27/5/21

My Sustainable Journey with @thriftyphoebs

There are so many ways to be more sustainable, so we're asking members of our HURR community about their journey with sustainable fashion. This week, we caught up with @thriftyphoebs, a master of all things pre-loved and thrifting, about her she has become more conscious in her consumption choices, while still keeping up with trends and cultivating her own personal style.

Describe your style in 3 words.

Hmmmm, I would describe my style as colourful, experimental and oversized. Which is actually very different from the old fast fashion loving Phoebe’s style, which was very polished, pretty minimalistic and classic. You would have always found me in a very earthy colour palette.

Since beginning my slow fashion journey I’ve really started to enjoy wearing colour - it makes me feel so much more inspired and I find colourful clothing a lot easier and fun to look for when shopping second hand.  I honestly feel a bit sad and rubbish when I wear dark colours now! In terms of describing my style as experimental, I am definitely less concerned about what goes to together on paper; instead, i’m influenced by colours, patterns or cuts of clothing which make me feel good.

When was your lightbulb moment about being more sustainable?

In the last year there have been a number of reasons why I decided to officially break up with fast fashion and I referenced one of them on my page at the very beginning of my journey. However, I thought I would share another of the big moments that influenced my lifestyle change. I have ALWAYS loved to shop [still do] and was an avid trend follower. However it wasn’t until I undertook my final year dissertation at University which explored Generation Z’s understanding of the environmental and sustainability issues caused by fast fashion, that my eyes were really opened to the damage caused by the Industry, both to the people in it and the planet.  

I started writing my dissertation knowing very little about the dark side of the sector and keen to find out more. Well, I was beyond overwhelmed by what I actually discovered. At a growth rate of 5.5% every year since 2017, upsurge means the sector is the planet's second largest polluter and is responsible for 10 % of annual global carbon emissions - more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.

How did you start being more sustainable with your style choices?

One of the pinnacle points in my research was when I conducted a photo elicitation round for my focus groups, essentially where you show participants a series of images in the hope of provoking conversation! Images included were; endangered species, chemically saturated rivers, clothing landfills and sea shrinkage. Finding those images was upsetting enough, but seeing other people's reactions and hearing the conversation this evoked was shocking and to be honest overwhelming.

All of the conversations I had, plus the information I read during that year  massively triggered my move away from fast fashion. I spent over 7 months on the project, read over 150 journals, countless internet articles and wrote 20,000 words on the subject. Ultimately how could I explain to people and inform them about the damages caused and how shopping habits needed to change, and yet shop in the same way? To cut a long story short, I couldn’t because a hypocrite I am not. So here we are! The Big Bang, the beginning of my new lifestyle.

In terms of sustainable style choices, I would say I really focus on the fabric of the clothes I now buy. For example, I particularly love shirts and always buy ones made from 100% cotton. Cotton is a seriously water thirsty crop and as we know water is SO precious especially in countries manufacturing our clothes [unknown to me before undertaking my Dissertation]. Now when choosing clothing items, they have to be of high quality, a timeless shape and style, and in a colour I really love. I am making a conscious effort not to buy the same style of item in a similar colour. At one point I had around 20 white shirts in my wardrobe - which in retrospect is just totally unnecessary and pretty ridiculous! Sadly Fast Fashion isn’t designed to last and due to the poor quality of the predominately synthetic fabric it won’t - so I even try to avoid buying this secondhand. I want to fill my wardrobe with quality pieces that have emotional and monetary value, which I can hopefully pass on - like my grandmother and my mum have done for me.

What do you like about renting?

Rental attraction to me was renting and wearing luxury items that I either can't afford to purchase out right or to test items I am considering purchasing. You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first, so if you’re about to make a big clothing purchase it makes total sense to do the same thing! Try before you buy and all that jazz.

Lockdown has caused hiccups since my rental journey began but initially what attracted me to the concept of renting, was being able to borrow an outfit for an event or special occasion. I used to be totally engrossed in the 'buy it and wear it once culture’ - I can’t help but love the feeling of wearing something new and I don’t think that will ever change. Renting enables you to wear something 'new to you' and feel fabulous without having the pang of guilt about the item's environmental cost.

Who are your favourite brands or designers right now?

A lot of my favourite brands and designers are predominately luxury ones. Shopping preloved I tend to search for these first and foremost as I have found higher end pieces tend to be made from longer lasting natural fabrics. Don’t get me wrong I have learnt that a luxury or designer brand does not necessarily or automatically mean they are sustainable, I definitely thought the opposite from this when I started my journey. But 'The Good On You App’ really informed me on different brands' ethics, at both ends of the cost spectrum and explored the issues I care about; giving individual scores for the brands' impact on people, the planet and animals. As I mentioned before I absolutely love colour and patterns, and some of my favourite brands definitely encompass that.

At the moment I’m loving Staud. Their retro Californian vibe is right up my street, their designers take their inpso from vintage pieces and street art which I absolutely love. Like a lot of others, I am all over the Scandinavian look right now so Ganni is definitely up there with one of my current favourites. I recently won some A-M-A-Zing checked Ganni pants on eBay that I am obsessed with - we will ignore the fact they are two sizes too big and that they don’t actually stay up without a series of hair clips. I’m also taking a lot of inspo from WithJéan at the moment and am a big fan of their pretty prints and easy silhouettes. You just can’t go wrong with a floral dress or a bustier top for that first post-lockdown weekend... eek! Ooooh the visuals - I’m so excited to dress up properly again!

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Credits:
@thriftyphoebs

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To celebrate our collaboration, we spoke to Alighieri's founder, Rosh Mahtani, about how Alighieiri came to be, sustainability and why she's excited to rent her pieces on HURR.

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