My love of shopping is well documented but I’m increasingly conflicted around the buzz of a purchase versus my contribution to issues of waste and sustainability in the fashion world. So when I saw the impossibly glam Rosalyn Raine balancing fashion conscious with a fashion conscience I was intrigued to know more. I invited her to share her story with Style Stuff and she told me what inspired her on this particular journey …
“Two years ago a friend challenged me to go plastic-free for a week. And in just one week I was struck by my plastic consumption and the waste it generated. I used to completely fill the kitchen bin each week and that week it was only a third full – a whopping 70% reduction!
I loved it and there was no going back. So I started my three-things-plastic-free life. Number one – I don’t buy any food or drink in plastic, almost all of my bathroom products are plastic free and, thirdly ,I shout it from the rooftops!
The single biggest factor in keeping me going was seeing the reduction in waste I could make. And when I started to look at other areas of my life my research led me to the massive waste problem created by our addiction to fast fashion.”
Describe your style …
One word – eclectic. I love to dress up, with flowers in my hair and a party dress. Or maybe a tweed suit teamed with a pug t-shirt. And I’ve always loved vintage. I love the thought that I’ve found something no one else will have and that it has a story. Some of my own dresses are old enough to be described as vintage – my very own vintage – and I relish their history and stories.
Last summer I was invited to a very chic wedding in Cannes and wore a dress I’ve had since I was 21! When I posted a photo of me at the wedding on instagram within hours a friend got in touch to ask … is that the dress you wore at my 21st party? A photo of me in the very same dress at her party followed swiftly!
So I set myself the enormous challenge of buying nothing new in 2019. And I’m thrilled to say I did it!
How difficult was it?
The first month was very difficult – I was really struggling. I spent every morning scrolling through fashion sites and battling with myself to not buy.
And then I read an interesting and totally unrelated article about making a change in your life. The part that resonated with me was that we ‘do the same thing and expect a different result’. So I looked at my trigger points and made changes. My trigger points were my shopping apps, push notifications and emails. I deleted the apps, unsubscribed from the emails and unfollowed the brands on instagram in one fell swoop!
You allowed yourself vintage and preloved purchases. What was your favourite buy?
My love of scrolling and searching was redirected to scrolling eBay and diving into charity shops! I’ve bought lots of gorgeous vintage pieces too and it’s hard to choose just one favourite.
I bought a beautiful, very early, Laura Ashley prairie dress. Bang on trend, the most beautiful print and in perfect condition… which is amazing as I think it is about the same age as me – nearly 50! It’s also a massive talking point whenever I wear it, Its been admired by ladies who were at art college in the Laura Ashley era and a lovely, young and very fashionable Italian lady. I wear it with a 12 year old Karen Millen leather biker jacket and a pair of cherry red cowboy boots.
The best £14 I spent last year was on a pair of pre-loved Orvis tweed culottes to wear when I am bicycling (they are satin lined, so a delight to wear). I love them so much that they have made it into my every day wardrobe and occasionally even to the office!
And the best of my charity shop finds has to be this little red spot lindy-hop style dress for £6.99. It caught my eye as I walked past Help the Aged in Holmfirth and knew it would be perfect for my daughter, Scarlett, to wear to the Haworth Forties Weekend!
And did you resort to buying new at any point?
For my year of buy nothing new, I made a list of amnesties, including things like underwear and swimwear. In the year I bought two pairs of boots (I was actually importing and selling boots at the time) but did not buy any clothing items AT ALL!
Towards the end of the year I started to ‘need’ a few items as things were wearing out, but decided to hang on ’til Christmas and put them on my Christmas wish list!
January 2020 arrived and I fully expected to be click happy buying all the things I hadn’t bought in 2019. But then a dress and trainers I’d longed for were out of stock and so, instead, I decided to do another 6 months and make it even harder!
What advice would you give to anyone who is interested in changing their approach to shopping and fast fashion in particular?
Watch Stacey Dooley’s documentary Fashion’s Dirty Secrets, google ‘Rana Plaza’ (where 1,129 fashion factory workers were killed in a fire due to the appalling working conditions) and ask your self ‘who made my clothes’.
If you ever look at an item of clothing, like a t shirt, and wonder how on earth its been produced and shipped across the world for less than the price of a cappucino you can be pretty sure that a lot of places and people have been treated very badly in it’s production.
High price tags don’t mean it’s been produced in any better conditions, so I’d encourage people to ask ‘who made my clothes’ too.
Clare Press’s blog and her book ‘Wardrobe Crisis: how we went from Sunday best to fast fashion’ is an amazing look at the history of fashion, where we are now and who’s changing things for the future.
I’m pleased to say that there are good things happening in fashion. I firmly believe that it’s time for us to find the designers who are taking the responsibility of being the world’s second biggest polluter and finding ethical and sustainable alternatives. I’ve come across Mary Benson. Mary is from Yorkshire and uses deadstock fabric for her designs. I love her ethos and might treat myself to one of her beautiful dresses this summer.