I think a lot of us have been taking this locked down, compulsory down-time to take a step back and have a hard look at a few things in our lives. For a lot of us women, some of those things have been a) our jammed wardrobes and b) our buying habits.
The purchasing of going-out items has plummeted for online retailers due to the pandemic, while the sale of loungewear, tracksuits and workout gear has rocketed. We’re all looking to be more comfy and the ‘fast fashion’ industry has had to scramble to adapt as people aren’t looking for the latest fashion for their night out, office wear or big event. And this has shown us that even with something that should be as functional and simple as loungewear, the fashion world an create ‘must-have’ trends, ‘latest styles’ and new iterations of the same concept in order to keep selling.
And I think some of us have started to see through it.
I love dressing up as much as the next person. But fashion and style are two different things; Fashion is temporary and will be replaced next season. Style is your personal signature – timeless and lasting beyond the fickle change in seasons and trends. Fashion is a game we can never win – there is always a new level, a new look to achieve – 90s dream girl, modern 70s boho, office chic – fashion repeats itself over and over in an endless, harmful cycle that is overflowing our landfills and polluting our planet at an unsustainable rate.
Buying good quality clothes is the first step on the sustainability ladder. Their clothes are lasting and they tend to produce less waste as their production costs and time are greater than fast fashion.
Buying from a sustainable brand is the next level up in your sustainability game. While clothes are still being produced in a world that is already choked with crop tops and skinny jeans, these clothes at least are made from recyclable materials, are sustainably sourced and the process of making them is as environmentally friendly as possible.
But to really seriously make an effort to make a difference? Swap shops and charity shops are your go-to.
‘But they’re inconvenient because they’re not online!’
‘They never have my size.’
‘It’s just old stuff people don’t want anymore and it’s not my style.’
Wrong, wrong and wrong again – especially with initiatives like the ‘Big Sister Swap’ . The fashion industry is experiencing a revolution that you can be a part of. People have had enough of trying to play catch up with never-ending trend trains and have also realised the damage that this habit is doing. And companies like Thriftify, online vintage outlets and ‘Big Sister Swap’ have stepped up to meet a new consumer need – sustainable, stylish clothing with all the convenience, trendiness and size-compatibility of fast fashion, but waaaay less of the environmental impact.
Big Sister Swap is the world's only online personalised Swapping service, letting you send in your unwanted clothes to them in order to receive handpicked pre-loved clothes in return. Describing themselves as a ‘huge online clothes swap mixed with a personal stylist and a mystery thrift box’, their mission is to encourage swapping not shopping, to show everyone how clothes can be given a new life by new owners.
‘Encouraging a circular economy eliminates textile waste and is one of the most effective ways of transforming fashion into a sustainable industry.’ - Big Sister Swap
They have pledged to never buy new, to only source from charity shops or sustainable sources, and best of all, to be entirely inclusive in both their sizing and style. Here’s how it works:
1. Purchase your Swap option for £10-£20, based on how much you'd like to receive in return. Packages include 1kg swap, 2kg swap, the Starter Swap (which lets you swap just a few items to see what all the fuss is about) or some of their other packages like Tot’s swap (for kids) or gift package (full of sustainable goodies)
2. Once they get your order, they’ll send you an email asking for more information about your style and size preferences. This questionnaire is extremely thorough and YouTube reviews have raved about how accurate it is. They’ll ask for the specifics of patterns, colours, and textiles you like and hate, what kind of clothing you’d be disappointed to receive, styles you’ve had your eye on, and allow you to choose from different sketches of styles and aesthetics to get a good sense of your preferred look.
3. You then send them a parcel of your unwanted clothes. In good faith, you should send items that aren’t broken or useless or extremely cheap – no one wants your old pyjamas or a broken string top.
4. Once they’ve received your parcel they send you back a parcel of handpicked pre-loved clothes that match up with size, specifications and style.
And it’s as simple as that! Sustainable, exciting and super handy! Is this a service you would check out?