• Idle Hands Collective

Where did second hand begin?

You may know it as thrift, vintage or second hand. Either one, not buying new is arguably the most sustainable way to shop. But where did it begin?

The Victorian rag trade was one of the most similar models to secondhand stores. The Rag Fair in East London was at the heart of this thriving industry with piles of old clothes everywhere and people bustling to get the best bargain. Clothing could be very lucrative, so lucrative there are accounts of washing being stolen from lines to be sold. Quite literally rags to riches!

The recycling process didn’t stop there. In the 1850’s fabric was used to make paper before the wood pulp process was available. The demand for paper saw a huge rise as more people were able to read and write meaning that rags became even more valuable. So called ‘rag and bone men’ so their rags to the paper industry, rags were even used to make bank notes.

So maybe we can take a leaf from the Victorian page and think how we can make existing textiles go even further.