Better The Devil You Sew
Amelia Glynn Online Fashion Content Assistant
6th Nov 2012
On Saturday night I was lucky enough to be invited to the Oxfam Brighton's launch of their new collection 'Better The Devil You Sew'. The collection is made from damaged clothes that are donated to Oxfam and is created at the hands of hard working and creatively minded volunteers that are part of the Oxfam Sewing Club. I managed to catch a few words with the founder of the club, Sophie Saunders, who explained how the club and the following collections came into being.
The Oxfam Shop in Brighton is one of the top earning in the UK thanks to the hard work of Olivia Morgan (shop manager), Sophie Saunders and their hard working team of volunteers. When sales began to plateau Sophie wanted to come up with a plan to exceed sales further and utilise their large space downstairs. After investing in some sewing machines, the idea of the 'Oxfam Sewing Club' was born...
"The only thing that limits what you can get volunteers to do is your imagination"
They started with only one night per week under the supervision of volunteer seamstress Charlotte Davinson. Soon interest began to grow and people with other technical skills began to get involved with the project so they were able to introduce a second evening per week. Now the club runs on Monday and Thursday evenings with up to 5 or 6 volunteers each night.
[Above: Oxfam Sewing Club member Maree Parava with her own creation]
I chatted to some of the staff and volunteers about the design process. Sophie and Olivia come up with outlines of designs and try to point the volunteers in that direction but individual creativity in design is always encouraged. As the collection is targeting a mainly Brightonian audience, Sophie looks for her inspiration on the streets of Brighton...
"What's in the magazines and what people are wearing here isn't always quite the same... What's it called- micro trend? Brighton's definitely got that"
[Above: Me trying on one of my favourite designs]
The collection is about combining creativity with productivity. Each session produces 3 or 4 items to be sold; a mixture of quick fixes like altering a skirt by introducing a dropped hemline, and more lengthy creations. Very often, valuable brands that are donated to Oxfam are damaged so simply fixing a bust seam can sometimes be enough to put it back on the rail. Other times a little more work is needed- one of the items in the collection is a two tone All Saints jumper...
"We had two identical All Saints sweaters; one where the body was OK and one where the arms were OK so we sort of just cut and pasted it back together"
The Better the Devil you Sew collection is an absolutely genius venture! It uses resources that otherwise would be wasted and uses volunteers' generous creativity to produce beautiful and unique clothes that have a real story behind them. I hope that the collection will inspire people to get more creative with their own wardrobes and become a little more resourceful with what they already have. These are surely clothes to be treasured for years to come.
@OxfamBrighton #btdys #OxfamSewingClub