During this week I’ve been back and forth between Brighton and London to attend three events; Love Not Landfill, held at LMB textile recyclers in London; Meet the Makers, held at The Fair Shop, Brighton and Re-purpose Your Wardrobe, hosted by Stylist Holly Ounstead, held at the restaurant Tibits in Central London. All three events were so inspiring and motivating, communicating key information about how the fashion industry needs to make a change and how we can get involved and be a part of it.
EVENT ONE: LOVE NOT LANDFILL
First was the Love Not Landfill clothes swap event. On arrival we were greeted with an array of delicious pastries and tea/coffee served in beautiful floral tea cups and saucers. We then sat down to enjoy our breakfast at which time Stylist Emma Slade Edmondson - Queen of charity shopping, gave a great introduction and spoke about how second hand clothing and mending is the way to go.
Next it was time for a tour around the factory. During this tour, we were told that roughly 100,000 pieces of clothing go through the factory every single week. This number really stuck with me, especially when they mentioned that they only collect from a 50/60 mile radius and that 90% of it all comes from clothes banks. On one hand you could focus on how this highlights what an obscene amount of textiles are being thrown out by consumers on a weekly basis but on the other, you could take a positive view (always best in my opinion, life is too short for negativity) and consider that people are clearly making the effort to recycle textiles rather than just putting them into the ordinary kitchen bin. They also mentioned that almost all of the waste they receive inevitably gets recycled in one way or another and that their overall waste within the business is under 8%!
After the tour we went back to the main area where we would then be able to go through/choose from all the clothes donated by each other and LMB. Initially, I have to admit that knowing the person next to me could have been the previous owner of an item I was about to pick up and that they would see my reaction to it, made me slightly hesitant about the whole experience, but after a minute or two I quickly felt at ease and got stuck in! From start to finish the entire morning was really positive and fun; I had been fed for free (students reading this I know you’ll understand me), met some really lovely people who share the same opinion as me and aren’t demanding or pressuring about it, learnt so much about how textiles are recycled, and come away with 2 new outfits (keep an eye on instagram to see these) - for nothing! I know - best morning ever.
EVENT TWO: MEET THE MAKERS
The FAIR Shop, Brighton is exactly that - a fair and beautiful shop that sells wonderful, ethically made fashion and accessories that is located on Queens road, Brighton (near the main train station). During my research for Shop Shaw I happened to come across the shop whilst wandering through the city in search of suitable shops for my sustainable city guide. From first contact Siobhan and her team have been nothing but enthusiastic about Shop Shaw and offered support wherever they can which is how I became aware of this event, held in store last Tuesday evening.
The evening consisted of a mix of talks from three out of the four owners; Siobhan Wilson, Christine Gent and Barb Wilson, followed by organic group discussions surrounding Fashion Revolution, ethical trading/sourcing and the sustainable fashion industry/culture as a whole. Staff were lovely and extremely attentive, offering a selection of delicious vegan food options and wine throughout the evening (although I sadly didn’t have any due to my commitment to running for charity for the month of April). It was really interesting to hear from such pioneers within the industry and how they feel that although we are far from where we should be, change is coming.
I came away feeling more empowered and motivated that ever before, ready to continue on my journey to inform and inspire ethical change. The word sustainable is confusing and at times, an overwhelming word. I know that for me I often feel that I can’t win and that because there are so many elements to consider that it’s impossible. However, after attending this event and hearing how people that have been in this industry for so long understand that the pressures of everyday life such as lack of time and money, make sustainability and ethical shopping harder, I felt even more passionate about Shop Shaw’s goal/message; to encourage people to do what they can, wherever they are, with what they have.
EVENT THREE: REPURPOSE YOUR WARDROBE
Skip ahead 3 days and it’s Friday - the day of the Repurpose Your Wardrobe event with celebrity Stylist and Consultant Holly Ounstead (I am a massive fan so this was really exciting for me), held at Tibits in London. I’d never been to Tibits before but it is such a nice restaurant that serves all kinds of healthy and instagramable goodness, so if ever you are in Central London I highly recommend you pay it a visit! As always, I was early so pulled up a chair in the reception area whilst sipping a delicious apple, ginger and carrot juice (trust me it’s great), before meeting a lovely lady called Marisa who I spent the entire morning with. We head downstairs, picking up our goodie bags on the way and grab a seat ready for the presentation.
The room is full. There must be at least 30 of us there and Holly, who explains this is her first time public speaking since sixth form, starts to go through her 3 step guide to repurposing your wardrobe.
Step 1: Get to know your wardrobe; this step is all about knowing your personal style - what colours do you like, which shapes fit you best and which style do you always refer back to.
Step 2: Stop impulse buying; here she spoke about shopping with a purpose and considering what you need/will wear in the long term, rather than buying for the sake it of or for a one off occasion. If you have a one off occasion you’d like something new for, Wear The Walk is a great business that I met later on in the day at a pop up in East London, which allows you to loan clothes for a set period of time.
Step 3: Maintain; Taking care of our clothes to ensure that they last for as long as possible is so important to reducing the textile waste we produce. By reading care labels, reading up on how particular materials wash and loving our wardrobe that bit more we can extend the lifecycle of our clothes. If we were all to hold onto our clothes for just 9 months longer we’d reduce our carbon footprint by 30-40%!
After the presentation we had the chance to look through all the clothes/accessories in Holly’s ethical style edit. There were many I’d never heard of (not surprising considering how new I am to all of this) and I came away feeling inspired and armed full of new information!
After what has been a truly wonderful, insightful, inspiring, at times slightly overwhelming, and not to mention, extremely busy week, I feel even more motivated to spread awareness. It is so important that we keep the momentum up and carry on spreading Fashion Revolutions message to Be Curious, Find Out and Do something throughout the year and not just for one week.
Having said all this I feel that it is important to point out that no one is perfect and we all lead extremely busy and often demanding lives, so if ever you find yourself in a similar position to me and feel that leading an ethical/sustainable lifestyle is too overwhelming then just remind yourself that all you need to do is: what you can, wherever you are, with what you have.
Once again thank you so much if you've taken the time to read this and if ever you have any questions, please feel free to send me a message - I’d love to hear from you!