Creating timeless clothing in a throw-away society – it’s what my Nan would have wanted
Some of you might already be familiar with this picture I put up the other day to showcase our medium pile plush faux fur snood which I’ve recently added as a product to our website.
What you won’t know is that the coat I’m wearing actually belonged to my grandmother (who would have been 101 a few days ago).
This particular coat, I believe, was purchased in the 1960s. This got me thinking about fashion and the throw-away culture that has developed over the last few years.
It seems that sometimes the emphasis on fast fashion and the need to have the latest item of clothing “right now” surpasses any sort of requirement for quality.
You may remember, shortly after Lockdown One, seeing people queuing outside the likes of Primark so they could race in and grab new clothes. This time around I gather some shops are planning to open 24 hours a day to satisfy the desperate need that some people seem to have for fast fashion.
And don’t get me wrong, Primark and other low-budget high street retailers have their place and service a need in the market. Indeed when I was playing Jake the Elf in an “The Elves and the Shoemaker” pantomime and I needed a plain white t-shirt I got that from the pound shop simply because I knew it was something I was unlikely to wear again (except in future drama productions).
And, if it got ruined, it wouldn’t matter.
I bought it from the pound shop because it was disposable and, to give them credit, even after a hard run of performances there was nothing wrong with it. The material was very cheap and clearly low quality but it did the job that I needed it to do, and it now lives in my costume box.
I think, though, that I’m starting to see a change in people’s attitudes towards clothing.
There seems to be more of a collective conscience about fashion. People want to know that they’re buying clothes that weren’t made by small children in extreme poverty for a few pennies so that large multinational corporations can make a fortune.
I think as a society we are growing more aware that if we continue to support this throw-away culture then we are a part of that problem.
It is something that’s developed over the last couple of generations. My grandmother was very much of the “make do and mend” generation – having lived through the second world war everything was regarded as a precious commodity.
She would never have dreamed of throwing clothes away because she no longer wore them. They might get passed on to someone else to wear or be sent to a charity shop.
If clothes grew too tired to wear then ideally they should be upcycled into something else, or perhaps donated to a clothes bank so that those less fortunate could use them.
Of course we are in a very different world now. Consumerism has grown hugely and many of us desire to wear new and interesting clothes, some may wish to keep up with the current trends, and be on point with that.
Personally, I have my own sense of style and enjoy wearing unique and interesting things.
I like to stand out from the crowd and be a bit different, but I try to buy pieces that I know I will wear for a long time, even if it isn’t something I wear everyday. I try to operate with a conscience when it comes to my own clothing.
If I decide that I am really not going to wear something again then if it is still serviceable I will always donate it to charity shops so someone else can get some use out of it.
If something is worn out then off to the clothes bank it goes. The same applies to shoes.
Something I learned from my grandmother is that there will always be a place for timeless pieces.
This is what we try to do with fauxPlay – use simple designs to create clothing and accessories that people will wear time and again. Perhaps not every day with some of the shrugs etc, but when they have a nice event they know it will perfectly complement their outfit.
I’d like to think that my grandmother would have been proud of the business we’re creating, that she would have liked the ethics of our business, and the ethos of timeless pieces that last.
I think she would also have been really pleased to see her coat still being used all these years later.