These Irish women are changing how we shop via Instagram

We've reached "peak stuff". This has been egged-on by our need for digital validation in the form of a teeny-tiny anatomically inaccurate heart motif, adjacent to an immaterial statistic. The idea of the more we see, the more we want is an inherent human design flaw made worse when everything we want is at the touch of our scrolling fingertips.

Instagram is one of the most powerful fashion tools of modern times. It's a utopia for finding new labels to covet, trends to try, people to watch, stories to follow. It connects you with buyers in San Fransisco, hand-weavers in Nepal, master tanners on the west coast of Ireland. For millions, Instagram is a valued source of income, with some influencers earning four, or even five, figures. And for the average user, like you and me, we're at the helm of influencers pushing the latest 'It' bag or the season's most-coveted pair of high-end shoes (or two).

But is the thrill of buying new clothes the same anymore? Especially when the world is in crisis from overusing plastic and harmful chemicals. Our current state of consumption is leading us to annihilation, and we have only ourselves to blame. A 2017 report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that the amount of clothing made has doubled in the past 15 years, and the increased popularity of brands like Boohoo, Missguided, Pretty Little Thing and Nasty Gal has only accelerated the fast fashion product lines. There is no one-stop solution but small changes - like consuming less and buying smarter, re-wearing and upcycling clothes - are simple, cost-effective ways to challenge the fashion industry and dampen the pressure to constantly show off new garb on social media.

Today, however, there is a clutch of women and men championing pre-loved clothing and home-grown design on their own accounts, spurring a movement in the process. Can an app that's built on aesthetics and 'likability' save the industry from fast fashion?

Sophie White / Instastory swap shop

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If you're already following Sophie on Instagram then you'll be familiar with her regular recycled wardrobe updates and her expanding repertoire of vintage and one-off pieces. In a bid to "wear the sh*t out of what I actually own", writer, cook, podcast co-host of The Spill, mother and  IMAGE.ie contributor, @Sophie_White_ is almost finished her year-long shopping hiatus. Following on from Rebecca Flynn's (@flynnfluencer) #SmallChangeTuesday challenge (every Tuesday, Rebecca encourages her followers to share the small changes they’re making to benefit our planet in the hopes of inspiring others to do the same), Sophie decided to give back to women less fortunate and so, #Instaswapshop was born.

Here's how it works: Sophie has a huge "fancy event" wardrobe... that she doesn't actually wear. Every week she updates her highlights with a selection of new and old dresses, ranging in a variety of sizes, that are free to borrow. "If you've got a wedding coming up, a fancy event, a work thing, you've got a Christmas party and you don't want to buy a new dress and you're bored of what you've got, hit me up in the DMs." If you find something you like, Sophie will get the dress to you (or a selection if you want to try them on). In return, all she asks is that the garment(s) is dry-cleaned or washed (if it's washable) before being returned. Here are some of the dresses on offer:

 

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Taz Kelleher / Insta vintage shopping meet up

There are two great loves in Tara - Taz - Kelleher's life: podcasting and sustainable fashion. When Taz isn't producing podcast series for global brands or her own education-cum-humour podcast series with her partner Marcus O'Laoire, she's exploring Dublin's hidden boroughs in search of second-hand goods. Taz's personal style can be characterised by explosive colour, laid-back and loose-fitting silhouettes with a handful of nostalgic boiler suits and denim rompers thrown in for good measure, and is a nod to her eclectic and outgoing personality. She regularly updates her feed with images of her latest charity shop find - whether here in Dublin or in Paris - and has created a wonderfully simple way for other people to get involved.

The Monday Charity Shop series highlights a number of different charity shops around Dublin each week, showcasing the exceptional value shoppers can get by taking the time to explore each location. In one shop, Taz shows a pair of sequinned Karen Millen trousers reduced from €295 to €25, and an & Other Stories jumper for as little as €4.

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Sarah Hanrahan / No Buy November

Psych-nurse-turned-food-photographer-turned-fashion-blogger Sarah Hanrahan, @i_come_undone, is fluent in the language of Instagram. That is, she has successfully captivated an audience of almost 49,500 people who return to her feed daily for style inspiration, wardrobe advice, a casual culture fix and general life of a millennial woman in an up-and-coming metropolitan city.

And though fashion blogging has served her success, it has come with the added pressure for Sarah of always being "on". To combat this, and to promote sustainable and Irish design, Sarah is committed to #NoBuyNovember and is urging you to get involved too.

 

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This month I’m going to do something a little different with my everyday outfit posts ?. I’m going to only re-wear old items styled in new ways... no new clothes will be bought in favour of working from what I already have ??. I’m doing this as inspo for those of us who can’t afford to buy new clothes regularly and, as a reminder that the pressure perpetuated by social media culture to constantly have new things is unrealistic. I’ve never been a big shopper but, I really want to put an emphasis on saving money this month ahead of what’ll be an expensive December for a lot of us ?. After all, if we like something enough to spend our hard-earned money on it, we should want to get more than one or two wears out of it, right??? If you’d like to do this challenge along with me I’d absolutely LOVE to have you involved ?? I really hope you enjoy these outfit posts ?? #ICUNoBuyNovember

A post shared by Sarah Hanrahan ? Dublin Life (@i_come_undone) on

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Sarah is using her platform to promote reusing and re-wearing clothes, and "as inspo for those of us who can’t afford to buy new clothes regularly" and serves as a poignant reminder that the pressure perpetuated by social media to constantly have new things is unrealistic. She continues to share daily outfit updates but makes a greater effort to re-wear older pieces as well as Irish design. Use #ICUNoBuyNovember to get involved in the conversation with her.

 

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Tip from yesterday’s #ICUNoBuyNovember look? Keep.It.Simple. ?? To me there’s nothing more chic than an all black look so, having lots of black clothes means endless easy outfit options ?. If you’re not sure how to style block colour outfits my best piece of advice is to focus on texture & shapes ?. The ribbed polo neck, velvet boots & shell blazer create layers with texture rather than colour which both keeps the look interesting and, avoids that flatness which often puts people off single colour looks ?. Texture is so important; consider mixing things like soft knits, slinky silks and rough leathers when putting your look together ???. I promise it’ll feel anything but boring ?? (adding something to cinch the waist is fab too of course... a tip for any outfit ?) xx

A post shared by Sarah Hanrahan ? Dublin Life (@i_come_undone) on

Fashion Revolution Ireland / Awareness for sustainable change

Fashion Revolution is a global movement of designers, producers, makers, workers and consumers, academics, writers, business leaders, brands, retailers and policymakers; all working toward a common goal to reduce waste and initiate sustainable change for Irish fashion and fashion around the globe. Fashion Revolution Ireland was formed on the back of Fashion Revolution Week (April 23 to 29, 2018), a week-long series of events to promote sustainability and ethical production in the fashion industry, and believes in a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure. This year, Fashion Revolution Week challenged people to ask #WhoMademyClothes, resulting in new conversations around supply chain and fair trade.

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Though the event is only a week-long, work continues 365 days a year to positively impact the industry through education and awareness. The official website, fashionrevolution.org, is filled with useful information designed for shoppers, buyers, retailers, students and media and explores what can be done in these roles so that the fashion industry can continue to change for better. Follow them on Instagram at @fashrevireland for event updates, manifestos and industry news.

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