When it comes to fashion weeks, London has long been known for being the edgy relation to Paris, New York and Milan. This season, when more of us are thinking of not only the financial cost involved in keeping up with the churn of the fashion world but also the waste and resource involved, London is once again setting the agenda.
Tonight, in Soho, Oxfam will open the five-day celebration with its Fashion Fighting Poverty show featuring purely second-hand clothes, styled by long-term charity shop fan Bay Garnett.
Here, the Vogue super-stylist and host of the This Old Thing? podcast speaks to Metro ahead of the show and gives her secrets behind curating your own original style – and finding the very best bargains.
How do you find good vintage?
‘It’s about just making an effort to just pop in to charity shops when you see them. A good tip is to look on the men’s rail – men seem to give stuff away nearly new. I’ve got an incredible 1990s Giorgio Armani coat from the British Red Cross men’s section, which is amazing. Also, think about neighbourhoods. A trip to the charity shops of Chelsea first thing on a Saturday morning is often fruitful – and it’s not just London.
I find it hard not to go in a charity shop wherever I am in the country or internationally. New York has some amazing ones on the Upper East Side and in Queens where I’ve found some really different things. Find out when vintage fairs are on and visit Portobello Road market on a Friday and Saturday.’
Your relationship with Oxfam is long-standing. What drew you to the charity in the first place?
‘I’ve been involved with Oxfam since 2016 and I think it’s lovely. I like the idea of clothes doing the opposite of what they’re meant to do – which is to be an industry that makes loads of money for people. Oxfam want to end poverty. This show is about ‘fashion fighting poverty’ and I love the idea of clothes having such a powerful end result. The work they do is very real. They’re an amazing charity who help people who have very difficult lives.’
Kate Moss wearing the banana top you found in a charity shop is well known. What other thrift pieces have you loved styling in your editorial work?
‘I’ve got a zip punk top from New York in the 1980s, which I pair with vintage 1970s jeans, which I love. Those jeans actually served as inspiration for a collection I did a few years ago with M.i.h jeans. That’s the thing about fashion – in one sense it is about new ideas and the new – but bringing old things and making them look new is a really interesting way of reusing clothes. That’s what I have done in my work over 25 years.’
What do you look for in a second-hand piece?
‘Always avoid stains. I don’t really like polyester and I avoid it because I don’t like the way it feels and it looks too retro. I also steer clear of thin, cheap cotton and cheap clothes from last year – I’m not into them new and not into them second-hand.
I’m always looking for classic pieces, good-quality cotton men’s shirts. Some of these can cost a fortune if you buy them new as designer, but you can get a real men’s oversized shirt that looks exactly the same for a few pounds.
I’m looking for something original that makes me feel excited. I found a mink-coloured roll-neck Fendi sports top in fleece recently – there’s no reason most people would think it special but I love it. Second-hand shopping is instinctive – what you choose comes from inside.’
Describe the process of sourcing clothes for the London Fashion Week show tonight. When do you start and how?
‘We go up to the main clothes warehouses in Yorkshire and Milton Keynes and I source from there.
I’m on the hunt for months before the show. This time, I’m really excited about a brilliant hand-made fake fur monkey coat that’s great.
There’s a brilliant velvet party dress with puff sleeves, which I love, an amazing Kate Bush-esque overcoat, some excellent sportswear and great Harris Tweed jackets…All of this is going to be auctioned off after the catwalk show on eBay with the money going to charity.’
I know you’ve gone thrifting with some high-profile friends over the years. Who else shares your love of second-hand clothers?
‘All of my friends share my love of second-hand. Charlotte Tilbury really understands the power of channelling second-hand. Rachel Weisz, too.’
Does the renewed interest in ‘circular’ fashion make you hopeful about the future?
‘Our problems are bigger than that, but I think it’s great kids are into circular fashion and I can see why. It’s cooler, not just for sustainability but also feels more independent, I think. It is more rebellious because it’s not feeding the capitalist system. It’s a really affordable way to dress and it makes sense. That’s what I love about it.’
All items from Oxfam’s Fashion Fighting Poverty 23 are available to shop via an Ebay For Charity auction.
Visit the auction here
Do you have a story to share?
Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.