Award-winning journalist and presenter Lucy Siegle entitled her 2011 expose of the fast fashion industry To Die For, an ironic commentary on a popular phrase. The subtitle Is fashion wearing out the world? posed a key question answered at a recent event organised by Wallace teachers Maria Allen and Jude Hawthorne.
As Maria said on the evening “ Fashion is very important to me and to lots of women but we need to think about what we are buying.” The duo, using the punning title CollectEd, set out to prove that you can be chicly and uniquely dressed by focusing on buying pre-loved ( or even new!) garments from charity shops. Billed as An Evening of Sustainable Style this unique fashion event was held in the very atmospheric venue of Revolucion de Cuba, Belfast. Hundreds of outfits personally selected by Jude and Maria from charity shops across Northern Ireland were modelled by a range of Wallace staff both past and present, Judith’s twin Heather acted as compère for the evening and a large number of Wallace teachers were involved in helping out on the evening.
The sell out event attracted a great deal of media interest as the organisers appeared live on Kerry McClean’s Radio Ulster show and also featured in the Belfast Telegraph. The message that sustainable fashion rather than fast fashion is the way forward seems to have been warmly received as almost all of the items were bought by the models or members of the audience at the end of the evening. Jude and Maria spoke enthusiastically about the impact the event had on its volunteers as “the models were all ages and clothes sizes” but they all found the experience to be “ empowering” and a challenge to their own shopping habits. Former staff member Mrs Victoria Thampi spoke engagingly about her own changed shopping values, charting how her frenzied enthusiasm for Primark has evolved into a more limited and sustainable wardrobe.
Part of the rationale for the event was to raise money for local charity The Homeless Period which has the goal of providing sanitary products for vulnerable girls and women. The charity’s representative Nicole Madine shocked her audience by describing the scale of the problem in Northern Ireland but also provided inspiring examples of how the charity is supporting the needy. To date £1,010 has been raised for the cause and equally importantly attendees were challenged to consider how, why and when they shop. The event proved that charity shop chic can be individual, interesting and stylish for a fraction of the cost of new clothing. What’s not to like about that?
If you are interested in sustainable fashion follow the hashtag #wearmeout
Last modified: August 29, 2019