The Revolutionaries: Emily John
Welcome to our Fashion Revolution Week interview series, The Revolutionaries. We wanted to shine the spotlight on a group of women in our extended sustainable fashion community who inspire us to not only change our own habits, but to contribute to greater change. We caught up with them about their lives in lockdown, their thoughts on sustainable fashion amidst this crisis, and where fashion needs to go next. Today, meet Emily John, the founder of The Restory. The Restory is an on-demand shoe, handbag and leather goods restoration service bringing the highest standard of quality and service right your doorstep, which encourages us to mend and repair to make our forever pieces last longer.
Keep scrolling for our conversation.
Where are you writing this?
In North London at my kitchen table, with my cat Oscar who’s trying (but failing) to catch a fly
What quote/ mantra is getting you through this?
I think there is magic we can find in being forced to slow down, I read this which has helped inspire me to be mindful in this time; “In the rush to return to normal use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to and which you want to leave behind.”
What has made you laugh this week?
In these difficult times something that has made me laugh is my weekly Zoom Challenge Game against our niece (7) and nephew (9), launched in lock down and this now happens every Friday evening. Ordinarily my boyfriend is a TV producer working on studio game shows, so he’s created the format. We’re all kept in the dark of the challenges until they are read out, but its always the kids vs me – me with a large glass of wine in my hand. One this week that really made me laugh was to put on as many clothes as you could in 60 seconds.
What won’t you ever take for granted again post quarantine?
Hugs! I’m quite a tactile person and I really miss hugging my friends, family and hanging out with everyone in real life, keeping a distance does not come naturally to me.
Which small businesses are you loving and would like to give a shout to?
So many its hard to choose, I think probably Conker Spirit and their founder Rupert. Ordinary they make delicious gin, from London Dry to Tea or amazing coffee-infused. With this crisis going on they were so quick to pivot their distilleries and have been producing ‘Community Spirit Hand Sanitiser’ with transparency over their costs as well as donating to the most vulnerable. You can’t beat a gin and tonic in normal life or isolation, so I recommend buying from them to support and recognise the work they are doing at this time.
What sustainable message would you like to share this Fashion Revolution week?
More than ever it’s a time to be grateful for the things we already have in our lives. Look around at your belongings and appreciate all the things you already own and learn how to look after them, whether thats sewing buttons on, mending moth holes, cleaning trainers (follow our guide on The Restory) or one of my favourites, de-bobbling jumpers—trust me its very satisfying.
What issue in the industry has this crisis highlighted that you want to help solve?
For me it’s been such a stark reminder of how many people there are in this world living life on the edge and when a crisis like this happens they are vulnerable in so many ways, financially, physically and mentally. In fashion we see this through the various clothing brands that are not paying their suppliers or cancelling their orders. It’s heartbreaking to know of the impact this will have on those workers. I hope that this will lead improvements to the regulations around supply chains, I plan to continue to champion mindful purchasing and valuing the items we buy.
Whose actions have inspired you during this time?
I am inspired by so many who are looking to support, collaborate and care for others in various ways. My biggest inspiration at this time is my best friend Katie, a social worker in London. Ordinarily her day to day work and dedication is inspiring, but the additional challenges Corona Virus has created for her job is hard to comprehend. With over 50k children in the UK on the child register list who need to be seen at least every 20 days by a social worker, I don’t feel they have been recognised enough for what they do and I want to celebrate and champion Katie and all our amazing social workers.
What is your hope for the future of fashion?
I hope we see more recognition for aftercare and how integral it is. I’m proud of the work we are doing at The Restory, starting with shoes and bags and offering our services worldwide. We have developed a wide range of techniques and capabilities to offer special cleaning, restore scuffs or scratches right up to replacing binding, handles or more bespoke solutions. As we look to improve sustainability within the fashion industry some choose to increase the longevity of their items and reduce waste, others are inspired by new business models such as pre-loved or rental solutions—like HURR, but all of these require aftercare and upkeep for everything to stay desirable. I hope that we are doing our part in spreading that sustainable and mindful message.