Category Archives: ethical fashion

Fashion Revolution Day: My Self-Imposed Primark Ban

Primark labelsIt’s been over a year since I bought anything from Primark.

It wasn’t a New Year’s Resolution or a spending-ban challenge, but a decision that I’ve flirted with for many years. As today marks the first international Fashion Revolution Day, I thought it was time to open up and talk about this self-imposed ban, and publish a post I began writing over three months ago.

I first started shopping at Primark when I left home for university. I’d never heard of the fast-fashion budget chain before, but with a dwindling bank account – a student loan can only pay for so many haircuts and trips to the pub – I ventured in, guided by my new flatmates.

Seven years later and I found myself relying on Primark to get my fashion fix whenever I needed a new pair of jeans or a summer dress. I watched programmes highlighting the shocking working conditions enforced by supply chain manufacturers and would swear off shopping there for a few weeks, but I’d always come back.

After Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza disaster (a year ago today) that saw over a thousand labourers die when the factory collapsed, I knew something in my shopping habits had to change. This, compounded with blogging for Oxfam Fashion and feeling overwhelmed by the amount of clothes I own (two wardrobes, one rail, a chest of drawers and counting…) led me to cutting Primark out of my life for good.

I thought I would miss the thrill that only finding a bargain can bring – be it a cheap t-shirt or scouring the reduced shelf in the supermarket and finding the exact ingredient you need at half the price. As it happens, I don’t miss it at all. Buying something that has a history or where the design and production of which has been clearly thought out is far more rewarding than any pair of £4 sandals.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love shopping on the high street, in addition to rummaging through charity shops and vintage boutiques, but I feel so much better knowing that I’m slowly withdrawing from brands that offer clothing at prices that are simply too good to be true.

There is a long way to go before I can honestly say that my shopping habits aren’t hurting anyone else, but this sense of mindfulness towards the fast-fashion feeding chain keeps me from absconding whenever I go looking for a bargain.

This is a topic I’ve shied away from talking about but I’d love to hear your thoughts – how do you feel about buying fast fashion, and would you ever consider a similar clothing ban?

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Cloth Magazine: relaunch issue review

Cloth magazine relaunch issue | Ship-Shape and Bristol Fashion

When the lovely folks at Cloth magazine asked if I wanted to review their new relaunch issue, I jumped at the chance. I have something of a magazine habit and read Cloth back when it first launched in 2009, as a handbag-sized DIY guide to making mittens, shift dresses and floral jumpsuits. I even blogged about it, when Cloth and Ship-Shape and Bristol Fashion were both in their infancy.

Back then the magazine was only available in local indie shops (many of them  in the South West, as it’s produced in Bristol) but now you can find it online and in the likes of Liberty, The V&A and Selfridges.

Three and a bit years later, the relaunch issue of Cloth is a larger format that’s just as inspiring, with a focus on upcycling and thrifting as well as DIY. From iPad cases to faux fur stoles, Cloth is beautifully laid out on thick, matte paper (as it always has been) with easy to follow instructions.

Regular readers will know that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with my sewing machine (I was told my Christmas stockings looked like oven gloves) but I want to try making more clothes and furnishings this year and Cloth has provided some great inspiration. I particularly like the interviews and ‘inside the wardrobe/home of…’ articles, as these satisfies my nosy side and reminds me of a life before Pinterest, when I would rip out inspiring outfits or interiors and add them to real life scrap books. Truth be told, that took up way more room, but I do love the nostalgia and permanency of ripping out those pages. Luckily for me Cloth are on Pinterest, too.

Do you make your own clothes or furnishings, and are there any crafty magazines that you like to read?

Cloth retails at £4.99 but there are subscription deals available on their website.

Cloth magazine hosiery DIY | Ship-Shape and Bristol FashionCloth magazines | Ship-Shape and Bristol FashionCloth magazine guide to Berlin | Ship-Shape and Bristol Fashion

BIB A/W12 Charity Fashion Show

Bristol Independent Boutique finale

Two weeks ago (which feels like such a long time!) I was lucky enough to go the Bristol Independent Boutiques A/W Fashion Show which took place at Bristol Folk House. I think Bristol has such an exciting and creative pool of desingers and boutiques, so when I heard that organiser Andree Latibeaudiere was putting the show on, I knew I had to come along to check it out and support the local talent.

So after meeting up with Beautiful Plumage for a couple of pre-show drinks, I headed up to the Bristol Folk House on Park Street for the show. The hall inside the venue was lined with chairs to form a snaking catwalk. The event was in aid of Labour Behind the Label, a charity organisation dedicated to raising awareness of sweatshop workers and fighting for better working conditions.

As you may have guessed, all the participants were either independent Bristol designers or boutiques. Some I’m well acquainted with, such as 71 QueensCox & Baloney and Fix Up Look Sharp. Other labels were a new discovery for me, such as LaGrace Ekall, fox + feather and twentythree Work/Shop. Once the show got underway there was a huge mix of styles and designs, reflecting the diversity of Bristol’s creative scene, from pretty floral dresses to reworked 90s shirts.

Aside from the clothes, a selection of which you can see below, the most striking thing was the hair styling – all victory rolls and 40s curls. The models were all so different in terms of their shape and personal style but it was their expertly crafted hair that helped to tie the show together.

During the show we got chatting to Phobe of 7th Sea on Cheltenham Road, whose collection included quirky moustache covered shirts and glittering skulls. As well as stocking her own designs, Phobe also sells other artists and designers work for a cut of the price – a great idea for budding boutique owners.

The show felt stilted in parts as the announcer and models weren’t in synch – there were often long pauses between each set, but that’s perhaps to be expected for a brand new show. Andree has plans to put on a Spring/Summer event next year and I’m looking forward to how her vision develops.

If you’re a budding designer or think you have skills that could be an asset to this exciting network then check out their Facebook page for more information.

fox and feather blue floral dress
fox + feather blue floral dress
Jumper from Portobella on Cheltenham Road
Jumper from Portobella on Cheltenham Road
Vintage sportswear from 71 Queens
Vintage sportswear from 71 Queens
The Folk House A/W programme and my boots!
The Folk House A/W programme and my boots!
Glittering skulls from 7th Sea
Glittering skulls from 7th Sea
Bristol Independent Boutiques show finale
Bristol Independent Boutiques show finale
I love this gorgeous Cox & Baloney dress

I love this gorgeous Cox & Baloney dress

Monochrome from Pink Lemons boutique

Monochrome from Pink Lemons boutique

Kat’s Clothes Swap

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to an impromptu clothes swap. Actually, it wasn’t that impromptu – Kat, who is raising money to fund her trip to work with a charity in Mexico – had been planning it for weeks, but I didn’t find out about it until S of Beautiful Plumage asked me to go that same afternoon. I love a good clothes swap, and since this one was for charity I could hardly say no, could I?

I’ve been to a couple of small-scale clothes swaps and while Kat’s was held in her home on a quiet street in Southville, it was the most organised and well-stocked swap I’ve ever been to! The photos I took on my phone are a bit rubbish, but picture a living room piled high with clothes, accessories and jewellery, all divided into neat sections, including knitwear, skirts, jackets and even ‘sparkly things’.

Not only was there an abundance of clothes to choose from, there were also ample sweet treats that Kat had whipped up, including carrot cake, scones and fresh strawberries. Yum!

After some tea and cake, nine of us spent half an hour perusing ( I love that word) the extensive collection of clothes and selecting a few outfits to try on, before getting stuck in and swapping.

I came away with some fantastic finds, including a mustard coloured chunky knit jumper from Warehouse, a linen blazer and leopard print jersey dress. Once the weather picks up I’ll put up some actual outfit posts, but for now, check out my best finds, below.

I’ve mentioned it before on the blog, but clothes swaps are such a fantastic way to socialise with friends, clear out the clothes you never wear and pick up some new threads at the same time. And, in the case of Kat’s clothes swap, you can raise money for charity, too.

Have you been to any clothes swaps recently? What’s been your favourite swapping find?

Coffee coloured Topshop jumper
Coffee coloured Topshop jumper
Redoute leopard print jersey dress
Redoute leopard print jersey dress
Blue spotty F+F top
Blue and cream spotty F+F top from Tesco
Grey linen Primark jacket
Grey linen 3/4 length sleeve jacket from Primark
Mustard yellow chunky knit Warehouse jumper
Mustard yellow chunky knit Warehouse jumper
Grey wollen jumper dress
Slouchy grey jumper dress

Blogging for Oxfam Fashion

I finished work today to find a lovely surprise doing the rounds on Twitter – my first post for Oxfam Fashion has gone live!

I mentioned in a RTW post a few weeks ago that I’d been picked as Oxfam’s new fashion blogger, and the first topic I decided to tackle was how to offset buying new clothes by making sure I operate a one in, one out policy.

Sustainability within fashion blogging can often be a bit of a taboo topic, so I hope my post offers a small solution to buying brand new. Read the full article on their site and let me know your thoughts – do you have a way of controlling what goes in your wardrobe?

Have a great evening!