Oxfam has vowed to take on High Street chains

  • Oxfam has started targeting fashion-conscious shoppers by focusing on trends
  • High-end labels and bridalwear are now sold in ‘boutiques' rather than shops
  • In-store labels have been changed to say ‘pre-loved’ rather than ‘secondhand’ 

By Sarah Rainey For Daily Mail

Published: 17:00 EDT, 13 September 2017 | Updated: 20:05 EDT, 13 September 2017

The stunning brunette in the gold sequinned gown and green velvet gloves wouldn’t look out of place in a high-end fashion advert.

A smile plays on her scarlet lips as she holds a glittering evening bag, a string of diamonds sparkling tantalisingly on her décolletage.

So whose wares is she wearing? A couture dressmaker, perhaps? A dazzling but unaffordable jeweller? Or is it from the latest designer, fresh off the catwalk?

In fact, every item of clothing in the shot, from her elegant stilettos to the chic feathered hat, comes — quite unexpectedly — from Oxfam, the charity shop which has been a High Street staple for 75 years.

Often associated with tired, dusty old clothes found in attics, or bequeathed in wills, most of us think of it as cheap, cheerful but ultimately uninspiring.

Silk top, £2, gold skirt, £12, Oxfam
Silk top, £2, gold skirt, £12, Oxfam
Silver camisole, £80, selfridges.com , gold pleated skirt, £35, marksand spencer.com
Silver camisole, £80, selfridges.com , gold pleated skirt, £35, marksand spencer.com

This season, it’s chic to wear metallic from top to toe. LEFT: Silk top, £2, gold skirt, £12, Oxfam RIGHT: Silver camisole, £80, selfridges.com, gold pleated skirt, £35, marksand spencer.com

Not in a million years would most of us pop to our local Oxfam shop (there are 700 dotted up and down the country) to dig out a dress for that wedding, the perfect pair of autumn boots or a new jacket to pep up our work wardrobe.

But all that could be about to change. And, according to fashion experts, it’s about time.

For Oxfam has transformed its fashion image from that of a shabby secondhand shop to a treasure trove of on-trend garments which outshine High Street favourites.

While still relying on donations, the charity has started targeting fashion-conscious shoppers by focusing on trends, reorganising its shops and putting out glossy adverts (hence the stunning brunette in shimmering gold) and window displays.

Ghost dress, £70, gold clutch, £7, both Oxfam
Ghost dress, £70, gold clutch, £7, both Oxfam
Blue maxi dress, £120, phase-eight.com , gold clutch, £32.90, kurtgeiger.com
Blue maxi dress, £120, phase-eight.com , gold clutch, £32.90, kurtgeiger.com

Keep your eyes peeled in charity shops for party dresses in this season’s shades of blue, berry colours and dark green. LEFT: Ghost dress, £70, gold clutch, £7, both Oxfam. RIGHT: Blue maxi dress, £120,phase-eight.com, gold clutch, £32.90, kurtgeiger.com

High-end labels and specialist garments such as bridalwear and occasionwear are now sold in ‘boutiques’ rather than shops, and in-store labels have been changed to say ‘pre-loved’ rather than ‘secondhand’ — a subtle change which plays on the prevailing fad for vintage fashion.

There’s also a hip new website, which boasts 100,000 pieces, from Reiss blouses to Karen Millen dresses and handbags by Osprey and Coccinelle from £5.99.

Visitors can browse by brand, size or colour, order and pay online and even return unwanted clothes for free — making the experience identical to a splurge on Net-a-Porter or Asos, but without the post-shopping guilt at spending so much.

Oxfam even hosted its own show at London Fashion Week this year, featuring model-of-the-moment Stella Tennant and supermodel Erin O’Connor. Vogue contributing editor Bay Garnett spent months scouring Oxfam’s warehouses for the donated outfits, which drew gasps and applause from a star-studded crowd.

Dress, £24, dorothyperkins.co.uk
Dress, £24, dorothyperkins.co.uk
Red dress, £20, Oxfam
Red dress, £20, Oxfam

This autumn’s statement dress for the office is red. Look for styles above the knee, or get a longer dress from the bargain bin and take up the hem. Ingenious! RIGHT: Red dress, £20, Oxfam LEFT: Dress, £24, dorothyperkins.co.uk

‘We know shoppers are discerning, so we only sell high-quality, desirable clothes,’ explains Oxfam’s Emma Fabian.

‘We want our clothes to make you feel good, so they’re super-stylish, glossy and individual, and the shopping experience is stress-free.

‘There’s the added advantage of knowing you’re not going to turn up to a party and find someone wearing exactly the same dress. And you’re raising money for a really good cause.’

One woman’s cast-offs, it seems, can be another’s new autumn wardrobe. So, can you tell the Oxfam clothes from these High Street pieces?

Coat, £285, reiss.com
Coat, £285, reiss.com
Trench coat, £65, Oxfam
Trench coat, £65, Oxfam

A classic trench coat never dates, so one woman’s reject is another woman’s stylish steal RIGHT: Trench coat, £65, Oxfam LEFT: Coat, £285, reiss.com

Giorgio Armani blazer, £50, Breton top, £7.50, green trousers, £12, Oxfam
Giorgio Armani blazer, £50, Breton top, £7.50, green trousers, £12, Oxfam
Blazer, £185, reiss.com , Breton top, £28, crewclothing. co.uk , green trousers, £25, asos.com
Blazer, £185, reiss.com , Breton top, £28, crewclothing. co.uk , green trousers, £25, asos.com

Blazers are pricey, so look out for second hand ones, particularly in white, which will update a Breton T-shirt and wideleg trousers. LEFT: Giorgio Armani blazer, £50, Breton top, £7.50, green trousers, £12, Oxfam RIGHT: Blazer, £185, reiss.com, Breton top, £28, crewclothing. co.uk, green trousers, £25, asos.com

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