Says writer, fashion stylist and filmmaker Basma Khalifa
The narrative of a year in lockdown has shifted the paradigm of our shopping habits. More used to be more, enjoying frivolous spending and cheap thrills. For the majority of the year I’ve been selling items on Vestaire collective and wearing everything that’s elasticated. While I was hosting the Ecologi Climate Change Festival, I learnt the three Rs. Reduce, Recycle and Reuse but for me another important R should be added. Rent. There are so many fashion rental options now available, from Hurr to By Rotation. A revolving wardrobe is still possible without global climate change implications. As I have been using them more I have come to realise that hoarding clothes doesn’t quite feel as satisfying as it used too.
Renting from Hurr has also given me a real buzz. It’s not just about creating less chaos in my already cramped wardrobe. It’s about being able to get my hands on the most beautiful dresses which I would have never been able to afford previously. The ultimate double win. Knowing the whole process was sustainable from start to finish felt so rewarding. I then wore the dresses, popped them back in the package, and posted it back. Going forward, I’m not saying I won’t buy myself a new dress or top. But knowing there are other options that are not only more sustainable but also mean I get to enjoy fashion that I would have never been able to afford previously, makes renting feel like a part of my future plan. I can’t wait to borrow more.
Says Lauren Bravo, writer and author of How To Break Up With Fast Fashion, out now
I’ve been a thrift shopper my whole life, but that doesn’t mean I’ve always been good at it. At university I was weirdly proud of having a hundred (100!) vintage dresses in my wardrobe, which in hindsight was fairly gross. Most of the dresses were fairly gross too – scrappy relics bought from kilo sales or late-night eBay binges, usually covered in kebab stains or badly hemmed while drunk.
Fast forward a decade in which I fell hard for, and subsequently broke up with, fast fashion, and this time I’m determined to do secondhand right. Because the planet is drowning in unloved clothes and giving them a home is one of the best ways to fight back against fashion’s role in the climate crisis.
This year I’m trying to stick to the #secondhandfirst rule – i.e. before buying anything new, always see if you can find it secondhand first. Which could mean a charity shop crawl, an online trawl (eBay and Depop are overflowing with half a century’s worth of cast-offs, from bygone vintage to last-season Ganni with the tags still on) or just borrowing something off a mate. And I’m trying to do it more mindfully, which means purchases have to fulfil more stringent criteria than ‘cheap’ and ‘not hideous’ to earn a place in my wardrobe.
Luckily, there are new ways to shop secondhand being dreamed up all the time. GEM is a brilliant app that helps you sift through the giant floordrobe of the internet for buried vintage treasure. Searching eBay, Etsy and thousands of independent sites at once is great for finding those elusive bigger sizes or meeting incredibly specific briefs (case in point: ‘sweater vest not too Chandler’). A Virtual Vintage Market even offers a vintage rental service, so you can borrow that cottagecore fantasy frock without spending premium dollar to own a piece that might, let’s be honest, look excessive in the Aldi freezer aisle.
And whatever I do buy, I’m pledging to look after properly. No more dodgy alteration jobs – I’ll use The Seam to find a local tailor and give my old garms a new lease of life. Buying secondhand clothes is a bit like adopting a rescue pet. Sometimes they need a little more work, but the rewards are worth it.
Says fashion writer Nick Carvell
To be frank, I am usually abysmal at New Year’s resolutions - both failing to make them and, if I do, failing keeping them. However, after the horrific events of the past twelve months, 2021 feels like the year to put my money where my mouth is. I mean this quite literally. While I have always believed in buying less but better, now’s the time to really commit to it with my wardrobe.
This time last year, just as news of the pandemic was starting to trickle into the BBC News feed, I decided to become a full-time freelance writer. Even before the first lockdown, I would go to my wardrobe everyday faced with a rail featuring a load of clothes, collected over a decade of working in offices, that were now totally redundant for working from home: most notably, suits, ties and formal shirts. One of my first tasks during lockdown was to donate the vast majority of these (I now own one white formal shirt and an evening shirt) before thinking what pieces I needed to rebuild my armoury moving forward.
However, I wanted this to go further. I wanted to buy practical pieces that I love and make me feel confident, sure, but I also want to get these pieces from brands who do things I wish we saw more of in the fashion industry at large: supporting craft, using more sustainable materials, manufacturing closer to home.
Of course, the major hurdle to this is price - pieces made in smaller numbers nearer to home from higher quality fabrics cost more. So, 2021 is all about fully deprogramming myself from needing new things immediately, instead planning and saving for items that I intend on wearing for many years to come.
My preliminary list for the year to some is a heavy linen shirt from Camberwell-based workwear company Flax London, a chore jacket made by Anthony Hicks at Assembly in Frome and a pair of light wash jeans from Marylebone tailoring house Anglo-Italian. The dream is that I’ll manage to get a more casual corduroy two-piece made for me by the sartorial sages at Drake’s on Savile Row by the time the year is out - something to wear on a longed-for night out that doesn’t look like I’ve come straight from a business meeting. But if not, hey, there’s always 2022.