FASHION | How to say ‘What? This old thing?’ and genuinely mean it

Belfast born image consultant, Ciara Lowe-Thiedeman now located in London guest blogs for us today about this season’s fashion trend “Conscious Consumption” – resurrecting the old, reducing the need for new!


Clearly fast fashion is not a new issue but it has been catapulted smack bang into the public eye this past year, with massively increased media attention like Stacey Dooley’s doco ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secret’. But change isn’t happening fast enough and the shocking statistics behind the mass production of clothing is far from sustainable.  The problem is global but the solution is local. We need to stop and question our part in this... and what we can do to hit back…

A long time promoter and host of upmarket recycling charity events, I got a little giddy when I saw Cathy’s insta story about #TheKindnessCollection. Showcasing and promoting recycling and encouraging people to ‘bring it back’ is a key way stylists can effect change in the fast fashion crisis. And hats off to Cathy for doing it large on the @BFW stage. Educating people how to update classic pieces in your wardrobe through styling may seem ‘small scale’ but if it makes us stop before we shop, it can only do some good –for the environment and for the charities that stand to benefit too.

 It was my 40th birthday that first sparked my idea to do something with my guilt of excess and my passion for recycled fashion, so I decided to celebrate this milestone by raising money and awareness for suicide and mental health charities – a cause close to my heart. A little idea to dig into my privileged friends’ wardrobes for their unloved high end items that grew arms and legs and raised over £30K, generated two trucks full of donated clothing and spawned a little documentary into the bargain. We had Beyoncé’s costume designer, Ruth Tarvydas attend and top end stylists queuing to style up old pieces for the catwalk. It was clear this kind of fashion fundraiser provided an opportunity for people to do their part to help more than one growing problem – excess consumption and underfunded charities.

I have subsequently run smaller, more intimate ‘Bring and Buy’ events which I call “Excess Baggage Girls Nights In” where a group of 20 or so women gather at my house with their unwanted high end bags and clothes and we again rid ourselves of excess and buyer’s remorse while simultaneously raising funds and awareness for mental health. These nights always generate more than £2K and immense feedback about the opportunity to do good with our excesses – and bag a Balenciaga bag among other designer bargains!

 So it turns out Cathy’s decision to take action on dealing with ‘what to do with the old’ is perfectly timed. ‘Bringing it back’ and resurrecting vintage pieces sitting idle in your wardrobe (or someone else’s) is absolutely the new trend happening this season – bigger than ever before.

I look forward to seeing what Cathy can do with the pieces she has gathered for #TheKindnessCollection and how she’ll style them up.

But here is my top tip for SS19 season to help you resurrect the old and reduce the need for a constantly revolving new wardrobe:

 Invest in a stylist. The rewards will last you a lifetime.

 A good stylist will get to know you and won’t recommend you spend your hard earned money on cheap, eco-unfriendly items, but will teach you how to ‘shop your wardrobe’ and get better use from what you already have. You’ll learn to pair or fill in gaps with quality styles and colours that suit you and best match your personality. A good stylist will encourage you to consider buying secondhand and give you tips on how best to do that. Your investment in a good stylist will ultimately save you significant time and cash, and quite possibly be a positive step towards helping save the planet.

 Ciara Lowe-Thiedeman

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