We all know that rush that comes from buying a new pair of shoes, or a really great, well-made handbag, ore even just the perfect pair of jeans. In fact, shopping is up there with addictions such as gambling and alcohol, and is often termed a “secondary addiction’ as it quite often slides in after a different addiction disappears. Yes, we’re a nation of shoppers. We spend what we earn and the fashionistas amongst us put our wages straight back into our wardrobes and shoe closets.
“I like my money right where I can see it, hanging in my closet.” – Carrie Bradshaw
But in 2018 there was a huge shift in the fashion industry, one that saw a light shone on the damage done to our environment and the finger of blame was largely pointed at fashion. We were shown an ocean once thriving, now nothing but dust. All for the production of cotton for fast fashion. The cries were that fashion is fickle, but it’s also a very complicated beast to understand as there are so many tiers, so many layers, and so many season and micro seasons within each level. It’s difficult to find where the blame does lie, other than to know that garment production plays a huge part in the responsibility of environmental destruction. Making clothes out of a non sustainable material, unethically, is a challenge. One which may, or may not be solved. Pointing the finger most definitely will not solve it, making more conscious decisions at a personal level however, can definitely go along way to make your own contribution towards potentially conserving our environment.
Here’s what I suggest:
1.RE-DISCOVER ITEMS IN YOUR OWN WARDROBE
This is a personal favourite of mine. We all have wardrobes and closets of different sizes, I’m a hoarder so mine are huge, I never throw anything away, just move it from floor to floor or from property to property so when I rediscover something, it’s like finding treasure. (I’m aware that makes me sound like a fucking gross snob but I swear I’m not, I still burp and pump like everyone else.) I found this Gucci Jackie O bag in black leather and denim when I was looking for something else. It’s pristine, I bought it when I was 20 years old and living in London and I’m pretty sure I was so terrified to use it that I never did. That means it’s now brand new and twenty years old, still stuffed and in its original dustbag – probably classed as vintage now. Simple things like this amaze me. I took it out to shoot with my Blogger and Photographer friend Megan Scott and I swear, this brought me so much joy you wouldn’t believe. I also rediscovered a dress I haven’t worn for years, I put it away in a box in the attic, it’s been in there for around 9 years and when I tried it recently it just worked. Obviously I’m 40 now and my body has changed, my hair is different and my style is different. Things change, don’t throw things away, hang on to them and restyle them. Fuck Marie Kondo, if you have the space and you genuinely think you might use it again, keep your stuff.
2. TRY OUT CHARITY SHOPS / THRIFT STORES / VINTAGE FAIRS / ANTIQUE FAIRS
All of them. Charity shops are a little more hit and miss as you’re more likely to find damaged items, or pieces that are just other people’s rubbish, however, in recent years, they’ve gotten a lot better. St Oswald’s in Jesmond is a good bet and they put together a pretty enticing window display. There’s also a very good one in Chester Le Street which seems to change it’s name every week so I won’t include it because by the time you visit it’ll be different. In terms of vintage, Clerkenwell Vintage Fair at Freemason’s Hall in Holborn is amazing, it’s seasonal but generally four times per year. Trendlistr is an amazing curated vintage seller with a studio for viewing and trying on, and there’s also an online selling platform too for the pieces that aren’t in the studio. If you’re up here in the North East, you get the best of both.
The best thrift store we have up here is one I change my mind on quite a lot, at the minute it’s probably Retro which is on High Bridge Court, but last week it was the Durham American Thrift Store which is a HUGE thrift store in Langley Moor. It just depends what their stock is like.
Antique fairs are a bit more exciting. You can roll through these in a flash, especially if you’re looking specifically for clothes and accessories. I tend to get caught up in picking up stuff for the kitchen but generally speaking, antiques fairs are where I go for hats, they have the best and most outstanding (by that I mean as in standing out from the crowd) collections you’re likely to come across. You’ll find crowns, tiaras, hats, widows lace, cloches, all kinds of weird and wonderful hats at an antiques fair and the one I tend to head to first is the seasonal Colin Caygill Antiques Fair at Gateshead Stadium.
3. BUY LESS, WEAR MORE
Try different ways of styling what you already own. I know that’s easy for me to say as a Stylist, but trust me, there are lots of different ways to wear what you already own, it’s why a Capsule Wardrobe is called a Capsule Wardrobe. Set yourself a Rail Challenge where you pick yourself 12 items from your wardrobe and see how many different ways you can style them in a 7 day period. If you work in an office it’s something that can be great fun, if you’re a busy mum parenting the kids at home – not so much, then you need to get your fashion kicks in other ways. As a busy mum myself, I take great pleasure in wearing my son’s clothes when he’s at school, I’m contributing to the sustainable fashion movement and still getting a new outfit every day. Plus, he has some freaking cool clothes man. Double the wear and he doesn’t even know I’m doing it.
4. DO NOT BUY INTO THE “YOU CAN’T WEAR AN OUTFIT MORE THAN ONCE” BULLSHIT
This is one thing I can’t stand about the Blogging / Influencing community and something I appreciate that I’ll never be able to change on my own. The whole ridiculous ethos of “I would never be seen in an outfit I’ve been photographed in”, or, “I can’t wear something I’ve worn before”. It’s utter bullshit, I don’t know how this came about, it’s like Bloggers suddenly believed they were A-List celebrities, except an A-List celebrity would never behave like that. You are single handedly contributing to the problem you are preaching about. By saying that you won’t be seen in the outfit you just posted to Instagram, you are contributing to the sustainable fashion problem directly. It’s just crazy and unbelievable that people don’t see that. I’m more than happy to be seen in my clothes more than once, twice, three or more times, clothes are built to last, hence the term sustainable. I’ve had other local Bloggers say to me that they wouldn’t dare, and they think it’s disgusting that I wear the same clothes a second time, or “Do you know you’ve worn that before?” (er, yes I do, they’re my clothes) “It might be time to throw that T-shirt away, you’ve worn it before” and “You’ve already posted that on Instagram”. I’m literally facepalming right now.
Wear your clothes. Wear them out. If you get sick of them and no longer want them, pass them on to a friend or a charity store. Or, and that leads me on to my next point….
5. ORGANISE A CLOTHES SWAP OR SALE
Got a closet full of clothing and accessories that no longer fit, isn’t your style, no longer works with your brand new hair shade or you feel you just need a change? A clothes swap or sale might be for you. So what’s the difference? Well, a Swap is basically a night in with a selected group of friends who each bring round some pieces from their wardrobe that they no longer want. You agree to showcase your pieces and then swap anything you don’t want, for something you do want. Simples. The problems with this is that you generally need to swap with a group of friends who are all the same size – I don’t know about you, but my friends come in all shapes, heights and sizes. This is why sometimes a sale is the best option.
A Sale is similar except you exchange cash. You might be saving up for something, moving home, saving for a car, for medical treatment, decorating or giving proceeds to charity (all of these are perfectly acceptable). You set a price, your friends might haggle, once you agree, you complete the sale and sell your item. I like these ones, they’re like eBay or DePop but more personal, usually in someone’s home, with a few drinks, a few nibbles and you generally get to pick up some amazing bargains and make some awesome new friends. I went to one in London and met legendary designer Pam Hogg which completely blew my mind.
I’m actually thinking about holding a private sale at my home maybe in April of this year so drop me a comment, message or email if you fancy coming – I promise, it will be mint.