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Discussing our sustainability journeys: Chloe, Gaia and Iris on Vintage

Discussing our sustainability journeys: Chloe, Gaia and Iris on Vintage
By Renoon

Meet Chloe: sustainable (life)style content creator and owner of the IG Slow Vintage Shop, Gaia, Environmental Management student and the face behind @ssustainably, an IG project about everything sustainable fashion and Iris, co-founder and CEO of Renoon. We met to chat about vintage, its impact on the fashion industry and our personal experience with it.

Not many of us started their sustainability journey knowing vintage was even an option. Take it from Chloe, Gaia from @ssustainably and Iris: what does buying second hand and vintage mean and why they love it.

Discussing our sustainability journeys: buying second hand
Chloe from Slow Vintage Shop

This is how my passion for vintage started

Chloe: “I haven’t always been a sustainable consumer: for a long time, I’ve been working with fast fashion brands and promoting their products, which I myself used to buy. However, I started to get more and more interested in how they were made and especially thanks to Fashion Revolution I came to know so many things about the industry that I ignored before.”

“I felt I couldn’t keep supporting such brands anymore, but I also felt so overwhelmed: I thought it was not affordable for me, as a middle-class woman, to be sustainable. And then I discovered second-hand and vintage. So around two years ago, I decided to launch my own shop called Slow Vintage Shop,  to provide fashionable, timeless second-hand pieces for those who think that being sustainable and fashionable is impossible.”

Discussing our sustainability journeys: buying second hand
Pieces from Slow Vintage Shop

Gaia: “Years ago I really got sick of fast fashion trends. Once I read more about it, not only I couldn’t accept the fast fashion brands’ practices anymore, but I also realized that fast fashion simply was not for me: I kept trying to fit in and I couldn’t find my personal style. So, I turned to vintage as a way to develop and express my taste in a way that was closer to my ideals and allowed me to be myself. I understand when Chloe says that sustainable fashion can’t be affordable to everyone — fast fashion only seems less expensive, but there’s simply someone else paying the price: the environment and the workers”.

Iris: “I used to be a big fast fashion shopper myself as well, but at some point I felt a bit dirty – it was like a feeling hard to describe. I would notice clothes pile up without any meaning in my wardrobe that would feel already old after one wear. It was not until I really started building Renoon that I discovered vintage among all the options. In a way, I’ve always been a vintage lover – taking from my mum’s closet”.

Discussing our sustainability journeys: buying second hand
Garments from Slow Vintage Shop

So if someone is starting their second-hand journey…

Chloe: “I would say to pay attention to the fabrics the clothes are made of. Usually, if the material indicated is 100% (wool, cotton, silk..), it means the piece is of good quality and it will resist the passing of time. I tend to source my pieces in charity shops close to where I live, which I feel are really underestimated sometimes: they have such a good selection! I always go for timeless pieces, both for myself and the shop, because I believe those are really worth investing in.”

Discussing our sustainability journeys: buying second hand

Gaia: “Here in the U.K., where I am based, sustainable and especially second-hand fashion is much more available. I feel that in Italy there’s still a lot of stigma around buying clothes that have been worn before… In fact, there are not many options.”

Discussing our sustainability journeys: buying second hand

“My suggestion? Check your grandparent’s and your mom’s wardrobe! Or check out website such as Depop, Vestiaire Collective, Vinted.. There are so many options online. Sometime people are very skeptical with buying clothes when you can’t see how’s the fit, but once you know your size and especially your measurements it’s really easy. Besides: never be too afraid to ask questions before buying a product!”

Discussing our sustainability journeys: buying second hand

Any downsides of vintage shopping?

Chloe: “I love vintage shopping, but it’s definitely not inclusive. Seldom do plus-size customers find their sizes, and people with certain disabilities often don’t have many options either. Therefore, when I find something oversized that I would like to have for myself, I prefer to leave it instead, because it’s so much more difficult for them to manage to find something cool and second-hand. So, if you own a vintage shop and have access to such clothes, try to have as much variety as possible in your selection!”

Gaia: “Vintage clothes are so much differentiated and it’s not as easy as entering a fast fashion shop where all the sizes, colors and fits you can imagine are available. It definitely takes a lot of time to filter through the racks, and sometimes clothes you really love don’t fit you the way you expect. It might be stressful, but I believe it also allow us to think about our habits as consumers – the very first step to become more sustainable is indeed to quit overconsumption.”

Iris: “Definitely the time it takes to find stores and pieces, since they are also unique and might sell fast. But hopefully working hard with Renoon that won’t be the case”.

Discussing our sustainability journeys: buying second hand

So drawing conclusions…

Gaia: “Changing our mindset is the most important thing: even before asking yourself if you really need something new, we should try to upcycle and try different outfits with what we already have. And if you can’t and simply need something specific, it’s fine!”

Chloe: “Vintage is indeed such a good solution, also for experimenting – it’s low-risk, most of the time still super fashionable (as we all know, trends come back!), and if you end up not liking one of your garments anymore, you can always sell it online and promote a more circular economy.”

Iris: “With vintage we can give unique pieces a new life again. I am definitely a gem hunter”.

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