As more of us are rejecting a wasteful throwaway culture, unique vintage and designer finds are lurking on the rails near you, reports CATHERINE TURNBULL

WOULD you be surprised if you were told that this fashion shoot was styled using items donated to charity shops?

If so, you’re probably not alone. In fact, all these items were donated to the St Leonard’s Hospice charity shops across the York area.

Customers are often surprised at what they find in the 13 shops across the region. From unique vintage pieces to designer items and unworn items with tags there are some real treasures to be found.

It may take a bit more effort to hunt for such finds – but it is worth it and, to some, all part of the fun.

With this shoot, taken against the luxurious backdrop of The Principal York Hotel, the hospice retail team worked with local photographer Duncan Lomax of Ravage Productions to demonstrate some of the amazing pieces donated by generous supporters.

Together they came up with this concept to challenge perceptions.

As well as raising money for patient care at St Leonard’s Hospice – consistently around half a million pounds a year – charity shops make fashion more accessible.

Donated clothes still have a lot of life left in them and charity shops prevent them being unnecessarily sent to landfill.

You’re also supporting local jobs, contributing footfall to the high street and you’re more likely to find unique pieces you won’t see on everyone else.

Retail is an ever-changing landscape, and this is no different for charity shops.

There is a lot of competition from the many fantastic charities out there and retail staff need to keep up with trends and innovate – usually on a very tight budget

One of the newest St Leonard’s charity shops is based in Layerthorpe, just outside York City Centre. The shop interior is quite different to the others. All the shelving units are specially designed to be moveable and multipurpose in order to adapt to the ever-changing and unpredictable stock.

The team built most of the fixtures themselves from OSB board and steel giving a unique, industrial interior style with spray-painted sunflowers – emulating the hospice logo.

St Leonard’s Hospice is innovating further with a range of events, including vintage fairs and fashion shows styled using donated clothing where the audience can buy items afterwards.

It is presenting a fashion show of designer clothes, hats, handbags and jewellery with York Theatre Royal on October 31 from 6.30pm at the De Grey Rooms in St Leonard’s Place, York. Tickets cost £5 from the shops or by calling 01904 788 777.

Tips for charity shopping

1. Be a regular – the more you visit, the more likely you are to come across some real gems. The St Leonard’s Hospice shops receive deliveries and new stock most days

2. Get to know staff and volunteers and tell them what you are looking for

3. Be patient – especially if you’re looking for something specific. You may visit many times without success, but you never know when you might find that perfect piece

4. Go in with an idea/look in mind, for example a unique race outfit – it’s easy to be overwhelmed but if you have a certain event, occasion or outfit in mind it’s easier to tune in and find something special

5. Try before you buy - most shops have changing rooms, and measurements can vary vastly - particularly with vintage as sizing from the 70s is completely different to now

6. Use your imagination / be open-minded – sometimes pieces may can be uniquely altered to create the look you are after, you need to see the potential

7. If you see it, buy it. We all know that horrible feeling when you regret not buying something

8. Charity shops are great for furniture too

9. Give back – if you’re having a clear out

10. Gift aid – sign up if you’re eligible.