Monday, September 27, 2010

The Annual Dilemma

Around this time every year I begin to get excited when considering my most treasured annual purchase: The winter boot.

As a teenager, Faith served me well. A Kurt Geiger sale pair were a great early purchase and have weared well. A couple of pairs have been passed on to me from my mum, and a couple of others have been found in discreet and quiet beautiful independent shoe shops around the country.

However, in the years since my sustainable fashion awakening - and understanding the need in our society to 'vote with my wallet' - no matter how great the look or label, if it's not been Terra Plana I have not bought it. Unfortunately, my black flat Terra Plana FAVOURITES that once looked like this...

Terra Plana Wood mid Cald Length Boot
Are now (despite much re-heeling) in a state of disrepair: broken zip, chunk missing from the back of both heels, buckle fallen off the top strap, threads coming loose. Looking at how they used to be, I would be more than happy to spend the same amount of money for a new pair on getting these fixed! Anyway, I don't think Terra Plana currently have a send back and renew policy - so my journey to replace them continues.

After lusting after the Terra Plana Lauren Boot (below) for way too long, by the time I had saved up to buy it, it had vanished from the shelves. These lovelies now exist only in virtual shopping areas in a size 3 or in yellow. (I'm a size 5 Terra Plana, if you're reading this and have a few spare black pairs).

Terra Plana Lauren Boot
I feel that the next part of the story is all due to the slight loss I feel by not owning a pair of the Lauren Boots. I have no ankle boots, and although I am searching for flat, black, practical but different, wearable but interesting (obviously responsibly sourced and manufactured) the look of the Lauren boot has always stayed with me in a search for something similar to take its place.

So, finding myself exploring the new Shoe Galleries in Selfridges on Saturday (along with a million other people) I was not impressed with any of the black flat boots I tried on. I was about to leave, wondering how much it would really cost to repair my favourite yet sadly unwearable original Terra Plana pair, when I walked past these black suede Siri boots in All Saints...

All Saints Black Suede Siri Boot
See a resemblance to the Lauren's? I know All Saints isn't at the cutting edge of innovative sustainable design, but they would be a good investment, surely?...I tried them on, squashed between other women trying on similar All Saints styles, commenting on how lovely they all are. I had a walk around in them and felt insantly Rock Chic...but was I really going to buy this slightly impractical yet stunning pair AND a pair of black flat ones? No, too much money. As I put them back in the box, still undecided, a keen sales assistant appeared. "I love these boots, we've sold SO many pairs of these today". Ah. That decided it. I left the Shoe Galleries pretty quickly without my essential Rock Chic footwear realising that however special I felt wearing them, at least 200, 300 + other rock chick boot lovers all over the country had felt the exact same way. I don't think that thought would put many people off...but for me there is no bigger turn off to buy something than knowing it is the most popular item. It is for this reason, not environmental issues, why I began making my own clothes, yet I am not blessed with the ability, nor equipment to make my own shoes. Reminded of my love for the niche and unique (yet affordable) I shall go back to finding small labels run by responsible designers trying to make a difference.

Oh, and until I can get my boots fixed I found my next purchase:

Terra Plana Black Birch Boot

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

BBC Blast @ V&A Fashion Festival

BBC Blast and the V&A have collaborated to create a unique schedule of FREE fashion workshops aimed at 13-19 year olds who are keen to find out more about the fashion industry and ask advice from industry insiders. Saturday 2nd October will see the first dedicated fashion workshop programme organised by BBC Blast and the V&A Sackler Centre. The free workshops include fashion styling, hair and beauty demonstrations, learning how to knit, fashion upcycle, fashion illustration, photoshop skills for image transfer and a live Q&A with Erin O'Connor!

For more information visit the website:

Visit the website to register and pre-book your preferred workshop. Many are drop in, so come along and see what's on offer. Plus it's another great excuse to get down to the ever inspiring V&A museum.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Yellow Dress

Colin and Livia Firth at the BAFTAS 2010
Me wearing the dress August 2010

After falling in love with the yellow Leila Hafzi dress on Livia Firth's Green Carpet Challenge blog on the Vogue website, finding it on the Oxfam E-Bay site, placing my bids, eagerly awaiting the deadline, becoming the successful bidder and making slight alterations, I finally wore it to Laura and Duncan's wedding!

I thoroughly enjoyed wearing it, it is such a comfortable yet beautiful dress - and I greatly enjoyed telling people the story of how I aquired it.

Having a story to tell about a garment you love is something really special. Whether it is associated with a previous owner, an unusual shopping experience or has been created or customised by the wearer or loved ones, the story of a garment is something that has the potential to connect people more to the clothing they wear. It would be so great to hear more stories of clothing when I enquire in the future about someone's outfit of choice.

Friday, September 17, 2010

CSF@Estethica - Martina Spetlova

CSF@Estethica - Romina Karamanea

CSF@Estethica - Josie Beckett

CSF@Estethica - Borders and Frontiers

CSF @ Esthetica LFW Sept.2010

Another season and another fantastic range of exhibitors at Estethica. The Centre for Sustainable Fashion is based at LCF and is an hub "interacting with fashion education, research and the wider industry". As part of the Business Support Programme, CSF @ Estethica is profiling the work of 4 designers enrolled on the programme who are working to improve the sustainability credentials of their business. This season they are: (from left to right on the image below). Martina Spetlova, Borders and Frontiers, Romina Karamenea, Josie Beckett.

Monday, September 13, 2010

THTC Upcycling

After meeting Gav from THTC and helping out this week with the NOI collective workshops at the START Garden Party to Make a Difference, I was inspired to set myself a THTC upcycle project:


2x small t-shirts (as below)
1x waistband

1) Cut off the sleeves from t-shirt 1
2) Cut the bottom half of the t-shirt off
3) Stitch waistband to the bottom of the shortened t-shirt

4) Slice the neckline off the 2nd t-shirt
5) Stitch the top of t-shirt 2 to the bottom of the waistband
6) Fold the sleeves inside the dress and turn into pockets
7) Stitch the bottom part of t-shirt 1 to the bottom of t-shirt 2
(unless you would prefer a minidress!)

I wore my upcycled THTC dress to the Sunday workshops at the START Garden Party and inspired many youngsters to have a go at remaking a t-shirt.
(see for further images)