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.







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:



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:



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


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.


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.



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!


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!



Nothing is Waste.

The world of reuse, upcycling, and recycling, is often described as a modern phenomenon. Sometimes seen as an outsider industry, it can be belittled and cycnically used by large companies to gain the ‘green market’.

What, in fact, is a modern phenomenon is the idea of waste – of resources, once used, becoming waste product, and the need to deal with that.

The old adage of the new car losing a quarter of its value the minute it drives off the lot runs through my head as i pluck wedding dresses from my local recycling centre, or pull bags of clothes on hangers from litter left on the street (NB this is theft by finding, but that’s another blog). In our hyper driven economy, once its worn, used, boring, unfashionable, broken, stained, too small, too big, scuffed, or just surplus, its waste. But it isn’t waste. What determines waste is what happens to it once it leaves the owners hands.

In the textiles sector that Kecks is part of, and in the furniture world we are just moving into with workshops, there is a movement away from seeing second hand garments and home wares as devalued, to seeing the innate value of each resource. If we donate an object to a charity shop, no matter the quality or condition, there may be a great undervaluing and the subsequent loss of revenue may not benefit your cause. It can lose money. Also, an old garment or object is subject to the same scrutiny you subject it to before throwing it away – so if it seems ugly or old to you, it may well to the person in the shop, and thus will not sell – again it becomes waste to deal with. Our responsibility as donors and consumers, does not go as far as simply giving, it means we have to ensure what we donate can and will be used, and to support the methods used to keep it from landfill. But how?

Emmaus Bristol fresh for the refit! 

Longstanding charity Emmaus, which has operated internationally since 1971, recognises the challenge of getting consumers to see the donations that come into their centres as equal to the goods in any other shop. They engage with the commercial sectors – allowing many start up businesses and home owners a cheaper alternative when setting up, alongside affordable goods for local people in their hundreds of outlets. Reuse is central in their centres, and the companions who run them dedicate their time and ingenuity to recycling so often, that i have learnt endless amounts of new tips and tricks since i took up residency in their warehouse studio.

Now we are working together to show shoppers there is an alternative to the fast fashion industry, and its unsustainable consumption, by housing upcycled clothing brands and furniture alongside donated goods, in an alternative ‘department’ store. Piloted in the Stokes Croft store in central Bristol,  the Upcycling Lounge will hold lines from Kecks, Emmaus vintage, and other local designer who source their goods from reuse and is set to launch summer 2016.

In the Emmaus studio, upcycling naturally…

Are we excited? Errr just a bit!!

And also pleased that the idea of old being inferior, of second hand being waste, of charity shops being places for old tat is being challenged head on by the charity sector.

Emmaus values human beings and is working to tackle the consumer culture that creates the world of the haves and have not’s: “Serve those worse off than yourself before yourself. Serve the most needy first” is its global ethos, and how better to do so  than to provide a viable alternative right in the commercial centre of a city meaning those who shop with them provide the income needed to sustain the solidarity projects that give to those most in need. If furniture is cheap, we can help some of the poor, but if we create a system of distribution and reuse at all levels, we can cater to all pockets and give to those in need – and give them beautiful, lasting foundations to build their homes upon. By recognising and paying for the innate value of our ‘waste’ we fund this work, reduce landfill, create a rich and varied market, and provide for all.

Nothing is waste!

Follow us online for further updates on how you can be involved, and more upcycling in action.





Upcycled T-shirt bag tutorial.

Upcycled T-shirt bag tutorial.

Having had such a great reception to my mini workshop at Love Bristol Fair this weekend, I’m responding to all the requests for a visual how to for the T-shirt bags. Its oh so simple and ensures your bag is a little waterproof at the bottom in case of leaky stuff. Not ideal for heavy books etc, but perfect for the beach or gym wear as its easily washable. Enjoy!

The essentials What you’ll need: Old t-shirt ,Scissors, Duct tape, Needle and thread (optional)
Cut off the sleeves – larger holes mean a longer handle. Cut out the neck – the deeper the cut, the larger the bag opening.
Turn inside out – take bottom hem and fold up toward neck twice making each fold around 2cm tall.
Duct tape along the fold, making sure to overlap at the sides a little. Turn over and duct tape along the other sides, overlapping onto the tape from the first side. Add another layer of tape along the bottom edge, making sure it sticks to the first and second pieces. The more you stick the duct tape to the duct tape, the better it glues.
Turn the right way out and pull unfinished edges slightly to ‘hem’.
Put stuff in your bag! You can sew the outer edge if you like, but i’ve never needed to.
Wear your bag like a boss! You could even post a selfie on your social media and tag us, or post to our facebook page: kecksclothingbristol xx


tattoos and i

tattoos and i

I often get asked how i got into the upcycled clothing malarkey – and especially how I came to paint on clothes.

I was always an artistic kid – my Dad brought home rolls of printer paper (yes, once it was on rolls kids) and wallpaper for me to draw on, so prolific was I.

At uni, i lost my love of drawing somewhat…no idea why…but it went away, only to crop up again in my twenties when i discovered a love of drawing tattoos for people. I got into the genre heartily – mainly in a way of photographing tattoos and dreaming up my own. I have never really had a desire to actually tattoo people, and after a few goes with the machine, i gave it up as a bad job. It makes me cringe, not the blood or anything, just the BUZZ of the machine. Blergh.

I also lack the incredible precision required of many artists…and y’know, I find it hard to uphold traditions in any genre, let alone the ones so ingrained in the tattoo world. I don’t like being told what to draw. Or do. Ever really.

After witnessing some amazing tattoos, and working at a shop, I left the tattoo world behind for many reasons, but i felt the need to keep drawing. So the t-shirts came about, and this is the medium I have grown to love.

The tattoo influence is still visible in some t-shirts.

Still my love of ink is very strong and I recently continued my own tattoo project, with a small tattoo from Holey Skin in Bristol.


For those of you who have never had a tattoo, this was just a quick design – having a fair amount of ink, and knowing what I wanted and where, i was booked in super fast.Its a kodama from a Studio Ghibli film, they are little tree spirits, and the receptionist and i had a good ogle of the little critters before  choosing the one I wanted.

There was much kodama love in the shop that day…

Often you would have a consultation – especially if it is a bespoke design, and no decent artist will ever directly tattoo a sketch you have drawn yourself. they will redraw it to make it work. There is a method to their madness – it’s all about line and placement, so shop around and get what you want, but listen to the artist. You wouldn’t just build a wall without some advice first eh?

This was a small graphic piece, so it was printed off, put onto transfer paper..

DSC_0883…so I could check I liked the look of it, and then BAM, it began.

I didn’t take a picture of that bit – I spend time before a tattoo relaxing and breathing so I don’t flinch or giggle – which is the worst! It also helps it hurt less.

Does  a tattoo hurt? Yeah. Its lots of tiny in pricks putting ink under your skin. But personally, it doesn’t bug me too much, and this one was weirdly ok! Barely hurt! But then it was only a little un.


Here it is covered with clingfilm to protect it – it is an open wound after all!

Aftercare is a real hotbed of debate, but listen to what the artist says and do your research. Good aftercare can make a huge difference to the quality and longevity of a piece.

So, yes a brief overview of my tattoeyness. if you’d like to know more let me know and thanks to Holey Skin for being lovely…now, back to Kecks!

Saying hello to HMRC – registering your business for taxation.

Saying hello to HMRC – registering your business for taxation.

Having being accepted onto the government New Enterprise Allowance scheme, i’m now an up and trading business! Hurrah!

As you may have guessed there are a few little hurdles for new starters, so i’ll take you along with me as i attempt to tackle them.

First of all Registering with HRMC.

Whether you are setting up a partnership, Ltd company, going self employed, or a sole trader, you must register with the Taxman as soon as possible! Serously. T’aint worth the aggro if you don’t.

If you’re a UK resident, the relevant info is here:

It takes 5 minutes and there is a wealth of advice on how to handle your taxes out there. As i am a numerical dunce who genuinely has a freakin panic attack when thinking about taxation, i took a course on the topic via BRAVE

and if you are Bristol based, there is also OUTSET

Most areas have equivalent programmes, and theres always the good old Jobcentre if you can stand it… All worth a look – i feel much better about it all…but will still be employing an accountant asap.

Next, Registering the Company Name…phew!

Meanwhile, enjoy this clip of someone giving the Taxman hell xx