This week, I chat to Rosie Wolfenden MBE, co-founder and managing director of Tatty Devine. If you haven’t seen any of Tatty Devine’s iconic designs, you’re missing out. They are playful, colourful and definitely make a statement. In this episode we talk about Tatty Devine’s beginnings, making plastic more sustainable and what Rosie is organising to celebrate Tatty Devine’s 20th birthday! I really hope you enjoy.
“I know people often say that their Granny is their biggest inspiration, but mine was incredible. She was really prolific. She wrote a lot of books, and ran a hotel and restaurant, but she made everything in the hotel. As she went on, she got quite involved in the church, and she would organise big projects which everyone in the community would join in with. She had so much energy. She had no money, but she was thrifty. There was no waste. I really believe people now need to learn not to waste things, not just clothes, but food, water, everything. My Granny would keep the washing up water to water her garden with and she engineered a whole system so that her bath water would go down onto the plants in the garden to water things. She was an artist; locally understood and celebrated, and she was really inspirational.”
“Sam heads up the Fawcett Society, who doing incredible work. Sam is an inspiration because she just keeps going. Until we have equality, she will keep going. I think she, and her work, are amazing.”
Caroline Criado Perez
“I think Caroline is phenomenal. Campaigning is hard and she is doing such incredible work. No one pays for it; no one pays you to campaign, so she’s had to keep working. She got a woman onto the five pound note, she got a female statue into Parliament, and now she’s running around with The People’s Vote. She’s incredible.”
“Harriet’s pretty inspiring as well. We’re very different, but very similar; we’re complementary opposites. She can just make anything happen and whatever she makes is perfect.”
My guest this week is journalist and author of Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion, Tansy Hoskins. In this episode we talk about the motivation behind Tansy’s exploration of fashion, the responsibility of big business, and labour rights in Bangladesh.
My guest on the Clothes & The Rest podcast this week is Tansy Hoskins, journalist and author of Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion. In the episode Tansy shares her knowledge of the fashion industry and chats about workers rights and big business, as well as how her passion for exploring the industry was sparked. Here though, I asked for her tips and advice on how we can get involved with an alternative fashion revolution…
“Firstly, I think fashion students in particular should commit to becoming experts in labour rights and sustainability, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because I think, or at least I hope, it’s the future of the fashion industry. The industry is in such a mess that I think we really need the next generation of fashion practitioners to commit to doing things differently and not simply accepting ‘business as usual’.
“Something we can all do is get involved with groups that are already making positive changes, like Labour Behind the Label, War on Want, and Greenpeace. It’s not about re-inventing the wheel, but just taking the first step, joining a group and finding like minded people. Get on the mailing list, follow them on Twitter and Facebook, find out what they’re doing and join in!
“Use social media to hold brands to account. The one thing they hate more than anything is bad publicity, and people questioning them. Connect with other people and discuss your thoughts, because nobody wants to wear clothes that were made in sweatshops. Instead, hold swap shops and free shops; ways to start think about different ways of using what we already have.
“Sign and share petition. There are loads going around at the moment; trying to keep the Bangladesh Accord, supporting the Ali Enterprises workers, about the environment. As well as that, write to your MP. Find out who your councillors are and start making a racket.”
As Tansy says, it’s all about making noise; voting with your words and your actions.
This week, I chatted to Sophie Dunster, founder of sustainable fashion label, Gung Ho. We talked about Sophie’s zero-carbon upbringing, the sartorial stereotypes of environmentalists and Gang Ho’s new focus for 2019: food!
This week on the Clothes & The Rest podcast, I talk to Gung Ho‘s Sophie Dunster about environmentalism, design and subtlety. We touched a little bit on how she lives her low-carbon life, but in this blog post, she gives her tips for how we can all start reducing our carbon footprints…
“One of the biggest things is energy usage and energy consumption, so switch to suppliers who deal with turbines and more sustainable solutions. If you demand other options, you demonstrate to the oil industry that things are going in a different direction. It’s important to support renewable energy. It’s incredible – it’s free energy!”
“One thing that I’ve been quite hot on recently is looking into where your food is from and buying things that are in season. It’s actually quite weird if you sit and think about it; half of my dinner is from Kenya, the other half is from the Netherlands. It’s crazy, but we’re so used to it.”
“One of the biggest impacts that you can have is travel. We have great public transport, so take it. Don’t drive, and bike when you can – it’s good for you!”
One small step…
“Doing all these little things might seem weird, but on a scale, it will all add up. Be conscious of everything, and question everything, but don’t be too hard on yourself. I think that every single small thing is amazing and people should be really proud.”
My guest this week is model and writer Rebecca Pearson. On her website, modeltypeface.com, Rebecca gives advice to other models on how to navigate the industry, and well as sharing her love for green beauty and ethical fashion. In this episode I chat to Rebecca about the highs and lows of life as a model, buying fair-trade and life online.
In this week’s episode of the podcast, I talked to model and writer Rebecca Pearson about shopping fair-trade, the highs and lows of modelling and social media, so here she shares her advice on how we live a healthier life online…
“Firstly, and this is advice that I need to take myself, if you’re the sort of person who, in a quiet moment, finds their hand going into their pocket, try to control it. Allot times, or be really strict with yourself; don’t go on your phone after 9pm.
“It’s so easy to say, but don’t compare yourself. Even as a not-very-successful influencer, I get things sent to me. I get things for free and I get to go on press trips that look really exciting, but then I come home and I’m not living a very glamorous life. The people we see on social media are often getting things for free, or they’re editing their photos. Don’t compare their life to yours; that’s where the unhealthiness comes in I think.
“I look at other models who are more successful than me and feel like I’m not good enough, but you just don’t know what’s going on in anyone’s life. Essena O’Neill showed that you can have the most glossy life, the most toned stomach, the coolest looking clothes and it’s all a facade.
“As Pandora Sykes recently said, I think there’s now a pressure to not be glossy. Do you remember the days when you used to get photographs printed? You didn’t put all of them in an album. You took out the ones where you were leaning over and had six stomach rolls, and the blurry ones.
“It isn’t good to be too glossy and too fake, but equally, you don’t have to show everybody everything in your life. It’s your choice. Social media is often just a curation of people’s best moments and favourite pictures, and that’s okay, but it’s really important to be mindful of that.”
This week I interviewed Rebecca Morter, founder of Lone Design Club. Rebecca was frustrated with the way her own designs were sold by retailers so decided to set up an alternative. LDC connects independent brands with customers in beautiful online spaces and pop-ups. In this episode, we talk about Rebecca’s stance on Black Friday, what it really means to be sustainable as a new designer and why shopping small is so important. I really hope you enjoy!
For some, Black Friday means raiding the high street in search of a cut-price bargain, or 20, but not for Rebecca Morter. Founder of Lone Design Club, her anti-Black Friday pop-up shop in Covent Garden demonstrates exactly why it’s all the more satisfying to shop small, and buy from independent designers.
In her episode of Clothes & The Rest, Rebecca talks about the struggles that come with being a small designer, creating incredible retail spaces and why it’s important to support women-led businesses.
For this follow-up post, I asked Rebecca what we can do on Black Friday if we want to avoid the sales, and she had some amazing suggestions…
Visit LDC’s Anti-Black Friday Pop-Up. “Obviously, I would love people to come down to the store. Not necessarily buy, but just understand more about the products, and where they’re from. It’s great to chat with the designers, who are all small and more independent.”
Have a clear-out. “Look at your wardrobe and the pieces that you have. Could you pass anything on to someone who might need it more?” Rebecca is passionate in her belief that clothes should never end up in landfill.
DIY. “Could you make something or mend something? There’s a great initiative at the moment called Make Smthng which is great to get involved in.”
Purchase consciously.If you do feel the urge to buy in sale season, Rebecca suggests we evaluate whether what’s on our wishlist will work with what we already have. “Can you think of 30 ways you could wear it? If you can, then you should buy it, and if you can’t, don’t. It really makes you think about where you’re actually going to use something and how you’re going to style it.”
LDC’s Anti-Black Friday Pop-Up Store is open from 10am – 7pm until 25th November at 64-68 Charing Cross Road.
My guest this week is journalist and blogger Bel Jacobs. After working as fashion editor of Metro for almost 15 years, Bel now writes freelance and runs her own two websites, as well as actively campaigning against the exploitation of animals in fashion and beyond. In this episode, we talk about Bel’s own approach to style, the complex arguments around fur, and the most important fashion advice she will pass on to her daughter. I really hope you enjoy!
This week, I chatted to Bel Jacobs on the Clothes & The Rest podcast. Please give that a listen if you want to hear my conversation with Bel about sustainability, campaigning and education. Here, though, she talks through her reading list, which can certainly help us all engage more with sustainability…
“I recently re-visited Stitched Up by Tansy E. Hoskins. She wrote this book quite a long time ago but it’s never been so relevant. I think partly it’s quite shocking that so little has changed but it feels completely relevant now. It’s the ‘Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion’ so we’re always going back to the system.
“Another fashion-related book is by Safia Minney, Slave To Fashion where she looks at human rights within the fashion industry. I absolutely love Safia, I think she’s incredible. She knows so much and works at so many levels of the industry, and her books bring the human side to it, so you’re not just talking about facts and figures. You’re talking about real people, who are at the front line selling our t-shirts, making our jeans, getting their hands in the dyes and the chemicals.
“Ethical Consumer has been going for years and when I was early into environmentalism, I would read this avidly, but then it sort of fell away. But now, again, just like Tansy’s book, it feels so relevant. Even though I sometimes think about it as a ’90s issue’, it’s really important now.
“I also really like to look at animal welfare books. I have Animal Liberation by Peter Singer to remind me what needs to be done; how to create a vegan world and how to communicate vegan beliefs without making everyone feel a bit sick.
“I love all of those, but sometimes I just go, “oh my God, I just want to read a comic!” It’s about keeping a balance between positive and negative.”
This week’s guest is Kate Richards, owner of The Keep Boutique in Brixton Village. We chatted about Kate’s first career as a teacher, her love of clothes with stories and what inspired The Keep’s incredible decor. I really hope you enjoy!
This week’s guest on the Clothes & The Rest podcast is Kate Richards, owner of The Keep Boutique in Brixton Village. If you want to hear more about how Kate established The Keep, please check out the episode, but in this post, Kate shares her favourite sustainable brands.
“Gung Ho’s founder Sophie Dunster was brought up on a zero-carbon lifestyle, because her Dad is a zero-carbon architect. She designs collections that all have a social, environmental or political message; her last collection was around plastic pollution. She’s an artist so she designed these beautiful illustrations of sea turtles and coral reefs. If you look closer, it’s a sea turtle surrounded by plastic, so it’s highlighting plastic pollution within our oceans but with something that is still beautiful to look at and aspirational to wear.”
“Thinking Mu is based in Barcelona; they use organic cotton, they produce in the EU and working with graphic designers in Barcelona. They use a very subtle humour, but it makes you stop and think – quite a lot of their collections have a political message. They promote resistance but in a very fashionable, fun way.”
“I love Quazi Design because it’s a women’s empowerment project, but also zero-waste; the collection is all jewellery made from recycled magazine paper. It’s a nod towards traditional craftsmanship in Swaziland because they design the collections with these craftspeople. It’s about working with traditional craft but bringing it into a global economy and trying to train them up to be self-sustainable.”
My guest this week is founder of clothing repairs service Clothes Doctor. We chat about why Clothes Doctor’s services are so convenient, Lulu’s experiences working in the city, and why it’s so important for her business to be zero (plastic) waste. I really hope you enjoy!
This week on the Clothes & The Rest podcast I chatted to Lulu O’Connor, founder of Clothes Doctor. As a fountain of knowledge on clothes maintenance, I asked Lulu to share some of her expertise. She tells us what we can do ourselves, and what’s better left to the professionals, as well as her favourite quick fixes to save an outfit.
“If you have a needle and thread at home, absolutely, you should be able to sew on your own buttons. I feel as though, since seeing my seamstresses at work, my mind has been opened to what you can do yourself, just with a little bit of creativity. I see lots of things come into our workshop with tassels or belt loops hanging off. I probably would have done exactly the same thing two years ago and taken it to be repaired, but now I think I might actually be able to do it myself!
“Although most people’s mums might have a go at darning, our head seamstress is the most the phenomenal darner, and when I see her at work, I realise that’s something better left to the professionals. It’s a different league. There’s a real skill to matching colours and getting the tension just right. On cashmere and wool, if its quite a thick weave, she can make a hole completely disappear.
“One tip is to use a tape called hemming web, which you can just iron on if a hem is coming down and you really need to wear an item. It will last a few washes, but then it will need sewing up. If you have a needle and thread, you can do it yourself, but it’s harder to get the tiny stitches you need to pull a hem up and make it almost disappear on the other side. I think doing a hem properly is better left to the professionals, but you can use the iron on sticky strips to save an outfit in an emergency.
“We replace zips all the time, but sometimes a zip isn’t actually broken, it’s just stiff. If you take a pencil, and rub the lead up and down a zip, that can really loosen it up. Even if it feels as if its not moving at all, it may not need replacing.”
Clothes Doctor’s services are available across the UK, so if you’re interested in their services, please take a look at their website.
This week’s guest is Lauren Bravo, journalist and author of What Would The Spice Girls Do? We talk about Lauren’s career beginnings, changing room frustrations, and she explains exactly why she is a self confessed charity shop devotee. I really hope you enjoy!
Lauren Bravo’s new book What Would The Spice Girls Do? is all about nostalgia. So what better follow up to her podcast episode than to find out about the most treasured items in her wardrobe? Not the ones that cost the most money, or that were bought from the coolest places, but the ones which have stories. They are the best of all…
“I get very invested in the emotions of clothes. There are things that I am never going to throw away, even though I’m not going to wear them for, maybe, another 10 years. I think if you hold onto things for long enough, they will come back round again.
“My late Nan had an amazing coat. It’s a faux Persian lamb swing coat; brown with a big blonde leonine collar. It’s very Aslan. I inherited it after she died. We cleared out her house and I took a few bits, but classic me, it’s complete sacrilege, I chopped the bottom off to make it short! Back then, in about 2008, I only ever wore short stuff and couldn’t imagine wearing a long coat. Bloody fashion! But I love it, it’s still very wearable. I’ve never hemmed it, still, but I wear it winter after winter and it gets me loads of compliments.
“I also have a lot of dresses that I bought in my first year of uni that were very much my ‘moving to London dresses’. At one point I had 100 vintage dresses in my wardrobe. I’ve got this amazing polka dot 60’s shift dress with a striped collar and a pussy bow. It just absolutely fitted me perfectly and I wore it to all the best nights out. For me, that’s really synonymous in my head with being in London for the first time, being 18 and going out. It’s got massive holes in the arms now because the fabric literally just wore away, but I don’t think I could ever get rid of it.
“So many dresses. Actually, the dress I wore to my Nan’s funeral. It was a bright pink fuchsia wiggle dress which was so inappropriate for a funeral but I just knew that’s what she would have loved me in.
“I’ve got an amazing ring which was my other Grandmother’s 21st birthday present which was made out of the amethyst from her father’s tie pin. She gave me it a few years ago and I wear it a lot. Family things are the ones I will keep forever.”
This week’s guest is Sophie Slater, co-founder of ethical clothing brand Birdsong. We talk about the brand’s beginnings, as well as Sophie’s many careers before Birdsong, and her feminist awakening. I hope you enjoy!
Sophie Slater founded ethical clothing brand Birdsong, along with co-founder Sarah Beckett, just over three years ago, after identifying a way to help the women’s organisations she saw struggling for funding. To hear the full story of how Birdsong was realised, please listen to the Clothes & The Rest podcast here.
However, long before starting her own brand, Sophie developed her expertise in sustainable and ethical dressing. As a teenager, she became a charity shop aficionado, and now, she is a self-confessed “nerd” when it comes to researching sustainable brands!
Following on from Sophie’s podcast episode, I asked Sophie for her advice on how we can bring the contents of our wardrobe more inline with our ethics:
“It totally depends on how much time and mental energy you have to spend, so if you have none, I would recommend going shopping on Birdsong of course!
“Even if you haven’t got a lot of time to research, fundamentally, it’s all about your mindset. If you’re itching to buy something, ask yourself three questions… Do I need it? Will it suit what I have already? Can I wear it 30 times? If the answer is yes to all of those, sleep on it.
“I think saving up for something that is a bit more expensive, but is going to last longer makes you value your clothes so much more. Fast fashion is manufactured to fall apart in the wash after a couple of wears.
“If I’ve got a real craving for something from the catwalk, or on trend, I’ll try my best to look in charity shops and replicate it that way.
“It’s really important to repair what you have. We’re just about to partner with a fantastic initiative called Clothes Doctor. You send your clothes off, they fix it for you, and you get it back! We’ll be offering that as part of our service on our website, and hopefully in time for our Christmas shop.”
If you want to browse the Birdsong collection, please go over to their website.
Sitting directly above a North London branch of TRAID’s successful chain of charity shops, Maria Chenoweth’s office is homely – in a once abandoned residential flat brought back to life by the creative team behind the charity. The TRAID working space is unusual in many ways. It’s not just Maria’s attitude towards her role as CEO that makes the TRAID office different (when I arrived, she was in the middle of a tea run for her staff), just like elsewhere in her life, everything in Maria’s office is sourced entirely second hand.
After first falling in love with second hand shopping at jumble sales as a frustrated suburban teenager, shopping pre-loved quickly became a lifestyle choice for Maria. If you want to hear Maria’s journey into the charity shop world, click here to listen Maria’s episode of the Clothes & The Rest podcast. However, for this follow-up blogpost, I asked Maria for her advice on how we can best use charity shops to our advantage (and the environment’s)…
Firstly, location, location, location. “I only go to certain shops for my crockery and all my homeware. I know what shop offers the best goods because of the demographic of the area. If you know the demographic of the location, you can certainly guess what the donations are in the shops.”
Her top tip for hunting out the best clothes is to measure the waist line via your neck. “If a garment goes round your neck, it will go round your waist. If a garment doesn’t go round your neck, don’t take it to the changing room.” If you’re having trouble visualising this, don’t worry – check out this video to see how its done.
When it comes to donating to charity shops, Maria is clear that as long as it’s wearable, it’s worth donating. “If you feel somebody would buy it for £1, donate it to TRAID.” Excellent advice, and with TRAID’s collection scheme (which allows you to book a van to collect donations straight from your doorstep), there’s no excuse not to rise to the challenge of their 23% campaign and donate those unworn clothes lurking at the back of your wardrobe. Who says you have to wait ’til spring for a clear out?
If you liked Maria’s tips, and want to hear more of her story, click here to listen to her episode of the Clothes & The Rest Podcast.
In this episode, Zoe Partridge, founder and CEO of sustainable fashion rental company Wear the Walk, joins me for a fascinating chat about building a business, young talent and how we can all dress more sustainably. I hope you enjoy!
Having grown her idea from concept to company in just over two years, Zoe Partridge, founder of sustainable fashion rental service Wear the Walk, is the perfect person to share her business advice…
“My number one tip is fail, and fail fast. If things aren’t working, it’s fine to see it as a failure, and to try an alternative route.
“Build a great team. Surround yourself with people who are as invested as you are in the company. I you’re in a position to hire then do, and make sure they’re passionate about the future of your business. I appreciate at the beginning it can be quite hard when you’ve got no money, but hire some junior girls, or hire some interns, and really excite them, because it’ll be too exhausting for you to do everything on your own, which I learnt a fair few times. Have people there who can provide a really good working support system. It’s so important not to burn out.
“My last piece of advice is to have fun! I think it’s important to recognise that business isn’t everything – something I learnt very quickly. I almost let my social life and my personal life suffer, because I though business was the be all and end all, and it’s very easy to get lost in that in the beginning when you’re obsessed with it. Now, I’m still obsessed with my business, but I’ve learnt to balance my personal life and social life with work. People talk about the idea that you have three glass balls, and you can only hold onto two, so one will always drop. I think that’s true in some respects, but work out which ones are the most important to you. For the majority of people, business shouldn’t be the most important one.”
This post follows my interview with Zoe Partridge on the Clothes & The Rest podcast – please go over and listen on iTunes or Acast to hear the full story.
Ian and Lisa Quest bought their four storey house in Dalston three years ago. They are currently in the process of renovating the property, but unlike most home developers, they will buy nothing new. In fact, the couple haven’t bought anything new in four years.
“My Mum bought loads of stuff second hand when we were growing up – mostly for economic reasons. We just lived on my Dad’s salary and they had four kids; four hungry kids,” says Ian.
In contrast to his parents, it is clear that Ian and his family do not pursue this lifestyle out of necessity. Lisa works as a banking consultant in the City, and Ian, having sold his shares in a financial consultancy he founded and grew to a workforce of 180 people, now finds it hard to narrow down exactly what his job is. “I was lucky enough to be able to make some choices about what it was I wanted to do, and started a few different things.” Amongst other projects, he works as a business advisor, and ‘helped’ his brother to set up a company restoring classic cars.
If not money, then what does motivate the couple’s drive to consume less? “There are so many clothes made in the world, that you don’t need to buy new things. It feels wrong to buy ‘rack’ stuff, because there are so many second hand options,” says Ian.
The pair also feel strongly about keeping and repairing what they have. Ian explains the story behind his favourite jeans: “When I was travelling through South America in 2008, I ran out of clothes that looked reasonable, and had to buy some more. These jeans were probably the equivalent of seven or eight pounds in Columbia at the time.”
“But now they’ve probably got about £100 of repairs in them!” Lisa jokes. Although intended as a light hearted remark, this comment highlights just where Lisa and Ian’s attitudes differ from the mainstream.
“There’s a hole, why not just get it fixed?” Ian puzzles, pinpointing arguably the biggest shift in mind set needed for contemporary fashion to become sustainable. Ian’s approach may seem obvious, but overflowing landfill sites across the globe say otherwise. “It’s a real throw-away culture. If people don’t embrace the idea of getting things fixed, and maintaining things, I don’t know exactly what we are going to do. We’re going to run out of materials. We should make things that are built to last, but also are built to be repaired.”
Ian and Lisa have a one year old son, Archie, and were surprised by how much money they saved, avoiding buying baby essentials new. “The pram was one-eighth of the price of a new one and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s all perfectly good quality — all their clothes are perfect because babies grow so fast. People go through them like crazy,” says Lisa.
Originally from Canada, she says that attitudes in the UK are particularly backwards when it comes to buying second hand – “it’s way more normal over there,” she says. “No one would buy a pram new there.”
Do the couple’s friends and family in the UK share their ideology? In short: no. Even in their liberal enclave of East London, Ian and Lisa seem unconventional. “Within my friendship group it’s still very weird,” says Lisa.
“My work colleagues would just get new stuff.” Ian despairs at their mentality towards consumption; “Why would you fix it when you could buy it new?”
In their line of work, Ian and Lisa’s lifestyle does seem unusual, however, their take on ‘second hand’ is equally outside of the norm. Lisa buys her ‘pre-loved’ clothes almost exclusively from online designer consignment store Vestiaire Collective, where a pair of second-hand Balenciaga trainers are undoubtedly a luxury at £495.
When she describes her outfit, it quickly becomes clear that her ethical principles haven’t stopped her from enjoying the kind of luxury consumption expected from someone in her position. “I’m wearing Jimmy Choo green shoes – I bought them on Vestiaire, but they are my favourite. I wear heels for the whole day, and they’re the only brand that don’t hurt my feet.” She also points out her black and white Roland Mouret dress.
“I wore this to work. I work with mostly men and I probably dress a bit less conservatively than they would like! I’m typically the only woman in a room of about 40 men, so it just makes me stand out a little more. I don’t mind it; I find it a bit fun because it puts people off centre, so you’re able to have more of an honest conversation.”
In his first corporate job at Rolls Royce, Ian also struggled to fit into the prescriptive image of a business person. “I had a reputation for not following the dress code” he says – referencing the eccentric attitude that he has embraced his current home development.
“I wanted to do it in a slightly quirky style; we’ve got two old doors from Dartmoor prison as the bathroom doors, and the bath uses old fireman’s taps. I like cool old stuff because it’s more interesting, but you have to search and know what you’re looking for.”
Many people would find this research a chore, but not Ian. “I enjoy it,” he says quickly. “You love it,” Lisa replies.
Their enthusiasm for buying ethically and investing in repairs is clear. Would the couple like to see others embrace a similarly alternative lifestyle? “Yes,” responds Ian, “but what’s alternative about it?”