The Importance of Shopping Sustainably and Independently
I've been wanting to write this blog post for a while now and have been really excited about it, hence me posting it in the middle of the week as a bit of a bonus post. The reason for this is the incredible top I am wearing in these photos. I picked it up at a store in the Gracia region of Barcelona, called the 8pm Store, conveniently situated just next to the apartment we were staying in, off my cousins recommendation. The 8pm Store is an independent concept, fashion store, stocking clothes all of which have been designed sustainably in Barcelona as well as an art exhibition. The clothing in the store was so cool and being in the store itself was an amazing experience. Plus, the owner was so friendly, explaining to me more about the idea and logistics behind the store, also gifting me a free postcard from their last exhibition, which was such a nice touch and really made me feel happy for the rest of the day.
This experience got me thinking about why it is so important to support independent fashion. I would never have had an experience like that in a high-street store and because fashion is a really creative thing for me, it's so inspiring to have a shopping experience like I did in The 8pm Store. Another really great shopping experience I had was also on my travels this year back in March when I went to Edinburgh at Armstrongs Vintage. I was also recommended to this shop by a friend, this is definitely the best way to find places to go when travelling from my experience, and it was probably (definitely) the best vintage shop I've ever been to. It was huge and the choice was incredible, from costume dress to the most incredible vintage denim. This is where I picked up the jeans I'm wearing in this photo, they're by YSL and cost me a mere £20. I have pretty much always been looking for the perfect pair of white jeans and these are them. I had to get them taken up, which wasn't expensive, but altering is definitely always worth it as a piece that fits you properly will mean you want to wear it more often and longer.
I realise I've spent the first half of this post gushing over these two shops, they're seriously worth the fangirling though, so I'm going to move on to what this post is actually about, why shopping sustainably and independently is important. We all know the horrors of fast-fashion, from horrendous factory conditions to the colossal environmental effect, so I'm not going to guilt-trip you with any statistics. Especially because I still very much buy clothes from fast fashion retailers, it's the most convenient and affordable way to shop and as much I've tried to avoid it, I just can't at the moment, partly because financial reasons and partly because of selfish ones. So, instead, I'm making a conscious effort to support sustainable and independent shops and brands more often as well.
The most expensive sustainable fashion tends to be the brands who have built themselves on this ethos because it's expensive being ethical in every single way and that's just the way it is. I'm talking about the likes of Reformation and Everlane. The 8pm Store falls into this category of store though and although it's more expensive than your average high-street store, it's still really affordable. The top I'm wearing in this photo, which is handmade and of incredible quality, cost me between €35-40 (I can't remember the exact amount), which is definitely more than I would spend on a piece like this at a high-street store. But I was willing to pay not only for this top that I love, but for the experience of being in the shop and the sustainablity behind the piece. This is something that can be hard to take into account when you put a similar piece from an independent, sustainable designer next to a Topshop piece for a fraction of the piece but I personally think, if you're able to, it's 100% worth supporting the former for the reasons I've just mentioned.
However, most of the time I'm just not able to buy expensive pieces, which often means I resort to the high-street. But another option is something that I love and have found some of my favourite pieces I own from, charity shops. They're so unbelievably cheap AND you're supporting a good cause by buying from them. My favourite pair of jeans cost £2 from a charity shop and the cost per wear is definitely in the minus' now. Although charity shopping can be time consuming, I'll often set out an entire afternoon or morning to go and look around the charity shops, it's so rewarding and can help you save so much money that it's 100% worth it. I know people are sceptical of charity shops but you won't believe the gems you'll find in there and most of the things haven't been worn or have barely been worn so there is no need to worry about that aspect of it. Obviously, as well, it's by far the most sustainable way to shop.
Moving on to the second part of the title of this post, shopping independently. This is something that I am very good at whilst travelling but pretty poor at when at home. At home I'm all too temped to revert to the trusty high street but on holiday, shopping independently is an amazing way to get to know the place you're in. The predominant way that I shop independently at home is through charity shops and vintage shops. Both of the places I am based, Liverpool and Manchester, have a great array of independent clothing stores that don't fall into the categories just mentioned and are a little more expensive but I think it's just getting into the habit and mindset of shopping there.
Nevertheless though, I still try and make an effort to shop independently because, as I mentioned, there's nothing better than having an amazing shopping experience and independent shops definitely offer that more than chains do. Plus, they give a place character. Whenever I go away, whether it's in the UK or abroad, I always try and steer away from what I'm going to call the 'chain area' of the city and venture out to the areas that actually feel like you're in a different place. I'd hate anywhere I live to not have this feel at all and if we don't support these independent businesses then they'll no longer exist.
Here's a list of some of my favourite independent stores, from fashion to all sorts of other things with links to their websites/social media:
The 8pm Store, Barcelona (Fashion/Art)
Armstrongs Vintage, Edinburgh (Fashion)
COW Vintage, Liverpool, Manchester and Various Other Places (Fashion)
Utility, Liverpool (Home/Gifts)
Chapter One, Manchester (Bookstore/Cafe)
Fred Aldous, Manchester (Art/Gifts)
Park St in Bristol has the best independent vintage shops, I can't choose just one from the one time I've visited (Fashion)
I hope you've enjoyed this post and that it's given you some encouragement to head down to your local independent clothing store, or try and shop a little bit more sustainably! You won't regret carving some time out to visit your local charity shops or vintage shops to grab a bargain. Even if you go high-street shopping afterwards, you've probably saved yourself some money by buying something second-hand and you're helping to save the world a little bit at the same time, so it's a win-win. I'd love to hear your favourite independent shops or the best ways, in your opinion, to shop sustainably in the comments or on social media! As mentioned, I'm by no means perfect with this and am not claiming to be so any tips and recommendations are very welcome!