Beccy Frost

Friday, 27 November 2020

Could Fast Fashion Brands Pay their Workers a Living-Wage and Produce Affordable Clothes? Absolutely

ISTO breakdown their prices - via the Know The Origin website

An argument sometimes made in favour of Fast Fashion brands is affordability. It's really important that clothes can be affordable. But does making fashion affordable mean that garment workers can not be payed a fair wage?

There are an increasing number of transparent ethical brands that publish price breakdown's of their products. Looking at the breakdown made be realise that it would be possible for brands, such as Pretty Little Thing, to easily pay a living wage, should they wish...

ISTO are a brand who aspire to make ethical fashion affordable and are transparent about the pricing of their products. One of their organic t-shirts costs 9.03 to make and is sold at retail for 28 (traditional retail 80). This is their breakdown of the products cost:

Materials: 4.30,  Packaging: 1.74,  Labour: 3.10,  Labels: 0.14,  Transport: 0.01

Despite an awareness that living wages differ in countries, I was surprised at how low the cost of an ethical product could be! 

If Missguided think it is ok to pay workers in their Leicester factory (UK) less than half the legal minimum wage (a factory which they have control over) then how much are workers in countries such as Bangladesh paid? 

The organisation Clean Clothes breaks down the cost of a 29 t-shirt of which they determine 0.6% (just 0,18 euros) goes to the worker. 



Research has shown that customers are willing to pay a few more pounds for ethical (and sustainable) products. Brands can pay workers a living wage and still make their products affordable. We just need to look at the likes of Lucy & Yak or Know the Origin to see that values and affordability do not have to be mutually exclusive. 

Paying a fair living wage would eat into a brands' profit the tiniest amount! They would still have a large turnover and the worker would be paid fairly for their time and skills. I am sure that, making $1 billion a year, Boohoo CEO and PLT CEO's Mahmud Kamani and Umar Kamani wouldn't even notice the change. Brands have nothing to loose by tracing their supply chains and making sure workers are paid, but workers have everything to gain. 

It's Black Friday today and I couldn't write all of this without mentioning that Pretty Little Thing are having a 99% off sale today. Some clothes are being sold for 4p. It is shocking that a brand is happy to practically give their clothes away but completely resist the idea of paying their workers a living wage. This is unjustifiable. It is also worth noting that in order to sell so many products at such low cost, they must have produced an unthinkably high volume of them. This Black Friday, if you choose to shop, please support second hand, sustainable and particularly small and local stores :)

Further information on Black Friday and sustainability:

- 9 Ways To Disrupt Black Friday

- @venetialamanna

                                                                                Beccy x


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Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Summer Shirt Up-cycle Project


My first up-cycling project in a while! On the left is the shirt which used to belong to my Nanna. I have worn it once or twice in the last few years (tied up to make it less boxy and more comfy) although I decided that to make it more wearable for the summer months, I would make some alterations to it such as taking the sleeves off and making it more cropped.

I started by unpicking the sleeves and doing a really simple double-turned hem.



The shirt is a few sizes too large for me which became really obvious once it had no sleeves as the side seem sagged out a lot. I took the armhole in by about 7cm, down to the corner of the side seam, which gave the shirt a much nicer fit (see left side of the shirt on the mannequin).
I also took 10cm off the hem at the back of the shirt to give the shirt a more cropped fit, tapering the hems to a point at the front of the shirt so that it is easier to tie.
Using the fabric waste from the sleeves to make a mask because who doesn't like it when their mask co-ordinates with their outfit these days! I created a pattern and the mask following one of the first tutorials that I came across on YouTube. They fit really nicely and the video is really simple to follow, instructing you on how to make a pattern for your mask. The masks also have two layers (the inner one meaning that you can add a filter) which offers more protection. I have also stitched pipe-cleaners into the top line of the masks to help them fit more snuggly to the bridge of the nose (especially helpful if you have glasses).
Although quite simple alterations, I think that the changes to the shirt make it much more wearable for summer!

Let me know if you have found any good mask patterns/tutorials!



Beccy x


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Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Interview With Mia Lewin Founder Of Ethical Lingerie Brand Airbrushed Intimates

@rebeccafrostillustration
Mia Lewin launched her brand, Airbrushed Intimates, on the 1st July 2020. 
I love the bright zingy colours of the soft regenerated fabric (ECONYL®)that she has chosen for her first lingerie collection. Mia is open about what she likes about fast fashion - it's colours, soft fabrics and affordability - but also wants to see change to the unsustainable strain fast fashion has on our planet. Airbrushed Intimates also offer a return and recycle scheme and have begun a partnership with The Big Blue Ocean Cleanup, donating £1 for every photo shared.  I was curious about the origin of the brand's name, and wanted to find out more about Mia's hopes for her new lingerie line and for the planet...

 1.    What inspired you to start Airbrushed Intimates and what led you to choose this name?

 The environment became my world during University, where I specialised in sustainability within society. After which, my path actually took a turn and I became a full-time model, with which I was immersed into the fashion industry - an industry that I have always adored; as it promotes diversity, enables self-expression, enhances confidence, reflects religion and keeps history alive.

To my dismay, this world also exposed me to the harsh reality that is fast fashion - the sheer number of garments that are purchased and discarded for the industry is devastating. Each person buys an estimated 26.7kg of clothing every year in the UK alone, often fuelled by fast fashion brands releasing new styles weekly as a strategy designed to make people feel as though the clothes they just bought are already off trend.


Nonetheless, I have to admit that I am an absolute sucker for cute clothing. Which brings me to why Airbrushed was founded - to 'Airbrush' the bad bits out of the fast fashion industry and show how sustainable manufacturing can produce designs that are even more appealing, and just as affordable as those offered by fast fashion brands.

The word choice actually came from my personal feelings towards airbrushing models, a standard practice in the fashion industry that can be extremely harmful to both the model and those who view the photographs. I actually came up with the name on set of a shoot! To cut a long story short, I hope to bring a whole new meaning to the word and use it for positive impact. We refuse to airbrush our models, because we promise you, your bodies and skin are far more beautiful left untouched.
 

2.  What role do you plan for the brand in promoting body positivity and diversity?
 
The debut collection launched with five sizes from extra-small to extra-large, as I noticed bralette sets are often only available in three sizes, from small to large. Moving forward, the brand is currently in the process of releasing several more sizes up to a UK size 22; which we have wanted to have from the start, but given our restrictions on quantities and time, we had to stick to the five at first and release more sizes as we grew (slow fashion has its difficulties!).

In line with this we were able to have several models for our debut collection; all different ethnicities and sizes. After being a full-time model and constantly being airbrushed myself, body positivity is extremely important to me personally – I’ve felt the damage that it can cause, and don’t wish for anyone to feel that way! Hence why we will never airbrush our models. Ever. 

Nonetheless, I just want to stress that body positivity is not just about dress size and everyone is entitled to their own concerns, whether it is being too short, too tall, having small breasts or large breasts, skin issues, hair issues; the list goes on.

I remember when I first got scouted to model; I distinctly remember turning to the friend I was with, awaiting their response to the scout, who proceeded to ask me if I was listening! It was directed at me! I honestly just remember thinking why on earth would this lady want me to be a model, covered in eczema from head to toe. But she did, and my point is that nobody is perfect, and often one’s body concerns will never be visible to the outside world. 

3.    Who make the clothes for Airbrushed?

ApparelTasker, based in London, are behind the manufacturing for Airbrushed. The eco policies of ApparelTasker are in line with the international standard ISO14001:2015, to ensure that environmental impacts are being measured and improved. Essentially, they are the gold standard of ethical production.

Mia Lewin wearing the Beige Bralette set produced from Econyl

4.     How are you consciously reducing the environmental impacts of your products on the planet?

Although fabrics are of course relevant in a company’s sustainable efforts, their importance is often exaggerated. Reducing the environmental impacts of products is far more than fabrics, it's a culture, and one that Airbrushed Intimates™ is founded on. We are dedicated towards all things environmental; including research into how the sustainable fashion industry is changing (because it constantly is!), design of current and new products, production (which we will forever keep within the UK for quality and to reduce our travel footprint) and packaging (which is, and always will be plastic free). 


5. What have been your personal highlights and challenges of starting an ethical fashion brand?  

The main challenge I faced in starting a sustainable brand was sourcing the trims for manufacturing. I chose CMT manufacturing, which stands for ‘Cut, Make, Trim’ – to ensure that I was able to choose and monitor the whole supply chain of the product from start to finish. However, although sustainable fashion is on the rise, there is still a long way to go in terms of the availability of sustainable fabric and trims and thus the research and ability to source these was most certainly a challenge (to put it lightly!).

A personal highlight of starting an ethical fashion brand was my first sale to a stranger. Of course, I also did a little dance when my best friend ordered a set, but there was just something so special about someone with no attachments to feel the same passion as me. It still gives me Goosebumps!


@emmzstagram

@emmzstagram

6.    What are your hopes for the brand?

My hopes for the brand were to show even just one person that the joys of fast fashion, can actually be done slowly, ethically and sustainably. Since the launch, I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of our followers and customers, and now my hope is simply to be able to keep doing what I love, and eventually bring all the favourites of the fast fashion industry; but slowly, ethically and sustainably.


7.    Which is your personal favourite set from the collection?

The debut collection is inspired by the extraordinary colours of nature, and thus my personal favourite is the Upcycled Turquoise set, which represents the Blue Footed Booby. The Booby obviously has the most incredible coloured feet, but it also captured my heart after visiting the Galapagos many years back, as they have the most mesmerising dance – I’d highly recommend you to check it out, there is nothing quite like it!



Thank you Mia! 
Be sure to have a look at Mia's colourful debut collection here and on the Airbrushed Intimates Instagram.


Beccy x
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Monday, 25 May 2020

In This Fashion Crisis, Do We Have To Choose Between People Or The Planet?

I have noticed a growing number of people questioning what the right decision is when it comes to purchasing fashion in the current cornavirus situation and onwards into the future.

More people than ever have been researching sustainable fashion, and for those fortunate people who have been able to adapt to a slower pace of life, many have had time to reconsider their consumerist values that are embedded in society.
Brands are starting to announce plans for huge sales when they finally reopen to shift stock.
Initiatives such as Lost Stock are selling discounted boxes of high street clothes to support garment worker's wages.

The dilemma is this: even with ethical and sustainable issues surrounding brands, is it more ethical to buy these clothes to prevent them going to landfill and support garment worker's wages?

In the short term, do we have to choose between ethics and sustainability? People or planet?

I don't think there is a yes or no answer, but here are a few things that you should personally consider and weigh up...

Who stands to benefit?

Who is going to benefit if and when you buy a jumper from a fast fashion brand?
If your genuine concern lies with the wellbeing of a garment worker and their family, are you sure that the brand's profits will be used to support them?  
Is the brand that you plan to shop at one of the very brands who haven't yet guaranteed that their workers will be paid for the clothes that they have already produced? Do they actually have their worker's best interests and wellbeing at heart? 

The Pay Up campaign has been calling on big brands to pay their workers, who will be some of the worst effected in the wake of the crisis. As of the 20th of May, brand's which have agreed to pay up include Adidas, Marks & Spencer and North Face. Brand's currently oweing millions to factories and garment workers for clothes they have already made include Topshop (Arcadia), Primark, Urban Outfitters and Asda. Isn't that shocking? 

But how can we be part of the solution? There are other options to shopping in the sales which are garanteed to help garment workers... 

Donate To Garment Workers

If you are in a situation where you are able to, great charities which are supporting workers throughout this crisis include AWJA Foundation, The Garment Worker Centre and GoodWeave International
Clean Clothes Campaign, Fashion Revolution and Labour Behind The Label are brilliant organisations which are working to secure workers rights and campaign for a fairer fashion industry.

Support small and ethical brands

Even before the impact of the crisis on garment workers across the world, there was still the issue of underpaid workers. Before brands refused to pay for the clothes that had already been made, the workers were still paid a pittance.  By supporting ethical and sustainable brands you are contributing to fair living wages. Brands will follow where the money is and if our money is going into ethical products then brands will most likely see that demand and act.

It is also incredibly important to support small businesses in a time like this- something that I am sure you already know. Profits for big brands such as Amazon have increased. It can be as simple as making small changes to where you choose to buy from - such as seeing if your local bookshop is offering home deliveries.
Supporting small brands doesn't always mean spending money either. It can be as simple as sharing or liking a post. The cost is often very little but the impact is great!
Shop from brands who have committed to pay their workers, over those who haven't

While we might not always be in a position to control the scope of our choices, we always have a choice. If you are in need of clothes and are not looking to spend much money, could you maybe do a quick search and find out which of your favourite brands have already agreed to pay up? Which brands are actually taking action (and without greenwashing)? As Lucy Greenwood of Lucy & Yak said "they want our money, don't give it to them unless they are making positive changes".

Lost Stock 

Potentially a brilliant and positive short term solution and a much more justifiable way to shop than the upcoming sales, Lost Stock are an initiative creating discounted £35 boxes of clothes, the money from which will be able to support a garment worker for a week. I am hesitant to criticise this initiative as I think that it is incredibly important that garment workers are supported. It is also a clever way to shift stock and encourage people to support workers as they shop. 
However, as Venetia La Manna, environmental activist said in a recent Instagram post, why should it "fall on us as consumers to buy clothes that we don't need, in order to support garment workers?".
Why should we be forced to choose between values of sustainability and ethics?
It is ultimately the brands who have cancelled orders who have put garment workers in this position. Venetia goes on to say "ultimately, the cancelled orders have served to highlight the systematic problem within the fashion industry and capitalism".
I think about it a bit like this-
Should we have to donate to the NHS like it is a charity? No, it should be properly funded, but that doesn't make people any less likely to do amazing things to help it. 
We should support it, but we should equally remember that our heath workers do need fair pay and the NHS does need funding. 
We should support garment workers but we also need to remember that it is the brand's role to protect it's workers, pay them a fair living wage and support them. So we need to equally try to support garment workers and challenge brands. 
With just the former and not the latter we find ourselves with only a hollow, short-term solution.

Another thing is that the stock already exists. Garment workers have spent time and skill on these clothes, and without being a reason to justify our mindless shopping, dismissing Lost Stock would be to ignore the alternative of huge volumes of unworn stock in landfill.
Ultimately Lost Stock is having a positive impact and we need to focus on the positive in this current climate. 
This being said, let us not forget the impact that excessive shopping has on the planet. In the long term it is ethical to think of sustainability. 


What do you think? I hope that you are safe and well.


Beccy x


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Sunday, 5 April 2020

Can the Trend of Visible Mending Help to Remove the Stigma of Old Clothes?

A uni project and this unexpected period of self-isolation got me thinking about mending; something I have never normally taken time to do. Maybe you feel bored of the word ‘mending’ already but I have recently noticed the trend of visible mending in collections from the likes of Bode, Comme des Garcons and Alexander McQueen. Brands such as Johnathan Cohen and Ulla Johnson's are also including patchwork patterns in their 2020 collections with Cohen choosing to use dead-stock fabrics. Smaller brands such as ReJean, who have always made mending and repurposing fabrics their mission, deserve a mention too.
Despite being a trend that predominantly comes from our changing attitudes towards how we care for our clothes rather than high fashion itself, seeing these collections makes me wonder if trends like these have the power to change the way we value our old clothes.

Annually more than 300,000 tonnes of clothes goes to landfill in the UK – £12.5 billion worth of clothes binned. How many of those clothes could have been saved from landfill if we decided to take ten minutes to mend an old jumper?
Yes, part of the issue is convenience, but would we be so eager to take the time to mend something if we thought it wouldn’t be socially accepted to wear it? I'm not sure that we would.

Mending is not something that we normally factor into our daily routines. We typically have fast paced lifestyles where there is usually a sense of guilt surrounding a lack of our productivity. Then when we do decide to stop, mending (typically seen as a chore) isn’t going to be at the top of our list. However in a world where thinking about the strain that fashion is putting on the planet, mending is a gentle, mindful form of protest against our disposable culture. 
Just like home crafts such as embroidery and knitting, the act of darning old clothes (instead of throwing them away) generally lost its popularity with my parents generation. For a few decade’s home crafts where seen as twee and old fashioned; a past-time which was a reminder of the domestic lifestyle imposed upon a lot of women. It wasn’t a choice and then it was, so we chose to do away with it.

Today home crafts have been reinvented. See Wool & The Gang for an example of how knitting patterns need not be garish and frumpy, but modern and like anything you would choose to buy from a high end store. 
Our attitudes are slowly starting to change, but there is still a stigma associated with old clothes. It is after all the desire for us to constantly refresh our wardrobes that fuels the fast fashion industry. Although now actively showing that something has been worn and mended has become a counter-trend to fast fashion!
In the last few days I have tried out a bit of darning for myself.
It is very similar to weaving, fairly simple and I found it incredibly satisfying to take something unwearable and give it a purpose again. I can imagine it will become quite addictive...

With the backing of big brands hopefully this menial task can become a creative and fun way to reinvent the clothes that we own. A brand recently giving a lot of attention to darning is TOAST. Artist Celia Pym was commissioned by them to document the ways in which knitted toast garments had been worn over time and Celia's collection of clothes where put together into an exhibition. To be honest regardless of whether it's a trend, I personally think darning can be really beautiful and makes some clothes even more interesting than they were originally!

Below are some places to find advice of how to mend. Have a look at my Pinterest board on visible mending for inspiration too! I also really recommend the inspiring Fashion Revolution zine Loved Clothes Last for guidance on how to mend and care for your clothes to make them last.

1. http://theknittingneedleandthedamagedone.blogspot.com/2014/02/oh-darn.html

2. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/jan/03/how-to-mend-more-and-buy-less

3.https://tikkido.com/blog/sashiko-japanese-visible-mending?utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest&utm_campaign=tailwind_tribes&utm_content=tribes&utm_term=799501142_33323784_533352

Lets hope that we continue to see mending promoted in fashion – not through meaningless stitches and token patches on clothes, but through re-using discarded fabrics, creating clothes made to last and encouraging customers to care for their wardrobes.  
I believe that designers are in a great position to create a culture where re-imagining old clothes isn't seen as a last resort but becomes a popular choice.

                                                                                          Beccy x
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Saturday, 7 December 2019

Show The Love Campaign - The Brands Making Pledges For The Planet

The Climate Coalition is an organisation which was founded in 2005 and represents over 130 organisations including the National Trust and the RSPB. Their positive climate action campaign Show The Love launched ten years later. On the 26th of July I attended the UK's largest ever lobby for the climate and nature, organised by The Climate Coalition. The Time Is Now lobby brought together over 12,000 people from across the UK to lobby their MP's into taking action on the climate crisis. 
The Show The Love Campaign is a positive campaign which encourages individuals and companies alike to make pledges on how they will reduce their Carbon Footprint in order to protect our planet for future generations. The scale of the Climate Crisis can often leave us feeling hopeless and out of control, perhaps feeling as if we don't have any power to change anything. The Show The Love campaign is about making positive and achievable changes within our lives and realising, that whilst our actions may seem small, they very quickly add up and have a big impact once adopted by a lot of people.
Maybe you will make a pledge to reduce your consumption of plastic, to use a re-usable water bottle, to make an effort to walk places rather than take out the car or buy your clothes second hand.

Choosing to support brands which are making a conscious effort to reduce their impact on the planet is another thing that you can do. In the words of sustainable fashion advocate Emma Watson,
"As consumers we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy"

I have contacted some of my favourite brands to find out what changes they plan to make throughout various areas of their company to reduce their carbon footprint.

"This Autumn we launched our crowdfunder to pre-order our latest collection. It is eco-friendly Tencel, and pre-orders mean zero waste! This is how we'll be cutting down our carbon footprint."



"It has always been a priority for Seeker x Retriever to reduce the Earth's carbon footprint. That's why we make our clothes in small batches (less than 20 pieces per item) and use a made to order basis to guarantee that we don't overstock or have any left over fabrics and items that will be wasted in landfill. Our soon to launch recycle program will also be making use of scrap fabrics that we have at the tailors."



"Our designers have worked closely with our factories this season to develop our new Eco Wash collection which uses up to 80% less water than traditional denim production, as well as using GOTS certified organic cotton...our new compostable bags are the perfect alternative to the standard courier bags."



"Currently Kind Socks uses organic cotton, which uses 46% less greenhouse gases than standard cotton...packaging has been the biggest challenge because, being a digital first business, the majority of our sales come from online. That is why we currently use a 100% Compostable Mailer by No Issue..."



5. ReJean 
"ReJean is a Unisex denim brand. We make generic workwear inspired garments using reclaimed fabrics. We consciously do not contribute to the production of new materials by only using reclaimed fabrics! The nature of our production process means that each garment is completely one of a kind. All we require is electricity to power our machinery. Our garments are made to last a lifetime. We also run mending workshops to give our customers the skillset to repair their clothes when necessary."



6. Roake
"From selecting materials that are manufactured with waste-reducing processes in mind, to using a bike and trailer for local deliveries, we're doing everything we can to keep our impact on the planet as low as possible. We work with factories that use tech to reduce waste, develop closed loop systems and create efficient manufacturing processes. We use natural materials to ensure that the post consumer impact is controlled, and explore circular options wherever possible. Our hairpins, for instance, are made from brass, which is a material that can be recycled repetitively, forever. Our orders are sent out in biodegradable packaging, such as potato starch mailers, and we never produce more materials than necessary."



7. Wild Fawn Jewellery 
"We make all of our jewellery here in London which means that there's no Carbon footprint from importing anything from overseas. We use recycled silver and gold here and continue the theme by having a highly organised recycling system here at the studio. Waste is inevitably created in any business but we do our absolute best to be as kind to the environment as possible from buying snacks from our local plastic-free shop to reusing any waste paper for our 'to-make' lists."

These great brands are doing their part and leading the way in providing sustainable alternatives.  Why not show the love this Christmas by supporting brands that are choosing to have a positive impact on our planet?

I would love to hear about your pledge, whether it is personal or for your brand - do get in touch! For other ways that you can get involved visit The Climate Coalition website.

                                   Beccy x

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Monday, 11 November 2019

H&M Has Demanded That We Don't Ditch Fast Fashion - But At What Cost?


At first I wasn't quite sure what to make of the headline that popped up on my phone on the 28th of October. I had to read it twice:

'H&M boss warns of ‘terrible social consequences’ if people ditch fast fashion'

Initially, the first thing that came to mind was that fashion has reached a turning point. Here is the proof that consumers hold the power over the fashion industry. A boss of a fashion business is asking customers not to stop shopping with them, primarily because customers are shopping less as we are realising the environmental impact of our clothes. The fast side of fashion doesn't work together with protecting our environment at all.
I find it incredibly ironic that the boss of a major fast fashion retailer is warning of 'terrible social consequences' as if there haven't been terrible social consequences for the people making clothes for under a living wage. Credit to H&M for planning to go climate positive by 2040, but if 'the climate issue is incredibly important. It’s a huge threat and we all need to take it seriously' as Persson so rightly says, shouldn't it be understandable that we need to consume less in order to protect the planet from climate breakdown? Or do their interests lie elsewhere..? 

I understand that there is some reason behind what they say. Fashion is, of course, an industry which creates jobs for garment workers and dividends for business owners, but it is the garment workers in poorer counties, such as Bangladesh, who will be hit the hardest by the effects of climate change. And, yes, we need to support workers in the fashion industry, but by supporting brands that pay a fair living wage and do their part to reduce the threat of climate change to the places where they live.
Fast Fashion has dried up lakes which were once used for fishing, polluted rivers which were formerly sources of drinking water with toxic chemicals, churned out vast quantities of greenhouse gases and left workers with little-to-nothing to live on. These are terrible social consequences.


The way you shop does have an impact on how businesses like H&M work. They care about your money and what makes you spend it. If ethics and sustainability are high on all of our priority lists, so will it be on theirs. If you are a customer at H&M, challenge them and ask who made your clothes, and how they were made - you have more power than you think.
I look forward to seeing H&M moving towards becoming a more climate positive brand.

                                                                                             Beccy x



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Sunday, 3 November 2019

Interview With Andrew Ferguson, Founder Of Charitable Second Hand Store Re-Fashion


In the last several years there has been a massive shift in our attitudes as consumers, towards second hand, as well as sustainable fashion, although I think some people still have certain negative associations with charity shops and second hand. 

Re-Fashion is a great place for you to be introduced to second hand shopping if you are someone to whom the idea of shifting through a huge assortment of 'someone else's' clothes still puts you off entering charity shops. 
Maybe you just prefer to do your shopping online or have specific brands in mind that you want to buy from.

Whilst I enjoy rummaging through the rails for bargains in charity shops, sites such as Re-Fashion and Depop are a great way to make second hand shopping attractive and accessible to more people using all of the benefits of an online store.
You can shop clothes from high street and designer brands at a fraction of the shop price whilst a percentage of the money from your purchase goes to support charities such as Breast Cancer Care and Make A Wish, giving charities an alternative platform for fundraising if they are unable to open a shop on the high street.
         
                                       1. What led you to start Re-Fashion?

We were already running high-street charity shops for Breast Cancer Care before starting Re-Fashion. Our goal was to make them fantastic places to shop, aligning the experience with great retailers rather than charity shops. We soon realised we could replicate this online and create an even better experience by using e-commerce functionality, like search sort and filters. Some people love rummaging rails but a lot of people like just seeing all the skirts in their size. Online you can do that easily. Once we had the technology and logistics in place we knew we could offer our service to multiple charities and bring them online. We’re particularly keen to offer our platform to organisations that can’t afford to be on the high-street, which by the way is 99% of UK charities! Donating clothes is such a great way to give and it means that they too can now benefit from this action.


       2. How do you think a site like Re-fashion can change perceptions of second-hand clothes?

There’s a generation of customers who view used clothes in a positive light. Sustainable fashion is important part of their purchase decision and they see second-hand almost as a status symbol. But a lot of people don’t and we want to change this mind-set by flipping the negative baggage ‘second-hand fashion’ comes with. We do this by making Re-Fashion feel like their other online destinations they’re used to. These could be anything from ASOS to Net-A-Porter. So we spend a lot of time on photography, design and user experience to make our brand feel premium and trustworthy. We know that once these consumers, who might be sitting on the fence, experience high quality second-hand they never look back.


                                             3. How do you source clothing?

Although we do stock some high-street surplus items nearly all of the clothes are donated. People hear about us through word of mouth or come to the website looking to buy, see that they can donate and so order a bag. We like this as it promotes circular fashion and encourages our customers to recycle as well as consume.


                                  4. Have you always shopped in charity shops?

I used to shop vintage jeans through charity shops when I was a student but I’m pretty tall so it was a challenge. I see such amazing women’s clothes getting sent to Re-Fashion I can’t wait for us to do a mens’ version so I can become a loyal customer :-)


                  5. What is your favourite piece of clothing that you have been sent?                                                                                     Have you had any surprises?

We receive lots of generous donations but one stands out from a woman decluttering her house who gave us 20 full bin liners of the most fabulous on-trend clothes. It ranged from boutique labels to big designer brands and was such a thrill going through each bag wondering what amazing item you would pick out next. Everyone was a humdinger and they’ve nearly all sold out on our site.


                                                     6. Describe your typical working day.

Being a start-up with so many things going on no one day is ever the same. It can flip from defining our Facebook advertising strategy to sorting though a donation bag of clothes ready for listing. We’re a small but growing team and everyone is hands-on which makes the job varied but very rewarding.



Thank you Andrew for answering my questions about Re-Fashion! I am also excited to see the result of your collaboration with Sustainable Streetwear brand Quillattire!

Why not continue to shop your favourite High-Street and designer brands, but more sustainably on Re-Fashion?


                           Beccy x


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Wednesday, 11 September 2019

What Do Mainstream Magazines Have To Say About Sustainability in Fashion?

Last week I brought my first issue of Grazia. What made me take a second glance at the front cover of this magazine were the words 'Circular Fashion'. I was really pleased to see issues of sustainability within the fashion industry discussed in mainstream magazines. I don't want to see sustainability treated as a niche and exclusive part of fashion. It quite simply can't be that way if we have any chance of reducing the impact of the fashion industry on the planet. Media and magazines have a huge role to play, explaining environmental and ethical issues to the public, as well as providing accessible solutions.

By now one of the things that I have come to expect from fashion magazines, are pages stuffed full of items of 'MUST HAVE' clothing and accessories that you simply 'NEED TO BUY NOW'. So, as you can imagine, I was instantly curious to see what Grazia would have to say about taking a slower approach to fashion and shopping.

I appreciate the way Grazia emphasised the attractive side of vintage shopping, focusing on influencers who use platforms such as Instagram to remove the un-glamourous stigma of second-hand. It is also great that they have printed advice on how to 'breath new life into old clothes'. These are all ways in which we can make sustainable changes, without requiring a large budget.

However I do think that Grazia is giving rather mixed messages about their stance on sustainability. Whilst talking of 'trendless' fashion and 'make do and mend' on one page, Grazia has a double page spread titled 'WHAT'S NEW NOW' on another, the caption for one picture of a blouse being 'A woman can never have too many square-necked and smocked blouses'.
I guess that Grazia's standpoint is that it is still ok to buy a Zara top as long as you take care of your clothes (see my post Why Sustainable Fashion Needn't Be Exclusive), but one thing they forget to mention, despite having several pages about donating clothes, is the issue of overconsumption.

I also think that the attention is on currently on sustainability (which it absolutely needs to be) but magazines should also be sharing the stories of the people who make our clothes.
In Grazia, Amy Powney, the creative director of Mother and Pearl, says 'in defence of the public, I think it's brand new information [to many] that fashion has an environmental footprint'. I agree. I also think it is brand new information that all clothes are handmade - something that has only really come onto my conscience in the last several years. I think the majority of people really do care, but walking into a clean high street store isn't the same as walking into a factory and seeing the real conditions that the clothes were made in. We are so disconnected from the processes behind our clothes. We need magazines and the media to be at the forefront of making those links and raising awareness so that the wellbeing of the people who made our clothes will be on our minds when we shop, rather than simply aesthetic appeal.
I am a big fan of The Sustainability Issue which Elle released last September. Whether you are new to sustainable fashion or you know a lot already, you will find it packed full of relevant and interesting advice. It covers sustainability approximately 90% of the issue (10% ads) and it doesn't miss out on promoting sustainable fashion brands as well as skincare.
There are interviews with Stella McCartney, articles by Naomi Klein and a feature on the founders of Fashion Revolution.
I haven't read any Elle magazine's for a while, but I am not sure that all of their issues promoted sustainability in this way - I wish that they did.

These sustainability and circular fashion issues make a statement, vital in raising awareness. What I hope for these fashion magazines is that 'Circular Fashion' and 'Sustainability' aren't simply viewed as trends and buzzwords which pop up in a single issue, but values which underpin everything that they promote. With the amount of pollution and greenhouse gases produced by the fashion industry, we can't afford to see sustainability as simply a trend.
It needs to become a way of life.

UPDATE: Since publishing this post, a letter I wrote to Grazia about their circular issue was published in their Issue 746. I thought I would share the whole of that letter here...

Hello,

I picked up my first Grazia magazine this week (9th September). What caught my eye was the issue’s focus on circular fashion, a term I know but have never seen on the front of a mainstream fashion magazine. I am a fashion design and marketing student and I write an ethical/sustainable fashion blog (www.rebeccafrost.net). It concerns me that sustainable fashion sometimes comes across as exclusive, even though sustainable fashion is as much about our attitude towards what we buy and wear, and how we care for our clothes as to what we buy. It is about only buying clothes that we truly love and not making unnecessary purchases, something that Stacey Dooley emphasised in her article. I hope more magazines encourage their readers to consider and act upon the sustainable and ethical issues surrounding fashion. I also hope all of your issues will be circular fashion issues.

Best wishes,

Rebecca Frost

                                                                                                 Beccy x



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