Now is the time to start curating the brands in your wardrobe. The ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’ philosophy is being increasingly challenged by an audience, intent on asking, ‘Where did this product come from?’ and ‘Who made my clothes?’.
Trends come and go, but fashion doesn’t have to be throwaway, and as vocal as we have all become when it comes to questioning how our clothes are being made, at the end of the day the responsibility lies with us! We decide what hangs inside our wardrobes – walk-ins or otherwise. Running the Red Carpet Green Dress project has really taught me about consumer accountability amongst many other valuable lessons. Instead of buying every ‘on trend’ item, purchase only the items that you truly want. I mean the items that you truly want and would love to wear, even if nobody else liked them, and even if no one else ‘approved’.
As fashion critic and author Holly Brubach said, ‘Fashion has increasingly become a matter of censorship – the ability to recognise the best pieces, to track them down, to integrate them into a personal style and to wear them in a way that is timeless.’
It follows that if you buy eclectic and choose versatile pieces, you will be able to mix and match clothing to create a range of unique looks, and when it comes to limited run collections or keepsakes at reasonable prices, nothing beats clothing from local boutiques and independent designers.In my opinion, shopping independent directs your resources towards worthwhile investments – for one, independent labels operate on a much smaller (and perhaps more realistic) demand and supply model, and they do not mass produce clothing.
The benefit for consumers is two-fold; you get unique or rare pieces to enjoy and you also get quicker assess to the story behind the brand, offering a learning opportunity for consumers not easily experienced through large-scale retailers. That is one thing I love about independent brands, that more likely than not, they can – and are willing to – tell you exactly where your clothes have come from and how they were made across to where the material was sourced and the trim sewn on, so that you can make informed purchasing decisions. Take a more active part in seeking out brands off the beaten path instead of being spoon-fed the usual suspects and you will encounter brands who care what you think and take your feedback on board.
Not sure where to start? Try this article I wrote for The Guardian, showcasing five independent brands working in a positive fashion way, it is still extremely relevant and well-worth another read. It seems that the road leading us all towards slower consumption and more selective purchases is, itself, rather slow, but the destination is well worth the plod. After all, we all know what it feels like to find something original, don’t we? You keep it longer and cherish it more. Remember, our choices define us. To get you started ‘thinking independent’, I recommend taking a look at this list of my go-to boutiques, both online and in-store:
Gather & See is an online store offering a curated collection of ethical and sustainable fashion brands to a fashion savvy customer who doesn’t want to compromise on either style or ethics.
Farfetch is dedicated to supporting independent fashion boutiques: their website lists over 400 boutiques and helps consumers find fashion they’ll love whilst being able to choose local boutiques and find out more before they buy.
Rokit is an online store that specialises in one-of-a-kind items. They sell vintage clothing and accessories, and also have their own recycled label. Rokit Recycled, one of my personal favourites, is a label that features unique, original garments that have been handcrafted in London, from previously unwearable fabrics and pieces, into unique on-trend designs.
Wolf and Badger have boutiques in London and they support new and emerging independent designers. You can also browse online where they have a great range to choose from a carefully curated selection of independent fashion brands. I got one of my bracelets for the Oscars from here.