If cheap throw-away fashion is becoming a modern-day scourge, sustainable style champion Janice Wardlaw-Forlano has the perfect antidote.
Xchange Handbags and Essentials, her not-for-profit shop in Goldenacre, is brimming with high-end bags, shoes and dresses – all pre-owned and ready to be “re-loved”.
It’s a place to find that must-have designer accessory you thought you could never afford.
Soon to celebrate its 10th anniversary, the shop opened in September 2008 and became an instant success, selling its first handbag within seven minutes.
Since then, Janice has sold more than 5,500 bags, helping to raise thousands of pounds for local and national good causes.
A former magazine publisher and salsa teacher, Janice recalls: “I was flicking through magazines and seeing a lot of celebrities with handbags. I found myself wondering what they did with the bags when they were finished with them; in fact what does anyone do with them?” She adds: “Fashion changes so quickly nowadays and you could spend a fortune on accessories. We offer a simple solution – a one-stop shopping experience where everything is a fraction the original price.”
There’s a big focus on designer bags and accessories – including pashminas, sunglasses, scarves, belts and jewellery – complemented by quality high street brands and a beautiful vintage collection. Brands currently in stock include Mulberry, Radley, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dior, Chanel, Jimmy Choo, Vivienne Westwood, Calvin Klein, Armani, Burberry, Moschino, LK Bennett, Ted Baker and Guess.
Most are described as pre-loved and gently-worn, while some are brand new, including a selection of unopened perfumes.
Where clients are looking to sell an item, Janice will agree a price – typically half its original value – and the proceeds will be split 50/50.
“A lot of the designer bags do hold their value so sometimes we will agree a higher selling price, depending on the item and its condition.” Janice manages and runs the shop with the help of two part-time members of staff and a team of committed volunteers. “Some of the volunteers have been with me for several years and their help is invaluable. Without them is would not be possible to support so many charities,” she says.
Among those to benefit have been St Columba’s, Maggies, Home-Start, CrossReach and The Yard.
The shop also collects women’s toiletries for distribution by the Salvation Army.
Xchange Handbags and Essentials, 20 Montagu Terrace, Inverleith Row, 0131 552 8103, www.xchangehandbags.com. Open Tues-Fri,10.30am to 5pm; Sat, 10.30am to 4pm.