Whatever the season the only fashion you should be wearing is sustainable. Read our guide to curating the perfect circular wardrobe, and how Sook can help.
Buckle up, it’s festive season, once more. That means online searches for sequins have gone through the roof, and Christmas party-ers have cleared the racks of themed jumpers.
Playful fashion is all good, but the eternal trend that’s here to stay - as it absolutely should be - is vintage. Second-hand, pre-loved, handed-down, and timeless, in its own way. You see, whether it’s for the festive season, or out there in the day-to-day, the word of the century when it comes to our wardrobes, is ‘circular’. Fast fashion hasn’t been cool for ages, yet convenience and the allure-of-the-new at affordable prices has kept the sector profitable. To give credit where it may be due, the main culprits claim to be taking steps to rectify the situation, but there’s little evidence that resources are being saved, textile waste is being reduced, ethical practices are being followed, and resultant environmental toxicity is being positively impacted.
What is a circular wardrobe?
Broadly, a circular wardrobe is part of the ‘circular economy’ group of ideals, where nothing is wasted, resources are used and re-used multiple times, for the good of all. Specifically, having our own circular wardrobe is making sure that the items in it have been used before, or can be used again by someone else.
We spoke to Alicia Irvine-Macdougall, a stylist and founding editor of fashion magazine 1883, and lifestyle blog Editor’s Beauty. Read Alicia’s blog on Renting Your Child’s Designer Wardrobe We asked Alicia what she thought the principles were behind the circular wardrobe:
“The circular wardrobe is the thing we should all be striving for right now. Stella McCartney said recently that it is the future of fashion, and that it has to be. I completely agree, and thankfully, there are more ways than ever before for us to make it a reality.”
Always buy good quality, and pre-loved clothing wherever possible. Older garments are often better made anyway, so it’s a win-win, and there are so many places to shop for something special now (see below);
Rent clothing that you know you’re only going to wear a few times;
If it’s broken, mend it. There are courses you can go on, or YouTube is amazing for step-by-steps;
If you don’t wear it anymore, pass it on, either via a charity or community swap scheme, or even using Recommerce, where you sell your unwanted clothing through the vast growing network of re-sale platforms, such as eBay, Depop, Vinted, Real Real , and Vestaire Collective (the last two for luxury).
Alicia is excited to see that the producers of this year’s Love Island, notorious for having been heavily sponsored by fast fashion brands in the past, have opted for eBay as its fashion sponsor this year, with every outfit worn by the contestants being second-hand. Amy Bannerman, Love Island’s stylist says that sustainability has definitely been a factor in this year’s sponsor choice, but she doesn’t feel she’s had to compromise on style.
“There’s a lot of negativity associated with second-hand, but there doesn’t need to be. By actually shopping in a circular way and buying things you want and keeping your own wardrobe rotating, that has a huge impact on the environment and on the fashion industry”.
The rise of the real-world Depop sellers
To Gen Z, the idea of a circular wardrobe probably doesn’t feel radical. It’s simply how it should be. When it comes to shopping, sustainability is top of the list (although, interestingly, Gen Z are also the biggest demographic for super-fast fashion brand SHEIN), along with size inclusivity, and a strong brand story and ethic. ‘Style’ is paramount, of course, but what’s ‘stylish’ feels much broader now, with many decades of influences to draw from, and added freedoms, such as gender-fluidity, feeling more mainstream.
Creators, as Depop calls their sellers, can achieve small-scale celebrity status. Amassing considerable online followings, both on Depop and their personal socials, creators like @remass, @celiapops, @studio88, @glownic, they’re also not afraid to leverage their fans - and they are fans - to connect with their audience in different ways, with experimentation and hybrid models being the definition of the generation.
In a break away from the digital world, all three of these sellers and more regularly hold pop ups in Sook spaces in and around London, with socially-driven queues snaking around the block everytime. They know their customers are looking for newness and value holistic experiences - their wants reflect an evolution of our shopping behaviour. We’ve reached a good place. It’s this innate understanding about their customer - because they are their customer - and their zeitgeist offering, means that they’re way ahead of the new retail game.
The problem with circular fashion
Hey, nobody’s perfect. People are moving towards buying and selling fashion, and that’s great. However, as it becomes mainstream, and particularly if the sellers become well-known, the price of items is going steadily upwards. If you’re a regular eBay shopper, you’ve probably noticed pieces you could have bagged for a few pounds, are now going for considerably more than that…and are subject to a higher number of interested bidders.
Part of the problem with pre-loved clothing is that there’s a finite amount of it, and the good stuff is going to be in demand. High demand leads to high prices, which is annoying for those used to finding gold, but maybe there’s a clue in there: that we need to change our mindset around what clothing is worth. It’s throwing money at cheap fashion that has created some hellish situations, such as the Atacama Textile Desert in Chile.
But this will all shake out, eventually, with more sellers, and more community-centred events that enable people to buy reasonably priced clothing in a sustainable way. And Sook is here to support this move toward circular fashion - whether you're a buyer or a seller.
Sook provides flexible, affordable pop up space in prime locations around the UK. If you’d like to pop up to sell vintage clothing, you can explore and book here.