Charity shopping with Tanja Stöcklin


A while ago, we introduced you to Tanja Stöcklin, one of the most exciting new faces to emerge from Brighton Fashion Week? Well, recently we caught up for a conversation about vintage clothing and charity shopping with the model/fashion-enthusiast:

Hello again Tanja. You’re a big fan of charity shopping. What is it that appeals to you about it?
It’s really exciting. You can go through lots of charity shops and find nothing, but then when you find one thing which is amazing, it feels so much better that you have paid £2 for it and not £70 in Top Shop. My friends think it’s not cool when I say something cost £2, but I’ve got this beige blazer with golden buttons that I wear with a little belt and I get so many compliments for it. I always tell everyone that it cost £1.99 and they can’t believe it. It’s cheap and you are doing good as well, because it’s for charity. I feel less selfish when I shop a lot, if it is in charity shops.

And you can get yourself a completely unique outfit…
Exactly. You find individual things that you won’t see anyone in the street wearing. It’s interesting, when you find a piece, you combine it differently to how your friend would. I often buy things for other people as well and I imagine them as an outfit, but they wear it completely differently.

What do you look out for when shopping?
When I know what the trend is going to be for the next season I always try to look for the colours that are going to be in fashion. I never look at the size – unless it’s too small obviously – but when it’s too big you can just adjust it, use a belt or sew it in yourself. Or a massive top can always tuck into some tight trousers and it looks kinda cool. What I do is walk through the shop, I don’t look through every item, and I just go for colours and fabrics and then I look at the item when it strikes me.

tanja beachWhere would you recommend we go to find the best charity shops?
Not Brighton, because there are a lot of vintage stores which get their stuff from the charity shops and there are also too many young people shopping in Brighton’s charity shops. Eastbourne [where we did the bulk of our day’s shopping] is quite good and when you go to richer places like Surrey, there are really nice charity shops. Rich people just give their good clothes away – they don’t bother selling them on ebay. So it’s always worth having a look when you’re in a posh area.

In Europe, I heard that Romania and Poland have amazing charity shops that are really cheap. In Switzerland we have quite nice ones too. Not in the big cities – because they are going to be expensive – but when you go into the countryside and find ones where the clothes are in a big pile that you have to look through for hours. Those are my favourites.

How much should we be looking to pay for items?
Under a fiver is always quite reasonable. It depends. Over £10, you have to really think about it and it needs to be really special and good quality. Some items are in a brilliant condition, some are really old and have been worn loads and have holes. I find shoes especially hard to find. I have bought loads of shoes in charity shops which fell apart really quickly because the glue was old. So you have to be careful.

Some charity shops price things as cheaply as £1.99 and for that price you can afford to say, ‘I really only like the buttons on this top so I’m going to take them off and put them on another top,’ or, ‘I’m going to cut the sleeves off.’ You always have £2 and if you don’t wear it, you can just take it back to the charity shop.

Where you have to be careful is when shops overprice items. You should always look at the label and then over time you’ll get to know brands and learn whether it is worth paying the price or not. The other day I found this beautiful black silk blouse for £4 which I put on ebay and it went for over £40.

Aside from clothing, what catches your eye in a charity shop?
I like looking at records as well and I buy a lot of games and children’s stuff. Every time I move house I find a boxful of stuff I really don’t need. I bought these amazing in-line skate things. You wear your shoes and then you strap them on [at this point she enthuses while gesticulating the act of strapping on these wheels]. And they blink! They’re amazing and they cost £3.

You model, you blog for Brighton Fashion Week, you’ve had experience as a stylist and you work in visual merchandising. What do you think you will focus on in the longterm? Would you like to run your own vintage store someday?
Modelling is really something you only do for a short while. I don’t know… the modelling thing… I really enjoy it but you are a tool. You are something someone needs for their own work. I prefer being more independent and having more to say about what I’m doing. I don’t like getting orders. So I’d prefer to concentrate on my own career as a stylist, or maybe even photography. I think that, whatever I do, in the end I want to arrive at having my own shop. Maybe I’ll do something alongside that, but the shop is the main aim.



Interview by Bobby Townsend.