Get us in your inbox

Search
Second Chance charity shop
Photograph: Second Chance

The best charity shops in London

Go treasure-hunting in London’s brilliant charity and thrift shops for bargain pre-loved clothes, homeware and more

Written by
Sarah Cohen
&
Joe Mackertich
Contributor
India Lawrence
Advertising

Fast fashion is out and secondhand fashion is in. Even ‘Love Island’ has caught on, so if you don’t know about London’s excellent array of charity shops, now’s your chance.

These aren’t just musty stores full of the garms of the dead. Charity shops are exciting bazaars where you can find pre-loved things to wear, stuff to read or listen to and bizarre objects to adorn your dwelling with. Flex your sustainability chops at a knock-down price. 

Even the rich and famous are donating their cast-offs to charity shops, so if you choose the right location – Primrose Hill or Chelsea, say – you might pick up some exclusive designer garb. As we all become more conscious of the ethical impact of our wardrobes, there’s never been a better time to have a rummage and bag a secondhand bargain. 

From charity ‘boutiques’ with more cashmere than your average yacht club to old-fashioned junk shops you can lose an afternoon in, here are London’s best charity shops. Just don’t go telling everyone.  

RECOMMENDED: London’s best flea markets.

London’s best charity shops

Could this be London’s chic-est charity shop? With its industrial interior by Hemingway Design, art student fanbase and staff fingers firmly on the fashion pulse, Shelter’s flagship boutique can more than hold its own alongside its trendy neighbours. You’ll find quality vintage, premium labels and ‘how did I miss that the first time round?’ high-street gems, all handpicked with care but priced reasonably. Coal Drops Yard might have earned the nickname ‘Cash Drops Hard’, but your wallet’s safe here. 

Best for Statement shoes and understated swagger.

Unit EV8, Coal Drops Yard, Stable St, N1C 4AB.

There are branches of All Aboard across north London, but this is the mothership. Forget colour-coded rails and curated window displays: it’s an old-fashioned junk shop of the kind you hardly find anymore. Raising money for a selection of local charities, the stock is bold, bright and sometimes beautifully brash, with a particularly good line in ugly-cool homewares and statement vintage accessories. Set aside a good chunk of time and comb through every rack at your leisure. Twice.   

Best for (Well) buried treasure at blinkworthy prices.

Advertising

Fashion magpies know that bougie neighbourhoods are best for secondhand steals, and Balham is a case in point. The whole High Road is worthy of a charity-shop crawl, but if you can only choose one, make a beeline for the bright lights of the British Heart Foundation. Go for the barely worn Cos, Jigsaw and Whistles, stay for the vinyl, quirky homeware and that thing you’re definitely probably going to upcycle next time you have a free weekend. 

Best for Serious bargains, minus the must.

British Red Cross Chelsea

The first rule of vintage shopping: go where the rich old people are. Rumour has it this Red Cross shop regularly takes delivery from local house clearances, which makes it the closest most of us will ever get to haute couture. Prices might be steep by secondhand standards (staff know their Prada from their Primani), but they’re still a snip by Chelsea standards. Besides, it’s for charidee, dahling

Best for Heritage tweed and old-world labels for your next country house party.

Advertising

In most charity shops a Lanvin dress or a pair of Manolos would be stop-the-press news. Not so on Marylebone High Street, where the glitterati’s cast-offs come as standard. Every W1 chaz is worth a rummage, but the fragrant and colourful Cancer Research is one of the finest, full of fashion samples and end-of-line pieces with the tags still on. Kate Moss and Sienna Miller have both been known to donate here, and thankfully so have plenty of their neighbours with more average proportions. 

Best for Cashmere, cocktail frocks and latent Carrie Bradshaw fantasies.

When babies can grow out of clothes in less time than it takes to wrestle both legs in, buying secondhand just makes sense. Chiswick’s Fara Kids is one of 14 London Fara shops selling nearly-new clothes for tiny people, with proceeds going to help vulnerable children in Romania. You’ll find racks of fancy little outfits, all without a trace of dribble and many for as little as 50p. And when you get tired of cooing ‘I wish this was in MY size’, one of Fara’s excellent adult branches is just up the road. 

Best for Christening gifts and babysitting emergencies.

Advertising

Positive vibes abound at this much-loved East End thrift store that raises funds for the London Buddhist Centre. The staff and volunteers are cheery, the locals are loyal and the stock is as groovy and wide-ranging as you’d expect. Prices are always low but there’s a half-price sale twice a year too – the perfect chance to put your mindful shopping skills to the test. 

Best for Kitsch crockery your gran would love, and party frocks to match.

Breathing new life into the world of secondhand shopping, Mary Portas virtually invented the modern breed of upmarket charity boutique with her Living & Giving shops. Diehard bargain-hunters might not thank her for the price hikes, but Save the Children does. All the shops are carefully curated, but the Primrose Hill branch is one of the best for niche brands and fashion kudos. Enjoy a Narnia-style wardrobe changing room, and cross your fingers that Victoria Beckham might drop by with a bulging bin bag (yes, she donates).  

Best for Designer jeans, lesser-seen labels and rubbernecking at celebrities.

Advertising

Sometimes size does matter, and this Oxfam emporium is so big that the odds of finding treasure here are stacked in your favour. As you’d expect from its hipster postcode, the stock is more fancy-dress than fancy dresses, but it’s never dull – staff sometimes have to turn away donations because they receive too many to sift through. Go with an open mind, open arms and enough time for a fitting-room fashion show.  

Best for Halloween, Pride, Glastonbury and every other event on your Instagram calendar.

A charity shop disguised as a high-end vintage store, this Pimlico destination is brimming with Hermes scarves, YSL tailoring, psychedelic blouses and 1950s silk ball gowns, like a trunk of heirlooms from the dowager countess grandmother you never had. Everything is fairly priced, if not exactly cheap as chips – but with all proceeds going to help vulnerable children in Romania, where better to splurge on a piece of fashion history?  

Best for Swellegant occasionwear, for all your ‘High Society’ meets ‘Abigail’s Party’ urges.

Advertising

A charity shop so comprehensive you can virtually rock up with a shopping list, Traid’s whole focus is on ditching trends for conscious, sustainable secondhand clothing (the name stands for ‘Textile Reuse and International Development’). But that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge your fashion whims: it has styles from across the decades, regular seasonal restocks and amazing end-of-season sales. Enthusiastic staff are always on hand to validate your outfit choice.   

Best for 90s denim, ’80s dresses, ’70s jackets and millennial attitude.

It’s rich pickings for charity hunters in SW16 these days, and the Royal Trinity Hospice shop is the crème de la crème. Since a refurb in 2018, this stylish store is consistently packed with pristine high street cast-offs, unusual pieces from premium brands and more than a few unworn donations. With soft lighting and helpful staff, the vibe is more like rummaging through a friend’s wardrobe than a hardcore thrifting session. Make yourself at home.   

Best for Forgetting you’re even in a charity shop.

Advertising

In the days before Archway’s shiny pedestrian makeover, this temple of bric-à-brac was worth navigating your way across the road to reach. Behind the lavish window displays, vintage and high street clothes nestle up against crockery, sheet music, records, books, old magazines, collectables, curios and whosits and whatsits galore. Run by Archway Methodist Church, the shop splits its profits between an equally eclectic list of charities. 

Best for You want thingimabobs? They’ve got ’em!

So much more than just a charity shop, this vast space just before Wells Terrace bus station on Stroud Green Road is also a coffee shop and community arts hub. But the clothes are enough of a draw on their own. Luxe labels hang alongside quality high street and vintage bargains, with a bountiful shoe section and equally trendy menswear. Stock moves fast – regulars come daily – and staff can usually be found shooing punters out of the door at 7pm. Don’t leave without checking out the cabinet of designer accessories, the furniture and the superlative vegan brownie in the café.  

Best for Last season’s H&M and last century’s ceramics.

Advertising

Don’t be fooled by the high-fashion-concept window displays that make the outside of this store look a real treat, because it is genuinely very cheap, and it has everything. While the charity shops of Hampstead might sell you a Stella McCartney sweater for £50, here you can get loads of incredible things for as little as a quid: record heads can dig for musical treasure in the bargain bins; the haberdashery section is brilliant for DIY designers; and they always have an amazing array of saris and African clothing. 

Best for Fabric: so much fabric.

A lovely curated chazza shop that feels more like a boutique than a secondhand store. It’s always well-stocked with a range of designers, unique pieces and high-street names (the good ones). The vibes are always great inside and the fitting rooms are excellent – they’ve even got flattering lighting which is practically unheard-of in the charity shop world. 

Best for Labels, darling.

After more beautiful bargains?

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising

      The best things in life are free.

      Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

      Loading animation
      Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

      🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

      Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!