Fashion

Sustainable fashion: Laura Jackson's easy tips and hacks to make sure your wardrobe is eco-friendly

TV presenter and host-extraordinaire Laura Jackson teamed up with charity TRAID and Camden Town Brewery to teach Londoners there is a better way to buy. From her favourite vintage shop in London to her best second-hand finds, she spills the beans on how to be more sustainable this Christmas. 

2019 has been the year of sustainability. With movements such as Extinction Rebellion taking over our cities and activists, from Greta Thunberg to Venetia Falconer, shaking the public consciousness, the world is at least a tiny bit closer to getting its waste and consumption in check. It has definitely been a year of marches, protests and rallies but it’s far from being enough.

With the party season just around the corner, it’s easy to fall back into bad old habits. We have been bombarded with Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and the push to consume is only going to get worse with Christmas approaching. Even though new research has shown that we are happier when we spend less, resisting the urge to buy (way too many) gifts and party dresses is sometimes difficult to do.

If we can’t stop buying things, we can at least buy better. Here, Laura Jackson answers all our vintage-related questions and shows us that style doesn’t have to come with a price tag for the planet. 

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With the party season around the corner, it’s easy to feel pressured into buying a lot of things that won’t last. From sparkling dresses to Christmas jumpers, December is the month when people tend to buy disposable fashion the most. Do you have any tips for people that want a few cool outfits for the holidays but don’t want to contribute to the waste?

I love to buy second hand, and this season I am also selling some of my vintage outfits at the Camden x TRAID pop-up event where Londoners can shop sustainably as well as donating unwanted items for a free beer in return. I think buying second hand is great – you can pick up some amazing bargains and at a fraction of the price.

Vintage shopping can be overwhelming and even pretty expensive sometimes. What’s your secret to finding hidden gems?

Yes but vintage can also be super inexpensive too – it depends where you go! Charity shops have some great pieces that are cost effective, I also love eBay for bargains. One of my favourite places is Stella Dallas in Brooklyn. Although it is a bit more expensive, they have amazing vintage Levi’s and vintage interior pieces like bed throws and pillows. In London, my go-to for vintage shopping is Beyond Retro

What has been your best find? The item that you found in a thrift shop and you are still obsessed with.

I have a large collection of white frilly shirts, but my favourite one is a cream silk shirt that has a swan embroidered on the sleeve. It was £10 from a vintage shop in Sheffield. It’s the perfect shirt in the warmer months with jeans or shorts and a great shirt in winter when worn under a big knit.

Sustainable fashion: Laura Jackson's easy tips and hacks to make sure your wardrobe is eco-friendly
Sustainable fashion: Laura Jackson demonstrating that vintage shopping is fun.

What are your favourite sustainable fashion brands?

I really love Mother Of Pearl. Not only are they an incredible brand but Amy Powney, the founder, is an amazing woman on a mission to make fashion more sustainable globally. I also really love Maggie Marilyn. I have a few pieces from this brand – a bright red skirt made from plastic bottles is my favourite. Both these brands are fashion forward, visionary and have sustainability built into the fabric of their brand – literally. But it’s difficult to beat Yvon Chouinard and all the amazing work he has done with Patagonia. He is an environmentalist first and foremost. If you haven’t read his book Let My People Go Surfing, please buy it from your local bookshop to learn about Patagonia. It will really change your mind on the way you think about…everything!

Does sustainability guide your spending? Would you ever buy fast fashion again?

It’s a really hard one. I have to be honest and say I do buy fast fashion very occasionally. However, my spending on items like that is far and few between. As I have gotten older, I have learned that I need fewer things. I love to thrift and if I want to treat myself I would go to Vestiaire Collective and perhaps buy something designer on there. I am not perfect, but I am trying to do my bit to help.

How can we be sustainable on a budget without compromising our personal style?

Budget shouldn’t affect personal style. It’s great to mix and match, adding in high street, vintage and designer into an outfit. If you have a small budget it’s about being creative. I often borrow dresses from friends, share clothes with my sister and shop looks on eBay.

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How do you see the fashion industry changing in the next couple of years?

I think that the industry will start to use recycled materials for clothing and more fashion brands have donation bins at stores to collect unused clothing and re-use them rather than putting them into landfill.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, but the conversations are happening and that’s a good start. However we all need to do our bit and we all need to be less ‘disposable’ and be more mindful; whether that’s always carrying a material shopping bag so we don’t need to use plastic bags, or sewing holes up in jumpers to give them a new lease of life. Every little helps, as a well-known supermarket once said!

We know you love to find second-hand interiors gems and that’s now seen as a very cool thing to do. Do you think thrift fashion can finally be cool?

Caring is cool, being thoughtful is cool and being kind is cool, full stop. From the planet and our wardrobes to how we talk and engage with one another. It’s great that now people are talking about buying second hand, but being mindful isn’t a trend. It should be something we all do without having to think about it.

Laura’s 5 easy tips and hacks to make sure your wardrobe is eco-friendly:

  1. Try to not have a definitive summer and winter wardrobe. I wear my summer dresses all year around with a polo neck and tights!
  2. Only wash your items when necessary. Your jeans do not need a wash every time you have worn them.
  3. Try to repair clothes rather than replace. Take moth-ridden jumpers to a specialist for the hole to be sewn. My dog decided to chew through my coat as a puppy and my local dry cleaner made a patch from material inside the coat and it looks as good as new.
  4. Only dry clean when you have to – a lot of items can be hand washed. Dry cleaning isn’t great for the planet and it also usually comes wrapped in plastic.
  5. Move your clothes around – we only wear what we see. By having a move around and swapping shelves and draws, you will see more of what you have got and wear more of the secret gems in your wardrobe.

As part of Camden Town Brewery’s ‘12 Pack Give Back’ scheme, available from all major retailers now, Camden Town Brewery and TRAID will be hosting a pop-up shop in collaboration with Laura Jackson on Saturday 7th December 12-4pm at the Camden Town Brewery bar. For more information visit their website.

Pictures: Hannah Miles