Buying vintage bins in the time of Coronavirus

I am not sure where “bins” the abbreviation for glasses comes from, but considering my need for increasingly telescopic lenses it seems appropriate to refer to them as my binoculars. 

I enjoy the time when it comes to choose new glasses, well new old glasses as I always opt for vintage when it comes to opticals. If you are more conscious of buying vintage personal items during the pandemic then rest assured that many vintage specs have never been used.

For me, part of the fun usually involves visiting a shop dressed with antique cabinets, drawers and trays presenting styles for a try-on session. I had my eyes on a market, where online vintage eyewear emporium, Retro Spectacle was exhibiting but coronavirus ruled that impossible so I took the plunge and picked from pictures. Their selection of frames spans spectacles, sunglasses, designer names and desirable collectables like NHS styles, which date back to the late ‘40s.

In this day and age you can even shop reclaimed shop display cabinets online to add to the magic when looking at stock irl. These [from a selection on Salvo] soothed my craving.

Brass framed shop display cabinet c1970 from Art Furniture
Gilded Domed Display Cabinet from Edward Haes 

There is something about lockdown that heightens your screen experiences, and exchanges with Retro Spectacle’s owner Charlotte made it for me. She is an optician in practise so advised me well on frames that would work with my prescription, and shared selfies to help me choose between the seven styles I was eyeing; particularly kind as few people felt like taking selfies in lockdown. Apart from the tech between us, it felt like good old fashioned service, the kind that I dream the customers of couturier Christian Lacroix were treated to back in the day. Needless to say I chose vintage cat eye glasses by Christian Lacroix and an unapologetic ’80s pair by Christian Dior. Some people spent on earrings to jazz up video calls, but I’m wearing glasses more, so I got two vintage pairs for less than you would pay for a new pair of designer glasses.  

Picture of my mum wearing ’80s glasses, in the ’80s
My ’80s Dior frames from Retro Spectacle

Prices start from £29 at Retro Spectacle. They also do lenses but after all that screen time I had to get my eyes tested. Travelling on the tube again – just me in the carriage, I had time to take-in my new masked reflection and it confirmed that personality eyewear was a good investment right now. 

I personally love vintage glasses for their uniqueness, handmade quality and because it’s a more sustainable option, and I definitely needed to do something right by the planet given the amount of plastic PPE involved in eye examinations now. Plastic-free July fail. However, my first “normal” errand in a while did have its thrills. I left with the knowledge of the tissue trick. Listen up glasses wearers, if you place a tissue over your nose before positioning your face mask then it helps with the condensation. Handy, because I hope to be able to see in my new glasses. 

My Christian Lacroix frames from Retro Spectacle
Mid-Century Industrial Steel Vitrine Glass Display Cabinet from The Architectural Forum 

© Photographs Reclaimed Woman & courtesy of Retro Spectacle and Salvo

Hot Hot Hot! Reclaimed Woman

How will fashion become fashionable again after lockdown? We are waiting to see if the expected shift to more conscious shopping will be accelerated following the reflection time that beings, brands and businesses have had to take in the bigger picture. Categories like locally made, vegan or organic are certainly popping up more frequently on shopping platforms, like the newly launched PARO STORE. But its most compelling component is that you can tell the founders, Ruth and Zoe chose the brands because they personally want to shop from them. The progressive offering ranges from clothes and jewellery to independent magazines that shine fresh light on heavy issues like climate change.

PARO STORE edit, from the top:

Organic ribbed cotton Anai Bodysuit II by Aniela Parys

Hot hot hot! magazine Issue 3

Candy Person shorts and cardi by ULLAC oy

Recycled silver and oyster shell earrings by Mia Larsson

© Photographs courtesy of PARO STORE

Is fashion self-care? Revelations for Fashion Revolution Week with Ilk + Ernie

This is Fashion Revolution Week, where we ask #whomademyclothes to coincide with and commemorate the Rana Plaza factory, which collapsed seven years ago today. This is the day Fashion Revolution was born. 

A month in lockdown has likely resulted in more time for self-care for some, and forced self-care for others. Sometimes it takes getting sick to remember the importance of taking better care of our bodies and minds because we shy away from acts that soothe the self.  Me-time is usually last on the list. Self Care is the name of the new collection from ethical fashion label, Ilk + Ernie, which has me contemplating is fashion self-care?

Arguably fashion is moving towards pillars of self-care practice with the emergence of kinder, comfortable shoe styles and athleisure that makes it easier to go from office mode to exercise mode.  On a deeper level, I truly believe clothes have the power to transform our mental state, and the emergence of ethical fashion labels like Ilk + Ernie can make buying fashion a happy thing – both for yourself and the people that made it.  If fashion is to find its meaning again then it will surely come from a pivot towards kindness to ourselves, others and the planet. 

Jessica McCleave, the woman behind Ilk + Ernie took some time this Fashion Rev Week to share her journey into the sustainability scene. 

What did you do before you started Ilk + Ernie?

Much like you, I began my career working in the fashion industry. I started out as a visual merchandiser for Topshop HO and later moved into styling and PR. If I’m honest I really struggled with it, I found fashion to be a cruel, cut throat and at times very unkind industry. I once got told by a manager of mine that I was “too nice to work in fashion” which as you can imagine was very unmotivating! I think what I struggled with most is why we weren’t celebrating each other’s creativity instead of squandering it.

So I left! After some time working as a PA I became miserable enough to want to go back, but on my own terms. Working in high street fashion made me realise how wasteful the industry could be. I grew up designing and decided I wanted to give it another shot. I’d heard good things about textiles in India, so I booked a one way flight, packed up my life and went. I spent 4 months looking for ethical production and eventually found Sam. His father opened their factory 30 years ago and have been working with start-ups like mine ever since. Their business is Sedex certified, which means they’re on the map for doing things ethically. 

Sam made your clothes if you shop with Ilk + Ernie

What is the inspiration behind the name?

Ilk + Ernie was not the businesses first name. Back in the day it went by the name KIN LDN. Named so because I wanted to start a business that celebrated kinship amongst women. I was tired of the negativity I’d experienced in the industry and I wanted something positive; a sisterhood to buy from and be a part of. The name felt perfect. However after a feature in Vogue and some other mags my business got noticed by John Lewis, who was in the middle of launching a collection in their department store called KIN. They slapped me with a cease and desist and that was that, a classic case of the struggles of a small business against the big guys. I took a year out to restart and rebrand my business and in SS18 Ilk + Ernie was born. The name is unusual haha, but I learnt my generic naming lesson! Ilk was my follow on from KIN, I loved the name and meaning so much that I wanted to hold onto it in another form. Ernie is from my Irish dad. The first born son of every generation of his family was called Ernist. I was the first girl. The name means a lot to me and I wanted to carry it on. So in sum, the name is for family and community!

@ilkandernie Instagram post of women that dedicated a rainy Sunday to filming the label’s Crowdfunding video

Do you have any self-care routines or recommendations?

Right now self-care is the biggest thing on my agenda. I think it’s something that all human beings can do more of. For such a long time people didn’t talk about their mental health, yet we’ve all suffered from poor mental health at some point in our lives. In this crazy time of uncertainty, self-care is the most important kindness we can give ourselves. We all need to find our own way to stay sane and healthy! For me right now that’s routine. I wake up at the same time every morning [apart from weekends!], do my friends live stream hiit class, finish up with some yoga, shower, eat a tasty breakfast and then sit down to work. I don’t work past 5pm because I really rely on my afternoon stroll these days. When I’m feeling crap and unmotivated I let myself. When I want to eat junk food I let myself. When I want to sleep I let myself. I try not to allow myself to feel guilty – being overwhelmed is normal, especially when you’re running a small business. I have an amazing boyfriend and I live in a guardianship community with lots of incredible people, and for that I am grateful. Basically I allow myself to think and feel what I need to think and feel. I find that helps me stay positive. 

What is your favourite thing to do in Brighton? And assuming it is something you can’t enjoy right now – what will you wear when you can do it again after lockdown?

GAAAD! I miss being out and about in Brighton soooo much. After 10 years of living in London, I was so bowled over by the kind, friendly people of this city. My favourite thing….being able to walk to the beach in 15 minutes. I love the Laines and the amazing community Brighton has. The food scene is insane! I’ll never tire of eating out here. I can’t wait to sit out on a cobbled street and sink a glass of wine haha, so English. 

After lockdown I will be parading around in Ilk + Ernie’s SS20 clobber! I am genuinely so excited about this collection. It’s colourful, fun and can be worn all year round. The green Mom Suit is my favourite 🙂

Ilk + Ernie’s Mom Suit

What does Fashion Revolution mean to you? 

Fashion Rev has created a much needed voice for an industry that was in such dire need of change. It has brought ethics and sustainability to the forefront and forced people to listen. There has been such a surge in people’s acknowledgment of how damaging fast fashion is. I honestly don’t think people considered the links between fast fashion and global warming. Over consumption of poor quality garments made by exploited garment workers wasn’t exactly a thing people wanted to admit to knowing, but on some level we all knew. How else could companies like Pretty Little Thing be producing £6 dresses? 

What Fashion Rev has done is amazing. They’ve created a passion in people to do the right thing, shop responsibly and care about where their clothes come from. It’s an exciting time to be part of the ethical fashion community as a small business. When I was starting out no one cared about the sustainability behind my business. It’s so great to finally see people take notice. 

I grew up in Brighton, where the brand is based, so like Jessica, I am keen to soothe my soul with the creativity and kindness in Bri-Town when we are allowed out and about again.  But until that time comes, enjoy some Self Care

We hope you stay safe, sane and well in these times of madness. 

© Photographs courtesy of Ilk + Ernie 

wfh aka Wild From Home

Week three wfh and I am ready to be wild from home. The highlight of my weekend was singing Nirvana’s Teen Spirit whilst dancing around the lounge with my husband. “You call that wild? You need to get out more” I hear you say. Yes, I do. And one day I will. We all will. But until then I’m making my own conditioner with organic dried marshmallow root.

Stay safe, stay at home and stay wild.

Organic denim Day or Night unisex jacket Nok Nok

Mid-century Diamanté Fold Up Glasses Retro Spectacle

Organic dried marshmallow root Natural Spa Supplies

Mid-century teak chair with zebra print upholstery The Architectural Forum

Guide to the dear green place Glasgow

Did you know that Glasgow rates highly for green spaces per capita with 90s parks and gardens? The clue is in the city’s nickname “Dear Green Place”, which is derived from the Gaelic word for Glasgow. Other glorious green places are uncovered as you chat to people that live there, such as MILK Cafe, pictured below. MILK is a social enterprise set up to empower and support refugee and migrant women living in Glasgow. As well as a place for folks after an exciting breakfast menu, the space is used to run workshops which are open to all women in the community. I had just over a day to discover the city, so after starting at the oldest park, Glasgow Green, these are my go-to shops to help you scratch the surface of Glasgow’s green scene.

Mr Ben Retro Clothing

Kings Court, 101 King St, Glasgow G1 2RB 

Your first impression might not suggest you’ve arrived at the place for true gems like this ’80s Valentino dress I unearthed. Of course every visit is unique with vintage and the stock is always different, but once you step inside I think you would find it hard not to spot something in Mr Ben that interests you. I met the owner, Mary Ann King’s sister, who helps in the shop sometimes. She told me stories about the ’60s when London’s Carnaby Street was Carnaby Street and the time Mary Ann King borrowed her cardigan, only to see it again in a Vogue shoot. Mr Ben Retro Clothing is evidence that its founder has been collecting since she was 10, with pieces of historical significance from her personal archive dotted around the display. Stock for sale includes iconic Burberry trenches and great buys in menswear, womenswear and accessories.

West Vintage 

10 King Street, Glasgow, G1 5QP and other locations in Glasgow 

Pared back and spacious, West Vintage is a good place to workout your retro sportswear needs. Expect mixed levels aka prices, and brands like Adidas, Nike, Levis and Tommy Hilfiger. Find functional workwear that transcends time, or colour combos that could only have been conceived in the ’90s.

The City Retro Fashion 

41 King St, Glasgow G1 5RA 

This is a small shop with a substantial offering. The City Retro Fashion is a friendly, easy place to shop real vintage with particularly boss womenswear and menswear pieces from the ’50s and ’60s, although the collection spans a good five decades. While in here, be sure to check out pieces from local young sustainable brands like House of Black, also stocked in the store.

Rags to Riches  

455 Victoria Rd, Glasgow G42 8RW

Established with the aim of increasing awareness of reuse and upcycling, whilst also providing training and employment opportunities, Rags to Riches is a social enterprise project run by the Govanhill Baths Community Trust. We need to move to a circular economy to build resilient communities, and the range of workshops and locally made fashion stocked here sing to this movement. The shop is full of upcycled items that really do up the value of the materials they were born from.

The Glasgow Vintage Company

453 Great Western Rd, Glasgow G12 8HH 

Expect a marvellous selection of womenswear, menswear and a little childrenswear accessorised by greenery with good pot plants. The Glasgow Vintage Company is a mash-up of pieces dating back to the ’50s that feel modern, so it’s a welcoming place to ease yourself into vintage if you don’t normally do vintage. The shop is bright with lots of natural daylight and atmospheric lighting, which makes looking for treasure easy. Come here for clearly laid out classics like an authentic vintage Barbour, colourful cashmere, jeans or the retro Harris Tweed you hoped for as a souvenir from Scotland.

Glorious

496 Great Western Rd, Glasgow G12 9BG

This is a destination for reloved pieces with a mix of good pre-loved high street clothes and shoes cuddled up to retro homeware and accessories. Glorious has a low-key splendour to it that leaves you feeling warm inside.

© Photographs Reclaimed Woman

How to allure your eco side in Edinburgh

There is nothing like a good research session to get one in the mood. I like to seek out the eco fashion and decor offering when I visit a new city, but hopefully I can skip you to the main event with my shares from Edinburgh.  Sustainable secondhand usually reigns supreme in terms of physical shops to visit in a city. This is no bad thing as true vintage (at least 20 years old) and a peppering of pre-loved pieces provide that mysterious, storied appeal that make you really want to wear them, and no one likes a souvenir that doesn’t get used.   

Edinburgh is rich in true vintage, but also offers that rare delight when 2 become 1. Rather than Sporty, Scary, Baby, Ginger and Posh’s ‘90s rendition about the bonding of lovers — and the importance of safe sex! I am referring to shops that offer new ethical and eco brands alongside vintage. 

So, here are the places I recommend in the order I visited them over a few days in the capital. Everywhere on my list is reachable by foot or by bus. Just don’t pull my Londoner move and plant yourself randomly ready to pile onto the bus. Edinburgh is a civilised city and there’s a queuing system, and it seems the same goes for pubs should you need refreshment.

Godiva

9 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2JA 

If you’re not riding a unicorn upon arrival, you’ll feel like you are when you leave Godiva.  Fleur has led her boutique through many incarnations and today, 2 become 1 with the unconventional mix of local ethical and eco brands with eat your heart out eighties and other eras housed in the backroom dedicated to vintage. The chandelier perched in the corner was given to her at a party, which makes Fleur’s the best party favour I’ve heard of.  The jewellery is a highlight, including ethical brand And Mary which makes hand painted porcelain pieces in the Scottish Borders.  Purrrr. 

Holyrood Architectural Salvage

146 Duddingston Rd W, Edinburgh EH16 4AP 

If that’s given you a taste for chandelier spotting then this showroom is worth a visit as it makes shopping for salvage easy.  Holyrood Architectural Salvage is home to Edinburgh’s largest selection of antique fireplaces, but regular reclaimed items include lighting, original cast iron radiators, and a good supply of door furniture and doors – clearly organised by period or by panels.  

Miss Bizio Couture

41 St Stephen St, Edinburgh EH3 5AH 

“Welcome to my wardrobe” says owner, Joanna as you enter (and she means it).  Every visitor to Miss Bizio Couture is treated to Joanna’s personal wardrobe and the extraordinary eye she has been honing since she started collecting when she was fourteen.  A stint in a high powered, high paid job before being discovered as an artist allowed her to acquire remarkable pieces, but not just because she had the money to buy luxury, as she is not impressed by labels, but driven by the key anchors we should all look for before buying: colour, fabric and fit.  “Everything had to be right” she said. There is not much for less than £100, and there is not much room for browsing.  It’s so unapologetic, and why not?  Why visit a shop anymore if you’re not looking for a personal experience.  If you’re after something alluring then Joanna will personally find it for you.  

Elaine’s Vintage Clothing

55 St Stephen St, Edinburgh EH3 5AH

Closed when I visited, but made it into my edit for these beautiful shutters. 

Those Were The Days

26-28 St Stephen St, Edinburgh EH3 5AL 

Nestled next to its sister boutique, which is dedicated to vintage bridal with stock ranging from Edwardian to ’90s wedding dresses, you’ll know where to come after you’ve found love in the form of vintage Yves or Ossie Clark.  A visit to Those Were The Days is a lesson in how to shop vintage and look modern.  Neatly selected vintage high street and accessories suit different budgets, whilst other prices are higher, but fair for luxury labels like Chanel and Courrèges.  The menswear looks like it just stepped off a Gucci catwalk and the handbags are true talking pieces.   

Zero Waste Hub (by SHRUB Coop)

22 Bread St, Edinburgh EH3 9AF

On bread Street you’ll find free bread. No joke, Zero Waste Hub offers the chance to swap your pre-loved things, enjoy some rescued food and learn and share skills to make a practical difference to the world.  It is designed for members, but visitors can still shop the swaps, attend events, enjoy the veggie and vegan cafe and appreciate the reclaimed gymnasium floor.  

Carnivàle Vintage

51 Bread St, Edinburgh EH3 9AH 

Opened by Rachael in 2016, Carnivàle offers trinkets that intrigue, yet a layout that is easy to explore with pieces arranged by category and size.  Despite offering a collection that ranges from antique to ’90s fashion, you get the sense that Rachael’s goal is to pull back the curtain on vintage fashion and encourage anyone and everyone to share a piece of her love for it. This is a good stop for traditional men’s vintage too. 

Herman Brown 

151 West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DP

This isn’t a shop, it’s a mood. You feel like you’re in a stylist’s studio before a photoshoot with really great jewellery and accessories to multiply the outfit potentials from what is a compact, quality edit of womenswear with some menswear.  Yes, I did buy something (the oat coloured coat I am wearing in the photo below), but I also left Herman Brown inspired about getting dressed with what I already own.

Fitted dresses and thick knits were my uniform in Edinburgh. I don’t usually don one, but I’m okay with my Ally Bee wool cleavage.

Armstrong’s Vintage 

Multiple locations with their flagship at 81-83 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2HJ

Okay it was Halloween weekend when I visited, but Armstrong’s struck me as a landmark destination for authentic fancy dress. Established in 1840, W. Armstrong & Son is the biggest emporium so they can keep prices lower.  You may have to shimmy in between art students curating their university wardrobes, but it’s worth it for an affordable Aran knit.  

PI-KU Collective 

39 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QB

Each secondhand or locally produced piece feels purposefully placed by the shop’s owner, Hannah. Wholesome objects with a small but quality mix of fashion, accessories, and items made in Scotland with surplus yarns are the focus.  Hannah’s dad, John is a sustainable textile designer and creates bespoke tartans and tweeds alongside working in the family business Stag & Bruce, which is the brand behind many of the wool throws and blankets at PI-KU Collective.  See @pi.ku.collective for quirky flat lays.   

Still Life 

54 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QE

The name Still Life caught my attention as it’s pleasant to slowly ascend the winding road of Candlemaker Row, where you guessed it, candles were made centuries ago.  Enter this Aladdin’s Cave and you will be welcomed with art, antiques and collectables balancing on every surface, but no need to be daunted as the owner, Ewan is super friendly.   

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland

71-73 Raeburn Pl, Edinburgh EH4 1JG 

The city has lots of great charity shops, but I think it’s good to know your shopping supports local communities. The Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland shop caught my eye with its striking window and No Life Half Lived campaign. This particular location is one of the charity’s Boutique Stores so it has a mix of vintage and pre-loved pieces, including luxury names.  Good for womenswear and menswear with a little homeware.  

Sara wuz also here. I hope you enjoy Edinburgh as much as I did.

© Photographs Reclaimed Woman 

Party dressing with ideas from Ardingly

I won’t try to dress-up the fact that this is consumption season and this week sets the spending scene with a bombardment of Black Friday offers.  Whether you are wrapping up your 2019 projects, buying gifts, or figuring out how to dress yourself and your home for Christmas, It is hard not to get caught in the seasonal rush.  

A clue that the current commerce cycle is a game that both producers and consumers are losing came with findings that Black Friday sales offer few real deals according to the consumer group Which?.  But shopping doesn’t have to be a dupe, and Christmas offers an opportunity to spend better, buy secondhand or support businesses that are making a difference.  

The tradition of making a list and checking it twice is a good habit if you are looking to be more conscious this Christmas.  You might think fairs aren’t a place to shop from a list, and it’s true that the magic they behold often comes from the crazy, unusual, beautiful things you could never have imagined, but it is still possible to check off a list and here is how Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair ticked my boxes. 

1. Salvage ancient crafts and antiques that bring an aged glow. The stands are a great way to get festive decor ideas to set the scene.  

2. Rediscover the joy and excitement of children. Regular exhibitor, Linda North Antiques never fails to bring the magic with a rich, tactile display that could melt the heart of  the Grinch.

3. Get memorable gifts. Happy gifting guaranteed when you present your loved ones with a story to keep.  

4. And finally, a gift to self. Mine was a pair of day to evening shoes [pictured at the top] that will be perfect for the party season and still give me joy come January. I found these seventies shoes by Shellys, the British brand that used to stomp the streets of London’s Carnaby Street.  

This was the last Ardingly of the year, but you better not cry, you better not pout because the next IACF Fair is Alexandra Palace Antiques & Collectors Fair and it’s coming to town this Sunday 1st December 2019. 

© Photographs Reclaimed Woman

Conscious Commuter

Ensure you get space on the handrail during a crowded commute with this voluminous sleeved button-down by Amour Vert

[If you’re in the US or Canada it’s worth noting that it recently teamed up with the online thrift store thredUP, so you can close the loop on your clothing cycle and earn credit to spend at Amour Vert.]

RIKR Upcycled Laptop Case Groundtruth

Vintage Yves Saint Laurent belt 1stdibs

Airmiles scrunchie to hold your hair and calculate how far your food has travelled to reach your plate. Food for Thought from Gung Ho

Trainers upcycled by Peterson Stoop

Ready-to-wake: Should fashion weeks be cancelled?

Upcycled kitten heels by Ancuta Sarca at London Fashion Week

“Wake me up when September ends” are words I’ve heard from editors doing the four fashion capitals in less than four weeks.  

Our eyes are closed to the emergency according to Extinction Rebellion, the movement making non-violent resistance to demand action on climate change. The activists illustrated this with a ‘die-in’ outside the main venue for London Fashion Week, calling for it to be cancelled.  Yet inside, the British Fashion Council (BFC) staged showrooms fully dedicated to ‘Positive Fashion’ and sustainable design.  Of course, a small group of designers aren’t going to shift the wasteful speedy system, but it was a sea change on the press releases previously put out by the BFC, boasting stats like 32,000 miles driven between shows by a fleet of Mercedes-Benz, 20,000 cups of espresso consumed [almost entirely in single-use cups]…The carbon footprint of London Fashion Week was no doubt similar this season, but the tone changed.  

I saw sustainable designer Phoebe English join Extinction Rebellion and others on a panel discussion hosted by the BFC in London.  Gabriela Hearst claimed to host the first carbon neutral catwalk show in New York. Gucci declared its show in Milan and operations, including its global supply chain 100% carbon neutral. Stella McCartney hosted a round-table chat with activists on the eve before her show in Paris. 

These moves and commitments sound positive, but skeptics might say brands are just paying for carbon offsets or that Stella McCartney’s show—claimed to be her most sustainable to date, with over 75% of the ready-to-wear made from environmentally-friendly materials—still falls short, by containing some non-organic cotton.  Still, more problematic, is the sheer volume because speed matters, not just on the high street, but more than ever in the luxury market too. 

When you really take all this in, fashion can feel hopeless.  As former fashion editor, now Extinction Rebellion activist, Bel Jacobs acknowledged on the panel at London Fashion Week: 

“The fashion industry which markets, produces, consumes, disposes at an ever increasing rate. This is not an industry under threat and it’s set to rise by 63% in 10 years time… when you are part of Extinction Rebellion, grief is a large part.” 

The discussion heralded the benefit of slowing down and even stopping, with Phoebe English sharing how she halted production for three seasons to find more sustainable ways of creating and shifting the label away from virgin resources. 

Stockholm fashion week is usually prelude to fashion month, but this year the Swedish Fashion Council cancelled it to give them time to remodel, reach sustainability goals and set a new standard.  Maybe they’ll create something that the global fashion community will demand as much as Scandinavian influencers? 

Many industries are complicit in climate change, and fashion straddles many of them, including mining and agriculture. However, zeroing in on fashion first might be a clever move by campaigners, because collectively and creatively, I believe it has the ability to change and wake others to follow.

Cameron Saul, co-founder of the sustainable British brand, Bottletop also spoke on the BFC’s panel and showcased their #TOGETHERBAND campaign for change.

It is clear that fashion needs to change, not only for the planet, but also to save itself because somehow it feels off right now. What do you think fashion weeks could be if they should be?

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman

Clean cleaning with Norfolk Natural Living

“You’re going to open a cleaning shop?!” questioned Bella Middleton’s mum when she came up with the idea to create eco-friendly cleaning products.  Now a fully fledged member of the Norfolk Natural Living team, Bella’s mum works in their shop in Holt, which has maintained one of Norfolk’s unique high streets.

Clean, like green is currently trending, but Bella delved into cleaning’s past to develop her natural formulas.  We’re hearing more stories about the murky supply chains behind some products driving the clean living scene, so it is reassuring to know that Bella sources ingredients from skilled British artisans – from local lavender fields to English beeswax. Everything is mixed, bottled and labelled by hand in (as the brand name suggests) Norfolk and each ingredient is fully traceable.  

See Bella’s ‘how to clean silk’ guide

Respect for materials runs in the family, from her sister with roots in ethical fashion design to her granny, who was a costume designer.  Bella still has many vintage pieces from her grandmother’s collection and evidently loves vintage as much as I do, but also gets excited by the cleaning challenges presented by vintage garments and different old fabrics: “I’m constantly on a journey” says Bella.

Family was also a driving force behind the conception of Norfolk Natural Living.  Having children made Bella think even more about the clothes we pass through generations and so wanted to create an heirloom-worthy garment and home care brand, designed to care.

Me and Norfolk Natural Living handling a 1940s silk

Of course the cleaning collection is not just for special pieces, as whether vintage or new, the biggest environmental impact of everything we wear is most likely to come from how we care for it and wash it.  The better we look after things, the more sustainable the contents of our homes and wardrobes and that means washing things less often, cue Norfolk Natural Living’s handy range of refreshers, like one dedicated to denim.

There’s a lot to take in with the sustainability seashore of choices that impact things in different ways, so Bella’s aim was to keep things simple with products that are naturally potent, not preachy, look good and to provide proper instructions on how to use them. 

Combining modern scientific research and age-old techniques, the first creation was scented vinegar.  However, if you’re after fish and chip scents then you might like to head to Holt for Eric’s sustainable MSC-certified fish instead, because Bella’s all-purpose vinegar cleaner is scented with natural essential oils.

“I wanted to create a product that does all the things it’s supposed to do and do it really well, but also in a way that’s desirable.” [Which I can vouch for because after using the scented vinegar for the first time my husband walked into our bathroom and said how great it smelled; and before you think our household is stuck in the era of my vintage silks, we each have our cleaning domains – his is the kitchen and mine is the bathroom]

Projects in the works for Bella include renovating her kitchen and looking for a second shop in Holt, so that they can also hold workshops. Recently mulling over the purchase of an antique kitchen table marked with children’s names, Bella and I agree that there is a happy balance between clean and not too clean, and that sometimes signs of life are what makes things. She wants to give people confidence to take care of things in a natural way:

“Clothes can change your attitude and it’s good to know that they’ll last so you can wear them and enjoy them without worrying…let them live.”

Shop Norfolk Natural Living

© Photographs courtesy of Norfolk Natural Living & Reclaimed Woman