Say hello to Second-Hand September
Oxfam’s new initiative: Second-Hand September is a brilliant idea. The UK has a throwaway fashion problem – it is estimated that £140m worth of clothing goes to landfill each year, and Brits will chuck out 50m single-use outfits this summer. To raise environmental awareness and promote sustainability, Oxfam is encouraging customers to take a pledge, avoid purchasing new clothes for a month and only buy from charity shops. Interesting, as September is the month of fashion shows and big glossy magazines bulging with the latest designer advertisements. Anyhow. The campaign to raise awareness features a lovely shoot with Stella Tennant and her daughter Iris in second-hand clothes; styled by Bay Garnett who has worked with Oxfam for a couple of years as an independent advisor on the Fashion Fighting Poverty catwalk shows. ‘Second hand is important. We have to start buying less,’ Garnett says in a feature in the Financial Times, ‘I’ve always loved the independence of it. The spirit of finding and developing your own style and eye. Of not being force fed what’s trendy, or what’s cool, and what’s not… Second-hand is about empowerment.’
Say hello to Second-Hand September; I’m taking the pledge not to buy anything new. This may even continue when the month is up, I’ll see how I get on. As a fashion journalist, I love clothes – but I am not in thrall to the fashion industry, which both environmentally and ethically needs to mend its ways. And I’ve always believed in individuality over following trends; if you could see some of my DIY student outfits from the 1980s, you’d get the (often quite random) picture. But I didn’t have a camera back then, and the high street as we know it didn’t exist. Today, I’m interested in wearing vintage again and when it comes to buying new clothes, I often ‘Style Stalk’, purchasing items that I’ve had my eye on for a while when they’re reduced in the sales. I am not perfect, and I do appreciate that not everyone has the time or money to shop in this way. Clothes can be empowering and fun regardless of price. But I’m wondering if Second-Hand September could be throwaway fashion’s Blue Planet moment, a step change in attitudes where we start to think of faddish clothes in the same way we think of plastic bags and bottles? As vintage-lover Bay Garnett tells Grazia magazine, ‘ It’s about being strict with yourself. “Am I going to wear this?” is the million dollar question.’
Will you be taking the Second-Hand September pledge?
More about Second-Hand September on the Oxfam website HERE. And you can sign in to read the FT article with Google (click on the ‘sign in’ button on the top right hand side). Alternatively, there’s a feature in the Evening Standard HERE. And it’s worth taking a look at this advice from Wrap.org