Is it okay to gift pre-loved designer fashion?

I love to chat to customers when they come into the boutique. Hearing about what they’re looking for, what they’d like to see more of and what their favourite brands are really helps me create a shopping experience people want to keep coming back for. I have had a few interesting conversations recently though around the etiquette of gifting pre-loved fashion or accessories.

One lady said: “But giving someone second hand clothes just seems a bit… cheap.” Another customer said she loved buying pre-loved for herself (check out Lisa with her preloved Chanel from the shop), but felt that buying it for a friend as a gift was a bit risky.

Let me assure you – being in receipt of something fabulous, pre-loved or not, will always make the recipient feel loved, and seen. If you know someone well enough to know what makes their heart sing, they’ll be thrilled when you present it to them.

Right now, pre-loved is having a huge moment. At the end of 2021, the pre-loved market was worth £130bn, Yep – 130 BILLION POUNDS. Platforms for buying and selling pre-loved are popping up like mushrooms, and at last charity shopping is seen as a pleasure, not a shame. Buying second hand, whether that’s designer or from a charity shop, is at last being acknowledged as the ultimate in sustainable purchasing. Add the knowledge that you have saved something from landfill, or sitting at the back of wardrobe feeling unloved, and are offering respect to the person who made the piece, and the person who first bought the piece, and that’s a good reason why buying pre-loved is a perfectly fine way to choose a gift for someone.

And when you gift pre-loved designer fashion, there is, of course, the knowledge that you are gifting your bestie or a loved one with something really special, really unusual or unique – and quite likely something they never thought they would own for themselves.

What’s the best way to shop pre-loved designer fashion for a gift?

If you’re buying as a gift, the opportunity to look and feel and closely examine your purchase is vital. Here at Dress Cheshire, those who come into the boutique can do just that, and at the same time consult with me or one of my team, who will always give very straight feedback and advice. If you’re buying online, check the returns policy. At Dress Cheshire, I accept returns for items bought online, but not for items purchased from the shop, simply because they are sold as seen.

Secondly, I think that unless you are very confident of sizing, avoid fashion items such as dresses, skirts and tops, unless of course you know the person’s size in that particular brand if it’s one of their favourites. We’ve all been there, I am sure, on Christmas morning being handed a gorgeous fashion gift – and it just doesn’t fit. Designer brands can vary in their sizing quite considerably, so being able to try on is really important – and you can’t ask your gift recipient to do that! Gifts such as jewellery, watches, bags, belts, sunglasses, scarves, etc, are much safer when choosing a gift. And I can tell you now, if I was gifted a pair of designer sunglasses I wouldn’t care for a second if they were pre-loved

What is the etiquette when gifting pre-loved designer fashion?

Be honest!

The best pre-loved pieces come with their original box or bag, so there may be a temptation to pass it off as new, which is quite possible with some items like sunglasses, jewellery, scarves or small bags. Don’t try, though. Pop in a little note to say you hope you’ve chosen the perfect vintage or preloved piece and they’ll love and wear it forever. You’ll look not only super-generous, but super-thoughtful, too.

Finally – ask yourself one simple question. Would I be thrilled to receive this on Christmas Day? Trust yourself, don’t assume snobbery in your best friend or family member, and if the answer is yes – go for it. Just remember – you can’t keep it!

Love, Christine x