6 Items Challenge 2018: six items for six weeks, could you do it?

6 Items Challenge 2018: six items for six weeks, could you do it?

Since discovering Labour Behind the Label a few years ago, I have been looking for ways to support their work and have partaken in the #6itemschallenge twice now.

The campaign aims to show how little we can wear if we put our minds to it, teach us about a sustainable wardrobe – and think more about those who produce our clothing. LBTL directly support textiles workers all over the globe, and aim to bring awareness to consumers and a living wage to those working with insufficient wages, or often, none at all.

At time of press, workers at a factory in Istanbul are seeking the help of LBTL to recoup 3 months of unpaid wages from Zara, Next and Mango. You would think that such high street giants could afford to compensate their workers, but incidents such as the Rana Plaza disaster show us that fast fashion giants are loathe to accept any culpability for standards at their productions bases, and this is where the challenge comes in.

Show the stores that dominate our high street that we can live with less, and make the commitment to pay more, repairing, swapping, and upcycling all items you buy – cradle to grave. Valuing our clothes gives value to the craft of workers who produce them for us, and reinforces our links to artisans.

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So what is the challenge?

  • 6 weeks
  • 6 items
  • unlimited changes of shoes, accessories, coats, underwear etc
  • uniforms and activewear are also allowed – but if you wear your gym gear all day, conscience dictatesit becomes part of your 6 items
  • crowdfund to support the work of LBTL

How i started:

The first time i undertook the challenge i freaked out for days about what my six items should be – literally brought myself  to tears (what an idiot), whereas this year i pretty much threw six pieces on the end of my clothing rail and went for it!

I would recommend a middle ground between these extremes…

I err towards skirts and dresses so i excluded any jeans from my choices – trousers rarely fit my big butt / long leg combo, and i love hosiery so it was a no brainer.

thumbnailWhat did i choose?

  • Blue pencil length dress
  • Plain black mini stretch skirt
  • Leopard print shift dress
  • Black v back jumper
  • Breton stripe 3/4 length sleeve top
  • Washed out denim shirt

My choices seem coincidentally similar for both years, and i felt layering was important in the chilly weather!

The problems:

I straight away regretted not tying on my clothes, and after a recent bout of weight training, the leopard dress feels tight around my arms, but i’m persevering and looking in to ways i can re-tailor the piece to fit better – perhaps some lace sleeves to replace the cap sleeves?

I have also felt cold on occasion, but as a lover of big scarves, simply utilise my favourite shawls.

I also have a few dates lined up and am unsure if any of my outfits will suit the venues…time to get creative with shoes!

I also seem to need a new smart coat – but will be looking into repairing the one i have first, and will let you know how it goes.28070788_824905194363336_2703870495854945264_o

The benefits:

IT MAKES DRESSING SO EASY! I have a tiny selection and they all go fairly well, and just like last year, no one EVER notices my repeat wears. In fact it a great chance to play around with hair and make up a bit.

Plus i have ruthlessly gutted my wardrobe and will be selling the pieces i love but just don’t wear, and taking anything else to the clothes swap i am co-organising with Easton Energy Group…with the aim of bringing little or nothing back. Even a sustainable fashion bod like myself has FAR too many clothes, but none will go to waste!

 

Why not join in yourself and let me know about your journey? If i can do it anyone can!

 

 

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Sustainable Gym Wear: get up and go the ethical way!

I have become a 2018 gym-bore.

In fact my gym journey began in 2017 when a very athletic ex of mine reintroduced me to the wonders of working out in a much more fun and practical way. Since then I’ve been hooked, and knowing lots of PTs and gym bunnies, I’m now known to post my check ins and PBs to social media; and i couldn’t be more happy.

Train is good for brain!

At first i had enough residual active wear to cover my first few months, but with my changing shape and regular gym jaunts, i have found i needed at least three sets of gym clothes – plus pieces suitable for certain workouts and just for where by body is at sometimes.

Being based out the back of a charity depot at the time, i was able to pick up a few pieces of pre-loved gym wear – this is more common than often thought due to the changing sizes of those using it, and of course the very body conscious nature of a workout environment. You wanna look good!

So here are my tips to a sustainable workout wardrobe:

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Teeki leggigngs

Borrow, swap, swish.

Now the January fitness rush is over, there will be a lot of unused lycra hanging in peoples wardrobes, so why not get a few of you together and swap fitness tips as well as clothing. Even putting up an ad in your local gym or leisure centre can build into quite an event.

 

 

 

I’ll be co-hosting a swish with Easton Energy Group in Bristol next month, and active wear is one thing I’m really hoping to find!

More tips of organising your own swish in next weeks blog.

Second hand shop.

A lot of charity shops don’t display second hand active wear as people can be reluctant to buy it – but like any other well washed garment – gym wear is safe to wear if you give it a quick wash yourself first! I have often come across unworn gym wear in charity or second hand shops, and E-bay can be a goldmine for such items.

Adapt what you have.

A lot of tees, vests, and even leggings are more than suitable for your workout, and with a little clever cutting and sewing leggings can become shorts, and old t-shirts can be vests.

Sports vest tutorial to follow!

 

Buy ethical.

Certain items such as sports bras, or trainers are best bought new /unused so check out ethical brands for these. Yes, they are more expensive than the high street, but low prices are just what we are used to – ethical fashion and quality cost money.

Brands such as Teeki, and PHVLO are producing eco friendly clothing, and even Ellesse have items produced from recycled plastics. H&M conscious range is much lauded amongst fitness fans, but you wont find Kecks promoting such an unethical fast fashion brand.

Shop for natural fibre wherever possible!

 

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Wash well.

Observing wash labels is especially important to stretch and plastic based fabrics, so wash cool and as little as possible to maintain integrity.

Airing sweaty clothes in direct sunlight will often do the job a few times – give it a try!

Using delicates bags and even a pillow case can also help prevent the distribution of microfibres into our oceans – microfibres now account for 85% of shoreline pollution (Plastic Pollution Coalition) so avoiding synthetic fibres and preventing the spread during washing is important.

 

Let me know your ethical brand favourites and tips!

Second Hand Xmas tips!

Second Hand Xmas tips!

At a reuse centre like Emmaus Bristol, the festive season can be a strenuous time – so many donations come in as people make space for new stuff, and for an upcycler like me, it’s time to encourage people to rethink before they buy.

Only 1% of the things we buy are in use six months later (1millionwomen), so Xmas is an opportunity for waste prevention, one way you can seize the chance, is to make a gift yourself!

Here at Emmaus, we get a lot of denim donations, and with the influx of fast fashion, its hard to keep up. One of the things we do at Kecks Clothing is to teach simple upcycling tips, and denim embroidery is a classic way to update your denim and create a unique gift.

25152122_10156074505407174_4678290064157991065_nAll you will need is an embroidery hoop, thread (or wool), embroidery needle, an old denim jacket/shirt/skirt/ shorts/jeans, and a design you’d like to apply!

Designs can be as simple or complex as you like – and can be added to over time, by yourself or the person you gift it to! here I tried out a simple rose design and was more than happy with the result!

16991618_666219850231872_4375684461475421749_oThis old shirt was transformed, and the customer who bought it was surprised that the shirt was upcyled.

Simplicity is often the key, and the internet is full of great patterns to follow.

 

This skull design has been so popular with Kecks that we’ve made a few now, and even include it in our workshops. Its a great cover up for stains, or some great visible mending for holes or tears.

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Or if you’re short on time, why not use a patch – iron or sew on, cheap to buy or find second hand.

 

Give it a go, and give a great gift!

Fashion Revolution! What’s your #Haulternative?

Fashion Revolution!  What’s your #Haulternative?

We began our #FashionRevolution week prep with a quick trip to Bristol Textile Quarter,  and a chat about #Haulternative ways to revamp your wardrobe!

Fashion Revolution week runs 24th to 30th April 2017, and encourages us all to ask #whomademyclothes – to question the sources and ethical status of our clothing, alongside offering advice on how we can maintain our style without engaging with the high street.

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Kate of Antiform very kindly offered to revamp Helen’s skirt with some of their reclaimed tweed – just one of the ways you can rehaul your wardrobe without engaging with fast fashion. See Fashion Revolution’s pages for more suggestions you can try, no matter you level of skill!

 

 

 

 

 

For our Bristol based pals, why not head down to #RevampRestyleReuse on Wednesday 26th April, tickets available now: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/revamp-restyle-reuse-tickets-33753191705

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Fashion Salvage Styling

Fashion Salvage Styling

Bristol Textile Recycling are a longstanding clothing reuse depot based off Feeder Road Bristol, and recently they opened their doors to the public for monthly kilo sales.

Kecks founder Helen took advantage of their cut price vintage offers, and got herself a whole new preloved wardrobe for AW16:

 

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Teaming an under skirt, worn as outerwear, with a cobweb style top from New Look, Helen creates a modern goth look.

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Dressing down the same vintage skirt with a mohair blend jumper from H&M.

Next Tall range gown, and vintage 80s house dress.

The real steal of the day – an Aquascutum vintage mac.

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Upcycling Lounge is go!

Upcycling Lounge is go!

After many months of work, the Emmaus Upcycling Lounge is now in full swing, selling preloved and upcycled clothing and accessories in the heart of Stokes Croft!

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To learn more about the collaboration between Kecks and Emmaus, check out this feature on local indie channel Made in Bristol:

https://www.madeinbristol.tv/player/?playercat=80305&vid=f5qk4xbc

Or of course head on down and visit us yourselves!

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Making something from nothing: A reuse challenge

Making something from nothing: A reuse challenge

Most people planning the refit of a retail space would bob along to B&Q and buy a few fittings, maybe  a rail or two, and go about their opening. Not Kecks, we like to think outside the box a little, and so our Upcycling Lounge refit will be sourced entirely from reuse!

Starting my second upcycled shop refit, i have been reminded of the sheer scale of materials available to those looking to use second hand resources. Of course, working within the business, the stuff crops up during the working week: but networks like Bristol Reuse are striving to make them accessible to the public.

Often what is needed, is a bit of a rethink of what is necessary in a business: what must be bought new, and what can be borrowed, or reused.

In a recent t-shirt upcycling workshop with Call of the Brave we reproduced handpicked designers from local artists, and transferred then onto reworked t-shirts, using hand made stencils.

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The results were great, a brilliant day all round, and Call of the Brave now have an upcycled option alongside their ethically sourced tees: check out their crowd funded designs!

We also managed to catch up with Made in Bristol TV to film the first of our features on their ‘Thrifty Thursday’ pieces. This time we took second hand clothing from Emmaus and showed people how to make their festival wardrobe by repurposing and restyling what they already own!

So, in both cases, materials already exist to suit peoples needs – all we have done is facilitate that. Simple!

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So with the Upcycling Lounge set to launch in 2 weeks (eeek), we at Kecks are hoping to once again inspire reuse at every stage of the project.

Step one:our fixtures, fittings, and paint….all in tomorrows blog!