Before I continue with this amazing event and all that happened, I’d like to mention a few things from my fashion background that you may not know. I do not want to seem like I am jumping on the ethical fashion bandwagon, I cannot deny that I do a big shop at Primark twice a year and have a fancy for clothes from Topshop, Urban Outfitters, The White Pepper and Lazy Oafs to name a few…. I was however very big on the customisation and upcycling scene from over ten years ago with my own Fashion label Phlem. I reworked old t-shirts into dresses and vest tops, turned jeans into skirts and created my own prints using stencil printing, I would upcycle baggy shirts into Punk shirts and make bags and purses from all the leftover fabrics. I sourced all of my garments to be upcycled from charity shops, in the end people used to give me bags of old jeans to upcycle and sell on! I had a great time as an upcycling customised fashion designer but bringing up a very young family at the same time with no childcare, I realised something had to give and I had to get a job that paid more! In conclusion, I feel justified to call myself a fashion upcycler with my fashion background plus I am also a massive clothes hoarder and even though I love fast throwaway fashion, I will always keep (a lot) of my clothes and rewear them. In my wardrobe I have items from when I was 16 years old and now I’m pushing 40! I think you get the idea. I’m hoping that this blog post may inspire you to 'love your clothes' and see them in a different light. Think about the waste people! I remember reading a post on Susie Bubbles Style Bubble blog about a similar fashion salvage event, now Susie Bubble herself must have enough designer clothes to open her own boutique but this quote pretty much summed up how fast fashion fails ‘ I saw a woman running for her bus on Oxford street and she dropped one her many Primark bags, instead of stopping to pick up the bag she chose to abandon it to catch her bus in time!’ The quote went something like that anyway… the point is she (the girl running for the bus) had no idea what was in the bag that had been abandoned on the street and didn’t seem to care. People are purchasing items they don’t even want or care about, let alone the waste of resources and who may be suffering in the possible sweatshops that these very cheap items are made in! Get a grip people!
The Fashion Salvage event itself was run by Bristol Textiles Recycling / BTR and Love Your Clothes both companies are passionate about diverting textiles from landfills, recycling and upcycling clothing to prevent mass waste and to cut down on the carbon, water and waste footprint of clothing. At BTR Aimee Campanella told us "Fashion Salvage is about raising awareness about the amount of textiles, clothing items that are recycled here in the UK, and essentially diverted from landfill. Just us - we divert a 100 tons of textiles every week from landfill, that's 20 tons a week, and it's crazy."
I had personally visited BTR before so I was quite aware of the extent of clothing that gets wasted in Bristol alone and how fast BTR have to work to sort and organise everything into different categories before the next lorry load arrives! It still doesn’t make it less shocking!
Andrew Gilbert from Love your Clothes told us "People need to really think about how to care for their clothing. And at the end of its life, think about its value. Could you sell it? Could it be reused? Pass it on to a charity but don't throw it in the bin’ The Love your Clothes website has many great tips on how to take care of your clothes, mend them when needed and much more, check it out here.
I was personally shocked at the excellent quality of the unwanted items, I came to realise that many charity shops that I have visited in the past few years seemed to disregard some of the more bolder pieces in place for a blander choice of what they think people will buy, which means all the bold / vintage items seem to be removed from the shop floor and replaced with H&M tops from two years ago! Which is a shame and ironically really can’t be helping the waste problem!? My point here is I was in heaven at BTR as there was no holding back, there was so much vintage and reworkable stuff, whether it was contemporary or multicultural items, BTR had everything and I was in fashion heaven!!! BTR are open daily to the public so get yourself down to your local Textiles Recycling centre and get inspired for a very important cause!
A charity shop which is definitely rocking the charity shop cool is CLIC Sargent’s Gloucester Road, Bristol shop whose Deputy Manager Ruth Strugnall also runs the clothing label Fix Up Look Sharp which is CLIC Sargent’s in-house up-cycled clothing range, which transforms charity shop donations into unique fashion pieces. With 100% of profits from Fix Up Look Sharp sales help to support children and young people with cancer. It’s such a great idea and Ruth is just lovely, an upcycling/styling collab with No Debutante and the FULS ladies may be on the cards too so watch this space!! I also follow these ladies on Instagram, they have a great gallery, truly inspired!
My Fashion Salvage buddie Helen from Kecks Clothing in Bristol is very involved with the upcycling scene and holds upcycling workshops and educates groups and schools about reuse in the hands on workshops where you will leave with an upcycled item made by you!
It would be great if we could get people to start upcycling and making something new from old or just getting them see the item of clothing in a different light. I mean it will be baby steps at first but as Aimee Campella told us getting people to ‘make wash cloths from old t-shirts’ is a start! It would be great to see people embracing upcycling in the future the way everybody gets involved with household waste recycling now.
Bristol Fashion Salvage: The Design BriefTo give new life to unwanted and unloved clothes, using creativity and an open mind to turn an unloved item into something fresh and stylish. Scour the bins, have a really good rummage. Get inventive and get inspired.
Colour and contrast was the main aim for this Fashion Salvage so I couldn't believe my luck, bright colours, fashion mash ups and print clashes are my signature styles!
Taking inspirations from the SS15 Season with seventies influences from disco to hippy deluxe, military style with nautical accents, monochrome, vintage patchwork prints and a mix and match approach to volume and fabrics. The mix and match fabric and volume being the main No Debutante influences here.
There was also an opportunity to create a one off masterpiece using sewing machines and haberdashery to create something extraordinary and inspired! I didn't go for this option on this occasion, despite my customising background. I was more inspired to style up my found items rather than take them apart, which had actually been the original plan! I think I loved the clothes so much that they didn't need to be reworked and styling an old item up in a new way is my favourite thing to do!
After an Introduction from Aimee Campanella from our hosts Bristol Textiles Recyclers, Andrew Gilbert from Love your Clothes we were given the Fashion Salvage Challenge Brief from Ruth Strugnell at Clic Sargent whom also runs Fix Up look Sharp Clothing, Helen from Keck's Clothing and I dived into the fashion Salvaging!We had already decided on what we were looking for which included oversized t-shirts and jeans to transform into other fashion items, what we found was completely different, vintage dresses, oversized jumpers and denim shorts to name a few items. I went on a totally different tangent and found loads of boho and aztec prints in the form of large kaftan dresses, buttoned maxi dresses, baggy silk style trousers and oversized shorts. I loved the clashing of prints which fitted brilliantly with the boho and mix prints themes. As a contrast to all the print clash I had also found a sheer black maxi skirt, a slip dress and a beautiful pale pink floaty maxi dress which fitted me perfectly and not something I would have usually gone for which was a nice surprise.
Helen Brown from Kecks Clothing
Watch this space and my Instagram Gallery for future OOTD featuring my lovely #fashionsalvage items plus a No Debutante Vs Kecks Clothing Fashion Salvage shoot coming very soon.
Helen and I had so much fun rummaging through all the clothing bins on what could only be described as the hottest night of the year at that point! So much fun in fact that we didn't really leave enough time to show off our styled up fashion salvaged items and missed the judging!! We were however complimented on our looks and still got a few photographs taken! Aimee from BTR has hinted at more Fashion Salvage events in the future and I will definitely be attending……as will loads of my work buddies who thought the event sounded amazing! I had the best time and just want to spread the word!
Ruth Strugnell from Fix Up Look Sharp at Clic Sergent
No Debutantes' Fashion Salvage Haul
Boho & Aztec Print clash
90s Wrangler and Levis denim cut offs and a slip dress
Oversized jumpers (who else would get away with wearing a fleece Christmas Pug jumper?)
Monochrome & Boho Maxi skirts
The beautiful floaty Maxi dress
Please checkout my Instagram for daily fashion moments from No Debutante and watch out for the #fashionsalvage hashtag to see how No Debutante and other fashion salvagers wear theirs!
Images 1, 2,3, 8,9,10 courtesy of BTR. Other images by No Debutante.
Thanks for joining me today fashionistas! Follow me on Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for daily updates and fashion moments all under the NO DEBUTANTE name!! See you later fashionistas xx