Preloved fashion can make us feel just as happy as a brand-new item, says Oxfam, as research shows that the thrill of buying a new item of clothing fades after just four wears

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The thrill of buying a new item of clothing fades after just four wears, according to research conducted by Oxfam.

The research was released ahead of Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign, which encourages people to try shopping preloved for the month.

The campaign comes amid increasing scrutiny about the negative effects of the fashion industry, which accounts for 10 percent of global CO2 emissions - more than international aviation and shipping combined. 

The study of 2,000 adults revealed almost half (47 per cent) enjoy shopping for brand new clothing – but the post-shopping glow doesn’t last long. 

For 22 per cent, the excitement of the item’s ‘newness’ is fleeting, while a further 17 per cent start to develop doubts over whether they actually like their purchase once their shopping high subsides.

From there, the joy of purchasing new clothes – something those polled do five times a month on average – quickly turns to guilt for the majority (56 per cent).

And as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, three quarters look for bigger savings when shopping for clothes.

Garments needn’t be brand new for cash-strapped Brits to get their retail therapy glow: more than half believe buying ‘new’ clothes doesn’t necessarily mean buying something brand new, as long as it’s new to them.

Dr Carolyn Mair, a cognitive psychologist working in the fashion industry who partnered with Oxfam said: "Our brains are stimulated by novelty, but we become accustomed to new things quickly: over a relatively short period of time, what was once new and exciting, no longer appeals to us. 

“One reason for this is the release of dopamine which motivates us to seek a positive outcome when we experience novelty. This helps us to escape from a threat or boost a potentially pleasurable experience. But once we have achieved the outcome, dopamine levels drop and so we are motivated to look for a new source of pleasure.  In the context of clothing, the release of dopamine motivates us to seek a positive outcome by buying a new item to replace the items that we have become used to.

“Fortunately, we can achieve a positive outcome - by giving our clothes meaning, buying what we know we will love for a long time, caring for our clothing once we have it, and not only buying brand new.  Engaging with fashion this way has the same positive effect on the brain as buying brand new, and it's also better for the environment. Preloved fashion can make us feel just as happy as a brand-new item would as it would be ‘new to me’.”

The research also found nearly half (46 per cent) also get a real kick out of making a big saving on a clothing purchase, with charity shops the most popular destination for second-hand goods as buyers count the pennies.

The average Brit spends £70 a month on refreshing their wardrobes, although a fifth will spend £100 or more. 

Oxfam is encouraging people to shop second-hand in September to show that there is an alternative to buying new clothing that is better for the planet.

Lorna Fallon, Oxfam’s Retail Director added: “The results show that people love to shop, but the high they get doesn’t last long before they need to buy something again. 

“That’s why we’re encouraging people to shop second-hand; not only is it better for the environment, it’s cheaper than buying brand new too. Come to one of our stores and you’re also raising money for our work helping people beat poverty and saving lives around the world.

“And, once you tire of your clothes, donate them back to us so someone else can enjoy them.”


Notes to editors

Research was conducted via OnePoll from 19th July 2022 to 22nd July 2022 and sampled 2,000 UK adults (nationally representative)

About Oxfam

Oxfam is a global movement of people all working towards the same goal – an end to the injustice of poverty. Together we save and rebuild lives in disasters, help people earn a living, and speak out on the big issues, like inequality and climate change, that keep people poor.

Oxfam has more than 500 shops in the UK. By buying and donating through Oxfam shops, you can help to protect our planet, while helping the poorest people around the world to escape the injustice of poverty.

To visit the Oxfam Online Shop go to:

To find your local Oxfam shop go to:

About Second Hand September

Oxfam launched Second Hand September in 2019 to inspire people to shop in a way that is kinder to people and the planet. Second Hand September is a campaign to encourage people to buy only second-hand items for 30 days in the month of September. 

Participants can use the hashtags #SecondHandSeptember #FoundInOxfamon on Instagram, TikTok and Twitter when they post their finds, and tag @OxfamGB

When you shop with Oxfam, not only are you helping to keep clothes out of landfill and refreshing your wardrobe without costing the earth, you’re also helping to raise money to help people beat poverty.

With climate change affecting all of us, there's never been a better time to act. Join the movement today, and take the sustainable style challenge with the amazing feel-good factor. Click here to take part:

Press contact

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