The Revamp, Restyle, Reuse event, part of Fashion Revolution Week, took place in Bristol Energy Hub. Designers and lovers of recycled fashion worked in collaboration with Bristol upcycling heroes Emmaus Bristol, Bristol Textile Recyclers (BTR) and Kecks Clothing.
The event encouraged attendees to restyle and upcycle pre-loved garments supplied by Emmaus and BTR, giving the garments a new lease of life and saving them from landfill. It was a chance to see textiles in a new light with tips on how to style them up into your new favourite fashion item.
Fashionistas, ethical fashion pros and fashion salvage newbies alike all got the chance to dress up, rummage through the donated garments and purchase their newly discovered treasures for a very small fee, with all profits going to Emmaus Bristol.
Emmaus is a charity that helps support Bristol’s homeless and socially excluded population, helping them to become an Emmaus ‘companion’, working within the recycling industry. With support, they are encouraged to use their skills to change and improve their own lives. Bristol might be voted the best city to live in Europe, but with ever-increasing rents, there are many people facing homeless.
Helen Brown, the upcycling queen from sustainable fashion brand Kecks Clothing, works alongside Emmaus Bristol as their in-house textiles reuse consultant and the mastermind behind the Revamp, Restyle, Reuse event. Helen is amazingly passionate about her work, and really knows her stuff. She was recently recognised as ‘making an outstanding contribution’ by the Earth Champions Foundation for her work spreading the word about sustainable fashion.
“We are asking people to ask, “Who made my clothes?” as part of Fashion Revolution Week,” Helen explains. “We want to look at the transparency within the clothing industry and encourage people to buy sustainable fashion and second-hand clothes,” Helen continues. “We are trying to show people that there is a really sustainable alternative to the high street.”
Many of the clothes found at fashion salvage events still have their price tags attached: evidence that disposable fashion has got out of control. People seem to be bypassing charity shops and getting rid of their unwanted and often brand new items by chucking them straight into clothes recycling bins. Perhaps they think they are doing the right thing, but clearly only so much can be recycled. How many garment could be coming out of a factory, hitting shop floors and ending up as landfill without ever being worn? It’s a scary thought.
With four Bristol-based shops, Emmaus are trying their hardest to keep as many textiles, furniture and bric-a-brac items from landfill, but space is so limited in their shops and warehouses that it is very difficult to keep the mass of items moving through the shops. Their long-term vision is to consider the environment, as well as making money for the charity, so more small-scale sustainable fashion events like Revamp, Restyle, Reuse could well be on the cards.
“People have a certain idea about a charity shop, but it’s not always about that,” Helen explains. “People think of a charity shop with loads of stuff shoved in, but it’s very, very different now. It’s a very sustainable way of shopping, and events like this, held right into the city centre, mean people can engage with us in a different way. We’ve had a lot of interest in the clothes and the ethos, and we will definitely run an event like this again.”
Emmaus Bristol main shop, Backfields House, Upper York Street, BS28WF
Read our Fashion Editor, Emma Gorton-Ellicott’s blog No Debutante