Has fast fash­ion had its day? Meet the cre­ative fix­ers, re­vamp­ing trend­set­ters and slow fash­ion fans who are spear­head­ing a new move­ment

Mollie Makes - - Introducing - Words: LOTTIE STOREY Il­lus­tra­tion: LEE MAY FOSTER-WIL­SON

With Bri­tain still in the iron grip of aus­ter­ity mea­sures, the temp­ta­tion is to dive into your near­est fast fash­ion em­po­rium for a cheap fix. But, as we all know, that ‘re­tail ther­apy’ buzz doesn’t hang around. For longer last­ing feels, the only way is to plug in the sewing ma­chine, rev up the cre­ative en­gine and DIY – that’s dab­ble, darn and de­sign it your­self.


Nikki McWil­liams ( www.nikkim­cwilliams.com), she of the iconic bis­cuit makes, comes from a home­made house­hold. “Up un­til the age of 10, I only wore clothes that my mum had made for me. I had an amaz­ing wardrobe of cus­tom dresses and out­fits. I even had a school uni­form dress which I de­signed and she helped me to make.” But Nikki un­der­stands the lure of the high street, too. “Be­fore I started my busi­ness, I worked in re­tail. Things were priced so cheaply, and cus­tomers got into the mind­set of buy­ing lots of less-ex­pen­sive items that might not last as long as slightly higher qual­ity – and more ex­pen­sive – gar­ments.” Nikki agrees it’s fun to buy new clothes, “but I pre­fer hav­ing fewer items that I re­ally en­joy own­ing, us­ing and car­ing for.” And what about hand­made? “I’ve re­cently started mak­ing my own clothes again. It takes time but it’s nice to re­mind your­self how just much work ac­tu­ally goes into creat­ing a gar­ment from scratch!”

For those of us who need a quick fix of a di er­ent kind, Nikki’s clev­erly de­signed a range of iron-on patches for fel­low jeans ob­ses­sives. “I prac­ti­cally live in the same pair of jeans from day to day. Iron-on and sew-on patches by in­die de­sign­ers are a great way to mend torn denim, while adding a lit­tle bit of char­ac­ter to your clothes.”

Char­ac­ter­ful clothes may ap­pear un­usual at first, but it’s not ac­tu­ally that hard to achieve this style. By re­vamp­ing items from your ex­ist­ing wardrobe you can get a new look out of an old favourite. Chris­tine Leech of Sew Yeah ( www.sewyeah.co.uk) be­lieves that “some ar­ti­cles of cloth­ing just get bet­ter over time. I have a black cashmere jumper I bought at a jum­ble sale when I was a teenager. It has holes in the el­bows that I’ve repatched so many times, but this just makes it look even more unique.” She adds: “I also have a cou­ple of favourite tops that I bought from shops years ago that are now so old-look­ing, I’ve dis­man­tled them and used them to make pat­terns. This means I now have sev­eral of the same top in di er­ent fab­rics, which is great.” Chris­tine’s crafti­ness has given her a com­pletely in­di­vid­ual wardrobe, while keep­ing the re­cy­cling bin empty and the bank ac­count full.


This new, more eth­i­cal ap­proach to fash­ion is gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity, with peo­ple choos­ing qual­ity over quan­tity and creat­ing a cap­sule wardrobe, rather than hoard­ing rails of un­worn clothes. Mind­ful maker Fi Bryant (@ fi_bryant on In­sta­gram) be­lieves that “con­sum­ing less is not only key to the fu­ture of our planet, but to find­ing peace of mind. Earth-kind acts, no mat­ter how small, help well­be­ing, as do mak­ing, us­ing our hands and con­nect­ing with nat­u­ral rhythms and cy­cles.”

Fi’s emo­tional at­tach­ment to her wardrobe is pal­pa­ble: “I feel over­whelmed and stressed by a large wardrobe of clothes I hardly wear and feel no at­tach­ment to,” she says. “It can throw up all kinds of emo­tional re­sponses. I much pre­fer to have less and feel more of a sense of at­tach­ment and care for each item. This is where mak­ing your own clothes and pur­chas­ing some slow fash­ion pieces can re­ally help.”

Cathy McKin­non, co-au­thor of in­spir­ing new book Sewing Your Per­fect Cap­sule Wardrobe: 5 Key Pieces to Tai­lor to Your Style, agrees. “I think there are ways you can keep on trend sus­tain­ably. I have pieces in my wardrobe that have been there for 20 years and I still love wear­ing them. Yes, both a shop-bought and home­made gar­ment can feel great to wear, but there’s some­thing re­ally spe­cial about mak­ing your own clothes that feels unique and per­sonal to you, the maker. You’ve cho­sen the fab­ric, the pat­tern, the fin­ish and the fas­ten­ings. It’s a lovely thing.”

Whether you choose to mend with mean­ing, fix with flair or start slow from scratch, take in­spi­ra­tion from th­ese four su­per-stylin’ seam­stresses and just darn it.

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