In honour of Fashion Revolution week, I’m interviewing the people behind some of my favourite responsible fashion brands. Since Fashion Revolution is all about asking who made my clothes lets get to know the people who make our clothes a little better. Today I’m talking to Rhiannon from Vintage Style Me which is a fab ethical brand with a real vintage feel.
Could you introduce yourself and tell me about your brand?
My name is Rhiannon, I’m 29 and I started Vintage Style Me 6 years ago. It started out of a love of vintage fashion and recycling people’s unwanted clothing. I would spend my free time hunting charity shops and car boot sales, picking up frumpy dresses, waste fabric and big blouses which I would then take home and re-work into something fashion forward, unique and totally wearable.
From this, I began looking into deadstock fabric, vintage fabrics and got in touch with English fabric suppliers. I designed my own dress patterns; our best seller being the anti-tailored smock shape which still remains our most love shape, and now make all of our designs to order from my home studio in Cheltenham. With our off cuts, I make our ‘pocket t-shirts’ which are really fun and make great little gifts (and minimise our waste!)
It’s Fashion Revolution week right now, why do you think Fashion Revolution and the slow fashion movement are important?
I’ve always been a supporter of Fashion Revolution. Its so important to know where your clothes come from, in the same way, you should know where your food comes from. It breaks my heart to go into low-end high street stores and just see the utter disrespect people and the stores have for clothes and the time it took someone to make them. People need to be aware that if you can pick up an item of clothing new for under a tenner, someone suffered somewhere. It takes time and skill to make a garment, and people really need to be educated and learn to look after clothing, and not just throw things away. Its really great that certain high street stores are introducing ethical/conscious ranges, and I hope this is the beginning of a new look for the high street, although it will take time and will require a lot of consumer support.
Could you tell me about how you ensure your brand remains ethical/sustainable?
Due to all of our clothing being made by myself, I know its history from start to finish. VSM has been and always will be sweatshop free. I also make all of my products to order, so I don’t have stock lying around. If a certain product doesn’t do well, I just don’t list it anymore, I don’t have the worry of trying to sell off or get rid of a box of undesirable items. Our fabric is mostly vintage or deadstock, and our much loved William Morris designs are printed by a lovely company in Leeds. We recycle are off cuts to make pocket squares or to local quilters.
Price is often given as a barrier to ethical fashion. Could you tell me the average price of your pieces? (If they are £100+ please explain the higher cost eg fair wages, quality, materials etc)
Our prices range from a wallet friendly £20 for pocket t-shirts, and our dresses range from £35 to £60 including our “design your own dress” which is really fun if you’re feeling creative!) I wanted to keep my prices inline with the highstreet, so there wasn’t an excuse for people. I think its really important that ethical fashion is accessible to everyone.
What are your top tips for consumers looking to make more ethical purchases?
My top tips for ethical fashion is to perhaps start with vintage shopping, I find it really satisfying to find a hidden gem, and there’s something really special about owning a garment that’s been around for 40 years already. I always wonder about its previous life and who wore it and to where! Instagram is also a great way to start, searching a hashtag like #ethicalclothing or #handmade clothing. It will open you up to hundreds of new independent brands who are all doing their bit for a sustainable future. A lot of people feel that the problem is too big, or that whatever they do won’t make a difference. But even the smallest difference can really add up. Choosing to buy from an ethical seller rather than a corporate chain, even just once can really help. It lessens the supply for fast fashion and gives that small brand the chance to buy new materials, advertising, or just pay a bill. Small brands are nothing without their customers, and each sale is a true joy everytime you get that ping! in your inbox!
*Photos published with permission from Vintage Style Me