on second hand september
There are 11 million pieces of clothing being thrown into landfill every week, and I’m a firm believer that everyone who buys clothes has the power to do something about this.
Of course, some are a little bit more at fault for the state of fast fashion and consumerist culture ( hi Zara, how are ya? ) , but there’s a conscious clothing campaign I’m sure you’ve seen filling the headlines at the moment that I’m going to discuss today - Oxfam’s #SecondHandSeptember.
I recently did an Instagram Live with my mate Bethany, titled: ‘Who’s Fault is Fast Fashion?’. The amount of messages, thoughts and comments we received in response to the topic was huge ( which is super lovely and exciting! ) , so it’s evident that there’s a lot of mixed feelings on the topic. Here are mine…
In short, I believe the state of the fast fashion industry is not innately the fault of the consumer, but I do believe that it is within our power to change it - as a result, doing so is our responsibility. It’s also the responsibility of those who run fast fashion brands to sort out a sustainable and ethical system, but it’s becoming apparent that they’d rather greenwash that do so. So whilst the industry’s power players can make significant changes to the clownery overnight, we as consumers can make significant changes to the clownery through our own shopping habits…
isn’t the responsibility to sort out the fashion industry in the hands of those who run it?
what is second hand september?
After months of extra-iced coffee and extra-light layers, September is a time for brand new stationery and, for many of us, brand new wardrobe additions. Whether it’s a trend-led winter coat or an ever-so-slightly different style of black boots, I know that we often feel the need to spend money on * stuff * to feel motivated - particularly when we’re surrounded by new season releases on every page, whether online or in print.
And I get it - as a fashion-lover, I 100% know the joy and confidence that a new piece of clothing can bring.
So I’m not going to tell you not to buy new clothes this month.
But I am going to suggest a different approach: take part in Second Hand September!
For just 30 days, say ‘no’ to fast fashion culture by shopping only second hand.
Oxfam’s Director of Engagement, Nicola Tallett, said:
We have seen on a daily basis the impact of the climate emergency on people living in poverty, whether through the droughts in east Africa or the earthquakes in Asia, and we wanted to do something about it.
It’s long enough to force you to create new habits – but not so long that it feels daunting.
Sara Arnold, campaigner for Extinction Rebellion, said:
By asking people to boycott fashion it sounds as though we are telling people to make a sacrifice, but actually we don’t need to go without – there are so many items of clothing out there. It’s also not saying that we shouldn’t be creative – there can be an explosion of creativity, whether that’s upcycling your own clothes or swapping clothes. Restrictions can be a source of creativity.
This is something I’m a huge advocate for - using the slow fashion movement as a source of creative inspiration and an opportunity to experiment with personal style.
why should i shop second hand?
Sustainable fashion comes in a range cuts and styles, but many would argue that the single most eco-conscious way to consume new clothing is by shopping second-hand.
from a style point of view
For a start, the best way to shop in an environmentally-friendly way ( that doesn’t require changing your style identity ) is by shopping second-hand. As a minimalist myself, I know that the industry’s brands and designs are rich in neutrals, whilst lacking in brights and boldness - this might fit perfectly into my own taste, but I do know that beige wide-leg jeans and oversized white tshirts don’t excite everyone.
So when I receive messages from the print-loving people out there asking how they can join the #FashionRevolution, my first suggestion is always to shop second hand. Scroll down for some of my favourite places to find preloved gems!
from an ethical point of view
As I’m sure you’re aware, the clothing supply chain side of the fast fashion industry is a questionable, problematic, and often illegal one. From child labour to poisonous working conditions ( both physically and emotionally ) , giving my money to a brand that treats its overseas employees like sh*t just doesn’t roll with me. So if you love the style of lots of the stores on your high street, you can still buy their clothes - just in a way that doesn’t let these companies increase their sales and demand.
from a sustainability point of view
So if the people who make fast fashion clothes are working in spaces with toxic chemicals … do the toxic chemicals just … disappear? No ma’am. There have been numerous occasions ( even earlier this year ) where high street stores have had a PR nightmare when needing to recall sold items of clothing because they’re weaved with mysterious and spooky substances. That’s a scientifically specific statement right there.
Furthermore, the level of clothing that’s being produced is physically unsustainable for our planet; the amount of resources a garment requires to be made is unbelievable - those Apple Bottom Jeans that T-Pain sang about in 2003 required almost 2,000 gallons of water to be produced. Brands can get away with these sorts of actions because the demand is there - buying second-hand means you won’t be funding this damage. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the ethics of those boots with the fur.
where can i shop second hand?
Whilst buying preloved clothing isn’t exactly a brand new phenomenon, the volume of available garments and access to them is opening many minds to this side of shopping. Here are some of my favourite places to find second hand clothing…
My one true love when it comes to shopping second-hand. As a big believer in investing in quality, timeless pieces instead of trend-lead, throwaway garments, many designer brands cater to my clothing requirements. Does my budget match my expensive taste, however? * Cue Jasmine Masters * NoOoOo ma’am. Second-hand designer pieces, then, are an excellent way to pick up some seriously stunning staples. Vestiaire even run their own department of fashion experts who spend time authenticating each and every sale on their site to make sure you’re not being sold a fake.
wolf & gypsy vintage
A beautiful, independent little store in the heart of Brighton’s North Laine, Wolf & Gypsy is definitely one of my favourite places to shop. From rails of hand-picked vintage gems to carefully-curated selections of ethically made designer pieces, it’s a sustainable fashion blogger’s dream. Not based in Brighton? Not to worry - head over to their online store for vintage and sustainable garments that you’ll love as much as I do!
na nin vintage
An Instagram favourite amongst many, @naninvintage is the place to find minimalistic preloved pieces that have been thoughtfully curated. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better: they run a full website filled with stunning finds, too!
girls of mars vintage
So much love for this women / LGBTQ-owned and operated independent store! A beautiful selection of curated vintage gems, each with a minimalistic and somewhat contemporary edge to them ( oh, and a website to match ) .
What a space! Depop is a brilliant app to download if you’re a keen high street shopper - particularly style-wise - because you’ll find pieces by the fast fashion brands you adore, but you create less demand for clothing production by purchasing these items second-hand. Win win!
The perfect space to grab a bargain and, if you’re a haggler, create your own there and then! You’re sure to find a selection of super unique pieces in a vintage sale that’ll serve as wardrobe statements and conversation starters! One thing I’ve learned about wearing clothing that’s even a little bit different to what many people reach for is a sure fire way to get random compliments from fashion-loving strangers, which is always super sweet!
This is the most affordable way to spice up your wardrobe - swap clothes with your stylish mates! In cities like London, Brighton and other creative hubs, you might even find that a local group are organising a larger-scale swap! Oh, and if you can’t find one in your town, why not organise your own? Meet like-minded conscious fashion shoppers, send the pieces in your wardrobe you’re not feelin’ to a new loving home, and fill your own closet with a fresh new range of items ready to be styled!
Why not start out where the movement is based - in your Oxfam! If you’re based in / around Oxford ( where the charity was founded back in 1948 ) , make sure to head along to their brand new Superstore, which is 12 times the size of your classic Oxfam shop.