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Open your wardrobe and give! - The journey of your fashion donations

Posted by Tanya Kalyan Online fashion assistant

13th Jun 2012

Blog post by Kelly O'Connor

Have you ever wondered what happens once you've donated clothes to Oxfam?

For me, it's painstaking enough to clear out my wardrobe - my friend once asked why I owned 15 black vest tops!

I get attached to clothes and their memories but when the item has done its purpose for me and is in a good condition, it always finds its way to a charity shop.

When I do give, I want my donation to find a new home, to be worn, to be enjoyed or re-used and Oxfam covers all bases.

The clothes, shoes and accessories that you give to Oxfam's shops are sorted in-house for what fits the store and will sell.

Then, anything that doesn't fit is sent to Wastesaver - Oxfam's sorting and recycling facility based in Huddersfield.

This slideshow explains what happens to your donations:

In April last year, Wastesaver was completely destroyed in a fire, losing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of stock and machinery.

This caused a huge problem for the Oxfam festival shop, which was travelling to several events that summer such as Glastonbury.

"After the fire, we had to reinvent the shop and think on our feet," said Lisa Morris, Oxfam festival shop manager.

Oxfam launched an urgent clothing appeal to recover from the biggest loss of stock in its 70 year history.

"We had to hand sort the stock as the machines we used had gone in the fire. It was hard as each festival has a different type of customer and style and we always set out to reflect that in the stock we sell," she said.

The Wastesaver team soon got the operation back up and running in temporary premises and will soon be moving to a new warehouse.

Lisa added: "We are not to the scale we were at before the fire but it's definitely got better. When we move into the new warehouse things will pick up."

Seeing the sorting operation at work it's clear to see the progress made from the fire last year. 

I spent the day with Lisa in Huddersfield helping to sort the festival stock out and she shared an insight into what fashion finds you can expect this year.

"Really we should be called festival 'shops' as each one has a unique style. Alongside festival staples such as woolly jumpers and fancy dress items expect great vintage finds and a friendly team of volunteers to help you choose!"

Whilst I was working with the festival team, the bags that caught my eye included a bag of sparkle vintage clothes and a bag of wildlife inspired items (keeping in line with Bestival's wildlife theme).

Here are some other fashion staples you can expect to see at Oxfam's festival shops:

By keeping as many of your donations as possible to be sold in the UK, Oxfam is able to generate more money to help fight poverty around the globe.

If you sign up in store for the Tag your Bag scheme Oxfam can claim Gift Aid every time we sell something belonging to you. This makes 25% more for Oxfam, at no cost to you! 

Next time you open your wardrobe and you spot that 2009 Topshop number or that Ted Baker shirt you never wear anymore - think about donating it to one of Oxfam's stores.

Your clothes could end up anywhere from the Isle of Wight festival to Senegal. Through fashion you will be helping to fight poverty.

Blog post written by Tanya Kalyan

Online fashion assistant

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