I've said it once and I'll say it again: Fashion and textiles don't have to cost the earth!
Let's go (charity) shopping! These hubs of community greatness work wonders for charity fundraising, provide locals with professional and voluntary experience, as well as spoiling the savvy shopper with ethical and eco threads that won't bruise the ol' bank balance.
Working with Balloon Ventures in Kenya really reiterated the fact that a little entrepreneurial and sustainable thinking can go a long way when it comes to fashion and textiles. Fundamentally, we really don't need as much as we think we do. Re-using and customising existing items and buying second hand are all ways to reduce our footprint on the planet and guarantee that what we wear has more of a story and more of a shelf life. Instead of buying up every single short-lived trends from a high street chain, why not take a trip into the unknown and choose yourself something more unique, ethical and sustainable? Everyone's a winner!
Just today I picked up this light, bright and versatile scarf from a Fara charity shop in Earlsfield and have already lost count of the compliments it's bagged me! I am never happier than when showing off the unique and interesting pieces I've found in charity shops but still get surprised reactions around 80% of the time - why isn't second hand living more normalised??
PS... Sneaky tip for designer-fans in London: If you're after labels, I'd recommend taking a trip to the charity shops of Hampstead (North) /Westbourne Grove (West)/Shoreditch (East)/Clapham (South) in particular to dig yourself out some luxury treasures at a snippet of the price...
If you fancy going a step further, get volunteering with your local charity shop - my time with The Children's Air Ambulance shop in London was amongst the best experiences of my life.
I gave: between 6 and 18 hours a week during my university summer break.
I got: such valuable experience in retail, styling and customer service, not to mention some of my FAVOURITE clothes and accessories to date - hot off the shelves too!!
TRAID is another of my favourite organisations, collecting and recycling clothes at no cost, as well as having several kick-ass shops that sell the most amazing second hand gear and unique pieces too. You won't regret getting involved with this amazing initiative; you don't even need to leave the house to do something wonderful!
Your local council should have clothes recycling facilities for those items not suitable for reselling in a charity shop - this is what mine has on offer: http://www.haringey.gov.uk/environment-and-waste/refuse-and-recycling/recycling/street-recycling/textile-recycling
If you do insist on your clothes being squeaky clean and brand new, there are so many ways that you can keep it ethical, more brands than you'd think have jumped on this wonderful bandwagon for goodness. Read a recent article on just a few, including giants such as ASOS and Fatface here!