Words and pictures by Johanne Wang Corneliussen
The environmental impact of our desires for fast fashion and need for box fresh outfits on the regular add to our numerous carbon footprints, thus contributing to the alarming continual rise in global warming.
With this in mind, is it possible to eliminate, or at least lower our shopping footprint – while still renewing our wardrobes? The answer is yes, as long as the shopping is done consciously and sustainably.
Having a green closet is trendier than ever before, and London is bursting with alternatives on how to get a fashion fix, while still keeping the environment at the front of your mind.
Hunky Dory Vintage, Brick Lane
Located at the very beginning of the colourful Brick Lane is Hunky Dory Vintage. The shop is an eleven-year-old treasure trove, owned by two vintage connoisseurs with 25 years of experience selling vintage clothing.
Emily, a 27-year-old originally from Newcastle, works full-time at Hunky Dory Vintage. She says that one the most important parts of vintage shops is that they work well if they bounce off of each other.
“You’re never going to have the same thing in two shops, and at Hunky Dory Vintage we try to keep it classic, from as early as possible and till the 70s. We try to steer away from designers, to focus on good quality instead of labels, and I believe that even if you’re not a huge vintage shopper, you can still find something in here” Emily says.
When being asked about how the store is sustainable, Emily, who studied illustration at university level, states that “everything is second hand, so you’re not creating anything new. You’re only selling what already exists, so the carbon footprint isn’t as huge”.
In addition, she adds that the best way to shop sustainably is to simply never buy brand new. “If you buy from big corporations who don’t pay tax, as they are offshore accounts, you support them in not putting back to into society. They also often use sweatshops and treat people poorly, which is just plain human cruelty”, the illustrator says.
Address: 226 Brick Lane, E1 6SA, London
Serotonin, Brick Lane
The 23-year-old native Londoner and part-time worker at Serotonin, Iris, emphasizes that “the most important aspect of shopping sustainably is focusing on recycling and upcycling”, drawing up upon knowledge from studying fashion branding in Amsterdam.
The store opened its doors in 2016 and has had a great success ever since. “I believe customers choose this shop compared to others because we focus on second hand designer items only, so the clothing is not very easily findable. Every item has been picked for the shop specifically and to fit a certain vibe and curated feeling; so people come here because they want to see the type of selection we uniquely offer”, expresses Iris.
The Serotonin employee also highlights the significance of buying vintage as a way of avoiding support of multi-national companies.
She specifies that “buying from those kinds of companies will never make a difference, even if you buy anything Fairtrade or organic. It’s important to not let labels like that fool you into supporting corrupt businesses, that make both people and the environment suffer”.
Address: 194 Brick Lane, E1 6SA, London
Wolf & Badger, Coal Drops Yard
Buying vintage is however not the only way to shop sustainably. Located at six-month-old Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross, Wolf & Badger offer carefully selected fashion, jewelry, accessory and homeware products from independent and sustainable designers and artisans.
Arin, 25, from London, works full time at Wolf & Badger until she goes back to her final year at university in September.
The fashion buying student describes the store as offering a pleasant and personal shopping experience, confidently expressing that “all of us who work here are really behind the brand and we really care about the designers coming in. We only bring in designers that really do their bit for the environment.”
She can tell that “a lot of people, come here because Coal Drops Yard is a new shopping area, but as we speak to customers while they come in shopping and we tell them about our ethos and what we’re all about, they’re really interested in that, and often come back because of it”.
For Arin “the most important aspect of shopping sustainably is protecting the environment, which luckily has become a bit of a trend” and further adds that “when shopping at Wolf & Badger you’re doing your bit for the environment, but also as a bonus, coming here, you really find something individual and unique”.
Address: Coal Drops Yard, Stable St, N1C 4DQ, London
Neal’s Yard Remedies, Islington
In addition to getting a sustainable fashion fix; natural and organic skincare for greater well-being can be purchased at Neal’s Yard Remedies, which can be found at several locations around the capital.
She informs that “most of our products are in glass bottles, which we accept back from clients so that we can recycle them ourselves” and adds that “we also never test any of our products on animals, so a lot of people come here because they either are vegan or are looking to become vegan”.
The award-winning well-being company, which was founded in Covent Garden in 1981, focus on both ethical and sustainable virtues, upheld through store policy: “we have several requirements towards that the ingredients shall be organic and natural, as well as that we always select Fairtrade sources” Casia says, before adding that “in everything we do, we try to help both the environment, and the people in the process”.
Address: 295 Upper St, The Angel, N1 2TU, London