Rebel Book Club is a non-fiction book club with 1000+ members across 7 cities. For February’s theme ‘Fast Fashion’, we read the eye-opening book Fashionopolis by Dana Thomas. As part of our club’s mission to put our learnings into action, we have created sustainable fashion guides for our Rebel Cities. This is our guide to sustainable fashion in Bristol…
For our Bristol meetup, we were delighted to host Emma Gorton-Ellicott who is the fashion editor at Bristol 24/7, where she promotes local Bristol sustainable designers, creatives and brands. She is also an activist, supporting sustainable and ‘slow’ fashion via her blog, No Debutante, and she runs her own Bristol-based slow fashion label, Fruit Salad. Emma confesses that she used to be a fast fashion lover, until she saw tonnes of wasted clothing (often still with labels on) that were going to end up in landfill and it has totally changed the way she follows fashion.
Emma was a goldmine of sustainable fashion knowledge and we are so excited to share our Q+A with her!
For those of you in a hurry, scroll down and you can find our top tips for avoiding fast fashion and shopping all things sustainable fashion in Bristol (and beyond!)…
10 tips to avoid fast fashion and embrace sustainable fashion:
- Stop the social media wear once mentality
- Learn how to make your own clothes (or at least sew on buttons, hem etc.)
- Pass on clothes you no longer wear to someone else
- Stop the obsession with trends
- Avoid nylon and other non-biodegradable fabrics
- Support the Circular Economy – i.e. stop using new fabrics
- Stop buying more than you need
- End the obsession with labels
- Challenge yourself to a Capsule Wardrobe e.g. Labour Behind the Label #sixitemschallenge
- SLOW DOWN
Emma explains that it’s really important to watch out for the Instagram ‘wear once mentality’, she suggests: ‘Follow positive people who are nice and encouraging back! Most people don’t even notice what you are wearing and when you last wore it! Start wearing the same clothes on Instagram styled up in different ways, this is what makes you unique’. Another great tip is learning to make and mend your own clothes: ‘Teach yourself a new skill, follow free tutorials on YouTube’.
Handy list of upcycling + repair workshops in Bristol:
- Sewing, dress + shirt making at Bristol Textile Quarter
- Earring Making Workshops with Sophie Filomena
- Pattern Cutting with Nina Redman
- Fashion courses people under 25 with Creative Youth Network
- Jokoto Tailoring can help you with the trickier upcycling bits!
- Palace Flophouse offer garment recreation + designers can recreate their own designs in your size, using your fabric at no extra cost.
By creating a Circular Economy and taking part in Clothes Swaps, ‘we reuse resources we already have’ and ‘help to put an end to the mass produced wear once and dump culture.’
What if you can’t afford to break up with fast fashion?
Understandably people assume that buying sustainably is more expensive, but as Emma says, ‘we have been spoilt by fast fashion and its super low prices, so much so that we refuse to part with our money for quality and sustainably made items. If an item is made sustainably and is a high quality, it will last years longer than those fast fashion pieces. Watch out for brands that claim they are sustainable but are really ‘green washing‘. Do your research!’ What’s that old phrase again… Buy Cheap, Buy Twice?
To throw yourself into sustainable fashion, Emma recommends buying from charity shops, vintage and pre-loved fashions. She says ‘it’s also more fun than shopping on the high street and you can find unique gems at very low prices, saving an item from landfill and often donating money to a charity!’
Best places to find and shop for sustainable fashion in Bristol:
- Heartfelt vintage
- Beyond Retro
- Good store studio
- Duvet Days
- Give Wear Love
- That Thing
- Carny Valley
- Emotional Waterfall
- Dakota Rae Dust
By looking out for local designers like the ones on this list, you will also ‘support independent designers, who create small fashion runs with less waste, making their garments unique. They are also handmade, so the quality will usually be very high and will last!’
For more top tips, check out our Rebel Book Club x Fast Fashion Podcast, featuring our star author Dana Thomas…
We hope you’ve found this helpful! Thank you so much to Emma Gorton-Ellicott for all of her amazing tips and local knowledge, and to our Rebel Book Club Bristol members for all of their insightful questions!
If our Bristol tribe sound like your kind of people, we have new themes, non-fiction books, cocktails and meetups every month! Simply head to the Rebel Book Club – Bristol page to sign up as a Rebel Book Club member. To see a bit more of who we are and what we’re about, follow @RebelBookClub on Instagram.