The first time I bought a friend a give that was (technically) second-hand, I hesitated. I did. It’s one thing for me to feel perfectly happy buying and wearing pre-loved clothes but it is another to assume that she’d be happy to receive one. Or is it?
We’re always told, with gifts, “it’s the thought that counts”. But we all know oftentimes that is not strictly true. Fortunately for all of us who once secretly bemoaned a gift, the gift receipt was introduced. If you don’t like it the colour, or it doesn’t fit, or it’s just not your style, you can spend the credit on something that is. Fantastic.
But this doesn’t really exist with pre-loved gifts. If I buy a friend something which is not only worn and loved by someone previously, but is probably un-returnable too, it’s a risk.
The risk in this case was somewhat mitigated by the fact that I know this particular friend shops fairly regularly in charity shops, so I knew she had already discovered the world of pre-loved clothes. She was also starting a new job and I found a beautiful pale silk blouse from Mint Velvet that was at the right gift price-point from the dress agency, but would have been a little extravagant for a birthday gift if bought new.
The great thing too was that it had a story. It was previously owned by a celebrity who lives nearby and frequently takes her little-used or unworn clothes to the consignment shop. So when my friend gets asked where her shirt is from – which she no doubt will because it is gorgeous – she can tell them the story. Much better than “it’s from Primark”.
Fortunately, she loved it. And here’s a picture of her wearing it. Second hand = first choice? I think so. So I challenge you to consider why it is that you think your gift should be something brand new, when it’s still new to them.
Here are my top 5 pre-loved items which are ripe for pre-loved gifting:
1. Men’s silk designer ties
Charity shops, car boot sales and dress agencies are full of beautiful silk ties from all the top designers: Hermes, Yves Saint Laurent, Pucci, Gieves and Hawkes and so on. Since ties don’t sit directly on the skin and are largely kept clean or can be easily dry-cleaned, they make a perfect gift for even the most reticent of pre-loved wearers.
2. Silk shirts
As per my example, silk shirts make a great gift as they are a timeless wardrobe staple and have to be dry cleaned, so they are generally kept in extremely good nick.
3. Cashmere jumpers
When people clear out their wardrobes, the knitwear goes first. So you can find beautiful cashmere, which is often kept well or simply needs a little bit of de-bobbling with a razor, for a fraction of the cost.
4. Mont Blanc pens
What do you buy for the person who has everything? I love pre-loved, and a I love vintage, so I found beautiful Mont Blanc pens and cases on Vestiaire Collective to give as gifts this year. The condition and authenticity is always checked before shipping, so you know it will arrive as good as new.
Why is it that you never have the right-sized vase? Vases are a brilliant gift because they are plentiful in the charity shops and always gratefully received.