With the rise of sustainable shopping and condemnation of fast fashion, it’s no surprise that thrifting in St Andrews seems to be easier than ever. However, if you haven’t thrifted in our little Fife coast bubble yet, you may be struggling with how to start your new sustainable fashion lifestyle, especially with the lack of vintage clothing stores popular in big cities or iconic American thrift shops like Goodwill. Though St Andrews may be lacking in these types of shops, thrift shopping, or more accurately second-hand shopping here, is definitely possible and fruitful in St Andrews if you know where to look and how to shop.
Before you even venture on the beginning of your second-hand clothing journey, it’s important to know what you want. Charity shops or big thrift sales can be overwhelming if your criteria is “everything,” and if you’re taking your time at a large sale organised by a University society (i.e. Sustainable Style St Andrews or StAnd Reuse), your lackadaisical, “just browsing” attitude could result in you missing out on some serious finds and deals.
From experience, I would recommend venturing to sweaters, jackets, and t-shirts first, as these tend to be the sections with the most options and size isn’t as important for tops (you can wear an oversized shirt and rock it, but it’s difficult to rock an oversized pair of pants or skirt without worrying about them falling down all day). If you have a more specific criteria, like black t-shirts or fluffy winter sweaters, this can be helpful, especially if a sale leaves you feeling overwhelmed with options. However, if it’s not too busy, take your time, explore the options, and enjoy yourself.
Next comes the “where,” which isn’t just limited to physical, permanent stores in St Andrews. In fact, the majority of the Bubble’s thrifting spots are either online or organised events.
In terms of online options that are available 24/7, St Andrews students have organised the Facebook group “St Andrews Clothing Swap & Sell,” where you can either swap clothes or buy second-hand items locally, saving you on shipping costs while supporting the environment, and your friends’ wallets. Similarly, Facebook Marketplace is a popular option for clothes and shoes, and if you have a car or you’re willing to travel, you can change your location range to see items for sale beyond just KY16.
If you’re looking for cheap options for balls and events, especially without having to commit to buying an outfit you’ll only wear once or twice, Ensemble is a student-run initiative where you can rent a dress for the night. It’s a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to raiding the H&M sale section the day before an event, and it allows you to support local student enterprise in style!
As mentioned before, many of the best thrifting experiences in St Andrews are organised events. While they may only happen once in a blue moon, they are by far the best option for deals: at the last Sustainable Style thrift fayre, I picked up 8 items for £14, along with another 2 items for £6 at the British Heart Foundation’s charity pop-up shop the same day. To keep up-to-date with these and ensure you’re not missing out, make sure to like Sustainable Style St Andrews, StAnd Reuse, and Transition University of St Andrews on Facebook. You can even turn on post notifications if you’re keen on not missing any events!
If you’re interested in vintage second-hand clothes, the Vintage Clothing Fayre in 601 usually happens a few times each semester, and it’s known for having free entry and the offer of a kilo of items at a low price. For vintage clothing fans, follow Yellow Jelly on Facebook to stay tuned with their next visit to St Andrews, including the last Vintage Clothing Sale of the year on Monday 25 November at 10am to 4pm in Club 601.
Fashion show DONT WALK has also taken to organising sustainable clothing events as well, including a Clothes Swap in The Adamson last month. Though they haven’t publicised more events in the future, it’s worth liking their Facebook page to ensure you don’t miss any potential clothes swaps in the future.
Finally, for a reliable, local option for your sustainable clothing needs, Oxfam and British Heart Foundation are two of the best charity shops in town for all kinds of items, and you’re not only supporting the environment but also giving money to a good cause.
With the options for thrifting increasing every year, there are no excuses for continuing to buy from fast-fashion stores, even in St Andrews. Whether you’re looking for shoes, trousers, tops, or even dresses, there are options available both physically and online. Don’t let the small feel of this town stop you from practising sustainability!