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5 tips that will have you thrifting like a boss

Shop where the ‘posh’ people live

You know where I am talking about. The posh neighbourhoods where the LuLu wearing, ladies of leisure brunch mid-week, because let’s be real, only suckers have jobs.

It’s these op-shops that may just have us common people walking away with those one off unicorn finds that you’ll forever be boasting about. I guess rich people ain’t so bad after all!

Check the care tags

It’s considerably easy to determine a high quality piece with a simple touch, but if you’re a little clueless in this department, check the care tag. If the tag says the item should be dry cleaned there’s a good chance it’s made from high quality materials.

There are however some cheeky fast fashion brands that frivolously slap the dry cleaning label on whole collections. The reason being that they know very little about the fabrics that make up their collection and by dry cleaning them they are less likely to fall apart.

Where was the piece made? On the rare but glorious occasion I’ll stumble across an item made in Italy or France and when I do, I am happy dancing my way to the register. It’s these babies that tend to be higher in quality and less likely to be mass produced by the fast fashion giants.

Get outta’ town

I rarely walk passed a second hand shop without stopping, so it’s safe to say I’ve been to a lot. More often than not it’s the well trodden op-shops in cities that disappoint, so if you really want to find some treasures, take a trip out to the burbs. When I lived in Sydney I would trek to the western suburbs to explore the less gentrified areas and always found unique vintage pieces.

Small country towns are also where it’s at and who doesn’t love exploring quaint little towns mid road trip? Some of my unicorns have been found in the cutest, teeny, tiny towns throughout Canada and Australia.

Dress appropriately

Ok as an Australian this is super important and i’m sure my fellow Aussies would agree that there’s not much worse than trying on clothes in a non air conditioned thrift store, in the middle of summer. So take it from me, one who has ditched some of the best, because I wanted to look like a rock star in my skinny jeans and leather jacket.

My advice?

Wear a loose fitting dress – This way you’re easily able to try on bottoms if the change room isn’t free, because there’s no way you’re going to get out of those high waisted Nudies that took you 10 minutes to get into.

A strapless bra – For obvious reasons, no straps!

Slip on shoes – Ain’t nobody got time for laces.

I know I know, I like to look cute AF while op-shopping too, but you’ll slay those shops and walk away with the best haul if you’re dressed appropriately, I promise.

Know your size

So this has taken me half a lifetime to learn, especially when it comes to wearing appropriate footwear. I spent a lot of time squishing my feet into the cutest vintage size 6’s, when my fat feet are undeniably a size 7. Not only did it make it painful to walk but it left my feet swollen with blisters. Alas, I’ve now accepted my fat feet and leave the intricately designed, Italian made mid heels for the horribly lovely size 6 ladies. Yeah, you’re welcome.

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We need to talk about your ‘Hand me Downs’

I love flea markets, maybe you picked up on that? I especially love flea markets in other countries. There’s nothing quite like sussing out the best second hand clothing in foreign countries. Yesterday, Wayan our lovely Balinese driver was rattling off all the different things to do in Ubud – Rice paddie walk, jungle trekking, second hand clothing market, cycle tour… Wait, what? Second hand clothing market? Do I just subconsciously scream, “take me to your second hand everything market!” or is this an actual touristy thing to do? (I totally scream that, who am I kidding?) and why I was surprised I don’t know, especially since Indonesia is one of the leading countries that receive imported clothing from the western world.

After convincing my fellow travel companions, we of course worked in a cheeky visit to the Pejang second hand market just before the Gianyar night market. Visiting the Pejang second hand market reminded me again of the unfathomable amount of clothing that is currently in circulation around the globe. Think piles and piles of mostly unsorted clothes from Japan, china and America, all laid out on tarps on the ground. I didn’t really go to buy anything as I am currently traveling and need to be as light as possible on the clothing front, but I really just wanted to check it out.

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see used clothing getting a second life and not slowly (and I mean really slowly) rotting away in landfill, but it highlighted yet another issue that the fast fashion industry has created.

The importation of used clothing from other countries is illegal in Indonesia and many other countries like India, China and throughout Africa.

Of the bags and bags of clothing you have donated some of it is bought by larger wholesale second hand traders and sold off to many third world countries. The reason why it is illegal is because the importation of used clothing is flooding and slowly killing local clothing markets along with traditional clothing craftsmanship.

Importing and selling used clothing is often a very lucrative trade for many locals and although it has been made illegal in many countries, policing this can be incredibly difficult, especially in countries like Indonesia where the coast lines are huge with many potential ports.

This then of course stirred up some conflictual debate. Am I now meant to give up my passion for shopping at used clothing markets when I am visiting a different country? Two words. Heck. No.

By focusing on ripple effect problems, we tend to overlook the bigger picture, which is of course the fast fashion industry.

This issue should be acknowledged along with all the other issues that have been created by the fast fashion industry, but we need to continue to put pressure on fast fashion giants by continuing to demand transparency and being conscious about where we spend our money.

In saying that, the used clothing industry has also created loads of new opportunity for local traders. Buying a bale of imported clothing is affordable and the potential profit made is quite high. The demand for used clothing in Indonesia is continuously growing as more and more Indonesians desire different styles at more affordable prices. So although it is having a negative effect on local business, it is still creating new opportunity for people AND giving used clothing a second life, saving it from landfill for a few more years. So just like any business model in this world, if you are no longer providing what the customer wants and you are unwilling to change, then how can you expect to survive as a business?

How very controversially capitalist of me!

I wholeheartedly agree that traditional clothing craftsmanship should be preserved as much as possible, and I think this is only another reason among the many as to why our consumption of things, specifically clothing, needs to slow the heck down.

So what is the answer?

Applying restrictions on fast fashion giants regarding the amount of clothing they are allowed to produce? What about laws that require giants to use a certain percentage of recycled materials in their product?

Maybe that’s unrealistic, as where there is money to be made, there is very little chance that restrictive laws could ever be applied especially since climate change, global warming and all environmental science is struggling for a political forefront in many apparent forward thinking countries. Australia embarrassingly being one of the main contenders.

If we can’t introduce laws to restrict fast fashion chains, we can reduce the demand of clothing from them.

Don’t think your purchases or lack of purchases make a difference? Large chains like H&M are beginning to feel the pressure, in fact H&M is the largest user of organic cotton worldwide and they’ve even released a sustainability report which details information on all aspects of H&M’s supply chain. (http://goodonyou.org.au/the-ethics-of-fast-fashion-hm-and-zara/) This is a HUGE step in the right direction, but this isn’t to say that H&M should be your number one place to purchase your clothes as there’s is still A LOT of work to be done, but these changes prove that if we continue to demand change, change will happen!

So I say, keep shopping second hand no matter what country you are in. Second hand for life yo!

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Everything you need to know about the leather industry

Every year, the global leather industry slaughters more than a billion animals and tans their skins and hides to create leather. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) Whether you’re a vegetarian/vegan or not, that stat is disturbing. But if you know anything about factory farming, it’s really not that surprising.

I use to justify buying leather because like many people I have spoken to, we just assume leather is a by product from the meat industry and if the skins aren’t turned into leather, then we’re just being distastefully wasteful (Not that anything about factory farming is tasteful)

The leather misconception

But this is the main misconception. Somehow buying products that are made out of the skin from dead animals is justified simply because it would go to waste otherwise. It’s a general consideration that leather is a by-product of factory farming, but this isa weak argument considering the disgusting practices that take place in order to obtain said leather and the fact that leather is the most profitable ‘by product’ of the meat industry (Deng-Cheng Liu, “Better Utilization of By-Products From the Meat Industry)

By buying leather you are still directly contributing to its demand and the horrific practices of factory farming used to obtain said leather.

Factory farming is part of the fast fashion industry

In order to create leather, animals must endure the same horrors of factory farming, think overcrowding and confinement, un-anesthetized castration, dehorning and skinning, starvation and general all round, cruel treatment.

Majority of the world’s leather comes from countries like China and India of whom have very few laws to abide by when it comes to animal, worker and environmental welfare. By no means can the western world be proud of the way they treat animals in factory farms but due to the very few laws that exist in China and India, the poor treatment of farm animals in these countries really has no limit.

Cows are considered holy creatures in certain parts of India and it is known that they are forced to march without food or water for days across borders for slaughter to avoid breaking local laws, not to mention how they are treated if they are too tired to continue. Think beatings, stabbings and the use of chillie peppers which are rubbed in the eyes of cows. These practices barely scratch the surface.

It’s very common practice in China to not only slaughter cows for their skin but also dogs and cats (Not that a dog or cat’s life is more important than a cow’s) but your favourite hand bag could be made from the skin of man’s best friend (Insert stereotypical dog’s name here) and of course the reason for that is because there are no regulatory laws in place surrounding the labelling of said leather and their origins.

The environmental and health Impact of the leather industry

Another misconception with leather is the ridiculous notion that it is far more sustainable because it decomposes faster than unnatural materials. Uhh No. Leather undergoes the tanning process to prevent it from decomposing by stabilising the collagen and protein fibres, therefore leather can take up to 12 years to fully decompose. 12 years is a huge amount of time for an apparent ‘natural’ material to sit in landfill.

During the 1800’s animal skins were air dried and tanned with vegetable oils and tannins, however the industry has changed dramatically where we now use dangerous chemicals like Formaldehyde, Chrome, Natrium and Ammonium salts. Ok those words may not mean much to you, but over exposure to said chemicals have led to debilitating diseases and genetic deformities in future generations of those who work in the leather tanning industry, not to mention the damaging effect the chemical waste has on our communities, waterways, ecosystems and wildlife

Oh and FYI, factory farming is the single largest contributor to global warming and climate change. (Meat the truth documentary)

How can I put this simply?

In order to house and feed livestock, rainforests are cleared in order to create space. This then means there are less trees to do their thang, i.e. capture carbon dioxide through photosynthesis (so basically clean the air of pollutants) then the livestock fart all day everyday only releasing methane gases into the atmosphere.

Where the heck are the trees to clean this shit up? OHH that’s right, we cut them all down because, yay MEAT AND LEATHER!  Soz rant city.

What are the alternatives?

There are stacks of alternatives to leather but the alternatives can be quite conflictual. The main reason as to why leather has been in use for such a long time is because of its amazing durability and the fact that it lasts for frikking ever (If cared for correctly of course)

So yeah, I get it, and although some would argue that leather IS the more sustainable option because it’s less likely to fall apart and we’re likely to keep it in our wardrobe for longer, one must keep in mind the horrific leather making processes.

Although vegan leather is kinder to animals, majority of faux leather options are super unsustainable as they are often made from synthetic materials some of which can be dangerous to humans and the environment. “Some types of faux leather make use of petroleum-derived materials. These can include polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that can be harmful to health because it contains chlorine that also is bad for the planet as it causes pollution. Besides for chlorine, PVC also contains toxic additives such as lead” (Giulia Simolo)

There is so much information out there and researching our every purchase can be exhausting, so it’s easy to become greenwashed with deceiving marketing terms like ‘faux’ ‘vegan friendly’ ‘green’ ‘imitation’ etc etc as many of these terms aren’t actually regulated.

Unfortunately the leather debate is a vast spectrum of colours that nobody likes, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t, but by being aware you can indeed make better decisions.

Only buy second hand leather

There are so many beautiful second hand and vintage leather goods out there. By buying second hand, you are no longer directly contributing to the demand of leather production. You are also giving that beautiful tooled leather handbag a second life and saving it from landfill for at least another few years.

Be a legend with your unique handbag while doing your little bit to care about the earth.

Only buy from reputable alternative leather brands – Piñatex

Piñatex Piñatex Piñatex!! I am SO excited to tell you about Piñatex. Piñatex is an innovative sustainable, non-woven textile made from the waste fibres of pineapple leaves. Sourced and made in the Phillipines, Piñatex has provided new industry and provides additional jobs and income for farmers.

Piñatex is a more sustainable alternative to leather and other petroleum based products by leaps and bounds and is comparable to animal leather in durability, texture, and versatility. Unlike animal leathers, no extra land, water, fertilisers and pesticides are required to produce Piñatex as the by product from pineapples is used in its production, truly encompassing the cradle to cradle approach.

Although Piñatex is not yet fully biodegradable post manufacturing, it is compostable under the right conditions. It is an innovative material and Ananas Anam (the company that discovered and produce Piñatex) are looking to develop the product to be fully biodegradable. So watch this space!

Piñatex have also been certified as a ‘Vegan Fashion label’ by PETA AND have received PETA’s innovation award in 2015 alongside Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood and Simone Rocha.

 

I cannot express my excitement and love for this amazing material enough, and am so excited to see it grow in popularity, so here are a list of companies that are already using Piñatex to make their products

Po-Zu

ello v black piñatex

Vegemoda pinana bags

Rombaut sneakers

BASS pineapple sneaker with rubber sole BLACK