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January 26, 2023

The Handbag Clinic reveals majority of Brits plan to circularise their wardrobe

New survey findings from the UK’s leading luxury restoration and preowned designer retailer, The Handbag Clinic, reveal that the mass consumption hangover from Christmas is driving people to shop more mindfully and sustainably this year. Survey 1, which received a total of 2,196 responses, found that almost half (47%) of respondents feel guilty about their spending this Christmas and received gifts they neither needed nor wanted. This is driving many (86%) to readdress their values and to shop more sustainably during 2023, with some 76% opting to repair or restore items in their wardrobes, whilst 34% plan to sell their unwanted Christmas gifts through resale platforms. The survey was conducted to temperature-check the nation’s mindset post-Christmas during the cost-of-living crisis and to gauge the extent to which sustainability has been embraced by the mainstream zeitgeist.

Traditionally a time to set new goals and intentions, January presents an opportune moment to critically reappraise our lifestyle. The current backdrop of the cost-living crisis has seen many adopt a ruthless spending diet this January, with TikTok’s #nospendchallenge amassing 75 million views. This, together with the increasing concern around climate change, is also driving people to question how they can reduce waste and enjoy fashion more responsibly and sustainably. As the survey findings show, adopting a circular mindset has never been more culturally relevant:

47% of respondents feel guilty about how much they spent this Christmas.

47% of respondents received Christmas gifts they neither needed nor wanted.

34% of respondents plan to sell their unwanted Christmas gifts through resale platforms, freeing up cash to spend on something new.

86% of respondents plan to shop more mindfully and responsibly in 2023.

76% of respondents plan to repair, clean or restore items in their wardrobes to maximise wear and enjoyment.

The Handbag Clinic’ Co-Founder and CEO, Charlotte Staerck, said: “It’s encouraging to see that, for the vast majority of people, they are embracing a more mindful approach to consumption and reducing waste. This shows just how far we’ve come within society, with consumers now embracing sustainability as a badge of honour. In this time of economic uncertainty, people are also becoming shrewd and resourceful and turning to resale to generate surplus income. When you consider that the average woman amasses a haul of 111 handbags in her lifetime2, that’s an unmined treasure trove for women everywhere. The world now has a robust resale market and because of their often-appreciating value, luxury handbags are one of the most sought-after items to buy and sell.”

Wardrobe health = wardrobe wealth

The Handbag Clinic, which restores more than 700 bags per month, has seen a significant 45% year-on-year increase (Jan 22 – Jan 23) in bookings for its restoration and resale services.

The Handbag Clinic’ Co-Founder and CEO, Charlotte Staerck, said: “January is traditionally a time to get your health, finances and your wardrobe into better shape after the excess of the Christmas period. Wardrobe detoxes have become a popular cultural fixture as we integrate Christmas and sales purchases or prepare for the seasonal transition in spring. Not only does a good detox help to dial down the guilt factor as we reduce the carbon footprint of our wardrobes, it’s also a great opportunity to turn wardrobe health into wardrobe wealth, by selling on the items you no longer use. In so doing, you can also hone your personal style and make better investment buys that will stand the test of time.”

A wardrobe audit can be a daunting task, requiring ruthless decision-making and organisation. The good news is, it’s also one of the most rewarding and cathartic exercises you can undertake, improving self-confidence, focus and a sense of identity, as many recent studies4 have shown. As a simplified way to create a more circular wardrobe, The Handbag Clinic’s Charlotte Staerck, recommends applying four core organisational categories to help get you started with sorting through your items:


Studies suggest around 50% of our wardrobes go unworn5, so re-discovering and resurrecting the items you’ve stored away or forgotten about is a great way to stave off the urge to splurge on new items and boost your overall wardrobe health and efficiency. If there’s a particular category you tend to collect and hoard, such as jeans or jackets, a good way to optimise wear is to keep them on rotation. As a handbag fanatic, I rotate around 40% of my collection seasonally which prolongs their lifespan and sparks renewed joy as each new season arrives.


Another key filter and question to ask yourself is; would you wear or use the item if it were altered or repaired? We all have those unworn pieces languishing at the back of our wardrobes, that we never got round to tackling; those suede boots you knew would get ruined in the rain, the bag that reminds you of holidays but is badly scuffed or the dress you promise yourself you’ll fit into this year. With the abundance of restoration and repair services, it’s never been easier thanks to online booking systems and door-to-door courier services. One real positive of the cost-of-living crisis, is the ‘make do and mend’ culture it’s spawned, with many people opting to repair or restore their once-loved but tired items instead of buying new. At The Handbag Clinic, our customers are adamant that luxury should mean for life and we’ve seen record bookings in repair and restoration treatments over the last year.


Here’s the biggie requiring absolute ruthlessness. The question to ask yourself is ‘does it spark joy?’ If the answer to this is anything but an instant yes, it’s time to face the reality that the item is probably not serving you. The same applies if you haven’t worn it for over a year. Our personal style evolves constantly and needs your curation skills to move with it. By reselling an item you no longer use for others to enjoy you can also justify the ‘one in, one out’ rule – all with the sense of do-gooding that goes with being kind to your wallet and the planet. Ninety percent of an item’s carbon footprint happens in the production phase. So, by selling it on, you are effectively offsetting half of this. Keeping your wardrobe fluid and circular is also the ultimate goal for wardrobe health and wealth. At the Clinic, we’ve seen so many customers clear out their wardrobes only to discover that the Dior Saddlebag or Fendi Baguette they’ve had stuffed in storage for 15 years, has had a revival and, as a vintage treasure, resells for a tidy profit.


As a final thought (and this is going the extra sustainability mile) there is always the option to get creative and modernise or re-imagine an item to bring it back in line with your personal style. This is another trend we’ve seen increased demand for at The Handbag Clinic with customers giving bright and boldly coloured bags a chic makeover with a wearable black or burgundy colour. Or adding a crossbody strap as a chain or leather strap, in line with this hugely popular trend. We also get a lot of requests to change the colour on bridal shoes to something more wearable. In fact, we’re in the process of transforming a pair of Magda Butrym silk wedding shoes for fashion influencer, Hermione Olivia.

The Handbag Clinic is the longest-established luxury restoration and preowned retailer in the UK and the UK’s only fully circular business model. The Handbag Clinic’s integrated offering of ‘Buy, Sell, Restore, Authenticate’ uniquely combines restoration with authentication and resale to deliver a seamless one-stop shop for conscious luxury connoisseurs and collectors. With a mission to preserve the past whilst mindfully reinventing for the future, The Handbag Clinic is a proud gatekeeper of sustainable luxury. It stocks a hand-picked collection of authentic pre-owned luxury handbags, luggage and accessories from the world’s most coveted brands including Chanel, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton, and restores 700+ bags and shoes, including luxury trainers, each month.

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W: The Handbag Clinic
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