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An introduction to second hand fashion

Abigail McCann   May 4, 2023

Giving you the run down of the newest ways to shop sustainably
Rubie's rentals model

Images courtesy of on Instagram 

Right so you have that big work event scheduled, you know the one. Everyone’s going to be there, and you want to impress. Get your best blazer and heels on and feel like the bad bitch you are. So first stop, Primark.


In a poll of our readers, City Girl Online found almost just under half named Primark as the first stop for workwear, closely followed by Highstreet giants H&M and Zara. Although it may seem like a cheap and easy option, we all know by now the quality is not necessarily going to be there on a £4 shirt.


As well as quality issues, Primark is often regarded as ethically questionable. The Ethical Consumer found the companies long list of complications included contributing to pollution and toxic waste, questionable workers’ rights, animal rights, animal testing, use of controversial technologies, anti-social finance and likely tax avoidance. Surely there has got to be a better option that will not only provide non-see-through shirts, but also avoid all this bad stuff. The answer: second hand shopping. 

fabric factory

Image courtesy of Rio Lecatompessy on Unsplash 

Us girls love to buy a fresh ‘fit for a new event, but when this becomes a weekly occurrence, we have to consider our contributions to these environmental issues. Second hand shopping is not always top of the list due to the negative connotations that come along with it. In a survey with City Girl Online some readers shared their reservations, with one anonymous reader commenting, “I’m a bit snobby so unless it has the tags it’s a no from me.”


Well, we are here to change your mind by showing you second hand doesn’t mean just old moth-eaten Aztec print, but instead can be a sustainable and affordable of sourcing the latest trends.


Charity shops and resell sites dominate the second-hand market, but we are here to introduce you to the newest kids on the pre-loved block.

Rent your wardrobe

The first way in which one can find a new pricey piece, without the commitment or price tag is renting. The PWC found that the appetite for rental clothing is on a steady rise, predicting that by 2025 the industry will be worth $335 billion globally. Essex Girl, and founder of Rubie’s Rentals (, Rubie Drake is just one of many paving the way in the rental market. “I wanted to start my business because I found that I was buying outfits to only wear once,” she says. “Not only did I know this was a complete waste of money, but I was also becoming more aware of how unsustainable it was.”

Spending hundreds on an item to only wear once is luxury many of us simply don’t have so renting is a great option to acquire those designer garms at the fraction of the price. Using her experience working within fashion, Drake recognised how dependant the industry is on renting – something she wanted to make more accessible to those around her. “I found in my experience that people within the fashion world are very normalised to the idea of renting clothing,” she says, “but people outside of this bubble, especially around my hometown in Essex, aren’t so used to this idea.”

Taking a quick skim through the Rubie’s Rental Instagram will give you all the inspo you need for that upcoming event. And with prices ranging from an affordable £25-60 for the weekend, you can wear that trendy designer dress you’ve had your eye on for a fraction of the cost and without the commitment or guilty compulsion to wear it at every event to make it worth the money.

Zara Pre-owned

“OMG babe I love your outfit where is it from?” Now we know that 9 times out of 10 the answer is going to be Zara. Zara is the Mecca for an Essex girl but unfortunately its impact on the environment is beyond questionable.

Fashionchecker, an online database which allows consumers to access data for supply chains, awarded Zara an E for the "living paid wage" of their workers – an E was the lowest rating. Not only does the brand fail to pay their workers a living wage, but the brand also scored 1 star for transparency. This means the brand does not disclose any information regarding suppliers.


So there has got to be a more sustainable option, and this comes in the shape of Zara Pre-owned. The platform, which launched November 3 last year, allows for Zara lovers to shop pre-used and sell their pieces they no longer use. 

Fashion TikToker Georgina Blunt (@georginablunt0) is just like us when it comes to her love of Zara, and her hauls of the Zara new in section have reached heights of over 3.5 million views. Although a Zara fan, Blunt can’t help but recognise the problematic nature of a Zara spending habit, “As much as the clothes are on trend, the items are going out of fashion much quicker as a result of the speed at which they are turning out new collections and the crazes on TikTok that lead to every other girl wearing a viral item. A key example is the khaki cropped leather jacket.” THAT Molly Mae jacket, we know the one. With TikTok spurring the trend cycle to churn quicker and quicker, over consumption is an unfortunate by-product.


Speaking of Zara pre-owned, Blunt says, “I probably would look to use it because I own a lot of Zara and after I’ve worn an outfit a few times I tend to sell it.” Not only is Blunt in favour of selling on the platform but she continues, “I also think it is good for items that are sold out or were limited edition, as these can be hard to source.”

So with the fashion industry forever failing the environment, and our pockets, it is time to get utilising these new ways to style ourselves.

Find your next rental pieces from Rubie's Rentals here, or on its Hurr profile here.

Check out Zara Pre-owned here.

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