I have been thinking about my problematic relationship with the fashion industry recently. I used to live and breathe fashion, when I was a personal stylist and then an editor at an online magazine, I was thrilled to go to the shows at London Fashion Week. I was eager for every detail about every collection and which designers had made an impact that season.

But then something changed. Losing my dad and writing a book about him made me see the the world from a different perspective. I could not ignore the fashion’s irresponsible obsession with underweight models. Feigning ignorance about the industry’s toll on the environment, and its workers in developing countries, would no longer cut it. So how to move forward from here? There is much about fashion I still love but there must be a better, more responsible way to enjoy it.

Since I last wrote about this subject I’ve been thinking about ways to remedy this issue and I have a few suggestions. Firstly, it’s clear that we should buy less, there is no circumventing this fact. I’m not suggesting an embargo on high street shopping, it’s not realistic and everyone has to shop according to their budget. But it’s important that we shop less frequently and choose clothes that will last beyond one season. I have been guilty of binge-shopping in Topshop or Zara, usually because I was  trying to distract myself from some emotional distress. Compulsive overconsumption is not only disastrous for the planet but also bad for our mental health.

With all this in mind I have altered the way I shop and I now have one golden rule, I only buy something if I love it. Liking a piece isn’t enough; if I don’t love it, it stays on the rail. I’ve found that by doing this, I’ve ended up with fewer but more considered pieces. This doesn’t mean I don’t still buy stuff from high street stores, I just do it far less frequently. My clothes and accessories have to suit me, be comfortable and preferably, machine washable. I don’t waste my time with some trend that doesn’t look good or makes me feel self-conscious. I’m no longer cluttered with rubbish that I’ve bought on a whim or because I was feeling low and wanted to distract myself by mindless shopping.

I’ve discovered independent brands that I really like and I find myself lingering on their websites. I should point out here that this is not a sponsored post, these are brands I genuinely endorse. First up is We Dream in Colour, a beautiful jewellery label, designed by Jade Gedeon. Everything piece is assembled in house in their studio in Salem, Massachusetts. They provide international shipping, but you can buy We Dream in Colour in the UK from Tomfoolery Boutique. My husband bought me a pair of earrings for Christmas and they are light-weight, unusual and gorgeous. We dream in Colour jewellery isn’t cheap, but ever piece is exquisite and well-made, it will last forever and never go out of style. I’m particularly enamoured with their earrings.

Another independent gem is Studio B, an online boutique that carries a lot of my favourite brands; Rixo, Stine Goya, Baum und Pferdgarten, to name but a few. Launched by Bethany Roundtree in 2018, Studio B is the perfect place for women who want to buy less but buy better. Everything from Studio B is of impeccable quality with a quirky, feminine vibe that I love.

The ultimate way to shop green is to buy second hand, One Scoop Store has the most beautiful, carefully considered selection I think I’ve ever seen. Expertly sourced by the lovely Holly Watkins, there’s something for every budget and it’s a great way to pick up high quality clothes and accessories at bargain prices.

I hope this is helpful in terms of finding a better way to shop and enjoy your personal style. If you have the time and inclination, there are loads of independent labels and vintage treasures to be found on Ebay and Etsy. I think of clothing as being akin to food; eating and dressing are non-negotiable, so why not choose healthy, sustainable things that brighten your day?

In the feature image I’m wearing earrings by We Dream in Colour and a dress by Stine Goya.

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