Guest Blog - How to shop consciously By Danie From @Sew_Norfolk.
We met the wonderful Danie at an event at the Forum in Norfolk in December 2020 and absolutely loved her way of how she shops for her wardrobe and found it really inspirational. After a few months of following Danie on her Instagram @sew_Norfolk, we fell in love with Danie, her style and her messages of sustainability more. We couldn't keep her a secret so we asked her to guest blog for us to share her story. Kindly she accepted. I hope you enjoy her thoughts as much as we do.
Hi! I’m Danie, and I’m here to chat to you guys about sustainability and my wardrobe - and how it brought Fran and I together.
As a self-taught dressmaker, my journey towards sustainable thinking and sustainable shopping as a result of my weekend hobbying. After buying a beginners’ sewing machine in 2016, my love of making clothes really took off. I would dedicate entire weekends to working on a project - starting with simple shift dresses and jersey tees, before progressing onto more complicated pieces like jackets and trousers. Barely stopping for breaks and chugging down coffee from my cafetiere, these projects would take me hours and hours to complete.
It was only then, that I got it.
Clothes take time to make. They take energy, skills and resources too. Every single piece of clothing in our wardrobes, our high streets and our landfills are handmade. As in, made by hand. Made by someone.
I can’t believe it hadn’t dawned on me before. As a fast-fashion devotee I had been causing harm to people and the planet, and that, even as a dressmaker, I was still contributing to the consumption of new materials. But I don’t blame myself, or others, for not making this connection. The way we engage with shopping, with consumption and with clothes has changed so much in the last, what, 50 years? No wonder there’s this gaping chasm between what we wear and our understanding of how it was made. Before I started sewing my own clothes, the way in which they were made was entirely invisible to me.
My knee-jerk reaction to this realisation was - stop shopping. I know that many people looking to behave more sustainably have opted for this pledge - to buy second hand, or not to buy at all. It’s an admirable choice, and not always an easy one to make. I’m so up for people coming to their own decisions about how they can have a positive impact on the world and the people living in it. But the options available to individuals can change depending on income and budgets, the availability of sustainable or environmentally friendly options, or where you live and the time you have to shop around.
Not shopping - not always the answer for everybody. Slowing down consumption? Sure. I’ve gone from a prolific fast fashion consumer to a policy of choose-used. And choosing used doesn’t always mean shopping for vintage, or trawling charity shops for your next fashion fix - though I love both of these options and rummaging has fast become my second favourite hobby! I’ve also moved towards using only secondhand fabrics for my sewing projects as much as possible, and using new materials very little.
Scooting around a Christmas market last year, I was drawn to FB because of their commitment to reusing materials destined for landfill, and the way they make every element of production visible. Talking to co-founder Charlotte, it was revitalising to connect with a small fashion biz on a personal level. In general, supporting indie-biz is a gorgeous thing to do and I loved Charlotte’s energy and enthusiasm for the work that she, Maria and the team were doing in Brazil. Just check out the good that they’re feeding into the world with the sale of every bag. Also, their stuff is b-e-a-utiful. Belo.
Choosing used, to me, also means seeking out brands like From Belo. One single Fran bag is responsible for rescuing two metres of decommissioned seat belt, two plastic bottles, and 200 grams of fabric off-cuts from landfill. That’s the stuff, isn’t it?
The Fran belt bag eventually came home with me. I had to walk away and mull over it for a while first. And this is a practice I’m trying to stick to - a direct result of my efforts to be more sustainable when adding to my wardrobe. Do I really need it? Will I get good use out of it? Will I love and cherish it? Does the company I’m purchasing from share my values and concerns?
Now, shopping can feel good - in ways it never used to. Supporting a small biz with a big heart like From Belo feels great. I get good vibes whenever I use my Fran bag - and I wear her a lot. After my purchase at the Christmas market, Charlotte, Maria and I stayed in touch. They asked me to write something about my experiences of sustainable shopping, and my thought process in making an investment in my wardrobe.
I’d love to hear your thoughts - are you interested in sustainable fashion? Do you have a process when it comes to shopping sustainably? Find me on insta @sew_norfolk and let’s keep the conversation going.
with love from