Measure Up: The Quick and Easy Way to Compare Fashion Brands

I always maintain that second-hand shopping is the ultimate in guilt free consumption. Second-hand finds are sustainable and affordable and, if they are charity shops finds, you’re supporting a good cause too. Sometimes though, you can’t find everything you need second-hand. Sometimes, you might want to venture onto the high street and the that can be a confusing place if you’re trying to be an ethical shopper.

One website however, is providing an easy way to navigate the retail sinners and saviours. Measure Up launched last summer as a quick and easy tool for conscious consumers to compare high street favourites. Each retailer/brand is scored with a traffic light system against ten indicators such as ‘evidence of living wages?’ and ‘factories audited every two years?’ In the months since its launch more companies have been added, featuring everything from Accessorize to Zara.

The money needed to set up and run it has been put in by the individuals who’ve done the research, design and programming without any links or affiliations to any clothing brands. It represents a lot of work, all edited down into an easy to use matrix. So who measures up best? People Tree comes top of the class with full positive marks and Monsoon Accessorize also scores positively, as do Asda.

The more I learn about ethical and sustainable fashion, the more confused I become. It’s certainly not a black and white issue, yet measureup.org.uk is a great step forward in demystifying the market. What’s more, having a straight forward way to compare brands will hopefully give low-performing brands an incentive to change their ways.

Try it for yourself at https://measureup.org.uk/.

Oxfam Online Shop: Designer Special

Christmas is a distant memory and we are left with only traces of glitter and some impossible resolutions to keep. My resolution involved a serious argument with my wardrobe.  Working at Oxfam means that I am surrounded by great second hand clothes everyday and I spend a lot of my free time in charity shops which has resulted in a bit of a messy wardrobe.  I have a very good selection of high street items and exciting vintage but, as I tearfully send some items back to my local Oxfam, I realise a gap in my newly neat wardrobe.  I have no designer clothes,
investment pieces or anything high end and, when I take a tea break and flick through the latest glossy magazine, I remember why I have no designer items – they cost more than I earn in a year! So, how am I going to afford pieces of fashion history without having to sell everything I own?

To the rescue is the Oxfam Online Shop

 

After spending 15 minutes entering some current designers from my fashion magazine, I found a wonderful selection of second hand, high end items. Here are my favourites –

 

 

 

  1.  Roberto Cavalli Silk Blouse This Cavalli silk blouse has gold snake buttons on and a pattern that will keep you occupied for hours. A bright, ornate item for only £60 – has a baggy fit, easy to wear such as with leggings
  2. Gucci Floral Silk Scarf A scarf – a fantastic way to have a high end designer item that never goes out of fashion.  For £85 an unusual Gucci floral yellow and pink silk scarf that is a multi-use piece of luxury:  headscarf, neck scarf, tied around bags.
  3. Zadig & Voltaire Cashmere Cardigan Cashmere is my favourite fabric but can be very expensive. For only £39.99 this is a really high quality cashmere cardigan – very soft and warm for the winter with beautiful details from Zadig & Voltaire
  4. Mulberry Ankle Boots Boots – for £150 (which is what you can pay in some high street stores) get some brand new suede boots from classic British luxury brand, Mulberry. These are beautiful with gold studding – much the same as some appearing in their current spring/ summer ads.
  5. Moschino Jeans Playsuit  Wow. I think this is my favourite – it is like nothing else (except 90s Madonna) I have ever seen. For £60 this playsuit from Moschino will definitely stand out from the crowd – not a high street copy in sight!

 

So those are my favourites on the Oxfam Online Shop at the moment – why not have a look and see if any of your favourite designer labels are on there.

Clothes Clearout: Spring Clean Your Wardbrobe

Written by: Hattie Peacock  // @peacocks_hat // insidethemindofadiscoball.blogspot.co.uk

Spring is approaching, although you wouldn’t know it judging by the recent snow in the UK, but it’s never too early to start thinking about clearing out your wardrobe.  One of the best ways to keep your clothing organised is to do regular seasonal sort-throughs. Not only does it remove all of the pieces you no longer wear, it also redirects you to those long-lost pieces you used to love. At this time of year, after receiving Christmas gifts or treating ourselves to a few sale items, our wardrobes are more in need of a sort out than ever.

Having a good reshuffling session allows you to see lots of potential outfit possibilities. Far too often, we pair the same items over and over again- try lying out a few skirts or trousers and seeing how they look with tops you wouldn’t normally team them with. Reacquainting yourself with the contents of your wardrobe also allows you to assess what new season items you need to buy. There will no doubt be a few ‘on trend’ items to invest in, but you will have the basis for most of the season already
in your wardrobe. It’s always good to remind yourself of what you do have when planning your purchases for the approaching months.

Thinking ahead in terms of weather appropriate clothing is also a great way to save on storage space. Consider carrying out a ‘wardrobe swap’, around September and then again in March, and pack away items from the past few months and get out those for the approaching season.  You can store these items in compressed vacuum bags to free up more space in your wardrobe leaving room for you to properly consider all your clothes. 

A well organised wardrobe not only saves you time in the mornings but it will also save you money because you will have a real understanding of what clothing you already have. Whilst you’re sorting through, keep Oxfam in mind for all those items in the unwanted pile. You can either drop them into an Oxfam shop, or deposit them in a Shwopping box at your local Marks and Spencer. Let those clothes take a well-deserved spot in someone else’s wardrobe rather
than a neglected one in yours.

Marks & Spencer and Oxfam Shwop Shop

The doors of the Marks & Spencer and Oxfam Shwop Shop opened to the public yesterday for a two -day extravaganza filled with hundreds of uniquely shwopped garments and celebrity donations.

The delicious array of items adorning the rails were handpicked by the festival shop team at Wastesaver, Oxfam’s recycling and sorting facility in Huddersfield.  Shwopped items from all over the country were included in the Shwop Shop, with an exciting selection of vintage M&S pieces. The pop-up shop also housed one-off donations from celebrities including Plan B, Gary Barlow, Gemma Cairney, Caroline Flack, Tali Lennox and Peaches Geldof.

The face of Shwopping, Joanna Lumley opened the event to press and headed the till for the first of the public purchases.  She also donated her own ‘absolutely fabulous’ jacket.

Super stylists Brix Smith-Start and Grace Woodward also attended the opening offering their fashion expertise and putting together a selection of top looks from the Shwop stock (more to come on this from team fash…)

Speaking to Joanna Lumley, Shwopping ambassador, she said: ‘Shwopping does nothing but good. It saves landfill sites from being filled with perfectly good clothes and it respects the clothes we’re dealing with made from cottons, silks, wools, nylons and many more. It does absolute immeasurable good through Oxfam for the people it supports in developing countries.’

She admitted to being a seasoned fan of charity shops herself, she said: ‘A lot of charity shops, particularly Oxfam, get the really, really good clothes which are then knocked down to a fraction of the price. I have no qualms about wearing other people’s clothes, it never troubles me!’

After a successful first day of Shwopping, it’s lucky the Oxfam stock room holds many more hidden treasures ready for the Friday sales!                                                                                                                        
                        

If you can’t make it to the Shwop Shop, the Oxfam Online Shop has plenty of vintage and fashion items for you to browse. 

Teresa Collenette Discovers Fashion with Passion!

Ever since Henrietta Ludgate opened her workshop there, Whiteleys, Bayswater, seems to have come to life and acquired a brand new buzz. I love to pass by there and see fabric strewn on tables and scissors in action! Imagine my excitement then to see that her workshop was hosting a sustainable sample sale…

When I went there to investigate, I not only found some wonderful clothes and accessories but also the designers themselves.  This was clearly going to be more than a shopping experience. How often does a shopper get to chat with the creators of the clothes and discover what inspires them!

I was immediately drawn to Lu Flux’s patterns and prints.  Lu up-cycles vintage textiles creating colourful one-off pieces imbued with a playful nostalgia. I couldn’t wait to try on the amazing dress made from vintage embroidered linen tablecloths.  Her toile de jouy print jacket featuring delicate drawings of herself and her boyfriend was both witty and whimsical. Patchwork featured prominently and I eventually succumbed and bought a stunning tulip shaped floral patchwork skirt.  I loved the pattern and the colours and the fact that she had used a towelling
fabric in the patchwork adding texture and a note of quirkiness!

Whereas Lu’s patchwork has a mathematical angle, Ada Zanditon’s inspiration has a more scientific perspective.  Ada’s clothes redefine luxury with their fabrics and structure but also reference nature and the environment. Ada uses her photography of elements of the natural world to create beautiful prints that reflect the environment.  Her waterfall dress was breathtaking to see.  The print, which visually mimics the ice-cold waters of the Antarctic is created from photos of penguin feathers and jellyfish, and the very structure of the dress with its front
cascading fabric panel creates a waterfall effect. Ada is also fascinated by seahorses, which are the inspiration for another of her prints.  Ada will be doing a sponsored swim for the Seahorse Trust at the end of May!

I had been hoping to find one of Henrietta Ludgate’s amazing quilted coats just my size in the sample sale but sadly that was not to be! However, it was a thrill to see one at close range, as well as her quilted skirt with its exaggerated A-line shape, satin dresses in jewel colours and her sculptural collars.  For Henrietta, structural design and minimalist form have architectural echoes, and I love that her clothes not only embody traditional skills, craft and luxury, but also have a really cool modern edge to them.

Accessories were represented at the sale in the form of bags designed by Sonya Kashmiri.  Her beautiful soft and colourful sculpted leather bags are made from chrome free vegetable- tanned leather.  I loved her Armadillo bags!

Looking around the workshop, it was so exciting to realise that sustainable fashion offers such a variety of options thanks to the diversity of the inspiration motivating these passionate designers.  I left Whiteleys inspired and with a beautiful unique skirt!