Last week I featured Oxfam in my London Fashion Week preview, making the bold statement that ‘old can be just as good as new’. This might be a litte controversial considering the fashion industry relies on renewal, innovation and change, but I decided to put my theory to the test by attending this LFW wearing only second-hand clothing, buying nothing new.
This idea was also a reaction to the predictable fashion features I see each February and September entitled something along the lines of ‘What to wear at London Fashion Week’, or ‘How to dress like a fashion editor’. The implication being you must buy new stuff and be ‘bang on trend’ if you are to fit in amongst the fashion pack. This seems to me to be a) rather pointless for the millions of Brits who do not attend LFW b) just another way to get us all looking like fashion clones and c) simply encouraging us to buy more stuff that we do not need.
Right, ranty bit over. Back to my challenge. When I cured myself of my fast fashion addiction five years ago, browsing through second-hand rails became my new hobby. Much of my wardrobe hails from one fine charity shop or another, so this little self-imposed second hand challenge was not a stretch. But how would I know if I was successful? I guess the test would be whether my second-hand outfits were well-received – or would I stop the show and get laughed off the front row? Would I get as far as registration and be rejected for not wearing the ‘uniform’ of a fashion editor? Or, worse still, would the security at the gates of Somerset house not only refuse me entry but throw a black cloak over my head, bundle me into a taxi and send me back to whence I came, never to darken those famous flagstones ever again?
Well, I am pleased (but none too surprised) to report that it all went rather well. In fact I was stopped a number of times by people who just wanted to tell me how much they loved the floor length vintage shirt dress from Oxfam I am wearing (left). In one fashion show I was even recognised by my coat – up-cycled by Junky Styling – from a blog I’d written about it a couple of weeks ago. And my vintage Oxfam knitting bag, paisley dress from Beyond Retro and my Mum’s 70s boots (above) were a bit of a talking point with designers at Somerset House.
I am lucky to live right by the longest high road in Europe so I have my pick of charity shops, but if you don’t have one on your doorstep, then I highly recommend having a look at Oxfam’s online second hand and vintage store (and check out their clothes care guide for tips on how to make your wardrobe last).