For Yvette Clark, rummaging through the rails of charity shops with her mother was nothing more than an interest that had started when she was a teenager.

But when she was furloughed from her Cardiff office job at the start of the pandemic and subsequently made redundant, her eye for a second-hand bargain was what changed her life.

“I had an idea for a shop that I wanted to open,” she explains. “I had nothing to lose so I decided to look around for a premises. One day I messaged Goodsheds in Barry, the next I came to have a look and that was that. I set my business up just before Christmas 2020 and I haven’t looked back.

“I’m so pleased that I was made redundant because now I’m doing what I really love.”

Yvette, now 29, runs Fussy Home, a shop selling vintage clothing and wares. Somewhat appropriately, it is housed within a repurposed former Gatwick Express train carriage, which sits on previously abandoned railway tracks in Goodsheds, Barry.

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Fussy Home espouses the values of slow fashion, something which is becoming a revolution of sorts according to Yvette: “I want second-hand clothes to be seen in the same way as antique furniture – something to be cherished.

“It’s about taking a slower pace of fashion and not thinking of what’s on trend. It’s about buying things that you like and that you’ll wear numerous times. Slow fashion is not just wearing something once or twice and then throwing it away.

“Shopping vintage is a great way to be sustainable because you’re removing your footprint by not buying new stuff constantly. All of these second-hand clothes are in our system so you don’t need to make anything new, use up water or energy because all the items have already been manufactured. It sounds so obvious but sometimes the simplest things need to be pointed out.

“And if we don’t keep wearing old clothes, then they will just be thrown away into landfill or incineration and that’s an awful waste.”

Yvette is far from the only one making the most of the increase in interest in second-hand clothing. With charity shops forced to close during the lockdowns, shoppers have turned to websites and apps such as eBay, Depop, Instagram and Vinted to buy and sell their possessions.

Last year, 64 million shoppers in the UK made a second-hand purchase, while the resale market grew 25 times faster than the greater retail market. Growth estimates for second-hand retail predict that it will be worth £64billion by 2024.

The National Wales: Inside Fussy Home, Yvette Clark's vintage clothing store.Inside Fussy Home, Yvette Clark's vintage clothing store.

Originally launched in Lithuania in 2003, online marketplace Vinted now has 1.2 million members registered in the UK alone. The app witnessed an overall increase of 16-17 per cent in listings during the two main periods of lockdown in 2020 across Europe. This comes on top of the organic growth Vinted had been experiencing in the past few years.

Natacha Blanchard, consumer lead for Vinted told The National: “We believe the uptick in both the selling and buying of second-hand fashion is largely underpinned by a shift in mindset and behaviour around sustainable fashion.

“Consumers are proactively pushing for more ethical consumption around the world. The pandemic has shifted priorities and accelerated the already growing movement toward more conscious consumerism.

“With national lockdowns in place, people have also had more time to declutter their wardrobes and sell the items they no longer wear, so that these pieces can be given a second life. Our internal member research suggests that responsible action is important for Vinted users; just over half agree that it’s a ‘shame to throw away items that someone else might want’.

“Aside from the environmental benefit of keeping clothes from reaching landfills, reselling is also financially beneficial: by selling unworn clothes, consumers free up space in their wardrobes and make some extra cash in return.

“We know that making some extra money is important for our members, and one of the main reasons people use the Vinted app and engage more with second-hand fashion.”

“However, responsible consumption is more important to Vinted users than other people in the UK. Buyers are also attracted to second-hand fashion, being able to afford more, for less, within a large catalogue. This indicates that sustainability is a strong topic of interest and commitment for people who are active on our platform.”

Branwen Davies, 41, from Ynys Môn, is another whose love of second-hand clothes began in childhood. Fond of dressing up, she eventually became a dramatist and currently lectures in drama at Bangor University. During lockdown she began selling her old clothes on her Instagram account, Ailgaru-Relove.

“I have always loved clothes and textiles,” she says. “When I was a little girl, I always had a big pile of dress-up stuff. In every photo of me up until the age of 10, I’m never wearing my own clothes.

“My Nain used to work at the Tenovus shop in Porthmadog and I used to love going in there to help her out. I would go through all the rails and seeing something I liked was like finding treasure. Nain would also keep things to one side for me when she thought that I’d like something.”

The National Wales: Branwen Davies of Ailgaru-Relove.Branwen Davies of Ailgaru-Relove.

Ten years ago, Branwen decided to challenge herself to see whether she could go without buying new clothes for an entire year: “I managed to do it, but it really made me think about clothing in a new way.

“The more we have been talking about the environment and climate change as a society, the more I have been wondering what I can do personally to help.

“I came to realise that I have an awful lot of stuff. I think that the guilt of the realisation that I don’t wear half the stuff made me think that I should start selling the clothes. I’m an Instagram addict, so why not sell my old things on there? So that’s what I started to do during the pandemic.

“Manufacturing clothes has a very harmful effect on the environment. All the resources which are used up to create new items – energy and water being just two – are precious.

“I hope that all this isn’t just a fad. It feels like something real and something special is happening though. I’ve noticed an increase in people talking about second-hand clothes online, going to charity shops in person and finding bargains. It’s become more of a movement, a revolution maybe but a slow one for sure.”

“The consciousness about the need to change is definitely growing.”

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The awards will shine a spotlight on the individuals, companies and organisations doing outstanding work to protect the environment and tackle climate change.

Find more information on the criteria and how to nominate here

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