Last summer I did an internship at Futerra Sustainability Communications, as the final credit for a degree in communications I was wrapping up. The CEO there Lucy Shea was the self-proclaimed goddess of swishing, she coined the term "Swishing" for eco-glamorous clothes swapping parties. Having spent the previous semester creating a few short films, one about the impacts of fast fashion and clothes swapping parties I was looking forward to hearing what the queen of ethical fashion could teach me. I ended up spending the
summer doing social media and marketing for swishing.com and learned that Lucy, and the chief financial officer at Futerra had at one point, vowed to swish for a year, and refrain from buying anything new.
Fully inspired by the potential of a fashion culture which did not depend on cheap labour and heaps of textile waste, I embarked on a similar journey. I decided to acquire all my clothes, shoes and accessories from swishing parties or second-hand shops for the next year. What made it particularly challenging was the fact that I'd only come over to the UK from Canada with 22kgs worth of tightly packed clothes and shoes. I didn't have much to begin with!
For the next year I scoured charity shops and went to a few fancy swishes, and was surprisingly, fully able to clothe myself every day, and not look like a hobo. It helped that there was definitely a mystery lady in my town who was the same size as me, and liked to give all her nice blouses to local charity shops. Office attire sorted.
My success was more surprising to me than you'd think, as in Canada quality charity shops like Oxfam are few and far between. Second-hand enthusiasts are usually restricted to department-style stores like Salvation Army or Value Village (Canadian), which, are massive and tend to smell a bit musty which can leave you feeling devoid of any will to rifle, or live.
My year of second-hand fun has already come to a close, and has been 100% successful. There were a few moments when I longed for a new pair of shoes but then the next weekend, voila! A cute pair would appear.
All told, I calculated that I saved £422, based on the cost of the items purchased, and against what they would have approximately cost new. As a former unpaid intern these were welcome savings. I'm now deciding what sustainable fashion challenge to take on next. Only buying local? Learning one new DIY skill per month? Who knows!
By Sarah LaBrecque