I’ve got another great Your Ethical Style interview again for you today. I know I say they’re all great, but I really do love how each person interviewed so far has different takes on ethical fashion. In today’s interview, I’ve got blogger Jen Gale, from the blog My Make Do and Mend Year. A little while ago Jen spent a whole year buying nothing new for her or her family (bar the essentials) so I thought it would be fascinating to have Jen’s take on ethical fashion, and to hear of her experience buying nothing new:
Jen in a jumper she cunningly converted to a cardigan and jeans she made into a skirt!
Hi Jen, readers of Moral Fibres might know you from your blog, My Make Do and Mend Year, but can you share with us three facts about you that we might not know?
1) I have started to use my deodorant to wash my face…!
2) I am quite good at making a noise like a guinea pig!
3) We have a 76 year old tortoise called Speedy.
Where are your favourite places to shop for ethical clothing?
Charity shops mainly. I tend to try and buy second-hand, and that way, I am avoiding contributing to the demand for fast fashion.
If I’m looking for something special, I will have a root round the vintage shops. We are lucky enough to live near Frome, which has a couple of fabulous ones. If I need something quite specific, and can’t face trawling around the charity shops on the off chance one of them will have what I’m looking for, and in the right size, then I do occasionally resort to eBay.
The only new clothes I have bought recently have been pants! And I got them from a brilliant company called Who Made Your Pants – they use end of line lingerie material that the big companies no longer want, and employ disadvantaged woman from the local community (in Southampton) to make them.
One of the workers at Who Made Your Pants – photo c/o Who Made Your Pants
What’s the last ethical item that you bought?
A hat from the Eden Project, called a Tarp-hat. As the name suggests, it’s made from old tarpaulins that were used to cover goods in lorries in Brazil.
Is there anything secondhand or ethical that you are lusting over at the moment?
Having recently watched Dawn O’Porter in This Old Thing on Channel 4, I am lusting over any vintage clothes! I really want to go mad in a vintage shop and buy fabulous clothes from the ’20’s through to the ’60’s, to replace all the boring ones in my wardrobe!
Do you have a top tip for shopping ethically?
As I said earlier, my main ‘method’ of shopping ethically involves Buying Nothing New. It’s my little stand against the seemingly insatiable demand for disposable clothes.
I know that the issues around fast fashion are huge, and there is the argument that if we didn’t buy the cheap clothes, then the garment industries in countries like Bangladesh would collapse, and the workers would find themselves even worse off. But the thing is I just can’t bring myself to buy something that I know might have been made by a child, or by a woman trying to scrape an existence for herself and her family. All so that we can have cheap clothes. We spent a year Buying Nothing New, and I really do think that with a bit of time and patience, you can find pretty much anything you want secondhand.
Is there anything you find difficult about shopping ethically?
When shopping secondhand, sometimes it is hard to find specific things, and you have to make do with things that might not be exactly what you want. But a little bit of thinking ‘outside the box’ can often work wonders. If something isn’t the right colour, you can dye it; if you don’t like the buttons, you can change them; if it’s too big, you can get it altered.
Mostly, the difficulty comes when I need something quickly, and don’t have time to spend in and out of the charity shops, or changing something!
Where do you get your style inspiration from?
I’m not sure I can be said to have style!
What is your best secondhand or ethical find ever?
I was recently given a brand new pair of jeans by someone in my local Buy Nothing Group – for free! My old jeans are starting to look more patch than jeans, and I live in jeans most of the time, so these are a very welcome find!
What would be your ultimate thrifted find?
I am on the look out for a 1960’s shift dress, and I have also been hunting for the elusive perfect pair of Winter boots for the last 2 years.
Could you tell us your top three style tricks/DIYs?
1) Buttons! Buttons are awesome. Changing the buttons on an item can totally transform it. I bought an M&S coat in a charity shop for less than £5. I loved the coat but hated the buttons, so I raided my stash for some bright, mis-matched buttons, and now I love it!
2) Learn to look at old clothes as just ‘fabric’ rather than specific items of clothing. For example, old jeans have 101 different uses – they can be turned into skirts, bags, shoes, bunting – the list is endless! My favourite clothes upcycle is turning trousers into skirts. It’s really easy to do, and they look great!
3) Look out for old woollen jumpers in the charity shop. If you strike it lucky and find one that is at least 80% wool, you can felt it and use it for any number of projects. I recently turned an old jumper into a cardi, and have been wearing it throughout the winter!
Thanks for taking part Jen! You can visit Jen’s blog, and find her on Twitter, and Facebook. Jen also runs a fabulous Make Do and Mend Facebook group, where you can offer any craft supplies you don’t want anymore to other members, and also pick other craft supplies. It’s a great way of decluttering your crafting stash!
New to Moral Fibres? You can also check out the other Your Ethical Style posts!
Do you want to share your ethical style with Moral Fibres readers? Whatever your age, sex, size, style, budget or location I’d love to feature you to show that ethical fashion is for everyone! Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org to take part in Your Ethical Style! There are no barriers to taking part – you don’t have to be a blogger to be featured!