An exclusive Blog written by Sophie Saint
Sophie, @saint.thrifty over on Instagram, is based in Bristol and has worked in marketing for years, giving her an insight into how brands can twist words to stimulate sales. She utilises social media to highlight the importance of being more sustainable with your wardrobe and shares style tips to help maximise what you already own. She also shares the horrific reality behind fast fashion brands and rages against the relentless greenwashing campaigns that unethical brands use to trick people into consuming
Secondhand September ‘someone’s trash is another’s treasure'
I never really knew how much I loved secondhand clothes until it became a choice rather than ‘this is all I can afford’. After years of losing a lot of what little money I had to fast fashion brands and still having those ‘I don’t know what to wear’ crises (and the inevitable wardrobe malfunctions from cheap clothing), I had to take a step back to see the bigger picture.
I was in a vicious cycle of buying and having it arrive conveniently within 24 hours, but I had no idea what my personal style was. This led to hating everything in my wardrobe, having low self-confidence and body image issues… and then buying again to make myself feel better. Or find a magical piece of clothing that would make me look like the models! I was caught in a capitalist cycle of overconsumption because I hadn’t explored an alternative way to consume consciously.
Hunting for bargains was in my blood, thanks to my mother, but it wasn’t until I moved to Melbourne for a few years that the thrifting bug really took hold. In Australia, there is a chain of warehouses called ‘Savers’ that harbour a treasure trove of secondhand items. I loved thrifting so much that I would treat it like a day out and travel far and wide to various Savers to have a rifle for unique, fantastic items.
Although my stint in Melbourne ignited a love for preloved, when I moved back to the UK, I lost a bit of my identity and got sucked back into the ‘buy, wear once, buy again’ mentality. I needed to make a change, and the only way I could personally do that was if I set myself rules. And that was to stop buying new clothing altogether.
So many barely worn garments are readily available across various reseller apps. Ebay had been alive and kicking since my youth, but with the arrival of Depop and then Vinted, secondhand shopping became easier than ever. Instead of having to patiently pace secondhand warehouses and rifle through endless mountains of clothes, you could now search for precisely what you had in mind and filter by your size from your phone. Ideal for those who don’t have the time or patience to search IRL, plus it makes preloved clothing so much more accessible to those who have no charity or vintage stores in their vicinity.
At first, my reasoning for exclusively buying secondhand was because I could see there were already so many preloved garments available, and the prices were so affordable. But as I began educating myself, it became apparent that this overproduction and overconsumption was not only causing extreme damage to the world but having dreadful impacts on those in the factories making the clothes: the garment workers.
The sheer volume of garments made every day is shocking. There’s a limit to what can be resold, and the amount of waste makes the eyes water. As clothing companies continue to create extreme amounts of garments a day, the fashion industry has been voiced as the second most polluting industry after oil and gas. A ton of garment waste ends up out of sight, out of mind… in landfills of those in the Global Majority or our oceans, killing marine life and putting microplastics in our water. Not to mention that most clothing is cheaply made using inexpensive synthetic materials derived from fossil fuels. All in all, the fashion industry is one heck of a complicated mess.
While I’m not an expert on the fashion industry’s damaging impacts, I knew enough was enough - my consumption habits had to change. I also felt angry. I felt duped by these faceless brands who paint themselves to be inclusive and keen to make positive social impacts. In reality, they're solely after my money and don't care about what damage they caused or what debt we got ourselves in to keep up with the latest trends. It’s a sharp lesson on capitalism and how money reigns over human lives and our planet. Once you get that, buying fast fashion doesn’t seem so appealing.
Although it is very hard (or impossible?) to be ethical in a capitalist society, your money has power. Where you spend your money has importance. We may not be able to cause change as individuals, but the more we celebrate and normalise secondhand, the more it will stimulate change. This can be seen already in Love Island’s 2022 series, where the official fashion partner was changed from fast fashion brands to Ebay - a monumental business decision influenced by public opinion. It helped push preloved to the forefront of a reality show that has a huge amount of influence when it comes to buying clothes.
So this September, join me in cheerleading preloved. The saying ‘someone’s trash is another’s treasure’ is so true, and I can prove it. Let's do all we can to stop clothing from going to landfills and reduce the problematic overproduction by doing what we can: consuming less.
Photo Credit Sophie Saint. You can follow Sophie on Instagram @saint.thrifty
An exclusive monologue written by Phoebe Hughes, Bath Spa Uni Graduate and Creative Arts Aficionado.
Photo Credit Dave Challenger
FROM A 20-SOMETHING-YEAR-OLD GUILTY CONSUMER
At the end of the day, I am just a consumer.
I’m a selective buyer, carefully putting the pressure on myself to find the right colour shade of green.
I want the fabric to not cut down any trees and the person who hems the skirt should be tipped for their part in painting the art.
Behind the scenes across the world, where clothing is glued together by the slums and factories that call themselves ‘ethically and sustainably sourced’.
The brands that are a mirror to royalty but smell of poverty, greed, influencers, charity donations, the fake it till you make it ones.
The panic of going into a crowded high street or doubt of order online buy now pay later that took away my night out because the dress didn’t fit and I wasted my monthly pay day.
So I want to know why I put this pressure on myself to keep buying clothes when all it does is stress me out?
Does it not worry you when you fact check the label that says made in Bangladesh or Macedonia?
And meanwhile I am not behind the scenes, I am safe on stage.
My house in woodland Greece hasn’t been burnt down and I’ve managed to avoid the puddles of the New York Subway so that I can pick up my oat milk latte in my bamboo cup thinking that right now I am a saviour.
A saviour or a survivor?
Post pandemic and we are jetting off again with a suitcase of stress from 10pm BBC Points West so I have to plug myself into another app just to meditate.
Those that are not directly affected, doesn't make them immortal to the consumerism but perhaps just a diagnosis with obliviousness.
We bubble wrap the situation by avoiding meat, eggs and dairy, but it still makes us fart out the problem.
I like those shoes for Aunty Sonia’s wedding but I won’t wear them again for 5 years.
Is the problem how to be a healthy consumer?
Is the problem a creeping sand timer that says the 2050 climate crisis code red?
And is wearing my own wardrobe a solution?
Is the solution re-wearing clothing I own and saving thousands of corrupt companies causing more drama in my life?
Either way I do what I can.
Just do what I can but within the conscious reasons and try to not condemn my guilt.
Cheer up, it will be alright and you deserve to wear something that makes you happy.
You deserve to look like a glittery star or feel yourself in your favourite pyjamas.
So when I stopped.
When I began to think about the destruction of continuous clothes shopping, I discovered something else.
My wardrobe is my own choice to feel free and own my look, nobody else has power over this choice.
So if my clothing is my own magic power, then I should care for this power.
An exclusive piece written by Alexie Kalenga
Alexie Kalenga is a marketeer, model and sustainable fashion enthusiast. Her expertise lies in purchase intension and retail consumer behaviour. Her passion for helping people understand all aspects of sustainability flow through to her passion for saving the environment
“It’s going to charity”
Photo Credit @tasha.h_film. You can follow Tasha and Alexia on Instagram @alexie_kalenga
An exclusive piece written by Marcelo Marino
Marcelo Marino is an Art Historian and the Director of “Estudios de Moda” (Fashion Studies), a series of books on Fashion History and Fashion Theory published in Spanish in Buenos Aires and Madrid by Ampersand.
"Fashion is not always about the future"
Talking about the future of fashion has always been a fashionable obsession. Fashion, by definition, is expressed as an idea of future. One collection succeeds another, one style replaces the previous one, the new becomes old. Even each year has a Pantone-designated colour that displaces the previous one. The colour of 2022 is called “Very peri” and that of 2023 will be “Digital lavender”. Both are from the purple family -two different shades of purple- and for me there are no big differences between them. What will make “Digital Lavender” the new trending colour will be the speeches and narratives around the idea of the new colour the year and suddenly, the poor “Very peri” will be forgotten. The truth is that both shades of purple somehow already existed, always existed, and will continue to exist.
The same goes for fashion. Although we think that fashion is the future, in reality fashion is the past and above all it is the present in which some parts of the clothing styles of the previous years and decades are recreated.
However, the discussion of the future of fashion is always present and above all, it takes the form of the apocalyptic announcement of its end. During the first year of the Covid pandemic and with the successive lockdowns that reached every country in the world, including the great fashion capitals, the ideas of the end of fashion began to be discussed again. Actually, what looked like The End was that the process of commodification of fashion had stopped. What is normally confused with the future of fashion is fundamentally linked to its commercial aspect, the next collection, the next sales season and so on. But the truth is that during the lockdowns we were not left without clothes. Quite the contrary, we realized that we had too many and most of those clothes in our closet we don't use them because we forget they are there or because we are too lazy to refresh them and bring them back to life. Nevertheless, it was at that moment that many of us rescued an old jumper or some jeans from ten years ago and still in perfect condition. Others were more courageous and transformed, disassembled, intervened, redesigned and recreated new garments with fragments of others. I do not want to romanticize the moment of the pandemic, nor do I want to recite an ode to needlework. What I intend to point out is that something in fashion always remains alive, even if we are told that it is going to end. There is a mainstream fashion that we have all consumed and continue to consume. But there are also other individual actions that can become fashionable for us and spread collectively.
You can follow Marcelo on Instagram: @thebestfashionbooks and @marcelomarinow