What happens to second hand clothes?


Lets face it, the Irish and UK public spend billions of Euros every year buying clothes – and lets also face it, we don’t always wear what we buy, we are what retailers like to call, “legitimate retail targets”. Retailers and brands are good at selling and we are good at buying. Buying lets us express our identity and makes us feel better. Broke up with your fella, a new pair of shoes will sort that! Had a row with your boss at work, hmmm a new top for Friday night while I go and get trashed! Nothing good ever happens to me, oh look…I love that coat!

Has it become acceptable for us to buy new threads every week, every month, every day. New trends are of course becoming more and more affordable, Hollister, Next and H&M for the younger buyers, TK Maxx and Zara for the older amongst us, well priced affordable disposable items. The 2008 – 2013 recession did wean us off purchasing as most of us did not have any cash but there is more money back in people’s pockets now and buying is so much easier.

But where do all of the second hand clothes go? I recently found myself dumping second hand clothes in a black bag into a general waste bin. Why? Because it was easy and I was moving house and I couldn’t have been bothered bringing them with me. Clean start, clean wardrobe, move on. The girls are most guilty! In 2012 QVC carried out research into where all the clothes go, here are some of the results:

  • The average UK and Irish woman has 22 garments she will never wear but refuses to throw out
  • UK, women spend more than £1.6billion per year on more than 500 million items of clothing they will never wear
  • Millions of emotional compulsive purchases, a bargain, a design worn by a celebrity, a purchase to cheer one’s self up, all turn out to be never worn according to 45 per cent of those questioned
  • The 22 items take up 5% of storage space, just one in eight women regularly clears out their wardrobe

Ragsbox recently surveyed over one hundred Irish girls with a decent whack of disposable income and asked them what they do with their second hand clothes they don’t wear any more – this is what we found:


So it stands to reason – giving them to charity makes the most sense, you are not giving them away because you paid cold hard cash for them, so it’s like a moral nod, I feel bad for the poor people, I don’t want to donate cash so give them my old threads.

Giving to friends is ok too, but this depends on how good your friends are. Would you hand over your €500 Diesel jacket to your mate because you hadn’t worn it for a year or so? I suspect not!

All we know is, there are lot of clothes in the wardrobes that need to be set free!!!

Colin Barry

colin profile2

Ragsbox CEO