It’s currently London fashion week. Clothes, design, and excessive consumerism are once again a huge talking point. I dread to think how much money I’ve spent over the last few years on clothes. Not much makes me happier than scrolling endlessly through ASOS, rummaging through the shelves of Primark or even tackling Topshop on Oxford Street in the sales. I won’t even go into the heaps of clothes that dominate my bedroom (and chaotic floordrobe…) but it’s rare that I take a moment to think about where my clothes came from, how they were made and how they reached me. Companies constantly shove it down our throats that they have a sale on but when was the last time you saw a high street chain be honest and transparent about the design and production of their garments?
‘Children work at all stages of the supply chain in the fashion industry: from the production of cotton seeds in Benin, harvesting in Uzbekistan, yarn spinning in India, right through to the different phases of putting garments together in factories across Bangladesh.’ – in many developing countries children are subjected to exhausting working hours, exposure to pesticides, dangerous working conditions, are often paid below the minimum wage and consequently don’t have the opportunity to go to school. Basically they are exploited for the sake of new clothes for the Western world.
It got me thinking; I love to think that I live fairly sustainably, but how can I preach that to others whilst not even considering the effect of my consumerism on the world. One good part I play in this is that I have a love for second hand clothing. That doesn’t just mean the occasional charity shop find – I mean I seem to find clothes and even homeware items in a large foray of unexpected places. To me, second hand means anything thats been passed on from another owner before reaching me. I find second hand clothes at car boot sales, markets, vintage stores, ebay, depop and from friends or family members. Some of my favourite outfits are made up of second hand items.
The advantages of buying second hand are;
+ environmentally and ethically friendly
+ you can find unique pieces
+ you can find fashions from another era
+ clothes are often built to last; if they’ve made it this far they’re of decent quality
+ often cheaper – second hand clothing is on average 50% cheaper than the brand new equivalent
+ your money stays in the community
+ It’s green; cuts down on manufacturing demands and prevents clothes going to landfill
+ friendly service
+ there’s a possibility of finding designer pieces
+ constant new stock
+ you can find clothes for any season year round
+ if you buy from a charity shop you’re financially supporting that charity
If you struggle with finding second hand clothing you love, why not go the extra mile and make your own clothes? If you use unwanted or ethically sourced material you could create your own designs and ensure they’re totally one of a kind.
To join this fashion revolution you don’t need to be an expert or have heaps of time on your hands – you just need to think outside of the box! Here are a few ideas to help you become more stylishly sustainable;
+ hold a clothes swap party with friends
+ don’t think twice about lending your clothes to your friends
+ old t shirts can be made into scrunchies
+ old pillowcases can be transformed into shopping bags
+ revive a dull outfit with embellishment
+ add new laces to an old pair of boots
+ tie dye t shirts
+ raid your grannies closet for cosy jumpers and cool jewellery – a clear out for her, new stuff for you! win win
+ change the purpose of an item to give it a new lease of life e.g. a bracelet as a hair accessory, wear a maxi skirt as a dress with a belt,
+ use old socks as dusters
+ add studs to denim shorts
+ donate your old clothes to a clothes bank or charity shop instead of throwing away (or sell on ebay if you’re skint)
‘Yaaaas I love it Mary, how can I get involved?’
Do you know what 2016 needs? A new hashtag/selfie/challenge trend. Regardless of your thoughts on these (raising awareness or just plain vain?) it won’t cost you a thing to display your favourite second hand piece of clothing, homeware, book, whatever to inspire others. If it’s been passed on from another owner or customised or made by yourself, go ahead and show it off! I want to see a photo and short description of how it came into your possession posted on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (or all 3 if you’re extra keen) with the hashtag #MySecondHandSelfie and tag me, @Girl Got Lost on Facebook, @girlgotlost_ on Instagram and @mandefieldx on Twitter. Make your post public so everyone can see it and tag a few friends who you want to nominate to do the same. Great chance to nosey into the wardrobes of your mates and encourage others to shop a little more second handedly.
We have enough clothes, despite society trying to convince you otherwise. Stop saying you have ‘nothing to wear’ when you’re standing in front of a wardrobe fit to burst. Stop stressing about the latest trends and focus on finding things that make you feel great. Fashion doesn’t need to be so damaging and disposable. Let’s challenge ourselves to think creatively when it comes to clothing.
Woah, I’ve thrown a lot of facts and ideas your way. sorry about that! I don’t mean that everyone has to become a braless hippie, I’m merely wishing to plant a seed of thought of how you shop and dress. Let’s celebrate second hand and hand made clothes and give a little less support to large corporations who exploit child labour and wreck the environment by importing materials from half way around the world. Let’s continue rocking vintage looks and living just a tiny bit more sustainably.
p.s. have a read if you want to find out more