I've read the whole of this thread with interest, and it spurred me to do some 'thrift' shopping myself. I've been quite a fan in the past and picked up some really good deals (brand new Trickers calfskin brogues for Â£10, T&A shirts for Â£4 for example), but I tend to think of there being a lot of dross out there to sort through. I'm also a difficult size (tall and slim).
I therefore went out this morning in West London with the express aim of providing a British perspective on matters, and reporting back on anything of interest in all sizes.
There are two types of store I went into - charity shops (what you know as thrift stores) and consignment stores (far rarer over here). I went into 16 charity / thrift stores, and 2 consignment stores [I passed over another 2 thrift stores that were unexpectedly closed]. This took me three hours including travelling time between the stores, though the overall area they fell within was probably a corridor about a mile wide and four miles long (from Kensington to Chiswick for those familiar with London, up to Notting Hill and Shepherd's Bush).
I only ended up buying two ties for me - a Thomas Pink and a Ferragamo (Â£3 each), and a pair of nearly-new New & Lingood / Crockett & Jones Connaught in black calf (Â£10.99) to flip on eBay as they're too small. The rest of what I saw looked like this (minus all the cheap and nasty stuff):
A bespoke, Savile Row grade SB in PoW check, from which the labels had been removed - very high quality though, but too big for me. Â£25
A bespoke DB 4/6 button evening suit, very nice quality (again, probably up to Row standards but without any labels), probably a 40S / R Â£10
Another unmarked dark blue DB 4/6 button suit in dark blue worsted, about a 38 - 40L but with a large chest, so it just didn't suit me. Nice quality, but machine-sewn button holes and bouttoniere. Â£20
Five (!) Loro Piana Tasmanian Super 120s bespoke suits in one of the consignment stores. Â£100 each, which seemed very reasonable, but they didn't quite look right on me. If they drop the price a little next week I'll have one or two as the savings will pay for some alterations.
A Brooks Bros Golden Fleece DB in a lighter colour in 44R for Â£45
Some hand-made but very badly made bespoke suits for about Â£20 - no makers name, possibly home-made. Pick stitching going all over the place on the edge of the lapels, buttonholes on the skew.
Some Hong-Kong made MTM suits (same manufacturer, different stores) at Â£15-30 - machine made but functioning button holes, fully canvassed, but lacking finesse
Two Hickey Freeman suits, one that looked better quality than the other. Again, about Â£25.
Lots of lower-end Hugo Boss and a little Armani.
A couple of lower-end Corneliani and Canali suits (and a nice lightweight Silk / Wool Canali DB in my size) for between Â£20-40 each.
A 42L Austin Reed jacket (dark grey, pink pinstripe, relatively modern, 42L) that surprised me because it was fully canvassed and looked handstitched. Had obviously been part of a suit. Â£15
Two Zegna Trofeo jackets, orphased from their suits. About Â£20 each
A dark grey DB orphaned jacket by George the Tailor (of Bown Bespoke fame) for Â£10
A black leather Hermes shawl-collar jacket, about a 40R, marked at Â£750 (!!!) in a charity shop - I rather doubt it'll sell. Quite old too.
An odd mustard coloured TSE button jumper in pure cashmere. Fitted nicely but I didn't like the colour, Â£12
A Zegna Sport button neck in knitted cotton which looked quite nice, but I don't know when I'd wear it.
A Donna Karan mainline cashmere jumper in dark blue (had a small hole where the collar met the body, could easily be fixed) Â£8
Another fashion-forward grey cashmere jumper that had lost its label, but funky looking. Â£10
A Donna Karan mainline merino turtleneck Â£8
Plenty of good quality specimens, with prices varying between Â£3 (where I brought mine) all the way up to Â£20. Most high-end brands represented - Gucci, Ferragamo, Pink, Brooks Bros etc etc. No Hermes though. And a fair number of polyester / soup-stained examples.
Lots, though of differing quality and wildly differing prices - no-one seems to consider whether the shirts are worn out or stained before they put them out for sale. Ranged from Â£5 for some nice Charles Tyrwhitt / T M Lewin examples in one shop through to Â£25 for some worn-out Thomas Pink specimens in another shop (I'll name and shame here - Oxfam are getting terrible these days - why would I pay Â£25 for a threadbare and stained Pink when I can get a brand new Lewin of similar quality for the same price?)
Found some Norton & Townsend MTM, fitted perfectly everywhere except the sleeves, which were too short. Also some H&K and other good brands, but no T&A.
A good (looked unworn) Tyrwhitt in white, but the sleeves were 33" which is too short for me. Only Â£4.
Also a nice James Meade (west-country based, but produce stuff in the same factories as everyone else) light blue linen LS shirt with all the usual features. Â£5.
Mostly worn out or poor quality. Highlight was the C&Js I brought for Â£11, other specimens were a pair of waffle-soled Church's suede boots for Â£15;
Alden captoes in black for Â£15 (hardly worn, but I was pretty appalled by the quality), some other tan suede boots with rubber soles by a good Northampton maker whose name I forget. Both size 12 though.
A pair of nicely patinated Church's penny loafers for Â£30 at the consignment store but otherwise looking a little worse for wear
A pair of what I think were MTM Cleverley loafers for Â£100 at the same place
Some Maxwell / Foster & Sons brogue slip-ons for Â£40 (small size) at the consignment store (possibly MTM, looked better quality than the RTW I've seen in their shop window).
Some K Shoes (old English lower-mid range brand, now defunct) bluchers in a lovely patinated tan leather - had obviously been well cared for.
A pair of Tim Little 'blue sole' oxfords, some wear but would have polished up nicely.
A Burberry trench for Â£10 in good condition, but the size label revealed it to be a ladies 12L. Almost brought it for my other half, but she would never wear it.
A Burberry DB wool & cashmere coat in good condition 42L Â£60
An Austin Reed 100% cashmere overcoat for Â£100, but a bit threadbare with it.
Various fashion-forward topcoats, especially in the consignment store (Yohji Yamamoto for Â£300 etc...)
That wasn't everything, but it's everything I can remember a couple of hours later after a few glasses of wine. I think the abiding impression I gained was that there is plenty of nice stuff at reasonable prices (though a lot higher than I think you pay in the US) if you're willing to rummage, and that actually there was more I saw that would fit me was was reasonably priced than I actually went away with - simply because I'm trying to exercise some self-restraint...