Tag Archives: slow fashion

  • Unfollowers of fast fashion

    October 16, 2014

    We like Twitter. Even if we aren't the most avid of tweeters, the short sharp 140 character updates and retweets from those we follow invariably provide nuggets of entertaining, informative and engaging content (albeit interspersed with often pointless twaddle) on a rolling basis throughout the day. Most mornings we find time to read a few articles - usually about #vintage or #slow #ecofashion - that have piqued our interest on Twitter.

    A tantalising tweet from @BritishVogue the other day led us to an article by Laura Milligan on Vogue and the Gown, described as

    "a collection of some of the most beautiful images ever featured in the magazine, sorted and narrated by former features director Jo Ellison into an encyclopedic reference of not just the dresses themselves but the imperceptible emotions behind the fabric that make them so special."

     
    The article did not disappoint and lifted our vintage spirits significantly. We especially loved this observation:

    "Looking at a beautiful model, in a beautiful gown, in a beautiful location, the world seems a better place," Ellison explains of the garment's restorative powers - and therefore our fascination with it. "Gowns are a palliative on dreary days, an escape, and a wonderful indulgence. Trousers aren't."

    Still dreaming of the glamour of bygone eras, we came across a feature in Eco-Business via a link tweeted by Fashion Revolution @Fash_Rev, which fired us up for entirely different reasons: How fast fashion is killing the earth and our taste in clothes (see page 12).

     
    In stark contrast to the timeless charm of the Vogue gowns, it painted a depressing picture of the fast fashion industry, which is founded on the exploitation of both people and planet, yet is still shamelessly promoted - as we have previously posted - by those who should know better.

    Think about this as you fill your wardrobe with throwaway threads from cheap chain clone stores: "Fast fashion brands on average produce more than one million new clothes a day."  How can that be sustainable?

    As Christina Dean, chief executive of the sustainable fashion charity Redress, points out:

    "With the invasion of fast fashion, many consumers' expectations around prices have gone down so much that it has become even more of a challenge to shift consumers from the 'buy less and buy better' mentality."

    The frockers have been here before, of course, with Slow fashion: winning the race for hearts and minds? (also inspired by tweets) and Landfill fashion: what a waste; but we'll leave the final tweet to Vintage Alterations (@splendidstitch), who are every bit as 'slow' and sustainable as we are, in the nicest possible way!

     
     

  • Frockery eco-fashion challenge 2014: everyone's a winner!

    March 7, 2014

    Well the judges have deliberated, argued, agonised, sweated, swithered and even sworn a bit (as it was such a difficult task), but a decision has finally been reached and it's time to announce the winners of this year's Frockery EcoFashion Challenge.

    Cue drum roll...

    This year's winner is Janice Stewart, who will receive £100 of frockery from our catalogue. Some readers may remember that Janice is a previous winner, but the judges felt her creativity, quirkiness and unique sense of eco-style stood out, along with her colourful personality that was so evident in all her entertaining 'tales behind the togs'. Here is Janice rocking one of her creative combos (where muck boots meet Zandra Rhodes!) and a montage of her amazing customised undertaker's coat cheekily teamed with red lace and tartan!

    muck boots meet zandra rhodes

    "Today's ensemble is entirely charity shops, over the years, not all at once! even the muck boots! (i'm off to an open air rummage site today so need them) NOT taking the fabby Zandra Rhodes bag that i got in a blind auction in a charity shop but had to add it to the picture as i love it! Photo by youngest son...who actually said i looked good, then added...for a wifie your age!"

    frockery challenge winner montage

    "Not exactly Sunday at Church wear...but this jacket will have seen the inside of a few in it's previous life as an undertakers top coat! I have now finished vamping it up & got hubs to take pics last night. The red lace dress underneath is from Sunrise..bought for a wedding that i couldn't get to due to snow a couple of years ago....tartan tights....just because i don't do american tan! Pink lens specs for special occasions...life looks better through rose coloured specs! #vintage#retro #upcycled #fun"

    Our runner up this year is Cecilia Townley, who will receive £50 of frockery from our catalogue. Cecilia's distinctive style, eye for a bargain (we must all bookmark the Woking hospice shop for a visit!) and showcasing of a range of eco-outfits throughout the challenge - from vintage to charity shop chic, for work, play and special occasions - were truly inspiring.  Here are just two of her winning looks.

    cecilia baby blue

    "This most beautiful crochet baby blue dress, from The Frockery is what I'm wearing! "

    cecilia 4

    "£4 for my red wrap dress. £4 for my navy blazer! Love a charity shop bargain Monday."

    But read on, fellow eco-frockers, for there are no losers and everyone's a winner when it comes to eco-fashion! 

    Since it was so incredibly tough for our judges to come up with just one winner and one runner up from the array of fabulous eco-fashion on display throughout February, we have decided to offer £20 of frockery to each of this year's participants. So please email us with your choice of items and we'll wing them off to you.

    Thank you again to everyone who embraced our fourth Frockery challenge with such enthusiasm and contributed to the community camaraderie. We hope you'll all take part again next year.

    Please feel free in the meantime to use the Frockery Facebook group to post eco-fashion tips, bargain buys, vintage adventures and news and we will continue to post events, competitions and exclusive offers there during the year. And if you haven't yet 'liked' our Frockery Facebook page , why not?!

     

  • Let's frock again like we did last Feb'ry

    January 23, 2013

    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!

  • The value of vintage: what's it worth?

    October 24, 2011

    This post is one we have been thinking about for a while but have only just got round to composing and (if you're reading this) publishing. It's about the relative value of vintage from the perspective of  a frockophile who turned a passion for collecting and wearing 'old clothes' into a business. Since the aforesaid collecting habit had taken over most of the house, it was either that or divorce, and it's therefore gratifying to report at this juncture that the frockers are still happily hitched!

    A couple of red wine fuelled 'confessionals' with fellow business owners at a recent social gathering caused us to reflect on our own steep learning curve since starting out. Back in 2007, we not only had lofty ambitions to be a more affordable alternative to existing vintage stores which we felt were a tad overpriced, but we were also keen to offer quality preloved contemporary clothing because our own wardrobe was not exclusively vintage and our focus was on sustainability as well as style. We saw our recycling model as a timely antidote to the rash of fast fashion that seemed to be sweeping the nation and which greatly offended our green sensibilities. So far so good.

    Still mulling over the frockers' progress, which has not been without bumps in the road, we happened upon this blog post in which the author considers the value of vintage fashion and, specifically, its pricing in the marketplace. The post was interesting from a personal point of view, not just because it linked to one of our frocks, but also because it mentioned Portobello Road market, one of our very favourite places (although it's not what it used to be, thanks to the encroachment of developers, and is indeed now fighting for its very survival).

    We visit London as often as possible (more regularly now that our daughter lives there - that's her on our website top banner!) and it invariably turns into a busman's holiday as we trek around vintage markets and shops to see what's on offer. Some of the prices can certainly be eye-watering, but we imagine the rents, pitches and other overheads must be equally eye-watering for the traders. Not to mention the cost of living generally.

    Living in Notting Hill in the 80s, when vintage was still very much a minority sport and Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts hadn't yet sent local property prices into the stratosphere, the future chief frocker's passion for all things retro was confirmed on Portobello Road and further nurtured at nearby Kensington Market. Back in '81, while her work colleagues headed to Harrods to spend suitably big bucks on posh frocks for an event where they were to be presented to the Queen (as patron of their employing organisation), Alison bought a vintage black velvet gown for a tenner at Kensington Market, having fallen in love with it at first sight. She still owns it, and despite it now being several sizes too small, will never part with it. That was to be the story of her life, which eventually led to frocking for a living and loving it!

    But back to the salient point of that blog post, where the author ponders the price of vintage clothing after a shocking encounter with an especially expensive frock down the market. As a vintage aficionada and aspiring trader with frugal frocking tendencies, she speculates on the extent to which greed might play a part in pricing. She also wonders, quite reasonably, whether it might be wiser from a self preservation point of view to price items in line with those of other sellers rather than undercut them and risk suffering a damaging blow in the popularity stakes.

    That conundrum took us right back to our own early business planning days and we're the first to admit that when we started out our pricing was a bit haphazard. In our quest to keep prices low, our mark-up was based simply on what we had originally paid for our stock (sometimes years ago) or, in the case of consignment customers, a mutually agreed selling price. Hindsight is a great thing and, if we are being completely honest, we failed to properly analyse all the other costs associated with running our business as we were first and foremost in it for the love rather than the money. Although our overheads were low, and still are, they all need to be factored in to maintain a degree of solvency and keep us in wine!

    Our pricing is now a rather more sophisticated process based on a combination of factors, including the condition, era, size, style, label and current market desirability of our stock, rather than just a straight mark-up on what we  originally paid for it. We also factor in the other overheads like website running costs, rent and storage, sourcing costs, postage and packaging, marketing, administration and compliance with all the legal aspects of running an ecommerce business such as the distance selling regulations.

    Selling one of your own old frocks on ebay is a fairly simple exercise, but moving up a gear to buy and resell multiple frocks means you are no longer a private seller and automatically acquire legal liabilities, all of which need to be costed and met from your profits. Contrary to the head-in-the-sand belief of some sellers on ebay and elsewhere, that includes accepting returns of online purchases whether you like it or not!

    By way of exemplifying relative value, we sold a vintage 70s John Charles cocktail dress earlier this year for £28. It was a real head turner, in very good but not mint condition, and it lasted less than 24 hours on our website before winging its way off to a new home. Imagine our surprise when, shortly afterwards, we coincidentally came across the same dress in a different colour on sale for a staggering £249 while randomly browsing another vintage site (as you do in this business!)  We were frankly astonished because, gorgeous as the dress was, it was not (in our opinion) worth such a massive price tag by any stretch of the imagination. We know we're Scottish, but seriously...

    While there are undoubtedly big price discrepancies in the vintage fashion business, at the same time there are so many variables involved that 'fair' and consistent pricing is essentially a difficult balancing act. Bricks and mortar shops, market pitches and online stores all have different fixed overheads to factor into the equation just to break even, and then there are other important elements to cost, like that bottomless money pit also known as a marketing budget so that prospective customers can actually find your wares.

    These things are all expensive, as increasingly grumpy ebay sellers will testify, given that their ever-rising fees are inextricably  linked to the significant overheads incurred by the giant platform as it seeks to maintain its place as market leader. While greed is undoubtedly a prime motivating factor for some, from corporate giants like ebay and Google right down to the smallest bedroom-based entrepreneurs, it is just one element of a highly complicated mix.

    In order to survive, as well as eat, all business owners need to turn a profit (hardly rocket science!) but we frockers are committed to keeping affordability and sustainability at the heart of ours. In fact, such is the emotional investment in our micro business, we'd definitely be doing something else if we wanted to make serious money!

    Once the poor relation, vintage has finally succeeded in throwing off its musty old image (with a bit of help from Lily Allen et al) to become a celebrated subset of mainstream fashion. As such, it is inevitably attracting its share of sharks and opportunists who will always find a way to make a fast buck and excessive profits from whatever they see as being ripe for exploitation (think Portobello Road and developers). We can only hope that they will eventually move on to the next big thing, but we're not holding our breath.

    It never used to be so, but just like Notting Hill property, vintage prices seem to be spiralling ever upwards and there will always be people with more money than sense. In the meantime, we'll just carry on regardless, vaunting the vintage, rocking the retro and celebrating the second hand, all the while sticking to the same slow fashion principles on which the Frockery was first founded.

  • Fish finger fashion

    October 12, 2011

    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.

  • Slow fashion: winning the race for hearts and minds?

    September 16, 2011

    Twitter, we have found, is not only a wonderful way of interacting with customers, but is also a great medium for connecting like minds, who will frequently signpost followers and friends to articles and websites of mutual interest.

    As our regular readers will know, one of our passions is for 'slow fashion' and so it was natural that we should follow Slow Fashioned on Twitter. Being sometimes lazy frockers, we are grateful to other tweeters for highlighting relevant links and, thanks to @slowfashioned, two media articles caught our eye yesterday. Both are well worth reading if you are a fellow proponent of slow, sustainable fashion.

    The Guardian focused on the growing inflationary pressures on fast fashion, as identified by the ONS, under the headline Rising cost of clothes could signal end to 'cheap chic'.

    The days of "cheap chic" and throwaway fashion could be numbered, because the cost of clothes is rising at its fastest rate for nearly 15 years.

    The "fast fashion" trend, where T-shirts sell for £2 and jeans are priced at less than a fiver in supermarkets, is being battered by big increases in the cost of cotton, labour and transport.

    Some especially scary statistics cited in the article came from research at Cambridge University which found that:

    "...as clothing prices have come down, the number of garments bought has soared fourfold. The study found that the average British woman buys half her body weight – 28kg (62lb) – in clothing every year".

    Eek! It's surely time to hit the production and consumption brakes before we have no more land to fill with textile waste comprised mainly of throwaway fashion  (one million tonnes a year and rising).

    Another short but incisive article on the Atlantic website, Slow Fashion: Reconnecting Production and Consumption, also had us nodding our heads in agreement as it pointed to the unhealthy disconnection between production and consumption, mourned the loss of community and deplored the replacement of tradition with profit. It gave much food for thought about the undesirability, and ultimate unsustainability, of the fashion for 'fast' everything.

    Awareness of the environmental impact of human activities is growing. For food, it means buying more organic, local, and seasonal products. For fashion, it should mean more organic, local, and less seasonal. A piece of clothing should last for decades. Like a recipe passed down from generation to generation, we should pass our clothes down to our grandchildren.

    Amen to such sentiment! As the slow fashion movement gathers pace, thanks to a combination of consumer awakening and economic constraints, the growing prevalence of articles like these demonstrates that the times may well be a-changing for the better (and slower).

    And it's always reassuring to know we are but one voice among many for whom slow is every bit as beautiful as small. We've said it before and we may as well say it, and link to it, again: Landfill fashion: what a waste.