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Image / Fashion

Taking a sustainable approach to dressing can be as simple as sharing and swapping


by Marie Kelly
12th Sep 2018
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My wardrobe isn’t full of sustainable and eco-friendly brands. Why? Because they’re often out of my budget and the variety of styles on offer simply wouldn’t satisfy my day-to-day needs. What my closet is crowded with, however, is items that I love, wear often and will never let go of. I have a grey tunic dress that I bought in H&M in London 19 years ago. I still wear it and always feel great in it. I have a gold brocade Karen Millen coat, also bought in London, 15 years ago, which I last wore back in April and will be pulling out of the wardrobe again any day now as temperatures slowly but surely dip.

I may not always buy sustainable brands, but charity shops and second-hand stores have been part of my shopping routine for the past 20 years. One of my favourite cashmere jumpers was bought in a charity shop, a pair of Levi’s I wear to death in a second-hand shop as well as an exquisite Chloé blouse (turns out this was donated to the store by a lovely, very stylish, acquaintance of mine!). I do regular clear-outs of my wardrobe, and any item that I feel has given me all it can gets donated so that it can make someone else feel as good as it did me over the years.

This Friday, we’re holding a swap shop at IMAGE HQ (keep an eye on Instagram to catch a glimpse of who brought what). Everyone will bring five items, pieces that are in perfect condition but which need a new lease of life courtesy of someone else’s imagination and flair. Isn’t this just as exciting as heading out to the high street? It’s a lot cheaper, much more fun, and the potential to come home with an exciting piece is just as likely as on a Saturday afternoon jaunt around town.

I’m lucky to live with my sister, so although we’re not exactly the same size, we can swap sweaters, coats and shoes comfortably, which means less fast fashion but not fewer fabulous pieces to play around with. A bit of lateral thinking and creative flair is all that’s required to help encourage a more sustainable approach to fashion. The number of eco-friendly brands is growing, and improving in terms of variety and accessibility all the time, so one day perhaps we’ll all be buying from them without having to make a conscious decision to do that.

Until then, don’t underestimate the difference you can make with considered choices about what you buy (pieces that you know you love and that will work for you for many years to come), by exploiting all the fabulous second-hand and charity shops around the country, and finally by looking towards friends and family to share and swap with. You’ll build a more interesting wardrobe if you do.

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