For me, the way a piece of clothing is cut, the shape it provides for a particular person, the array of colours we have to choose from, all work together to form a piece that will suit certain people and not others, or will be preferred by some and not others; that I find absolutely fascinating. The reason many of us love fashion is because it is a form of expression, it is empowering. It makes us feel good. I am fascinated with the way designers like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen take basic pieces like the t-shirt and put their creative energy into how it fits and falls. We all love a
beautiful design but we want it to complement different body types and skin tones.
My love for personal style led me to start my blog. I wanted to use it as a way of exploring my interests. Since I moved to Liverpool for university I have been rummaging through the abundance of fabulous charity and vintage shops. My finds started to become the heart of my blog and I increasingly started to question the ethical and sustainable status of high street stores. I wanted to understand how and where the garments I was buying were being made. This led me to find some shocking figures. The Guardian printed an
Oxfam report on Unilever’s treatment of its employees in Vietnam. Employees were struggling to provide for their families and ‘Of workers in the Cu Chi factory, 80% said they needed another source of income’.
Workers in a garment factory in Vietnam where the employees work 12 hour days 6 days a week for as little as $1 an hour (Photo Credit: Eleanor Farmer| Oxfam)
So charity and vintage shopping became for me a way of being ethical and sustainable in the consumerist world of fast fashion. It is fantastic that the money we spend on clothes from charity shops are going towards fighting incredible causes. ‘Shining Mothers’ is a women’s group in Nairobi that is supported by Oxfam. Jane, leader of the
women’s group, ‘trains other women on their basic rights and skills for running small businesses.’
Jane Muthoni, leader of ‘Shining Mothers’, buying ingredients to make homemade yoghurt which she sells to the local community in Kawangware, Nairobi, Kenya. 2016 (Image Credit:Allan Gichigi/Oxfam)
Despite the amazing benefits of charity shopping, it is a shame that it has a reputation for being for the less fortunate. I used to volunteer at a charity shop and I was often asked if we had any shopping bags that did not say the name of the charity on it. From my perspective they did not want other people to have the view that they couldn’t afford high street fashion. These customers tended to be the older generation whilst the younger generations today appear to be taking charity shopping as a new trend, a way of finding something quirky. I have a
friend who chooses only to shop in charity shops for ethical and sustainable reasons. I’ll always remember a short, deep purple cardigan she bought. It was knitted and had beautiful little buttons sown on and a ribbed rim. When she told me it was from a charity shop my heart sank – it was gorgeous and I was desperate to wear it! Only now with my own little finds do I truly appreciate the satisfaction of owning an item of clothing that contributes to your unique style. These pieces also have a story. Perhaps that cardigan was worn on a trip to Canada or the French Alps. May be
the gorgeous vintage dress I bought from Pop Boutique in Leeds was worn on an evening out in 1960s Paris, walking by the Seine River. Or maybe it was simply worn to a family birthday party, whilst sharing laughs and food in good company. As I sit writing this blog post, a white beige cross-stitched jumper is resting by my side. I bought it today for £6 at a vintage fair in an old Church in the centre of Leeds. I rummaged through the racks of t-shirts, dresses and finally jumpers until I spotted it. The label says ‘CANADA’. Who brought it over here? Was it shipped with many others,
bought as stock? It has history. It will be loved all over again.
I can still appreciate the craftsmanship of designers and show my support for the ones who are environmentally and ethically conscious like Stella McCartney. I can still enjoy a high street purchase but I try to make sure it is from an ethical company.
The most beautiful designs begin with the beauty of ethical working conditions and sustainable sources and I hope one day all of fast fashion will become fair fashion.
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