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.
“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.
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.
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.”
The Manchester-based fast fashion retailer, Missguided recently made headlines for the wrong reasons with a £1 bikini. Depending on which side of the sun lounger you woke up on, you will either be disappointed you missed the bargain or angry, alongside MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) that just had proposals like a 1p fashion tax to raise millions for better clothing recycling rejected.
Despite the success of rapid fashion, trends are also moving towards investment purchases like well-being, live music and food experiences that will feed our souls. Insitu Architectural Salvage shared a few projects, including Manchester’s independent bar and gig venue Jimmy’s, who is now opening a site in Liverpool Docks and the neighbourhood Neapolitan pizzeria, Rudy’s who also has a new site in Liverpool.
Sustainability is influencing a number of industries, from construction to fashion and food. However, it is not simply about an environmental angle, as restaurants fashioned with truly reclaimed maple strip flooring, seating and lighting build a story and bring authenticity to your scene.
Salvaged furniture designed to be used outside can add a natural transition from the home to the garden and folding designs are also great for small outdoor spaces like mine. I bought the school bench [pictured above on the left] from Insitu a few years ago – perfect for city living.
Here are some of my picks of sustainable British fashion alongside furniture from Insitu. Now we just need some swimwear weather that is not missguided.
Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair showed its mettle (albeit disguised as petals )this week, as a major fair that continues to attract a strong following of dealers, designers and private buyers. It could have been the sunny start and morning light hitting the showground, but the architectural and decorative antiques looked especially pretty, like the first daffs in March.
My highlights included Mangan Antiques’ marbeled apothecary pots circa 1870 from southern Italy, coloured to signify the herbs they originally held. A floral telephone chair also caught my fancy for its fringing detail and so did numerous painted reclaimed doors.
This late Victorian stained glass panel rescued from Birmingham by Smiths of Stratford, and the ‘60s bag bursting with flowers were under the same roof at Ardingly and could arguably both be considered romantic gestures🌹.
The next Ardingly Fair will be held on Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th April 2019 at the South of England Showground near Haywards Heath (as usual).
Had I not already left my heart in San Francisco in 2015 when I met the man I would marry seven months later, Love Street Vintage would have stolen it. Sustainable gems are dotted in many neighbourhoods, but High on a hill, Haight Street calls if you are after a single destination to explore vintage and pre-loved fashion. Berkeley is a must for Ohmega Salvage if you’re into reclaimed interiors. If time allows, I thoroughly recommend crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County for giant redwood trees and environmentally conscious communities. I had the vegan sausage of my life at Gestalt Haus in the town of Fairfax. But enough about my love life. Here’s some ethical and vintage finds to start your own love affair with the SF Bay Area.
Marina District – 2110 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123, USA. Plus more Amour Vert stores to explore in numerous neighbourhoods in the Bay Area…
Starting with green love. These sustainable staples are what you would expect to find if you raided the wardrobe of a chic French woman: classic tees, great silk blouses, a boyfriend blazer, relaxed sweaters, a slinky jumpsuit. AND then added free-spirited prints; this is after all San Francisco, where 97% of Amour Vert’s clothing is made (within just a few miles of the brand’s head office).Natural, quality fabrics are arguably the building blocks behind both French and Californian style, which Amour Vert translates beautifully with eco-friendly materials like GOTS certified organic cotton, Mulberry silk and modal.
Love Street Vintage
Haight & Ashbury neighbourhood – 1506 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
Visit the kaleidoscopic corner of Haight and Ashbury and absorb the setting of 1967’s Summer of Love and then explore bohemian sixties and seventies fashion at Love Street Vintage. From paper-doll-making childhood days spent cutting out Sears catalogs to setting up this dress-up heaven, the owner edits beautiful clothing for women and men alongside accessories that date back to the twenties. Discover new jewellery made in California and antique Native American turquoise pieces.
Haight & Ashbury neighbourhood – 1764 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
Caution: one may leave Static Vintage wanting to paint one’s walls a ‘90s shade of lime green. There is a lot to look at with painted walls decorated with women’s and men’s fashion. Stock ranges from reasonably priced rare pieces to cabinets reserved for vintage Vuitton luggage, designer jewellery and bags by the likes of Gucci and Chanel. Other accessories include lots of ties and shoes, which range from secondhand so-wrong-they’re-right to vintage Yves Saint Laurent. Rails are packed so it’s a good place if you are in the mood for a rummage. Take intermittent breaks in the brown teddybear chair.
Decades of Fashion
Haight & Ashbury neighbourhood – 1653 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
As the name suggests, here you can shop by the decade of fashion that takes your fancy. Most pieces fall between the thirties to the eighties, but the collection spans 100 years from the 1890s. I’ve shopped everyday attire, but it’s particularly good for party-wear. Sadly I don’t drink champagne everyday like the late Cilla Black was said to, but on my last visit I was tempted by a pair of ‘80s champagne bottle and coupe earrings (that would be a perfect blind-date identifier). Don’t worry if you’re not reading this from the UK or you were born after 1995 and these Blind Date jokes are lost on you because if you’re into vintage then Decades of Fashion definitely won’t be.
Haight & Ashbury neighbourhood – 1660 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
There’s nothing like a good window display to make you appreciate the pleasure that is unique to visiting a shop built with bricks instead of clicks. In fact the whole store front of Wasteland’s San Francisco location is worthy of a minute or two before you dive past Art Deco tiles to discover pre-loved fashion peppered with vintage. Expect high-end and contemporary designers, and when I last visited there was practically a cabinet dedicated to collectable Prada accessories. Of course stock changes quickly, but men’s clothes and accessories always maintain a healthy share of the space.
Eden & Eden
North Beach neighbourhood – 560 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Not everything in Eden & Eden is sustainable, but the store and staff exhibit such respect for both new and vintage that it is truly a place to shop forever pieces. Eden & Eden’s vintage clothes and jewellery is so well-edited that it could even convert people that don’t usually do vintage. They also exhibit in A Current Affair, an event for premier vintage retailers and private dealers that comes to the Bay twice a year.
Inner Richmond neighbourhood – 212 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
Step inside Seedstore and you feel a flowering spectrum of the sustainable fashion scene – ranging from local labels with collections made in California to independent brands from around the globe that nurture traditional in-country techniques. A pop-up of ‘80s and ‘90s vintage by WRN FRSH, a local SF label that also sells their own non-binary cut and sewn collection made of recycled denim sits well in this store of mainly new wardrobe staples for women and men and gifty goods.
Gravel & Gold
Mission District – 3266 21st St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
Let’s just say they had me at the doormat welcome message.
Gravel & Gold is home to an independent, woman-owned design collective and is mainly stocked with things the women make themselves including clothing, accessories and gifts featuring their handmade prints. Joyfully crafted items for your own home dome include stained glass shaka signs and unusual sculptures and ceramics. Expect a multi-sensory experience with warm, cruelty-free Californian scents from the likes of Fiele Fragrances.
Mission District – 914 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA. One of Ref’s two locations in SF.
It is increasingly rare to find a brand that you can’t get on home ground, so if you’re not based in San Francisco, New York or LA, Reformation calls for some revelling. Tech-savvy stores invite shoppers to add items to the fitting room from a monitor, but as a Brit usually restricted to viewing Reformation’s sexy strand of sustainable from behind a screen, I preferred to cruise the gallery-like display. Save your upper-arm workout for another time because unlike stores with jam-packed rails, Reformation dresses theirs with just one of each item. Then you can test sizes across bottoms, dresses and tops ready for future screen-shopping.
Berkeley – 2400 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702, USA
Exploring Ohmega Salvage is a happy excursion to inspire interestingly dressed interiors. This place is a staple of community for reuse with unusual objects that fit a need and tell a story. It’s a given that you will eye-up salvage bigger than your suitcase could carry; which in my case was a trough sink circa 1960, but there are smaller shoppable items too (like the glass pendant light shades pictured). It’s also fun to look at different architectural elements and furniture that you don’t find back home.
Fairfax in Marin County – 9 Bolinas Rd, Fairfax, CA 94930, USA
Mystic Rose is a new jewel to the treasure town that is Fairfax. Stepping inside is like entering a fortune tellers cabin with vintage clothes and ‘90s iridescent Moschino boots waiting to tell you about the life you could have if you choose them. This store has trinkets galore, gifts and great American vintage accessories for women and men. I saw mostly one-offs on my visit, apart from this trolley out front holding deadstock handbags from the seventies. It’s well worth crossing the Golden Gate Bridge for a taste of intentional living here.
This edit sums up my mood for the month ahead. It’s that time of year when your pinkie ring should give you super powers and you can cloak your face and your body in pillows [when not showing off that you’re capable of dancing in white whilst eating cranberry canapés].
Is it me or are haircare ads stuck in the 1950s? Can the contents of one plastic bottle really deliver on all of those promises? And are we even looking for those things at the end of a good shampooing?
Hair diaries of women with great locks usually involve a lotta steps and it is easy to succumb to the idea that we need a complicated routine to achieve the hair of our dreams. I just discovered a shampoo that needs no conditioner step, which is quite a significant discovery for my habitual hair routine. So could zero waste be the philosophy that actually delivers the haircare promise without a long, product heavy process?
Having heard that I was working to overhaul my beauty routine, Olivia of ethical homeware and accessories brand Nido Collective introduced me to Hanna of Acala, who offered to let me sample zero waste shampoo called Beauty Kubes.
Fellow member of Ethical Writers & Creatives, Hanna Pumfrey created her online store Acala to empower people with easy sustainable alternatives.Expect natural, organic and vegan health and beauty. But before you click to discover Acala’s plastic-freedom, let me spoil the end with the promise that I am a zero waste haircare convert.
My Acala delivery arrived in reusable packaging by RePack, which I was almost equally intrigued by so I put the whole thing in my weekender ready for my night away in Paris.
Good timing for a hair treat trial, I chose shampoo cubes for normal to dry hair, as living in the city I tend to wash my hair a lot and my lengths get dry. Plus I’m a sucker for anything rose or grapefruit and this formula is infused with rose extract, a blend of organic palmarosa, orange and grapefruit essential oils.
If you are less than thrilled about taking plastic bottles into the shower, but quite like an escape to the Cornish Riviera then Beauty Kubes could be for you too. Made in Cornwall, the product and packaging is 100% biodegradable. The cubes are cruelty free and free from palm oil, sulphates, and packed with vitamin E and pro vitamin B5 to promote growth, a healthy scalp and hair.
Apart from an unfortunate purple Halloween hair-in-can incident when I was about eleven, I do not dye my hair and I am particular about what I subject it to. It took me a moment to balance the right amount of water to shampoo cube – whilst sussing out how to work the shower in my hotel – but back home I perfected the crumbling technique. In the palm of your hand you gradually work it into a paste and a pleasing lather. If you’re accustomed to equating lather with cleanliness then it will take some getting used to natural shampoo, but honestly my hair feels clarified and cleaner.
Upon return to London, I posted the RePack packaging, which is returned to its source for free and then cleaned and redistributed to brands and stores using the service (many of which offer incentives through RePack’s online community). Then I washed my hair. Beauty Kubes passed the was my head just happier in Paris? test and my hair still feels softer in London’s hard water.
[Cue shot of woman in urban jungle having sexual experience with freshly washed hair]
Wearing hair washed with Beauty Kubes in Paris with pre-loved fake snake trousers & hair washed with Beauty Kubes in London with a poppy print jumpsuit from People Tree for their collaboration with the V&A Museum. See the latest V&A collection here
Long gone are uninviting dark Dickensian cluttered shops. Antiques have entered a new (eco) friendly state where they have never been more desirable.
If you are excited to step back inside now that the number of hot days have outweighed ideas for al fresco experiences, then October is the month for you.Save the dates 19-21 October 2018 – the weekend of Bruton Decorative Antiques Fair is a good time to be in Somerset.
Nothing says let’s get cosy (with over fifty of the finest dealers in decorative antiques and Mid-century design to dress our homes for winter) like a bucolic weekend in the South West.
After a working summer in Suffolk interspersed with inspiration trips to Italy and France, Chris Randle of The Antique Partnership is handpicking stock ready to make a debut at Bruton this year. Taking the traditional with the trendy, Chris shares his secrets for fashioning friendly environments…
Twenty-five years of dealing and restoring antiques has earned Chris what’s referred to by insiders as the knowledge, an increasingly rare quality in today’s new market changed by the Internet and social media selling.
Chris uses the Internet to his advantage – not having a shop helps him keep prices keen. But hashtag searches only get you so far and his clients are not one-click wonders. He has built a genuine reputation by splitting his time between antique dealing, interior decorating, and through real face time with buyers at high calibre events.
So how does one attain the knowledge? Chris is modest.
“Take on challenges and overcome the mistakes made… never be afraid to ask those who know more than you,” he says. Chris happily returns the favour by sharing his knowledge with those who ask.
The new season is about touchy feely interiors. “Attractive, difficult to find talking pieces often with a rustic country touch…nothing over perfect but with a warm feel,” says Chris.
An appreciation for old things comfortably coexists with fashion. Buying antiques can be your fastest route to trends with quality iterations that add individuality which never dates. Chris says fashion is getting louder with “brighter colours than of late” and no room – no matter how small – is devoid of a talking point or two.
Try bold geometric designs in primary colours and Victorian pub signs like this scoreboard (probably made for indoor excitements such as a game of skittles).
Bruton is brought to us by Sue Ede, the woman behind the Bath Decorative Antiques Fair, which is celebrating its 30th next year.This October is only the 3rd edition of Bruton, but it has already created a buzz.Stands are artfully curated and highly personal, filled with objects that exhibitors truly love.From immediate wows to settings that show the potential of even the humblest pieces, beauty is everywhere to be found for all manner of tastes.
I dressed this corner of my home with pieces collected from regular exhibitors at Bath and Bruton.
Step inside The Antique Partnership’s stand at Bruton this year and you will get a taste for rustic 19th Century French and English pieces. Your eyes will meet the glass eyes of a polychrome rocking horse and rest on pairs of upholstered French armchairs.The modern home is not museum-like, beautifully upholstered chairs are actually bought to sit in.
Chris is a fan of the “practical but strikingly nice to look at.” A flight of painted Georgian drawers, a lime waxed pine dresser base, and a rare walnut topped centre table fit the bill for Bruton.
The months when the great indoors beckons is a natural time for living green to resonate. The choices we make for our own homes effect that place we all call home, planet earth. Chris believes the green angle will translate over time, but it has not hit the right spot yet. “A huge effort needs to be made to bring this concept back into the publics mind,” he says.
Choosing antiques over new is surely one of the most pleasurable ways to sustain our planet. But who needs preaching when the beauty found at Bruton Decorative Antiques Fair can inspire change without words.
I didn’t see myself squeezing into another capsule challenge so soon – having spent 6 of the coldest weeks in just 6 items of clothes for Labour Behind the Label at the start of the year – but this was too good to resist… 10 items, 10 days, easy right? Ah, but this time the count includes shoes. And this challenge calls for the most out there, fun, fashiony pieces, hence the name #GlamCapsule to show that our wildest eco-glitter filled dream where fashion and sustainability hold hands and skip into the sunset can be a reality.
I’ve never been a capsule wardrobe kinda woman because a career in fashion has given me A LOT of clothes, but I am eager to make my wardrobe sustainable and one way of doing that is by giving more life to the things I already own.
So at the start of #zerowasteweek, here’s to reuse and designing happy wardrobes by wearing all the beautiful things we usually save for best. Wear, don’t waste and put your clothes and accessories somewhere you can see them [like in this ex museum display cabinet below].
And if you reaaaallly want something happy and new [or new for you], here’s some reclaimed and ethical ideas to get those fashion juices flowing…
Slip dress made from upcycled vintage silks We-Resonate
Jacket made from surplus furniture fabric Noumenon
Rose gold plated recycled silver Millie Hoops Gung Ho x Chalk Designs [£5 from every purchase goes to Friends of the Earth]
If you’re looking for proof that magic exists then Kimaya’s ethical elegance will suit you.
After more than a decade working on fashion planet aka Paris, Anne-Sophie Planet swapped city life for southern India to realise her dreams as a designer.
Following her intuition, she landed in the international sustainable township of Auroville and created her eco-conscious fashion brand Kimaya.
Sitting somewhere between the forest and the ocean, Anne-Sophie writes to me – sitting somewhere between London’s Holland Park and Portobello Road – and through the wizardry of the web we realise that we both believe in magic.
“I just followed my heart. It was maybe the first and only time of my life where I had almost no expectations. I was really in the moment. Discovering, meeting new people, resting, enjoying life, taking care of myself.”
The first collection has the carefree kindness of a globe-trotting woman that is as interested in others as she is independent. Anne-Sophie wants Kimaya to bring out the best in you: the authentic. Naturally cool in organic cotton, banana silk and tencel with respect for ancient print techniques, handloom, dyes from roots, nuts, flowers and fruits, and for mother earth herself.
UNESCO has protected the township of Auroville since its birth in 1968 and today over forty nations from all age groups, social classes and cultures make up around 2500 residents.It is recognised as the first and only ongoing experiment in human unity and transformation of consciousness.
Sometimes, without realising it, we live life like we’re stuck on repeat, so what advice would she give herself on arrival in India, knowing what she knows now?
“My advice would be to enjoy even more every minute of this time because living in the flow without thinking of tomorrow is precious.”
Revived with essential values: co-creation, respect for people, connection with nature and simplicity of life, she was ready to create her brand.All of the fabrics are from India, and mostly from southern India as she is keen to keep Kimaya as local as possible.
“We are so lucky to have this cultural diversity here and so many skilled people,” says Anne-Sophie who collaborates with Aurovilian artisans from India, Germany, France, Switzerland, the US and the UK.“Auroville is a laboratory, where we all experiment and learn how to grow individually and collectively. That’s unending education.”
She is aware of the part she plays as both designer and consumer. She spent the majority of her time in Paris working for small, humane designer labels, but also did a three year stint with a mass market brand.
“I have been to factories in China, India, Bangladesh, North Africa, Turkey… Always more, faster and cheaper! I was part of the play. But in a way, we are all part of the play because we are all consumers. We often hear ‘shopping is voting’ and it is true because as the final consumer, we have the last word. If we become more conscious about the way we consume and what we consume, things will change. Not only regarding fashion.”
Kimaya is designed to challenge the idea of shopping as a mindless occupation, and to encourage us to re-evaluate the relationship society has with clothing. If shopping is voting then don’t we all have the right and duty to choose consciously and express the power of the purse?
“Of course sometimes it is challenging but it is worth the work for making a change and manifesting something. I feel grateful to be part of this adventure in constant progress, to have the possibility to do what I love most and to evolve with people from so many countries, cultures and backgrounds,” says Anne-Sophie.
A real change in fashion may take more than one miracle – the meaning of Kimaya in Sanskrit – but I do believe in magic, do you?
Not putting words in your mouth, but I do love this indigo batik ‘oui’tee.