This year a few different strands of thinking collided and set me on an ambitious path:
I shall buy no new clothes from mainstream high street retailers in 2011.
No this doesn’t mean I’ll be draped head to toe in designer one-offs, but instead frequenting charity shops, well, frequently.
So what were these strands of thought?
- I love vintage clothes, always have. I sold off much of my collection in my early twenties to fund my travelling in Asia and then gradually built it back up on my return. I could never resist a beautiful vintage garment languishing unloved in a charity shop even if it wasn’t in my size. When it got too much to survive a house move I opened vintage clothing shop on ebay and ran that for a couple of years, alongside working full time. But then ebay changed and we parted ways.
- The increased obsession with ‘disposable fashion’ just goes against my grain. If you think about production chains and low prices, then somebody along the way is seriously losing out. I could get emotive about child labour, environmental impact but really the maths of a £5 t-shirt says it all.
If you want to hear first hand how the fashion industry impacts and smaller local producers, designers and craftspeople, see Susan Crawford’s experience of the Clothes Show Live.
So anyway, what does this really mean?
Well, as a bit of a hoarder anyway, I do have some lovely clothes that I’ve collected over the years so I’ll not be struggling for something to wear. However, I didn’t think to stock up on undies before making this decision so some fair trade organic cotton may come along at some point, but generally it’ll be second hand and homemade.
I must admit I was never a huge high street shopper, tending instead to use smaller independent shops and locally produced clothing – this was relatively easy when I lived in Edinburgh, but here in Lancaster there are fewer such opportunities and I found myself returning to the high street more and more. So whilst this isn’t a huge conceptual shift it will be a practical challenge.
My hoarding instinct does mean I have a large stash of vintage fabrics and even some garments, cut to vintage patterns, cut out but just not sewn up yet. So my old manual Singer will get a little more activity. I also have lots of vintage haberdashery for the finishing touches.
And I really hope to knit a little more for myself this year.
Anyway, here is one of my first purchases.
I saw it and couldn’t resist it even though it was a little tight across the shoulders – but being wool and a knit I thought I’d handwash it and block it to see if I could loosen it up a bit. I did see that it said dry clean only but thought handwashing would be OK…
But just look at it here in the bathroom sink – How red is that water?
The colour leached out so freely I had to be very a careful about not splashing and began to wonder if I’d end up with a pink rather than red jacket:
But here it is on my form and yes, it did loosen up so now fits perfectly and I love it.
This jacket cost £10 with the proceeds going to the local air ambulance. I’m not sure how much something equivalent would cost on the high street, but even at specialist vintage shop prices I think I’ve saved enough to cover the cost of those organic fair trade undies when I need them.