Thrifting for change: sustainable style

May 21, 2024

Photo by Julia M Cameron at Pexels

Shannon Keeshan-Surridge explores how fashion can reflect our power, identity and the world around us

From the bold, psychedelic fashion of the 60s to the casual, grungy style of the 90s, I feel each era’s style tells a story of people’s aspirations, challenges and cultural changes.

I love hunting for unique outfits at car boot sales and charity shops, creating my own style while supporting sustainability.

I often encourage my friends to come along, influencing them to find great clothes at low prices and to advocate for a change towards more mindful clothes shopping.

My and some of my friend’s interest in second-hand styles is not only about ethical concerns and financial considerations. It’s a genuine appreciation for vintage, coupled with the convenience of online thrifting platforms.

Up-cycling is also something I like to do; I will never throw away any clothing (unless its irreparably ruined or suffering from dry rot and there’s absolutely no way of salvaging it). I tend to reuse pieces of the fabric or take certain elements such as zips, buttons, or pockets, to create clothing pieces that I want to wear, or I feel might capture the vibe I envision for my friends.

Photographs by Shannon, of her favourite local charity shops

Creating my own clothes not only empowers me to express my unique identity but challenges traditional beauty standards

One good thing that came out of lockdown for which I’m so grateful, is that it provided the time for experimenting. I taught myself to sew, which I’m now obsessed with! It gives me a sense of purpose as well as a creative outlet to work with ease, altering, mending and repurposing clothes for myself, family and friends.

I love having the creative power and freedom to sew and make clothes to fit my body perfectly. Making stuff for friends gives me great pleasure too. Learning to sew during lockdown wasn’t just about gaining a new skill; it has become a powerful outlet for my creative expression.

When I’m sewing, I become focused and present, in the moment, which is calming and good for my wellbeing. It also gives me a deeper connection to my identity, as I can shape and customise my clothes to reflect who I am.

Thrifting for change and creating my own clothes not only empowers me to take control of my fashion choices but also allows me to express my unique identity and challenge traditional beauty standards.

As my generation live through an era defined by environmental consciousness and individual expression, our fashion choices become a statement. Much like the generations before us, we use clothing to tell stories; stories of sustainability, creativity and a collective desire to shape a fashion narrative that transcends trends and stands the test of time. In doing so, we honour the legacy of those who came before us while leaving our own unique mark on the evolving canvas of fashion history.

Shannon is a student from north London, studying Spanish, Drama and Maths at college. She enjoys music, art and fashion. Shannon is passionate in using her voice for change and highlighting the importance of intersectional politics.

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