Get ready to frock, folks! The third annual Frockery Eco-Fashion Challenge is fast approaching and will run throughout the month of February 2013 when we will once again vaunt the vintage, rock the retro and celebrate the second hand, recycled and hand made.
Our inaugural challenge was held in 2011 as a fun way of combating the February blues while giant snowdrifts brought the country to a virtual standstill. It was such fun that we repeated it last year and decided to turn it into an annual slow fashion event. The ‘rules’ are simple and few, so why not come and join us for our 2013 frock-up?
Frockery February Eco-Fashion Challenge 2013
In celebration of hand made, vintage, retro and recycled, we are once again encouraging friends, fans and followers to take part in our February eco-fashion challenge during the shortest, darkest and most depressingly bill-filled month of the year.
The rules are simple
Aim to wear clothing and accessories which are hand made, vintage, recycled or second hand during February and post your pictures, outfit descriptions, sources and costs on the Frockery Facebook Group which has been revived for the purpose (it’s a closed group but just send a join request as Alison and Arthur Frocker are getting lonely there!) Alternatively you can post on the Frockery Facebook page or on our Twitter feed (using the #frockerychallenge hashtag so we don’t miss it). If all else fails, just email us directly and we’ll post for you! You can showcase as many or as few outfits as you like over the course of the month.
Pics mean prizes
Frockery to the value of £100 for the winner and £50 for the runner up will go to the posters of the most stylish and creative (in our judges’ opnion) eco-fashionable ensembles at the end of the challenge.
So come on everybody, let’s frock again like we did last Feb’ry!
Gok’s Clothes Roadshow is currently showing on Channel 4 with a variation called Get the Look for Less and we must say we are disappointed. With his unashamed promotion of mass produced cheap tat, he has gone right off the boil, as far as we are concerned, having headed down the frozen fish finger aisle for an instantly gratifying, but ultimately unsatisfying, fast fashion fix. Yes, there may be a recession on, but dressing for less doesn’t have to involve scraping the bottom end of the fashion barrel. We should know! As frugal frockers, we have been banging on about it for years and started our Fifty Quid Fashion Challenge back in 2007.
Not so long ago, Gok’s affordable high street looks regularly used to trounce the overpriced designer outfits salivated over by his blonde sidekick (you know, the one with the dogs) in his famous fashion ‘face-offs’. Yet fast forward to the current series and the high street is being dissed in favour of what we can only describe as fish finger fashion. So it’s Brix no more, high end no more, independent designers no more; mid-price high street is no longer hip, and cheap supermarket ‘chic’ is where it’s at. That’s really going to help the retail sector, struggling as it is to pay the bills, with many more well known high street names looking vulnerable as quarterly rents fall due.
Regardless of Gok’s seeming enthusiasm for low budget clone wear, we doubt he’d be seen dead in a pair of George jeans or a Primark T-shirt himself. What’s more, buying cheap means that producers and suppliers down the fast fashion food chain are being shafted. Ethical policies developed in corporate board rooms and PR’d ad nauseam by faux-caring, designer-wearing, profit-loving professionals don’t mean much to exploited child labourers on the other side of the world who are hand sewing sequins on to your landfill leggings.
There are perfectly acceptable alternatives to fast fashion, which are every bit as affordable to those on tight budgets, such as charity shops, second hand stores, affordable vintage outlets, even the back of your own wardrobe (we found a Marcel Fenez 60s dress in ours last week that we hadn’t seen for years!) While you’re at it, why not dust off that old sewing machine, look out some knitting needles or crochet hooks and create something original as well as ethical? Students are past masters at dressing for less and can probably teach the rest of us a thing or two about saving money and slowing down to achieve style without sacrificing sustainability.
Please remember you don’t have to abandon principle and become a fish finger fashionista or Tesco trolley dolly just because some stylist said it was cool on the telly. Despite being big fans in the past, we reckon Gok’s latest menu is lacking in greens and more cheek than chic. The acronym BOGOF springs to mind.
We are pleased that our first ever February eco-fashion challenge has helped raise awareness, albeit in a small way, of the benefits of wearing vintage, second hand and hand made clothing and accessories. Each and every participant demonstrated how great looks can be achieved by mixing charity shop purchases, vintage finds and hand made or recycled fashion, and everyone had fun doing so.
As well as attracting dedicated eco-fashionistas who needed no persuasion that it’s the way to go, we also made a few new converts to the cause, including young people who had never previously considered eco-frocking. We also made some lovely new friends along the way. Result!
We have previously blogged about the Preloved Reloved project which is the brainchild of Kim Sklinar, one of the new friends we met as a result of our challenge. She is raising money for charity by dressing exclusively in second hand clothes for a year and is on our exact wavelength as far as eco-fashion goes. Being waste aware sorts ourselves, we especially enjoyed this recent post, Frugality vs Waste, and we wholeheartedly share her antipathy towards rampant consumerism and our wasteful throwaway society.
Although eco-frockers like ourselves are rarely to be found in high street fashion outlets, just occasionally we take a stroll round a few of them when we are in town. So last week, with some time to while away before a dental appointment, we visited two such stores to see what is currently on offer in the world of fast fashion. First off, the sheer volume of identical garments in a factory sized space felt like an assault on the senses. Rails and rails of mass produced soulless sameness! On closer inspection, the quality of some of the pieces ranged from poor to appalling, but equally shocking was the price of some of them.
Indeed the experience was almost as painful as the subsequent root canal treatment and we naturally left with nothing (without feeling remotely like the weakest link). Fortunately, we found welcome solace in the charity shop next to the dental surgery which offered up a fabulous military style coat dress, originally from Principles and in good as new condition. It will be having its first second hand outing with its new owner this weekend.
Readers of our blog will know we have a soft spot for the lovable stylist Gok Wan and we are enjoying the return of his Clothes Roadshow (Tuesdays at 8pm on Channel 4). Knowing what suits your body shape is a lesson well learned if you want to avoid becoming a fashion victim and Gok excels in educating ladies of all shapes and sizes on what they should wear and, equally importantly, what they should avoid in the wardrobe department.
We especially love the weekly fashion face-offs, in which Gok goes head to head with designer label lover Brix Smith-Start in showcasing key trends and inviting the audience to vote for high street or high end. This week’s show, from Nottingham, featured four fabulous fashion themes: tartan, metallics, bold florals and fringing. Now while we would expect the designer looks to be expensive (and they were!), Gok’s ‘humble’ high street outfits still averaged a whopping £465, which is way beyond many fashionistas’ budgets, especially in these austere times. There are plenty of key pieces which will set you back far less than £100 on the high street, or even less than £50 if you are a creative eco-fashionista, so we thought we’d show off some of our own frockery as a far less expensive, yet stylish, alternative for each of these four featured looks.
When it comes to tartan, we always have a good selection in our Scots Frockery department, often for a lot less than Gok’s (admittedly stunning) picnic blankets look! And despite the designer price tag, we also wholeheartedlyapproved of Brix’s choice, as there is simply no beating traditional tartan and the skill of an expert kilt maker. However, there are plenty of preloved and vintage pieces available at a fraction of the cost of new designer or high street, and tartan is consistently one of our own best sellers which can be worn season after season for traditional occasions or everyday attire .
We think we can also compete pretty well in the metallics stakes. Metallic dresses and jackets are enduringly popular, as are shoes, shawls and accessories. Our current favourites include this silver metallic dress (reduced to £15) and this glam retro metallic jacket (£10).
We always have lots of florals in stock for boldly mixing and matching or playing somewhat safer with classic floral frocks. Take, for example, this bright bold floral dress (£15) or this 70s bold floral print dress (£20).
Hey, we even have some bright floral shorts (think Brix’s floral designer choice) in stock!
When we saw the £845 (gulp!) designer dress for this look, we had a sense of déjà vu as Alison owns a similar fringed frock bought in south London in 1982 which she remembers patiently waiting to be reduced in a sale. At above knee length, it is longer than the Brix dress and is not designer, but it is every bit as wearable today as it was then.Sadly, Alison’s size 10 shape has long since timed out, but the dress is still occasionally worn by her svelte daughter.
In stock at the moment we have this cute black fringed dress for £20 which still has its shop tags attached and fits the fashion trend perfectly. And for only £10 we have this sheer net fringed poncho with sparkly dots, which can be belted in at the waist (slightly reminiscent of Gok’s £300+ customised crystal encrusted number?)
We hope you’ll agree that, while Gok undoubtedly rocks, the Frockery both rocks and rolls back the cost! We stand firmly by our Frockery mantra, which applies to designer and high street labels alike:
Why buy new when it’s more fashionable, frugal and eco-friendly to go retro?
It seems some New Year’s resolutions are just made to be broken. In our own case, falling off the chocolate wagon happened overnight as we discovered some Thornton’s beauties lurking in the cupboard in which we were stashing away the Christmas decorations. There must have been a good reason for their careful concealment (possibly from young pub returners seeking late night sustenance over the festive season), but they were a welcome sight and, like the resolution, didn’t last long.
Other resolutions are easier to keep and so far we have managed to wear preloved, vintage or hand made clothes every day of the year, both at work and at play. We can highly recommend it (we would, wouldn’t we!) as it is utterly painless and requires no element of self denial whatsoever. It also makes sound eco-sense, both economical and ecological, as well as being a fun fashion challenge.
In celebration of hand made, vintage and recycled, we have decided to keep our not so new year’s resolution for as long as possible and are encouraging friends, fans and followers to join us by embracing our eco-fashion February challenge during the shortest, darkest and most depressingly bill-filled month of the year.
The rules are simple: all or most of your clothing has to be hand made, vintage, recycled or second hand for the 28 consecutive days of February (no cheating!)
Tell us how you get on by posting your pictures, outfit descriptions, sources and costs on the Frockery Facebook page and we’ll offer a £50 Frockery voucher to the most stylish and creative eco-fashionista at the end of the month.
You have a few weeks to think about it and we’ll post a reminder at the end of January. Go on, it’ll be fun! You may even end up enjoying it so much that you keep on eco-frocking throughout the year!
Meanwhile, you’ll find some good reasons and ‘RE’ action ideas here.
We are becoming increasingly fed up of living in a society which seems hell bent on creating ever greater mountains of unnecessary waste. From plastic bags in their billions to fast food packaging, cheap promotional items that no one wants or needs, and even shrink wrap covering for supermarket cucumbers, we are drowning in the stuff.
Textiles waste is a particular bugbear of ours. Did you know that in the UK alone, we throw out in excess of one million tonnes of textiles every year, most of which ends up in landfill sites?
Far from being harmless holes in the ground where we can conveniently bury anything and everything we no longer want, landfill sites cause significant environmental damage. In the case of landfilled textiles, garment dyes and bleaches can cause toxic chemical seepage into the ground and water courses. As the material decomposes, the build up of methane gas presents further hazards.
Although environnmental issues have been gradually nudging their way up the political agenda, there is no evidence that our throwaway society is ready to take responsibility for its wasteful behaviour. We need a sea change in attitude and, while there is some great work being done to reduce textiles waste through reuse and recycling, the clothing industry remains awash with cheap ‘fast’ fashion which is likely to end up in landfill in a matter of months if not weeks.
So how can we as concerned individuals make a difference yet still stay stylish (and solvent!)? Well, we have put together a list of simple ‘RE’ ACTIONS to the relentless pressures of the fast fashion industry, and we hope the following top ten tips on working towards a greener wardrobe will be useful for waste aware, eco-friendly fashionistas like ourselves.
1. RESIST temptation. Don’t buy it if you don’t need it! Your wardrobe is probably already bulging with impulse buys, many of which you have never worn, so you know it makes sense.
2. REJECT fast fashion outlets and cheap imports which have been transported halfway round the world, may have been produced by an exploited workforce, including child labour, in dangerous conditions, and will probably fall apart after one wash.
3. RETHINK your buying habits. Support ethical, fair trade businesses and ‘home grown’ designers.
4. REUSE clothing and accessories. Buy from vintage, second hand or charity shops, car boot sales and auction websites – or swap clothes with friends
5. REDISCOVER the back of your wardrobe and the darkest corners of your attic which may well harbour some long forgotten outfits that are yearning for a new lease of life.
6. RESTYLE your current wardrobe. Get the sewing box out, refashion a dress into a top and matching bag, add a few embellishments, chop off some sleeves, or just shorten a hemline or two.
7. REFRESH your ‘old’ clothes by adding belts, scarves and complementary accessories for an instant style update.
8. RECYCLE the clothing you no longer need. Drop it off at your local textile recycling bank, freecycle it, or else donate to charity.
9. RESELL your unwanted clothes on one of the internet auction sites or, if you don’t want to do it yourself, through a local or online dress agency.
10. RESEARCH environmentally friendly fashion alternatives which combine style with sustainability. We recommend Kate Fletcher’s Lifetimes project as a great starting point for both information and inspiration.