‘I went to the ‘thrift factory’ in East London where you can get a kilo of clothes for £10 and found a Y2K Juicy Couture hoodie worth £85’

Industrial estates hold all sort of wonders. Piles of tires, piles of scrap metal, and in Thames Road Industrial Estate in Newham, piles (and PILES) of clothes.

Thrift Factory is a TikTok legend, brought to life by the subtly placed TikTok logo in the corner of the banner next to the massive white van outside. Just to make sure social media savvy thrifters know they are in the right place.

The banner is useful. I would not have guessed anything like Thrift Factory was in this estate and can see two other girls – who, from their fluffy cardigans and fashion-forward neon green garms, I can only assume are here for the clothes – looking confusedly at the line up of trucks, vans, and pick-ups blocking the entrance.

READ MORE: ‘I went to London’s most expensive charity shop selling clothes for £500 but found a dress selling for a few pounds’

We slip through the line, a symphony of drills digging into gravel and reversing beeps hounding our ear drums, and are faced with, well, a factory-sized space with more clothes than I’ve ever seen in my life. This is not going to be a short visit.

“God, it’s warm in here, isn’t it?” booms the worker at the front of the store. He is wrapped in a puffer jacket so thick it might as well be a duvet, hands dug into his pockets and hood up. The sarcasm is well-placed, it is cold in here. I’m tempted to buy a jumper just so I can wear an extra layer.

Thrift Factory takes care of visitors, though, and everyone is offered a free tea, coffee or hot chocolate as the shopping process is explained. American vintage clothes at the front are individually priced. Everything else, spanning what feels like a football-pitch-sized space, is sold by weight.

As all the signs suggest, it is £10 per kilo but you can buy less than a kilo and the sum will be worked out for you.

Let’s start with the rails of clothes. Ease into things. My top finds are a beige pencil skirt by Anne Taylor and a black velour hoodie by Juicy Couture.

To put things into perspective, the cheapest skirt on Anne Taylor’s website right now is £77. The closest Juicy Couture hoodie I can find online, the logo-embroidered velour hoody, is £85 in Selfridges.

The two items together definitely weigh less than a kilo, meaning I’d be spending less than £10 for both. I’m starting to see why this place is so popular.

Time to move on to the more intimidating section. In front of me are piles of clothes so big it looks like an excavator has just dumped them there. I soon have to come to terms with the fact that I will not be able to look at everything.

It’s basically lucky dip: plunge an arm into the depths and hope you pull out something good. Most of it is Atmosphere, George, and other basic lines. One of the jumpers is an old Barking Abbey school jumper which is almost as random as the massive trampoline sitting at the back of the factory.

I have a feeling that on one day I could go in and come away with a bag of clothes and on another day – like today – I could come away with nothing.

Still, it’s exciting to know no visit will be the same. I could spend all day scooping up leggings, shirts, and clothes that I honestly can’t make out at times, looking for something special.

That old cliche comes to mind: it can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. But isn’t that half the fun?

How to get there

Thrift Factory is just a seven minute walk from Pontoon Dock DLR station. Alternatively, it is four minutes from the Thames Barrier bus stop.

The shop is open seven days a week from 9am to 6pm.

If you’re travelling into London you can book UK and European trains – including cheap Eurostar tickets – on Trainline.

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