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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

My Indie Wardrobe

Neelam. All photos courtesy of My Indie Wardrobe

Genesia

Stressing about what you’re going to wear tonight? Worried that you’re not making very eco-friendly decisions? Getting nervous about global warming? Well it's time to relax, because My Indie Wardrobe is here to help you!

My Indie Wardrobe is a website founded and edited by Sheffield-based writer Hannah Clugston showcasing an alternative way of shopping, aiming to demonstrate that it isn’t hugely time consuming or complicated to buy clothes that are kind to both the planet and the people crafting them!

Sustainable fashion. We’ve heard about it from various places and read about it in magazines, but do we actually know what it is? Green fashion or sustainable fashion is the process of creating clothes, shoes, accessories and other textiles through practices that take into account environmental, social and economic implications; it seeks to minimise waste throughout the supply chain. A sustainable approach to making, buying and using clothes is key to protecting the planet, as well as the lives of those involved in the creation of what's in your wardrobe. To contribute to the wellbeing of the planet, shopping sustainably can involve seeking fashion made from environmentally friendly fabrics – these include grown fibre crops or recycled materials – or looking to charity shops for your new clothes.

My Indie Wardrobe features interviews with people about what's in their wardrobes and companies who make products ethically. We sat down with Hannah to find out more about the website and why it's important to reconsider the way we shop…

Hannah

What sparked your interest in fashion?
I’ve always been quite interested in fashion. I really like putting outfits together – it's one of the things I enjoy most. I was once interviewing someone and she said to me “where did your top come from, who made your jumper?” And I realised I had no idea. After she asked me that question, whenever I went into a shop and picked something up, there was always a voice in my head saying "who made that?” So I guess it's two things: I’ve always been interested in fashion – I find it to be very artistic and creative and interesting, and the way that people dress is a way of expressing themselves – but secondly my interest in sustainable fashion came from research.

What inspired you to create My Indie Wardrobe?
When I was at university, training to be a journalist, I naively thought it'd be a great idea to write an article about sustainable fashion; I started researching and that’s when I began thinking "oh my goodness! The fashion industry is super unethical and we know nothing about the production of our clothes!" The industry isn’t transparent at all and it has huge implications for both the planet and the people that are making the clothes. Also I found that when I would have conversations about it, people would come up with two common objections: that sustainable fashion is unattractive and you end up having to dress like a hippy (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) and secondly, people thought that it would be really complicated and too much to think about. Yet I knew people that were wearing amazing outfits, and there were loads of incredible independent designers making really great outfits by hand themselves that didn’t look ‘hippy-ish’. I wanted to create a website that’s not hitting people over the head with information and telling people off; it's more like a celebration of fashion and also helping people see that ethical fashion isn’t really complicated and can look good!

How do you choose who to interview for your website?
To begin with, it was just my friends or friends of friends. I also tend to look for diversity in regards to the way they dress, their ethnicities and gender. However, this is not always easy as the people that tend to want their pictures taken are often the same kind of people, so I have to be a bit more intentional in terms of trying to make sure it has a broad reflection of society and also people's different styles. I also try and find people that are well educated on sustainable fashion because they often share really interesting advice and brands. There seems to be quite a few people in Manchester that are aware of sustainable fashion, so I’m trying to reach out to people that I don’t necessarily know, which is also helpful for me in terms of building awareness of the website. Generally, if I think someone’s cool and that they’ve got a good wardrobe and they’d agree to me taking their picture, that’s how I tend to do things.

Jojo

I’ve seen on your website that waste is a huge issue within the industry, but as a young person in our society it seems almost a crime to wear the same outfit twice! Do you have any advice on how to stay eco-friendly as well as keeping up with fashion trends?
The first thing I'd say is that you need to think about the waste which comes as a result of fast fashion. For example a polyester dress takes about 200 years to biodegrade, so even though we may have a dress for a couple of weeks or months, it will actually exist for much longer than we do. This way of buying continuously is a relatively new phenomenon – we produce around a billion new items every year! I think we need to put aside the want for more clothes and, in terms of being a person that lives on this planet, we need to be better carers for the items that we own. There are loads of different ways that we can get new things that involve a much more circular economy – these include clothes swaps, sharing clothes, second hand shopping. We throw away around 300,000 tonnes of clothing a year in the UK alone. That’s so much stuff! It's a lot more creative and interesting to have unique outfits – if I can find an outfit in my wardrobe that I’ve never worn before, it's such a great joy! And you can get more unique outfits when shopping with small independent designers.

Why is sustainable fashion important to you?
Once I started learning about it, I couldn’t really put it to the side and ignore it. There are huge numbers of people in slave or bonded labour producing clothes for us. And after the Rana Plaza disaster I was really shocked by the conditions that people were made to work in. I also think that there are better ways to shop. There are plenty of businesses that sell amazing products really thoughtfully – these are the sorts of businesses we should be championing.

What attracted you to indie style?
I’m quite a big chatterbox, so I would go to independent fairs, chat to people and find out that they make clothes, and I'd be like "oh cool, I'll wear your clothes!" So I like the social element of it. But I also love the fact that I can actually meet the person that makes my clothes. Plus, not only are you supporting individuals to build their businesses, but you can often have things custom made to fit you perfectly.

What have you got lined up for 2020?
I’ve got a big fashion show planned. It's in collaboration with Girl Gang Sheffield and it's going to be called the Slow Fashion Show. It’ll take place on Fashion Revolution Day, which is the 24th of April. Fashion Revolution Day marks the anniversary of the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse – when 1133 died and over 2500 were injured – and it aims to tackle these issues directly. It’s going to be an evening of celebrating alternative ways to shop in a none-preachy, fun way. There'll be a clothes swap, workshops, stalls from independent makers, and a panel discussion on some of the issues facing the future of the fashion industry. And we'll have a fashion show at the end to showcase some of the clothes.

Toni

Oriana

Where to shop sustainably:
Read on for five tips on places to buy great clothes in a more sustainable way.

Lucy & Yak
After travelling around the world and discovering their interest in fashion, Lucy and her partner Chris decided they wanted to create clothes that are ethically made, and eco-friendly. Lucy & Yak are based in Brighton – although if you don’t fancy traveling all that way, you can shop online.

Hello Fruits
Based in Sheffield, Hello Fruits is a handmade clothing label inspired by the DIY punk movement, riot grrrls and Japanese fashion. Vanhessa tries, whenever possible, to source her materials locally and use vegan-friendly fabrics, supporting local businesses whilst being environmentally responsible. If you’re curious to find out more, take a look at her online shop.

Syd & Mallory's
Describing their style as ‘raw, edgy, folky, grungy and punky’, Lucy Jo Newell and Kirsteen Hardie aim to create affordable fashion that is different from the high street. They make their original designs and individual style by combining modern styles with vintage fabrics. Visit their shop at 158 Devonshire Street in Sheffield, and click here to find out more.

Jojo's General Store / Rag Parade
ike Lucy and Kirsteen, Jojo Elgarice was tired of seeing the same styles of clothing in shops, so he set up his own shop. If you’re wanting to switch up your wardrobe or maybe add to the collection, visit his shop on Ecclesall Road. Read more about Jojo's.

Vintage shops
Sheffield’s constantly growing collection of vintage shops has us spoilt for choice when it comes to finding unique, retro outfits. If you're wondering where to dig out the best vintage finds, read our guide to our favourite vintage shops.

This article was written by Caitlin Vaughan from St. Bernard's RC High School, Rotherham during a work experience placement with OFP.

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