
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
You Might Also Like