Each week at the Sustainable Shopper, Stylist talks to the people focused on creating a more conscious shopping space for all. This time, Charlotte Williams – co-host of Sustainably Influenced podcast and inclusivity advocate – talks to fashion editor Harriet Davey about learning your personal style, loving your existing wardrobe and renting it out for others to enjoy.
How much of your wardrobe do you actually wear? Have you had items stuffed at the back that haven’t seen the light of day in two, maybe even 10 years? According to a study by Movinga, people in the UK only actually wear 27% of their wardrobe each year. This shocking stat is even more apparent this last year. And this is why some influencers have started to express the importance of loving what you own, and rewearing it.
Are you a podcast fan? Charlotte Williams, co-host of Sustainably Influenced uses her social platforms to promote how loving your existing wardrobe is a small, but essential, step to being more sustainable.
As an advocate for inclusivity within the social sphere, Charlotte is a public speaker who aims to make a difference. Speaking up about brands who are tackling issues within the fashion industry, the Sustainable Shopper chats to Charlotte about how avoiding fast fashion is key, why loving your wardrobe shouldn’t be frowned upon and how renting outfits is the way forward.
What is your earliest memory of sustainability?
Charlotte: I started shopping at car boot sales from a young age with my mum and nan which always felt like hunting for treasure. Whenever I wanted to buy something spenny, my nan would always say, “Wait for the boot sale, you’ll find it there”. And then when I was 16 or 17 I became obsessed with vintage shopping and basically lived in Camden Market until I went to uni. I don’t think I was actually conscious about sustainability until I was well into my late 20s but my shopping habits were formed from a really young age.
Is there such a thing as truly sustainable fashion?
I don’t believe there is such a thing as sustainable fashion. Consumerism as a concept isn’t sustainable so in my opinion it doesn’t matter if the pieces are made from sustainably sourced materials or you bought it second hand, you’re still buying into the problem.
That being said, I still love clothes and love to shop so I try my best to buy from brands who are ethical, made well and committed to transparency – be that their supply chain, their pay, their materials etc. By not being part of the fast fashion problem I feel like I’m doing my little bit but if I wanted to be committed 100% to the sustainability cause, I wouldn’t shop at all.
Investment pieces vs fast fashion: how do you get people to care?
I love everything in my wardrobe and wear things over and over. I think my audience really likes that they see me wear things multiple times in different ways; it gives them the nod that they can do that too, it doesn’t make them unfashionable or frumpy or whatever Instagram is telling them. I think normalising rewearing and loving your clothes, renting and repairing is the key to consumer habit shift.
Who is your favourite sustainability influencer? And why?
My podcast co-host Bianca Foley – she’s so stylish, creates incredible content and she is so knowledgeable on all things conscious fashion.
What changes would you like to see happen in the fashion industry?
I love seeing so many conscious collections popping up from brands but I want the practices they put in place for these small collections to hit their full ranges. They have proved they can do it, so why not invest in doing it 100%?
Three sustainable shopping hacks
1. Before you buy something, think about how many times you will wear it and how many outfits you can make out of it. If it doesn’t fit into your existing wardrobe then it’s probably not meant to be.
2. Spend time understanding and creating your style. Once you have that down you will spend less on impulse purchases because you will know what your wardrobe needs.
3. Rent, rent, rent. There are so many incredible pieces on sites like ByRotation, Hurr, Onloan and Rotaro. Rent for special occasions rather than buying and wearing once. OR buy and rent out if you really want to own the piece because sometimes we do just want to own items of our own.
Sustainable Shopper edit by Charlotte:
I’m kinda obsessed with all things Staud at the moment and this dress is similar to the one I wore recently. It’s one of those styles I’ll wear on heavy rotation each summer.
A go-to for affordable, clean beauty; Botanics’ moisturiser is cruelty-free, 100% vegan and comes in recycled packaging.
The Sojo app
We just interviewed Josephine (founder of the Sojo app) on the podcast and the app is brilliant. It aims to connect consumers with local seamstresses and repair services to make clothes last longer.
Loewe bag at Cocoon
You never need to invest in designer bags now platforms such as Cocoon are here. You can borrow a different bag each month and then return it for someone else to use.
By Rotation is the peer-to-peer fashion rental site that lets you share your wardrobe with other users. It’s the perfect destination for designer dresses.
Brushd. toothpaste tablets
Brushd. is a seriously good oral hygiene brand. The tablets are a great alternative to plastic toothpaste containers as they all come in glass jars you can reuse.
Mix/Marques Almeida suit
This suit jacket with the matching trousers is one of those timeless buys to have in your wardrobe for a lifetime. It’s the two-piece I’ll never stop wearing.
Images: courtesy of Charlotte Williams/brands featured