In April 2014 I heard about a campaign (led by Fashion Revolution) calling for us to ask fashion brands where our clothes came from or, in short, #whomademyclothes. The campaign was launched because in the previous year, on April 24th 2013, the Rana Plaza collapsed. This resulted in 1,138 people losing their lives. Many more people were injured. The Rana Plaza had been supplying clothes to the western market. I remember watching the news showing the aftermath of the collapse and feeling completely helpless. I began to question where our clothes were coming from. I began to think that it didn’t make sense that a T-Shirt can cost less than a morning coffee. How were clothes becoming so cheap to buy? Journalist Lucy Siegle points out that ‘fast fashion isn’t free. Someone somewhere is paying’. It was in April 2013 that 1,138 mothers/fathers/sons/daughters/sisters/brothers paid the ultimate price for fast fashion. The collapse of the Rana Plaza wasn’t even an isolated incident as far as fashion disasters go. Six months prior a fire in another factory killed 112 people.
I find this topic hard to write about. I find it hard because it’s so important. Something has to be done which is why I fully support Fashion Revolution. They are calling for change. They are calling for greater transparency within the fashion industry so we can ensure that companies are not exploiting those who make the clothes. The change could mean a safer fashion industry that values people and the environment whilst still being fun, creative and bloomin’ exciting for all those involved, from designer to maker to consumer.
Last year (and the year before!) I got involved by doing a ‘haulternative’. A ‘haulternative’ is an alternative haul, showing that you can refresh your wardrobe without buying new clothes from the high-street. I have always based my ‘haulternative’ on charity shopping and other second-hand purchases. So, for the third year running, here is my version of a ‘haulternative’. A collection of my favourite second-hand outfits over the past 12 months.
Last spring I was all about the comfort. I was completing an HNC in Costume and was spending a lotta lotta time sewing, fighting with mannequins and fitting big ol’ dresses so comfort was key. The blue floral shirt was perfect because it was as comfortable as they come. It’s slouchy but colourful and kind of looks like some sort of outfit effort has been made when thrown on. It was an Oxfam purchase and is currently featured on Oxfam’s website as part of their #FoundinOxfam campaign.
The cardigan is possibly my favourite colour EVER. Spotted immediately as I walked into a Cancer Research UK shop last spring, it proved to be the perfect cover up for those in-between weather days. It then went on to be the perfect layering piece throughout autumn/winter when I wanted to add a little colour to those predominately grey/black outfits.
Summer is the season I usually find hardest to dress for. I can never remember what I wore the year before and usually end up wearing inappropriately warm clothes more suitable for autumn/winter. The Oxfam floral shirt saw me through summer (as it did spring). The check blue shorts were also an old favourite that I dug out on the warmer days because I loved them as much as I did when I picked them up in Oxfam many, many years ago.
Summer charity shop purchases included the pink floral shorts (which became a firm favourite), the gingham shirt (which goes with absolutely everything) and the silk floral skirt which, as well as wearing with a shirt and being a bit of a smartie pants (as I did here), I also enjoyed wearing with a dark grey/black band t-shirt for a slightly more dressed down look. Finally I picked up the denim studded shirt because I saw it in my local All Aboard and it was too brilliantly unique to leave!
With Autumn came a whole lot of velvet. I re-wore (many a times) my purple shirt which my friend got me from Oxfam a few years ago. I also picked up a maxi, dark blue, velvet dress which, being strappy, was perfect for layering over t-shirts and jumpers (as I did with the grey roll-neck photographed).
I also picked up a few favourite jumpsuits. The black culotte jumpsuit was a Sue Ryder purchase and was possibly the thing I wore most last year. I dressed it down with converse and big ol’ jumpers for the day but also wore it out in the evenings a hell’uva lot with high boots and shirts undernearth. I started a new job towards the end of the year and think my colleagues may have thought this was the only item of clothing I owned until 2017. The black floral jumpsuit was a Barnardo’s purchase and was autumn dressing at it’s easiest. Thrown on over a roll-neck knit with a leather jacket and it was ready to go. For the lazy dresser like me, it’s bloody perfect.
Occasionally, I head into London to mooch around the vintage shops and it was last October that I picked up the cosiest dark green jumper (worn above with jeans). By upcycling an old jumper, Rokit modernised it and I know I’m going to wear it for years to come.
On New Years Eve I picked up one of my biggest bargains of 2016. The heavily embellished, beaded top (in the second picture of this section) rang through the till at £3.50 at the most perfect time. A few hours later I put it on and it saw me through to 2017 wonderfully with a tulle black skirt and super-duper high shoes. Other favourite purchases made in the winter included the polka dot skirt (and shirt) from Barnardo’s and the green jumper and patchwork dress, both Oxfam!
As well as picking up new favourites in winter, I continued to wear the black, culotte jumpsuit because it was super easy for layering. Another layering number I spotted in my local Cancer Research UK was the khaki suede calf-length coat. After a little um-ing and ah-ing I snapped it up, and I’m so glad I did. I have worn it so much. As well as going with pretty much all of my outfits, it’s something I haven’t seen on the high-street, making it that little extra special. It’s unique and the fact that buying it meant donating to charity makes it all the more special!