Instagram flea markets and online sewing classes: how Sustainable Fashion Dublin is thriving during Covid-19

Sustainable Fashion Dublin was created to offset the fast fashion machine and inspire Irish people to embrace slowing down. But since we've all slowed down completely during Covid-19, their movement is continuing to grow


The Covid-19 crisis struck so quickly, many of us had barely blinked before our daily habits, interests and jobs were completely turned on their head. Museums closed; cafés too; and our love of fashion became strictly prohibited to the internet.

For the fast fashion machine, this isn't a problem - the majority of our issue with funding the global fast fashion monster comes from our penchant for one-click spending. But when it comes to more sustainable options, they were in a pickle as to how they could pivot to online life.

Conscious fashion lovers

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Sustainable Fashion Dublin (SFD), a platform for embracing second-hand and ethical fashion, was created by co-founders Geraldine Carton and Taz Kelleher in 2018, but has already seen a booming trade of similarly conscious fashion lovers joining their movement.

Through swap shops, upcycling workshops, discussions, screenings, and, the jewel in their crown, their monthly flea market, Geraldine and Taz created a community of sustainable fashion lovers with their events. But when events are strictly off limits, how can a movement like theirs continue to grow?

"Obviously initially we were very nervous, and it took us a while to figure out where to go, because there's so much ambiguity about what's happening", said co-founder Geraldine. "We started off with our videos on little upcycling projects you could do at home, with the aim of keeping people occupied and keeping ourselves occupied as well. We could see that people were getting antsy being stuck at home, and needed ways to fill their time, and we thought that this could be a great opportunity to let everyone's crafty side out".

Flea markets

Geraldine was conscious of the how the community aspect of SFD might suffer with everyone being apart - especially losing out on their flea market, which had been her favourite event. "The flea market is such a great way to showcase small businesses and sellers that might otherwise not have the platform, and the fact that people always got together and fostered such a community spirit is something we are so proud of", she explained.

"We don't want SFD to be just us lecturing people about fast fashion - we want it to be a dialogue between everyone, and to be fun and friendly. The flea market encapsulated all of that, so I was devastated when it looked like we'd have to stop it".

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A *Virtual* flea market that gives you the chance of winning FREE MONEY?!! Yes people, welcome to the future!!!😏🙌🏻 Keeping your (very) social distance, this is your chance to peruse through the sustainable/ locally-produced/ preloved wares of artisan producers & fashion fiends via our Instastory, just like you would a real flea! ...The only difference being that this will all be✨VIRTUAL✨. 🌸 A one-stop shop for those amongst us who miss the delights and discoveries that flea-markets bring, the aim is to support the local businesses who are trying to stay afloat in these troubled-water times, and highlight the brilliant talent and creatives from all around the country. 👇🏻 💰BUT WAIT, DID SOMEONE SAY FREE MONEY??💰 👆🏻 Yep, you heard right! We will also be giving away a prize of "free money" (€20) to one lucky person who posts about their "dream purchase" from the flea; ie all you gotta do is post about something you saw in our lineup that you would adore to buy and share it on your instastory🌟 💸 Each week we will pick one winner and this person will be able to use the €20 credit towards purchasing something from one of our vendors! Sound good? You bet it does. 🤑 So set your reminder and be sure to tune in to our instastory tomorrow where we’ll be showcasing some fab businesses & individuals worth supporting!💖 ⚠️ ⚠️ TO APPLY FOR A VIRTUAL STALL: Just send a link to your site/ depop + three photos of sample items + a one-sentence explanation of what you’re about to [email protected]

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The idea came along to try out the flea market online - SFD's Instagram page would showcase sellers via their Stories, and their followers would reinvigorate their wardrobes with their wares. SFD hosted their first last week to a hugely positive reaction. "I couldn't keep up with the number of messages we got that day", Geraldine said. "The sellers were delighted and people wanted more".

Pay it forward

For Geraldine and Taz, the victory isn't just about keeping their movement going - it's about paying it forward too. "This whole situation has really shown a kindness in people, where they want to support local and be more positive with their actions. Supporting independent business is an act of kindness that helps so many, and we want to give them a platform to do that".

SFD won't stop at just Dublin flea markets though - their plan is to expand across the country, with spotlight markets on different cities around Ireland. And for the clothes you already own? They've got plans for that too.

"Loads of people are clearing out their wardrobes at the moment, but we want to bring them away from just dumping it all in a bin, and encourage them to create something new with it instead", Geraldine explained. "Through our Patreon, you can access things like sewing classes, upcycling workshops, and even recipes for batch cooking so you avoid food waste as well".

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*Did you know* that your love for an item of clothing increases 700% when you add a bit of embroidery to it?? 🐝 ...Ok this is not a real fact - but it should be. 🌸 Injecting a bitta love and creativity into our clothes not only is just a nice thing to do, but it’s also a brilliant way to ensure that we actually wear them and subsequently decrease their carbon footprint.💚 What’s more, now that we’re on lockdown, time is one thing we all have a fair chunk more of, and you’ll be hard pushed to find a lovelier way to fill a quiet morning/ evening than by up-cycling a lacklustre shirt collar or pair of uninspiring trousers. 🧵 Therapeutic and incredibly relaxing; it’s like yoga, but without you having to leave the couch! 💁🏻‍♀️ There are soOooo many ideas out there, but for a few pointers on the basic tips & tricks to start you off, check out our tutorial in our instastory above☝🏻 Also! Be sure to tag us in any pics of your own embroidery creations - we’d adore to see how you get on!🌸

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"We're also planning to do documentary screenings that you can look at remotely, as well as keeping up the quizzes we've been doing every week too".

As a business that has truly embraced digital during the outbreak, will SFD keep any of the lessons they've learned when we eventually all get back to the real world?

"I definitely think that keeping the double approach of digital and real events will keep working for us", said Geraldine. "At the end of the day, anything we can do to make the platform more accessible for people is definitely what we want."


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