Clothes shopping: where to find the best bargains

There are several reasons why goods and services are more expensive in Australia. These reasons range from transport costs, labour costs and higher wages, to government taxes and big profit margins, among other reasons. Fortunately, with clothes shopping there are some workarounds: if you know the best shops or shopping centres to go to you can save yourself a lot of money.

In recent years, some big international brands entered the Australian market which fashion lovers in this country were over the moon about, namely H&M, Muji, Zara and Uniqlo. This provided a lot of competition to local retailers and also meant that shoppers have found clothing more affordable. Below we have included a list of stores where you’ll find the cheapest clothing.

Fashion Chains

H&M: If you must have the latest fashion trends, this store is known around the world as the ‘go-to’ for cheap but chic fashion finds. The added bonus is that H&M has a Garment Collection Program – a global recycling initiative which aims to stop unwanted clothing items going to landfill. If you take a bag of unwanted clothing (in any condition – even worn-out socks, t-shirts and bedsheets) to the recycling box at the H&M counter and they will give you a 15% off voucher for your next purchase.

Cotton On: This Australian fast-fashion retailer is similar in brand and appeal to H&M and is aiming to position itself as a competitor in Australia to the Swedish multinational. They offer 2 for $20 deals in their basics range for tops and jeggings and tops, t-shirts and leggings for between $10–$15.

Supre & Factorie: These brands are part of the Cotton On Group and they both have similar price points as Cotton On – Supre is girls’ fashion and Factorie is both men and womens’.

Photo by Candice Picard on Unsplash

Budget Department Stores

Kmart & Target: In terms of clothing, they’re both great for cheap underwear, sportswear, cosmetics, wardrobe basics and some accessories like scarves. However, they are a bit hit and miss with fashion items and finding the right size (often sold out in average sizes). It’s worth a look to see what they’ve got but they are not known for their fashion, generally speaking. Aldi is also great for cheap underwear.

Second-Hand

Vinnies: For those who don’t mind a bit of second-hand shopping (or pre-loved clothing as they are also known), Vinnies (short for St Vincent de Paul), is where you pick up all sorts of bargains on clothes as well as many other items. Additionally, by shopping there it’s not only good for the environment – saving clothes from going to landfill – but the profits also assist people in the community experiencing disadvantage. Only clothes in good condition (and many are near-new!) are sold in their shops – check out #dressedbyvinnies

Vintage

If you love a bit of vintage chic in the form of some pre-loved fashion treasures, there are loads in each city. Although not all of them have bargains, many do, so you just need to shop around for the affordable ones. Time Out lists some of the most popular vintage shops in Sydney and Melbourne. For Brisbane, check out Urban List.

Clothing Swaps

What a great concept…get new clothes by swapping your old ones for someone else’s! It’s not only environmentally sustainable – upcycling your clothes – but it saves you money. How it works: You take 8 garments (or accessories) that are still in good condition but you no longer love or wear, and swap them for 8 other garments at the event. Although you need to buy a ticket ($25), you obviously don’t spend money on the clothes that you swap, and what’s more – if you buy your ticket online, you can bring a friend for free (in other words the ticket will cost you $12.50 each!). Check out The Clothing Exchange for upcoming events.

Photo courtesy of The Clothing Exchange

Factory Outlets

Bargain shoppers love outlet stores (also known as factory outlets / seconds stores). They stock surplus stock or sometimes slightly faulty items which are still in good condition, at discounted prices. They can be bricks and mortar stores or online as well. For the best factory outlet stores see the links for the following cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane.

Sydney

Brisbane

Melbourne