Six Items Challenge : Day 1


©IWM (D 14826)

Lent hasn’t fallen on Valentine’s Day since 1945.  Today shiny heart shaped gifts and ash crosses collide, as I start my Six Items Challenge.

I pledged to only wear six items of clothing for the next six weeks in support of Labour Behind the Label, a not-for-profit workers’ cooperative that supports garment workers around the world.  Somewhat ironic me thinks, as in 1945 Britain was facing clothes rationing to reduce consumption and save raw materials for the war effort.

Although dubbed a fashion fast to fight fast fashion, this is no war. I am not about boycotting brands, but I do want to buy less and buy better.

Here’s some tips I’m taking from the Imperial War Museum archive to see me through the fashion ration.


© IWM (Art.IWM PST 8564)

Plan Ahead.  Sadly I’m past the age of growth spurts (which just shy of 5 ft 7 kills me) but I do need to plan ahead, and allow for spilling something down the front of my white Frederica dress from Reformation – one of my six items.


©IWM (Art.IWM PST 8293)

Which can you do without?  The challenge may have started, but I’m not 100% certain about all of my six pieces.  I have a few days yet to choose my 6th item, so will it be the emerald green 50s dress I just got in Brussels from Gabriele Vintage  or my Gap check waterproof raincoat that doubles as a dress?

I’ll keep you posted.

Support and share my page here 📣

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman & courtesy of Imperial War Museum

 

 

My fashion fast to fight fast fashion

I have pledged to only wear six items of clothing for six weeks – starting just before London Fashion Week

 

If it takes a collective to make a fashion, it takes collective action to end fashion abuse.

The Six Items Challenge is a campaign created by Labour Behind the Label to raise money for a not-for-profit workers’ cooperative that supports garment workers to improve their working conditions.   

 

Labour Behind the Label do not advocate boycotting brands as this can have a negative impact on workers, but they do want fashion consumption to slow down to ease the constant pressure to produce more.  The Six Items Challenge is designed to highlight the speed of fashion, where it is common for brands to change their stock every four to six weeks.  The event takes place from 14th February till 29th March 2018 – covering Valentines Day, London Fashion Week, and Lent. Ethics are an increasingly fashionable issue, but no matter what fashion means to you, these dates resonate for many of us and encourage reflection on a consumer society.

We often know nothing about a garment’s origin, however a garment has many stories sewn into it throughout an often complex chain of activities.  From secret labels protesting unpaid labour stitched into clothing by workers at the Bravo Tekstil factory in Istanbul to less visible stories of people fuelling the fashion industry earning poverty wages, each item has its own story.  A small positive change can have a big impact that lasts beyond the 40 days of my Six Items Challenge and will no doubt help me appreciate the abundance in my life.  
 

It is easier than you think, as the Six Items Challenge allows for an unlimited number of shoes and accessories, socks, underwear and pyjamas.  Good news for shoe people, aka me, but bad news for those looking for an excuse to let the new year gym membership lapse, aka me, as the challenge even allows performance clothes to maintain a fitness regime.  The rules also permit me to pick one coat as an extra item because it is winter.  Those that are good with a sewing machine, aka not me, can make the most of even more choices through customisation.  I personally welcome the freedom from too many choices and that common feeling of a wardrobe full of clothes, yet nothing to wear.

So, which six items will substitute for an entire wardrobe?  My diary events during the 6 weeks and advice from capsule wardrobe advocators are running through my mind. Even Caroline Rector behind the blog Unfancy allowed herself 37 items during a 3 month capsule experiment to curb her shopping habit.  Sadly strategising ways to maximise my outfit options, I realise that if I choose a suit (which counts for 2 items) I will not, shock horror have enough combinations to avoid repeating an outfit during the five days of London Fashion Week.  That is, unless I go shirtless under my suit and stick to dresses and jumpsuits for my remaining 4 items. 

Okay, enough about my trivial dilemma, when this challenge supports the belief that no-one should live in poverty for the price of a cheap t-shirt.  

Founded in 2001, Labour Behind the Label is the only UK campaign group that focuses exclusively on labour rights in the global garment industry.  Researching and lobbying in support of workers, it campaigns for people across the world that face the daily grind without basic human rights – ranging from the lack of a living wage to working in fear for their life. Labour Behind the Label is instrumental in pushing UK retailers to sign agreements such as the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which ensures Rana Plaza victims receive long-term compensation. Beyond the fatalities that make headlines, it campaigns against the systemic exploitation in fashion. 

It is not too late to join the fashion fast, and whether you are taking part or supporting, Labour Behind the Label encourages all of us to think about the story we want our clothes to tell.  How we consume shapes our connection with clothes and with faster, cheaper fashion it is unsurprising that garments have lost their value.   Disposable fashion not only puts pressure on manufacturing and the planet, but also on the consumer to constantly change their look.

Before the emergence of trendy teen shops in the sixties and seventies, people often made their own clothes. My mum still describes the genuine pleasure she got from, one – her going out top, two – her jeans, three – her maxi dress, four – the cheesecloth shirt she found at Kensington market, five – her brown velvet jacket, and six – the silk blouse hand-me-down from her mother.

This is of course a new time, and six items is very different in the age of Instagram, but if garment workers had as many eyes on their stories, it would surely bring about a lasting change in fashion.

 

Sign up for your own Six Items Challenge  before 14th February 2018

© Photographs Reclaimed Woman and courtesy of Labour Behind the Labour

Divorce lawyer to dealer in rare Dior

Julia Jones put the Jones in Mary Jones Vintage, a divorce lawyer that sources and sells vintage fashion.  Based in Liverpool, stocked in Liberty of London and preparing for her first Salvo Fair in my Fair Fashion pop up, which opens in Henley tomorrow (23rd until the 25th June 2017).

I caught up with Julia before she exhibits her vintage finds for women and men, including a rare collection of Christian Dior hats.  Kind of a genius business plan… who doesn’t want Dior after a divorce???

How did you get your start in vintage fashion?

I am a divorce lawyer by trade but have always loved fashion and bought and sold designer clothing on EBAY and the like. Some years ago a friend, Mary, approached me as she had been left an estate of vintage clothes which was too much for her to manage. I fell in love with vintage and Mary Jones Vintage was born. Mary retired a few years ago and I, as the Jones, carried on.

What should we look for from Mary Jones Vintage at SALVO 2017?

Passion for vintage! I hand pick all of the items I sell and pride myself on doing them justice in my display. I want to give these items a new life.

This is a sneak peak of my favourite piece on Julia’s Salvo stand so far.  A 1970s Gina Fratini maxi dress. 

Is there a trend in the pieces you are currently sourcing?  

In Liverpool at the moment vintage Kaftans and Kimonos are big. Vintage fur is always sought after, but generally people are looking for that unique piece that no one else has.

Do you find it hard to part with things once sold?  Does a single piece stand out as the one that got away?

I am terrible for trying not to sell things. Because these items often have a history it is hard to part with them. I bought an Edwardian French crystal hair slide from a car boot sale a few years ago. It was exquisite. At that time I was doing some dressage to music on my horse and I sewed it into her tail as our music was Diamonds are a girls best friend.  We won the competition but I forgot to take the slide out of her tail and she merrily galloped off into the muddy field with it on! Panic ensued but, after hours of searching, we did find it again. I subsequently sold it  and  have regretted it ever since.

What are the dos and don’ts people should be aware of when shopping for vintage fashion?

Do buy what you like. Don’t let anyone tell you, you look like your Granny in it.

What do you think of the eco-friendly side of buying reloved pieces? 

I think this is particularly pertinent to vintage fur. I only sell vintage fur and believe very strongly that the quality of the fur and the standard of the craftsmanship was far higher. There is so much vintage fur available that there is no need to buy new.

If you buy carefully, vintage pieces can last a lifetime and cost a fraction of the price of lesser quality designer items.

How does wearing vintage fashion personally make you feel?

I am  what is commonly known as a “fuller filly” so I struggle to get into most of the dresses. However I do indulge myself with hats, bags and jewellery!

See salvofair.com for more details and join me for a dose of Fair Fashion, the antidote to fast fashion festival style. 

Follow Mary Jones Vintage on Instagram

©photographs Reclaimed Woman & courtesy of Mary Jones Vintage

Jewellery from repurposed antique cutlery to mark National Upcycling Day

I know I am not the only one to have jewellery boxed-up in drawers, saving it for best.  The same goes for antique silverware, often passed down through family, brought out for special occasions when firstly, we remember it’s there, and secondly, we can digest more than the daily cutlery drawer by the time dinner is prepared.

Not that I am suggesting you consolidate your treasures into fewer drawers, but Joseph Bucsi created his brand Boochi & Co, crafting antique silver cutlery into jewellery.  A concept worth chewing on.

“In a world that is so transient and increasingly unstable, history is one thing that we can learn from and hold onto. All of my pieces have travelled through time and had many lives.  A spoon made in 1750 has seen more than we can imagine throughout its lifetime.”

Joseph was introduced to antiques by his girlfriend Charlie and her family.  Hard to believe he became a craftsman just 3 years ago, he immersed himself in the history of found items and began researching hallmarks and makers through auctions and fairs.  Joseph came across stories of servants appropriating silver cutlery to reshape them into wedding rings when they wanted to marry.

Dating back to the 1700s, hallmarks, initials and patterns throughout the sterling silver Boochi & Co collection tell stories of their provenance. Available to shop online and at The Vintage Look in Henley.  Boochi & Co is also joining my Fair Fashion pop-up at Salvo Fair on 23rd-25th June 2017.

I can’t think of a better way to mark national upcycling day (Saturday 24th June) than with a spoon ring, destined to be used everyday.

SALVO 2017 at a glance

Where: Icehouse Lane, Henley on Thames, RG9 3AP

When: Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 June 2017

Open: 10am to 5pm

Smart Works Charity Gala Preview and late night shopping with organic wine from Vintage Roots: Friday 23 June 2017, 5pm to 8pm

See salvofair.com for more details and to book tickets

©photographs courtesy of Boochi & Co