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Thrift Store

Sustainable fashion: How to hunt for the perfect ethical outfit in Birmingham?

Occasionally someone revives my old college group chat by sparking an interesting moral or ethical debate surrounding some personal dilemma...this week it was ethical fashion and how to find it.

Well, if you're in Birmingham, you've got loads of options to find the perfect outfit with no cost to the environment.

Your first stop should be your wardrobe: is there anything you could alter, or simply re-wear? The second stop is your friends' wardrobes: can you borrow anything from them? If you're buying an outfit for a particular event, save yourself some money and borrow it!

Ethical clothing events:
Saturday 6th April: Swapshop at Aston University
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Swapshops are back! TOMORROW from 1-4pm. We are teaming up with @enactusaston to bring you 3 student friendly swapshops right on your doorstep- at Bentley House, Aston University Campus. These swapshops will be in an ideal student location but are actually open to all! How do swapshops work? 1. Bring up to 5 items of clothing  2. Sign in  3. Your clothing will be checked for any stains, tears, or personalised clothing/uniforms 4. Browse our LGBTQ+ friendly rails. Our stock is organised by rainbow colour allowing you to be completely creative with your choices. We believe clothes have no gender.  5. Pick up to 5 items of clothing  6. Sign out Who are Enactus? Enactus team of students at @AstonUniversity is developing sustainable local projects to tackle the greatest challenges facing society and the environment. We are co-hosting the Swapshop hoping to reduce environmental waste by reusing and recycling clothes in a fun environment. • • • • #ethicalfashion #bethechange #ethical #birmingham #zerowaste #consciousconsumer #swapshop #enactus #astonuniversity

A post shared by Here’s Real (@heresreal) on

Here's Real are a community interest company promoting ethical fashion in Birmingham. They run workshops, talks, and Swapshops. In March they ran an embroidery workshop in Medicine Bakery where you could learn a fun way to repurpose your tired clothes (meaning you don't need to instantly buy a new outfit)—if you missed this there'll be plenty more chances to attend one of their workshops!

Anyway, this Saturday they're coming together with Enactus Aston to bring you another Swapshop (okay, so it does look like tickets are sold out, but keep your eye on the Eventbrite page or go along anyway)

Saturday 6th April: Under A Tenner Vintage Clothing Fair at The Custard Factory

If you don't make it to the Swapshop this Saturday don't worry, head down to Digbeth and grab some lovely vintage goodies at this fair, where everything is less than a tenner! Levi's for £9 is not an offer to be missed. Who said vintage needs to be expensive?! It costs £1 to get in, but that still means those Levi's have only cost £10, which is at least £60 less than retail.

You can find details of the event on the Facebook page, and you'll be able to pay on the door.

Saturday 27th April: Thrifty Store Poundsale & Kilo Sale

Okay, so there's very little information on this one, but Thrifty Store, who hold pop-up shops in Digbeth have a note in their bio on Instagram stating that they've got an event on the 27th of April; between 11 am and 4 pm they're holding a pound sale and kilo sale in Arch 21 on Gibb Street (basically opposite Ghetto Golf). Their events are lively and colourful providing some fantastic offers, so be sure to check it out if you need something new.

Sunday 28th April: Vintage Kilo Sale at The Custard Factory

The wonderful Vintage Clothing Kilo Sale is back in Birmingham on the 28th of April at The Custard Factory (I mean, where else?!). Kilo sales are a great opportunity to change up your wardrobe as you can get a kilo of clothes (hence the name) for just £15!

Saturday 18th May: Stacey Dooley Investigates Fashion's Dirty Secrets Screening & Panel Discussion

Okay, apologies for the lengthy introduction, but Here's Real are back again, this time showing you Stacey Dooley's Fashion's Dirty Secretes documentary followed by a panel discussion featuring some leading names in fair, responsible and sustainable practices in the fashion industry and beyond.

This event takes place at the Bristol Pear in Selly Oak. Tickets are £8 (£5 for students and 2 for £10) on Eventbrite, but get them quick as there are not many left!

How to shop a kilo sale successfully:
1. Get there early

This particular event offers Earlybird and Super Earlybird tickets if you're really keen. All items are individual and won't be restocked during the day, so if you're turn up just before the end you won't have much choice left, trust me.

2. Don't be scared by items which need a little TLC

Everything for sale is used, and probably quite old, so it's likely that your perfect jacket has a hole in it, or that flannel shirt has a button missing: buy it anyway and stick a patch over the hole and sew a new button on. These clothes are just like you and need a little attention sometimes!

3. Shop light if you want more for your money

It may seem obvious, but you'll want to look for smaller and lighter items: shop tops and windbreakers if you're on a budget. This being said, if you are looking for some bargain Docs or denim, then ignore me...

Where else you can buy sustainable fashion:
Charity shops:
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Oh and it saves you money ?? who wouldn’t want that ? Hands up if your proud to shop second hand for all these reasons and more ???? I know I know you probably think it’s gross to wear someone else’s clothes! I did too! My assumption of thrift shops that I would never find anything nice or worth while because it’s everyone else’s cast offs ??‍♀️ The stuff no one else wanted... why would I want that? That changed on the very first day I stepped into a thrift store and found the nicest Allsaints dress that look like it had never been touched and a cute topshop dress that still had the tags attached! I quickly realized that people are crazy and a lot of these donated clothes have only actually been worn a few times and tons of it is still brand new never been worn with the tags on! ? So far in 2019 I haven’t bought a single thing from a regular retail store and I actually can’t remember the last time I did ? Yes you have to hunt for those finds but it is oh so worth it ??? Whatever your reason for shopping second hand just know that it is the best possible choice for the environment and your bank balance ?? oh and if you don’t shop second hand... why the heck not? Image - @ajtheillustrator

A post shared by Jennifer (@abritishposher) on

There are some great charity shops in the City Centre, as well as Moseley, Kings Heath and Harborne. Charity shops are a great place to buy clothes because they're really cheap (so many goodies for under a fiver and your money is going to a good cause.) I am not going to name any in particular because you never know which will be good—their stock changes all the time, and you have to spend a little time browsing (but don't give up, because you never know what you could be missing!), be sure to check out other sections as well, I bought most of my kitchen things for uni from a charity shop for literally a few quid.

The Oasis:
View this post on Instagram

Reliving my yoof. Vintage clothing, band posters and other tat

A post shared by Me (@noreasonijustlikeit) on

The Oasis is quite literally an oasis of little shops and traders on Corporation Street offering a huge variety of vintage clothes, accessories, funky new clothes, records, tattoos and more. This Birmingham institution has been serving up quirky fashion since the 1970s, holds regular events, and has far more to it than first meets the eye.

COW Vintage:

If you're looking for a way to treat yourself to some vintage treats, check out COW Vintage in Digbeth who offer some really funky vintage clothes. It's important to keep in mind that although COW does sell some cool items, they're charging you over-the-odds for amendments you could make yourself (such as cutting off the bottom of a jumper)—you could do this to the clothes you already own!

For more information on sustainable fashion and places you can buy new, check out Amber Sunner's article about sustainable fashion on a student budget. But remember, buying new should always be your last option (except underwear, you're allowed to buy that new, just consider where you're getting it).

Featured image: Prudence Earl on Unsplash

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