Given I’m such a fan of buying Pre Loved clothes I thought it was about time I explained why. A recent edit of my own wardrobe showed that over half of my clothes were initially bought by someone else for someone else.
Having worked in the retail industry for over fifteen years it’s easy to be swayed by new trends and brands. My retail career began before I’d even graduated, as a languages student I lived in Madrid and discovered Spanish fashion retailer Zara, (yes there was a day pre the year 2000 when there wasn’t one on every street corner and shopping mall the world over) On my return to the UK I decided I wanted to work for them and from then onwards the business of clothes became my career.
Fast forward a few years and I’m living in London working for Arcadia Group where I discovered the weekly sample sale, with cast offs from the likes of Top Shop and Miss Selfridge, it didn’t matter that part of the garment was ripped, or missing a button or wrongly sized, these were (almost free) clothes and when you are 23 and styling yourself in one of the world’s most expensive cities you soon learn to make do and mend. I was hooked on the concept of taking clothes that someone else didn’t want and making them work for me.
Ten years later I’m living in Hong Kong (yes, I know, another expensive city!) I started to organize Frock Swaps, for charity. Women would come along with the clothes they no longer wore, I’d set them all up like a boutique and other women could take them away. Everyone goes away with something new to them, and the clothes get a new lease of life.
In fact one of the first things that took Make My Wardrobe Work from an idea to a reality was the feedback at the Frock Swaps. Women kept telling me that had so much more at home but didn’t know what to keep, tailor or donate. I was also frustrated by the amount of amazing clothes hanging in wardrobes all over Hong Kong that never saw the light of day. So in 2013 I set about helping women to love and feel fabulous in the clothes they already owned and teach them how to become a savvy shopper, not wasting money on pieces that didn’t get worn past the fitting room.
It is well documented that the textile industry is the second biggest polluter after oil and the continued media frenzy of “buy new, buy often” encourages us to buy and then discard clothes all too quickly. Well-made and cared for clothes will last a lifetime, sometimes two. Pre Loved is a simple concept that’s good for your wallet and the environment. Many women, myself included, love having new clothes, and why not fashion is fun but buying items you don’t love nor wear only serves the growing profits of retailers.
What’s not to love about fabulous new to you clothes from brands that are often out of our budgets, or an opportunity to experiment with styles and colours without breaking the bank, or even simply to pick up great pieces which you will love and wear and in doing so keep the lifecycle of a garment going longer. It’s fashions biggest win win!
For more on the best of the Hong Kong Pre loved scene check out;
- Hula – www.thehula.com
- Mademoiselle Chic – labelchicboutique.com
- PAKT – www.pakt.hk
- Retykle – www.retykle.com
- Redress – www.redress.com.hk
- Green Ladies – gl.sjs.org.hk/greenladies/
And of course the annual charity Make My Wardrobe Work Festive Frock Swap.