How to get involved with Oxfam’s #SecondHandSeptember campaign
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Norwich vintage stylist Susie Pritchard shares her tips.
According to WRAP, consumers send 336,000 tonnes of used clothing to landfill every year in the UK – that’s almost the same weight as the Empire State Building. What’s more, the textile industry accounts for 8 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – that’s more than international aviation and shipping combined, according to Quantis.
It is statistics like these which prompted the charity Oxfam to create #SecondHandSeptember, which aims to reduce the industry’s harmful effects on the planet by encouraging people to donate their unwanted clothes and to buy clothing second hand.
When it launched the campaign last year, more than 62,000 people took the pledge to only buy second hand clothing after research revealed that the carbon footprint of new clothes bought in the UK every minute is greater than driving a car around the world six times.
And for this year’s campaign, which is also raising awareness of the impact of fast fashion on garment workers, Michaela Coel, creator and star of the hit BBC drama I May Destroy You, showcases Oxfam clothing which will be sold in a Selfridges pop-up shop as part of the month-long campaign.
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The BAFTA award-winning actor, director, screenwriter, producer, playwright and poet is featuring in the windows of more than 500 Oxfam shops nationwide, showcasing clothing from the Oxfam Online Shop, and the clothes that she is wearing are be available to buy from Oxfam’s pop-up shop in Selfridges London Designer Galleries now. Collaborations with eBay and Vestiaire Collective will also raise funds to support Oxfam’s work to end poverty.
Michaela Coel said: “I’m honoured to be the face of Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign this year. When presented with the data from Oxfam on the impact of fast fashion I felt compelled to add my voice to this cause; I hope it raises awareness and encourages us to reflect on our buying habits and to consider how small changes can have a huge impact on the environment – and in turn the fight against poverty.”
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Bay Garnett, who curated the Selfridges pop-up said: “My idea behind the pop-up shop is about shifting perceptions and context around luxury and second hand clothes – specifically charity shops. So much money is spent by brands in investing in their marketing, advertising and stores; with the aim of charging high prices for their products. This project is a fun way to change the perception of charity shop second hand clothes – shifting them into the luxury context and space of the big guns! With all those bells and whistles – but, crucially keeping the prices the same as they would be in any Oxfam shop.”
Consumers who are buying second hand clothes for the month of September can share their pledge using #SecondHandSeptember on social media and tag @OxfamGB.
Want to buy second hand fashion, but not really sure where to start? Norwich vintage stylist Susie Pritchard of Wake Up Little Susie has some tips.
If someone wants to start shopping second hand for fashion, where would you recommend they start?
Hardened vintage and bargain hunters will happily rummage anywhere, but if you are new to the idea of buying second hand, then the many charity shops across Norwich and Norfolk are a great place to start – from quality nearly new items to vintage gems, you never know what you might find and if you have an idea of what you want, most modern charity shops are very organised with presenting things in styles, sizes, colours, etc to make it a very easy experience. Norwich is also full of antique centres if you’re looking for old and quirky (and the Vintage Hub on St Benedict’s Street currently has a huge closing down sale!), the stalls at the back of the market are fabulous for vintage and pre-loved street wear and car boot sales can be winners for true bargains, especially if you enjoy the search as much as the purchase.
I will be holding a Vintage Accessories Pop-Up at Lady B Loves in the Royal Arcade in Norwich from September 18 providing an ideal opportunity to experiment with adding things like vintage bags, scarves, gloves and hats to the retro dresses that Lady B sells – a great chance to tip your toes into using second hand pieces to create your own unique look.
Do you have any tips for things to look out for with sizing/quality-wise when buying second hand?
Particularly with vintage pieces but really with anything second hand, it is always important to keep an eye on the sizing and don’t always believe the label as standard UK dress sizes have changed over the decades. Often vintage clothes are hand-made so don’t conform to standard sizing anyway and if things have been worn and washed, there’s always a chance they may have stretched or shrunk a little. A golden rule is to try on if you can, although this is not always possible at the moment, so maybe shop with a tape measure and check the shop’s return policies too. Quality and condition is something to look out for. Decide what kind of condition you’re happy with: you may be up for replacing a button or mending a seam, or you might prefer your clothing to be pristine. And check items carefully, looking out for those mystery stains! In terms of pricing, it really boils down to what something is worth to you.
When did you start shopping second hand and why?
As a child we always enjoyed hand-me-downs and jumble sale purchases, so I’ve never been a stranger to the concept of wearing pre-loved clothing, but it really kicked off for me as a teenager in the 1980s when my love for 1950s rock ‘n’ roll music led to a passion for all things of that era, including the style, and the discovery of a vibrant local rock ‘n’roll scene fuelled my desire to dig out vintage pieces and create my own look even more! It has always been about individuality for me too. I enjoy creating my own look and not conforming to fashion ideals and that continues to this day, the current ‘me’ still managing to look bright and ‘different’ with a combination of vintage, secondhand and some new items.
Do you have an all-time favourite second hand fashion purchase, and if so what is it?
I have a lot of favourites...my wardrobe is full of 1950s dresses that no longer fit, but I love them too much to part with! Luckily this hoarding has been justified lately as I help out with styling vintage-themed photoshoots, and it has been a joy to dig into my personal collection and see some of my treasured pieces come to life again on the lovely models that I work with. One dress that comes to mind is a 1950s cotton St Michael shirt-waister dress (my favourite style) in blue with red and white, that I picked up early on in my collecting days from a fleamarket I was at with my parents, for something like £3, and me and Mum spent ages going round the stalls looking for buttons as they were missing from the dress and it needed a lot! We were successful in the end and I wore that dress over and over to go out in, dance in, day and night, on holiday, at work, trips to America and for working at vintage fairs and despite all the washing and wearing, it’s still going strong and I still love it. That really says something about the quality you can find in buying vintage and secondhand fashion.