Back in Banbury (Angleterre) I am a regular on Church Street, where the lower end is dedicated exclusively to charity shops. An old hat at spying dusty gems, I have no problem with battling old biddies for a bargain cardi.
But over that side of the Channel it is still considered slightly ‘alternative’, unsanitary and (let’s be honest) cheap to buy second hand. I discourage announcing at the family dinner table that no, no, actually this LBD is not new, I whisked it off the rails at Help The Aged and to be honest its previous owner is probably not around anymore.
Faux pas extrême.
But here in gay Paris the friperie (as close as France gets to a charity shop except that there is rarely any charity involved) is a world away from cheap Christmas cards, VHS tapes, and the three-coasters-for-the-price-of-one deals that drag the charity shops down in X factor. Here in the friperies I sift through discarded scarves with pride, and can actually linger in front of windows.
Even more luck, my arrondissement (10ème, Metro Jacques Bonsergent) has TWO wonderful friperies to brighten the arduous minute’s walk from supermarket to front door: the excellently-priced Fripsape, who introduced me to a taupe knee-length woollen skirt, and my bikers gloves (http://fripsape.blogspot.com/) and also the not so wallet-friendly THANX GOD I’M A VIP (http://thanxgod.com/) which tempts me with the most incredible leopard print kitten heels every time I trudge past. Cruel.
I know that there is a huge difference between vintage and charity. Some of the vintage shops in Paris that advertise second-hand clothing are clearly running some sort of just-passable scam; as I’ve seen identical items in there (and you can’t tell me two leather tassled minis are a coincedence). I used to be a Kiliwatch addict, but now the price is ridiculous, and down the road in the quartier Montorgueil there are much better deals to be had.
But, and we’ll ignore les coulisses for a moment, I cannot emphasise enough how important I think it is that people experiment with clothing and personal style. I love it when clothes can be revamped and given a new life; cost efficient and environmentally friendlier. For me, I am instantly drawn towards people who look as if they know how to use their imagination.
Image from http://blog.vintageshoppingguide.com