The owner of the UK and Ireland’s longest running consumer fashion event, Belfast Fashion Week, has this season turned the event from being a promoter of fast fashion and mass consumption, to an event focused entirely on sustainable fashion and reselling vintage and previously owned clothes.
Cathy Martin said she had a complete change of heart after being passionately taught about sustainability in fashion during a summer programme at Conde Nast College, part of British Vogue, in 2017 as well as reading Dana Thomas’ FASHIONOPOLIS book.
“I’d previously worked in the textiles industry around 15 years ago, so had seen the massive amounts of water, dye and energy used to create fibres and fabrics, but if I’m honest I didn’t really consider the end game and the massively damaging effect on the environment so much, until recently.
“I did some research and got myself educated on the pollution caused and some really unethical production practices within the fashion and textiles industries, (particularly some ‘fast fashion’ producers, but some top end design houses are guilty too - the great Burberry burn-off is a good example here.) I also woke up to our over consumption and the constant need for new. I’ve been there. I’m guilty.
“The rental and shared economy is booming, and fashion can and must join in here. It is estimated the shared and resale fashion economy is set to boom in the next 3-5 years. The growth of resale — especially online with sites like eBay, dePop, HEWI and Vestiaire Collective, among others — has been one of the biggest shifts in retail in recent memory. Rental sites are growing too, as the shared economy starts to make waves in fashion. And that shift shows no signs of slowing down.
“Events like our RESALE RAIL SALE, which will take place this Saturday 19 October in St Anne’s Cathedral, will help to increase awareness of the bigger issues of fashion and textiles eco-damage, and help show how reselling/buying second hand can help to balance out what’s been done and prevent further extensive damage. I’ve been selling, browsing and buying on eBay and in charity shops for over a decade, but want to help further normalise shopping second hand for fashion and provide a platform for those who want to join me.
“And it’s important to say that I still love creative design and fashion and will still buy clothes. But I will do so more thoughtfully. I will check labels. I will purchase with the planet and long term in mind.
“I’m delighted to say that we now have over 70 resellers taking part, including vintage stores, charities like St Vincent de Paul and Oxfam as well as lots of individuals selling off their own previously loved items, so I would love to see hundreds of shoppers come along and shop sustainably with us."
The FASHIONWEEK RESALE RAIL SALE takes place this Saturday 19 October at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, from 10am until 5pm. Entry is £3.00
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