Arts > In praise of cast-offs

11 May 2017 | by D.J. Taylor

In praise of cast-offs

From Rags to Riches, BBC Radio 4


The fashion historian Amber Butchart opened this intriguing two-parter (4 and 11 May) with some memories of her childhood, where straitened family finances demanded constant attendance at the second-hand shop. As a style-conscious teenager, she appreciated hand-me-downs for their own sake: a pair of 20-year-old “disco sandals” from the 1970s seemed far more enticing than the latest designer gear, and a job behind the counter at an East End store called Beyond Retro the answer to a maiden’s prayer.

The first instalment of From Rags to Riches seemed slightly unsure of its quarry. Half of it was an exercise in definition (when, for example, did “second-hand” mysteriously morph into “vintage”?), but the other half offered a breakneck dash through popular attitudes to the no-longer new.


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