Fashion

Take On Slow Fashion This September

By Julia O'Driscoll
04.09.19

Team Eco-Age will take any opportunity to show off our favourite vintage, upcycled and pre-loved pieces, so we’ll sharing some of the best looks from the office throughout Second Hand September.

 

The kids are going back to school, students are preparing to start the next University term and many of us are diving to the back of our wardrobes for our trusty roll necks and jumpers; September is a time of resolutions, fresh starts and revisiting garments that have been folded away during the summer months. It’s also a month of much activity in the fashion world, as September issues hit the newstands and fashion week kicks off in New York, swiftly followed by London, Milan and Paris.

While we are building up to the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, Italia, on September 22nd, celebrating the very best in sustainable fashion and design, many fashion-lovers are joining us in taking a more conscious approach to their wardrobes this September too - and causing a stir in the digital sphere as they do so. 

Oxfam is asking individuals to pledge not to buy new for 30 days and to shop soley second-hand instead (if at all). Research commissioned by the charity has revealed that every minute UK shoppers buy two tonnes of clothing - and every week, 11 million garments end up in landfill in the UK alone. It’s also the final three weeks of Slow Fashion Season, a three month campaign which has been calling for participants to not buy new for three months - and Extinction Rebellion's Boycott Fashion campaign is encouraging individuals to say no to new for 52 weeks.

If a year of nothing new seems a little daunting, start slow and, in true Venetia Falconer-style, take a conscious approach to your wadrobes and stick to #OOOTDs (Old Outfit Of The Day) for the next four weeks.

It should come as no surprise that team Eco-Age loves second-hand fashion; whether it’s hand-me-downs, charity shop steals or vintage treasures, elongating the lifespan of garments wherever possible (while still looking fabulous, naturally) is a priority as far as we’re concerned. To celebrate this, throughout September we’ll be sharing some of the best second-hand looks on show in the office and the stories behind some of our favourite pieces. 

Want to join the fun? Tag @ecoage in your Instagram snaps and include the story behind your second-hand outfit in the caption for your chance to appear in the our gallery! 

If you can't avoid new clothing completely this month, commit instead to supporting independent, local and artisanal designers who aren't part of the global fast fashion industry, and buying pieces that you will love and care for well beyond #30Wears.
 

All the looks

Despite the constantly changing weather, our team has embraced getting old knitwear out from the back of their wardrobes and layering pieces to warm up. 

Grace bought this beautiful shirt from a Notting Hill charity shop, an area known for its treasure trove of vintage shops but less so for its ritzy designer charity shops. "I paid a mere £4 about four years ago and been giving it the run of its life ever since," she says.

"Shopping successfully for second-hand garms is no easy feat and finding exactly what you had set out to find at the start of the day is nearly impossible," says Grace. "The beauty of second-hand shopping is to do so every now and then, on a whim, for that rare occasion you do, in fact, fancy shopping on a Saturday - coupling that with stumbling across an item that soon embodies the very core of your wardrobe staples, is the real victory."

Grace's advice for second-hand shopping? "NEVER buy something that you can’t wear immediately, that ‘will be good for summer’ or that doesn’t fit and needs a bit of tailoring; trust me, you won’t ever wear it again."

Phillippa loves shopping second-hand because "there’s less chance of someone wearing the same outfit as you, buying something that has already been made helps stop the over production of garments, and buying in charity shops stops second hand clothes being shipped in vast volumes to other countries and desecrating their domestic textile industry (think Obroni Wawu in Ghana!)."

Our sustainable fashion and textiles assistant is always wearing something with a fabulous story behind it, and this look is no exception. "My best friend found these boots next to a bin in Brighton, and they are the best boots I own. And my dress was given to me by a dear family friend who actually set up my parents – I’m literally here on Earth thanks to the lady who gave me this dress!" 

Charlie mainly buys second-hand clothes: "I'd say it makes up about 70% of my wardrobe. I love vintage clothes in particular; I’m infatuated with older styles, particularly from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and always think about the story behind the clothes that I’m buying, which makes vintage shopping so rewarding. It’s more of a task to search through the rails but nine times of out 10 I end up finding something unique and beautiful that will last for years." 

She got this beautiful bright jumper from a swap shop, organised by our very own Chloe several months ago in Hammersmith. The dress is a vintage find from Mintage in Vancouver, which she bought in 2016 for about $20 CAD - "I fell in love with the pattern and think I might alter it into a skirt at some point."

Happy to be safely back in her signature roll neck now that the weather's cooling down, Julia paired this second-hand jumper with a vintage skirt. 

"This roll neck came from a vintage stall on Norwich market for about a fiver two years ago - I wear it all the time. The skirt was a more recent charity shop purchase. It was knee length when I bought it, so I took a couple of inches off and rehemmed it with my shaky sewing machine skills. It's actually an old NHS uniform - there's a label in the back with the hospital and ward where the previous owner used to work! That's why I love second-hand shopping - you never know what story you're going to unearth."

"I love buying second-hand as you can get some really great items that you are saving from landfill, giving them a second life," says Fiona. She banned herself from buying new items from brands that didn't meet high ethical and environmental standards; "by buying things second-hand, you can get pieces from the shops you love, without any of the guilt. You can often find brand new items, still with their original tags, that have been sitting in the seller’s wardrobe and never been worn."

She bought this top three years' ago on eBay for roughly £10 and it fast became one of her staple items.

"I made the Zadie Jumpsuit by Paper Theory this weekend and I am absolutely in love," says Charlotte. "I dyed a vintage cotton sheet to make this so it falls into #secondhandseptember as well as #sewyourselfsustainable."

"I especially love it as I wore it to get new photos taken for work on a whim,  so not only do I look like myself but I’m wearing something I made which is extra special. I’ll definitely be making more of these - it's just about the most comfortable thing I’ve ever worn. The great news is not only can you make it in a weekend, but you can also use an old sheet to make it."

On Tuesday, these two desk neighbours turned up in almost identical outfits: black jeans and cosy knitwear. Luckily, Sophie opted for second-hand loafers - usually, they'd both be matching in their much-loved Vejas too... 

"My absolute favourite way to shop second-hand is on Depop as I can buy from high street stores without contributing to their sometimes questionable ethics," says Sophie. "Here, both my jumper and shoes were bought on the app. The added bonus is of course the cheaper price tag, with my loafers costing just £10 and being pretty much as good as new when they arrived."

"I bought these jeans from a vintage stall on Norwich Market while I was at University, and the top came from a charity shop about five years ago - it took a while to figure out how best to style it, but now it's a staple," says Julia. The cosy cardi came from a charity shop as an emergency buy: "I was interning at a festival in Wales and it was absolutely freezing. This cardigan quickly became an essential item."

Liz is a self-confessed bargain hunter who absolutely loves browsing the charity shops, on the lookout for her next favourite item of clothing. "I’ve made some amazing purchases in the past and ended up with great quality, unique and beautiful items, which have been worn and loved by someone else too. Sharing is caring guys! The planet will thank you for it too..."

She found this dress from a Sunday carboot sale in Battersea. "You’ll find all sorts of things there: bric-a-brac, ornaments, make-up, jewellery, bulk boxes of crisps… but it’s also a fantastic place for clothes. I’d recommend eyeing up the different sellers and making a beeline for the person who’s roughly the same size as you, that way the clothes are more likely to fit," Liz advises. Her rucksack and corduroy cardigan are both from a local charity shop, and Liz reckons the whole outfit came to no more than £5.

Our PR assistant Brittany Johnston got this beautiful top online for £1.50: "I actually bought it together with a yellow sweater vest which I’m looking forward to wearing when it starts to get a bit colder, so I can channel my inner Chandler Bing." We'll keep you updated on that particular look...

"I love shopping second-hand because it means you can find things that no one else will have, often for a fraction of the price of something new (if you’re looking in the right places). My favourites places to shop second hand are Traid and Trinity Hospice charity shops, which are always beautifully curated, and good old Ebay."

Julia has long been a charity and vintage shop trawler - "I've been collecting pieces since I was a teenager, and there's still many that I wear on a weekly basis," she says. "I love the unpredictability of second-hand shopping. You never know what you might find. I've also taken to asking friends to give me first dibs before donating old clothes to charity shops. Many of them are a similar size to me and have fab style, so it makes sense to collect their cast-offs once they're bored of them."

"These trousers were a more recent find from a charity shop at home in Norfolk. They're so comfortable and easy to wear, although a little loose so a belt is essential. I got them for £9 and have already surpassed #30Wears."

Another fabulous find from Charlie, this dress was designed by Alexa Chung for Marks & Spencer. She snagged it second-hand last year for £10 from an online marketplace; the dress originally retailed for about £50 in the 2016 collection.

"This skirt was a recent steal from one of my local charity shops," says Liz. "I absolutely love how floaty and breezy it is, and also the fact it has pockets - winning! I think it cost the grand total of £2.50. Absolute bargain if you ask me.'

Phillippa says: "My skirt was a very rogue purchase from a brilliant Streatham Hill charity shop next door to my sister’s flat (I’d never buy something like this new!), and my top is from another charity shop. I naturally dyed it with pomegranate skin. It’s one of my absolute favourite natural dyes because it’s derived from waste and you can still eat the delicious pomegranate seeds."   

Not sure where to start with second hand shopping? Read our guide on how and where to shop sustainably in London.

Take a look at the history of the Green Carpet Challenge in our gallery.

Find out what the future of vintage fashion could look like from pioneers in the arena.

Take On Slow Fashion This September