Second Hand September: The Cost Of Fashion

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Second Hand September: The Cost Of Fashion

Second Hand September is a new challenge, started in 2021 by the humanitarian charity, Oxfam. You might recognise the Oxfam name for their charity shops, which is how they fund so many of their projects around the globe. However, Oxfam found that 11 million garments end up in a landfill every single week. The Second Hand September project is pledged to reduce the impact of unsustainable fashion and unnecessary purchasing by encouraging people around the globe to switch high-street shops for secondhand stores or just cut down on spending altogether.

Brits are buying more than ever before and are purchasing twice as much as 10 years ago. This increase in purchasing could be the allure of deals or the rise of ‘fast fashion. Oxfam is promoting upcycling and buying secondhand because it is better for the environment. Here at, we have discussed the benefits of upcycling and reducing your household carbon footprint, but also the positive impact it can have on your pocket. This guide will have a closer look at how much is actually spent on clothing and the benefits of saying yes to Second Hand September.

The Financial Cost Of Fashion

According to Oxfam, 2 tonnes of new clothing items are bought every single minute in Canada. Reports also suggest that Brits spend, on average, $1042 on new items of clothing every year and that certain demographics were more likely to overspend on new clothing than others. For example, women are more likely to buy something new for an occasion than men.

This kind of purchasing could be extremely unsustainable, particularly, if purchases are being made for a ‘pick me up’ or for ‘retail therapy. This kind of shopping can create harmful spending habits that could push spenders into debt as buying a new item of clothing could become an unhealthy reaction to unhappiness. The relationship between debt, clothing, and mental health is relatively unexplored, but it does seem likely there could be a dangerous cycle in which individuals comfort themselves with clothes, feel bad about their financial status and then resort to their retail pick-me-up. There is data to support this, as two out of three 18 to 24-year olds say they don’t feel as good when they are not wearing brand new clothes, interestingly these make up a part of the demographic that spends quite a lot on luxury goods and also rely on short term loans or temporary credit to see them through to their next paycheque. This could be why there is an anticipated $10 billion worth of unworn clothes in wardrobes across Canada.

The Effect Of ‘Buy Now Pay Later’

Although it’s not a new strategy, ‘buy now pay later schemes have become more available at high-street clothing retailers across Canada. The likes of New Look, ASOS, and Topshop all offer Klarna pay. Klarna is a financer for retail outlets and makes it easier than ever before to purchase clothing we may not have the money for. Klarna’s checkout tag lines for these kinds of payment schemes promote the good feeling that comes when we treat ourselves to clothes, featuring phrases like “Payment can wait. Your new look can’t”.

The CBC News-Times reports “Companies like Afterpay [a ‘buy now pay later’ lender] operate off the premise that the younger generations are more open to them because they came into adulthood under the cloud of the recession.” This suggests that those millennials who find comfort in their purchases could be more likely to find themselves in debt or subject to late fees because of their clothes spending. This could lead to consumers finding themselves in a financial emergency and reaching for a short-term loan, as they cannot pay their other bills or cover unexpected or unplanned expenses when they crop up.

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