Second Hand News – Why Reusing Clothes is Back in FashionKate Stuart
Kate Stuart is a practicing artist, writer and craftswoman based in the North East of England. She specializes in up-cycling, zero waste living, quilting and painting with acrylics on canvas. She owns The Phoenix Green Store, which is moving towards becoming Newcastle upon Tyne’s first zero waste store. She is covering Fashion Revolution Week for No Serial Number Magazine, between 23rd – 29th April 2018. This is the third in a six part blog series for Fashion Revolution Week, exploring ways to become more conscious about the clothes you choose to buy, as well as the ones you already have.
I grew up in a family where hand me downs were the staple of our wardrobes. Everything I owed, clothes-wise, until I was 16 and earning, was at least second hand. Often third or fourth hand. My cousin’s jeans (that had been her brother’s before her), our elderly neighbor’s daughter’s pink striped cotton granddad shirt (oh how I loved that shirt!), the fluffy pink jumper I wore until it fell apart that came from a kindly anonymous charitable donation in the form of a black bag full of clothes, left in the porch one evening in the summer holidays. Mostly full of school uniform bits, this jumper was the jewel and I loved that too. But second hand clothes then, carried with them the shame of a family who were not able to afford new. And new clothes were certainly few and far between, save for the things our seamstress Mum made for us.
I reflect on those times a lot – as an adult, apart from NEVER wearing pink, I also barely ever buy new clothes, preferring handmade or items gathered like treasures from second hand shops, charity shops and our local Pass It On meetings. I suppose because it is a choice now, and one which I make with the planet in mind, as opposed to experiences growing up when it wasn’t my choice, and there was little to choose from anyway, with which to make my statement to the world. Which is surely what fashion is all about, right? Choosing how you present who you are to the world through the threads you wear. Now, the environmental impact of my choice to buy second hand feels a good deal bigger than any worry I might have carried of being judged for it.
It’s a great joy to me to see that re-using clothes is literally back in fashion, and I hope the trend continues apace. I recently met up with Sharron Hudson, owner of Lazy One, and chatted with her about her career in vintage and second hand clothing.
After leaving a design based education, by 19 Sharron owned her own vintage shop in South Shields, North Tyneside – gifted to her by a local charity and with unlimited creative freedom to make it whatever she felt was calling. From there, she moved on to support another local vintage business gain success before setting up her own fashion label Lazy-8, where designs were sold on a local, national and international scale. After moving to the Netherlands, she set up Lazy One, making customized designs, new collections and then returning to her passion of vintage. Of this move, she told me:
“I moved back into second hand/vintage because it’s popularity was on the rise again. I think this was due to the financial crisis and also because of environmental concerns. I felt the throw away culture had reached it’s peak and I didn’t want to contribute to it any longer. Knowing that I’m recycling existing items & in many cases bringing back into use pieces that otherwise would have been discarded gives me a good feeling.
I find it disgusting how fashion moves so quickly, encouraging people to buy cheaply manufactured pieces only for them to be discarded, something’s got to give. You’ve only got to look in any charity shop at the racks of often new, still with tags or hardly worn pieces to see that we’ve become a nation of shopaholics, this kind of waste can’t continue.”
Sharron hunts for stock in charity and flea markets, car boot sales and online, handpicking items which are good quality and well made. Finding the original versions of designs which are now back in fashion is exciting, and she prefers to consider natural fibres like wool, cotton, and silk in the garments she chooses for her collections. I asked her how she feels about the sea change happening towards fast fashion, and she said:
“I feel there will be a backlash to the fast fashion culture and people will return to wanting higher quality, well made pieces that will have a longer shelf life. It’s already started in certain sections of the population, hopefully this will filter down to the masses. Surely people will become bored of the likes of Primark, I know I am.“
The Grainger Vintage Market, Newcastle upon Tyne every 3rd Saturday of the month
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