Because it’s almost September & I haven’t mentioned AW17 clothing yet 

 

Because it's almost September & I haven't mentioned AW17 clothing yet -- raeritchie.com

*Ignore the creases, we’d been experimenting with styling it – from washerwoman to Stevie Nicks*

It feels very remiss of me to have got as far as the last week in August without a mention of new season clothing. I’m definitely a buy-my-winter-coat when they land in stores, even if everyone around me is looking for bikinis.

I once made myself sick by keeping the wool number I was trying on for too long during a heat wave. True story.

This year I feel a bit behind schedule. I haven’t even planned a single purchase yet. I don’t buy a lot for ethical & minimalism reasons but still like to strategise (yes I take it that seriously!). Maybe I’m now spending so much time thinking & writing about fashion that attention to my own wardrobe is slipping. Talk about first world problems!

20170828_164515

Anyhow today I felt the tide turn. Despite summer weather returning with avengenance, during an emergency dash into Marks & Spencer for an last minute swimsuit, my brain switched over. I wanted shirts & knitwear – although that may have been down to the trauma of squeezing my now rather plump bod into a writhing piece of lycra.

The environmental and human impact of fast fashion and our love of the high street is well documented and I’m no apologist for any of the big retailers.

That said, M&S scored among the highest of 200 well known brands in the most recent Fashion Revolution survey of transparency. This doesn’t equate to an endorsement, but I do bear this in mind when a visit to the high street is essential. Like when you discover you need a swimming costume fifteen hours before leaving for your holiday. On a Sunday evening.

My partner’s sister accompanied me on the emergency swimsuit dash and while I had to stay focused (picking up two shirts then abandoning them to concentrate on day glo tubes of material), she had freedom to roam. She picked up a few silk scarves and this one I had to share because it’s gorgeous and totally ticks the winter floral trend box for the new season (more about my thoughts on the fashion industry, trends and seasons coming soon!).

At £9.50, it’s wearable while the sun continues to shine and will be a sure favourite as the green leaves turn to gold too.

*If you’d like to see more of my autumn/winter style inspiration, follow my dedicated Pinterest board*

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Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Rae Bag

Today sees the launch of Larone Artisans, a company making beautiful bags who are already garnering attention in the world of ethical fashion.  It’s no wonder given the that all the designs, from clutches to carry-alls, combine style with traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials and fair employment practices.

I’ve been following Larone’s development for a while now and was delighted when they named one of their range after me.  Yes, like the Hermes Kelly and Birkin and Mulberry’s Alexa, you can now buy a Rae bag!  I’ve been toting mine (as pictured above) around for a week now and it’s already a firm favourite – and has solicited a lot of compliments!

To celebrate their launch, Larone Artisans have kindly offered an exclusive 30 percent discount on purchases to the lovely readers of my newsletter.  Of course, you can always access this by signing up for the monthly mailing 🙂

Last week, I caught up with one of Larone’s co-founders, Leticia Labre.  She’s based in New York while her partner Jennifer Lo is in Manilla, allowing close contact with the Filipino craftwomen who make the bags.

Rae: Tell us about Larone Artisans.

Leticia: Larone Artisans is a brand of handmade handbags mainly made out of natural plant fibers. Larone bags are handwoven by skilled craftsmen and women using traditional weaving techniques.

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Enchanted River Oval

Why did you decide to create a bag company?

Jennifer comes from a family with a long legacy in weaving and artisanship. Her grandfather learned to weave wicker furniture as a twelve year old orphan to support himself. Through sheer hard work, he was eventually able to open his own wicker furniture factory. Jennifer’s mother had the idea of making purses handwoven from natural fibers and has worked with artisanal communities for more than thirty years since.

Jennifer now runs the workshop, using some of the same materials and weaving techniques her grandfather did and working with some of the artisans who saw her grow up. Larone Artisans mission is to introduce these beautiful handbags to a wider audience through our retail website.

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Wind Chaser Wicker Saddle

Have ethical values always been central to your vision?

Growing up with a loving family and being given a good education in a country [the Philippines] where many live beneath the poverty line, we are always conscious of our blessings and thus our responsibility to improve our community.

Larone Artisans’ vision is to give continuous livelihood to our weavers throughout the year and not just seasonally.

How did you connect with the women who produce your bags?

From our travels around the Philippines, we have met with artisan communities who make exquisite handcrafts that are easily translated into fashionable handbags.

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Serene Waters Wicker

Have you seen a growing interest in ethical fashion?

In a world of fast fashion, Larone stands out because we do not use the traditional model of having a factory, we work with artisans in their communities.

Women are able to work from home while taking care of their families. We produce in small batches, always mindful of the impact to the environment.

People are beginning to be more appreciative of slow fashion. It’s not a rush to get the product to market but rather a thoughtful process of livelihood, product development, intertwined with people and the environment. So yes, there has been a growing interest.

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Sporty Straw Tote

What are the challenges facing ethical manufacturers?  Are these different to ‘mainstream’ companies?

Slow fashion manufacturers are faced with the pressure of keeping up with fast fashion brands.

With woven handbags, there are no shortcuts because there is no machine to speed up the process.

Just extracting raw materials such as fibers is a tedious process and the challenge is
to keep the process sustainable for seasons to come.

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Aqua Reef Wicker

Do you have an image of the typical Larone Artisans customer?

The Larone woman has a quirky sense of style and is not afraid to stand out. No boring and safe black leather bag for her! Give her pompoms! Give her color and exotic materials!

She appreciates the handmade details of Larone bags and is attracted to its raw natural character.

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Peacock Feathers Signature

What are your backgrounds and how did you guys meet?

I grew up in the Philippines but was living in the US/UK for a long time, most recently as a climate change consultant. Five years ago I moved back to the Philippines, but I knew it was just going to be a stopover before moving back West again. I was looking for a project that could move with me and move me. I had heard about Jennifer and Larone through mutual friends and was immediately excited. First, I love purses (what woman doesn’t)! And they preserve culture and are environmentally-friendly too?? It sounded perfect and it was! I reached out to Jen and here we are 🙂

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Forest Pompom Libby

Which of the bags is the most popular so far?

It’s so hard to say because we’ve received interest and messages on almost every style that we’ve put out on Instagram. At a push I would say maybe the pompom bag for its color, and the wicker saddle bag for its unique shape and material, are slightly more popular.  But there’s definitely a group that’s inspired by abaca, of which The Rae Bag is made.

Introducing Larone Artisans: beautiful bags, traditional artisanship, ecologically sound materials & fair employment practices
The Queen of the Hills Millie

If you could only have one of the bags, which would you choose?

I LOVE my abaca and gold cord tote. It rises to the occasion and carries itself elegantly when I have a dressy occasion to go to. But it’s just as dependable for daily tasks like going to the grocery or the gym! When I’m feeling drab, it’s my preferred pick-my-look-up accessory.  I’ve even used it to secure my personal space against people who don’t seem familiar with the concept!

If you want to know more about Larone Artisans and their beautiful bags, head to their website at www.laroneartisans.com – but don’t forget you can secure a 30 percent discount exclusively through my newsletter!

You can also follow me and my freelancing adventures on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

#CharityTuesday: Today’s Second Hand Style Haul

#CharityTuesday: Today's Second Hand Style Haul || raeritchie.com

I’ve recently started appearing on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Radio’s Brody Swain show.  Every few weeks, I turn up and talk about the day’s more lighthearted news stories with Brody and a couple of other guests.

This is fun in itself, but it also means that I’ve got a great excuse to regularly pop in to a row of my favourite charity shops on the nearby Trinity Street in Coventry city centre.  Together they represent three great causes, including two with local links: Mary Anne Evans Hospice, Cancer Research UK and The Myton Hospices.

The greatest compliment I’ve ever received was linked to a skirt purchased from one of these, as I’ve talked about before.  I say in that post that it was from Scope but I think it was actually the Mary Anne Evans Hospice Shop – which is the store I didn’t have time to go in earlier.

Here’s today’s haul and how I plan to wear each item.  I’ve love to hear what you’ve picked up recently in charity shops and what you’re doing with it!  Comment below or pop over and tell me on Instagram or Twitter.

And if you enjoy this post, please do share it on social media – it really does make a difference!  There are sharing buttons at the bottom of the post.

#CharityTuesday: Today's Second Hand Style Haul || raeritchie.com

Black pleated skirt, £3 (The Myton Hospices)

Knowing how much I wear my navy one, I was chuffed to spot a similar skirt in black.  I’m already imagining it at Christmas with a winter white jumper (yet to be purchased, but I was eyeing up a Finisterre with RNLI one on Pebble Magazine this morning).

I’m thinking of swapping the self-coloured buttons to houndstooth check ones.  Any thoughts?

#CharityTuesday: Today's Second Hand Style Haul || raeritchie.com

Farah men’s vintage fit t-shirt, £3.75 (The Myton Hospices)

Since going to see ‘North: Identity, Photography, Fashion’ at Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery back in the spring (soon to be on show at Somerset House), I’ve been aspiring to channel the casuals’ look – largely by wearing my partner’s slim fit Fred Perry t-shirt with my Adidas Gazelles.  I can now branch out to wearing this t-shirt too.

It’s a beautiful jersey cotton that I’m hoping will also contrast nicely with the silk of wide leg pyjama style bottoms!

#CharityTuesday: Today's Second Hand Style Haul

Khaadi long length shirt, £3.00 (Cancer Research UK)

A quick Internet search revealed that Khaadi is a Pakistani clothing brand, which isn’t surprising given the design of this shirt.  I loved its colour, softness and overall look, which is about as near to boho as I ever get.  As Imran Khan, the former Pakistani cricketer turned politican, is one of my style icons, it feels like this was meant to be mine!

For now I’m planning on wearing it with linen trousers and tucking in the front.  I saw the latter on a street style blog and it caught my eye.  Loving the popularity of shirts at the moment as I live in them and I’m getting lots of inspiration on different ways to wear them (see also below for more!).

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Top Lady blouse, £2.00 (Cancer Research UK)

The sight of this on a rack is what pulled me into the store when I thought I was done with my Myton Hospices purchases!  I’ve yet to find anymore information about the brand.  It isn’t one I’ve encountered before.  If the style alone didn’t scream retro then the ‘Made in the UK’ label indicates it has to be of a certain vintage!

Turns out I first saw the blouse from the back.  It’s actually a button up with a pussy cat bow, which is nice in itself but I’m determined to try wearing it the other way round as I think it looks amazing that way.  Just need to ensure I get dressed and undressed with my partner around!

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The round-up: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival 2017

After a week of posts featuring different categories, here is the final collected round-up.  All of the stalls that I visited on the eco trail at the Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival in Harrogate on 17th July: seventeen in total, although there were others that I didn’t get to in my one day visit!

I’ve been so glad to share these awesome eco, ethical and sustainable brands with you.

(I’ve previously done a round-up of the eco, ethical & sustainable firms at the Pulse show too).

Beauty & skincare, fashion accessories & jewellery, gifts, greetings cards & stationery, candles, Christmas: they’re all listed below.

I hope that you’ve found some new companies to consciously shop with.  Let me know what purchases you make from them!

You can comment below or on social media.  And if you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do share – it really does make a huge difference!

Thank you for reading 🙂

Beauty & skincare

 

Big Green Tree

Big Green Tree is a family owned business that designs and manufacturers its natural skincare products on the edge of the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire.  They offer a broad range of paraben and SLS free products, along with a diffusion line of men’s skincare items such as shaving soap and post-shave balm.  As well as the friendliness and knowledge of owner Helen, what impressed me was that when they do use plastic bottles, they are recyclable.  Good to know for certain!

Starting from around £12.00.

Sorry I didn’t get any pictures from this stall!  

Beauty & Skincare: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

MOA

The Magic Organic Apothecary was established in 2010, creating natural skincare products with close links to old folklore.  Their key ingredient is herb yarrow (Achillea millefolium), commonly found in English hedgerows.  MOA grow their own in Somerset, where they plant seeds by hand!  The products combine yarrow with other herbs and essential oils, such as tea tree and damask rose.  The original multi-purpose balm has now been joined by a cleanser, bath potion and facial oil.

Prices from £4.00.

 

Fashion accessories & jewellery

Earth Squared

Scarves, hats, gloves, bags, purses: Earth Squared offer them all under the slogan ‘fair trade and fabulous’.  They certainly are both!  A member of BAFTS (the British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers), they work with fair trade accredited producers.  Among their huge selection of products, there will be something for everyone but my personal favourites were the tweed purses, velvet scarves and knitted bobble hats – although I also have my eye on a navy wool sling bag 🙂

From £5.99.

EnviroTrend

EnviroTrend sell a variety of bags that are designed to eliminate the use of plastic bags.  They are all lightweight yet strong, and the SAKitToMe™ shopping bags fold up into a size that you can attach to your key-ring – so you never caught out at the checkout without a reusable bag again!

They have also created the INside OUT Umbrella™.  This looks like a regular umbrella and opens the same, but will stand up on its own when down.  It also turns inside out as it is closed, so that the water drains on the inside, meaning no more soaking the side of your leg when walking round with a used brolly!

RRP from £6.00 for the bags; the umbrella £25.00.

Mowgs

Mowgs founder Michal stumbled upon villagers making beautiful baskets while travelling around Myanmar.  Locals produce them when the rainy season prevents farming, using generations old weaving techniques but plastic strapping recycled from used materials around them – meaning each one is unique.  Michal now works closely with the same villagers, bringing a limited number to the retail market.  Unsurprisingly they sell out fast!

RRP from £19.99 to £45.99.

Accessories & Jewellery: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

Old Willow

Scottish jewellery firm Two Skies source old pieces of the iconic blue-and-white willow pattern china and porcelain then upcycle the pottery into hand crafted, one-of-a-kind pieces.  This includes rings, earrings and necklaces that feature either a bird, a bridge or another part of the classic scene.

Their publicity even tells the ancient love story behind the pattern:

Accessories & Jewellery: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

‘A peasant boy and a princess were in love but her father, the king, would not let them marry.  He built a large fence around the palace and arranged a suitable marriage with a duke.  Arriving by boat, the Duke found that the couple had already escaped to an island where the gods had taken pity on them and transformed them into immortal doves’.

Starting at £24.50.

 

Gifts, greetings cards & stationery

 

Gifts, greetings cards & stationery: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

Claire Vaughan Designs

Claire’s free-hand artwork is inspired by the garden, the countryside and coast.  These designs then appear cards, coasters, stationery, prints, bottles, homeware and ceramics.  The vast majority of goods are handmade or hand-finished and come from the finest independent UK sources.  I was immediately drawn to the mugs as I’d never seen such beautiful examples; I was unsurprised to learn that these are from The Potteries, Stoke.

From £1.95.

 

Hannah Longmuir

Hannah is a countryside artist whose mainly pencilled drawings record the beauty of hedgerows, woodlands and fields.  These images become cards and stationery that really are works of art.  I don’t need to describe them; the images speak for themselves.

From £2.00.

Gifts, greetings cards & stationery: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

Seasonal Soul

Inspired by owner Rhianydd’s own quest for more connection and wellbeing, Seasonal Soul offers small homeware products, stationery and greetings cards designed to help users to relish the season and rekindle their soul.  Designed and made in the UK, the prints, colours and slogans reflect different times of the year, from the ‘For Someone Who’s Just Blooming Fabulous’ summertime card in hot pink to the seasonal journal kit in autumnal greens and oranges.

From £2.00.

Totes Adore

The Adore-A-Bottle range showcases stylish upcycling by recrafting empty alcohol bottles into beautiful new products.  There are chopping boards, lights, candles, nibble bowls and drizzle bottles.  The bottle lights would look great on an outdoor table or nestled on a cocktail bar, while the bespoke option means that you can sentimental bottles (such as champagne from your wedding) converted into a candle with a matching scent.

From £15.00.

Wraptious

Wraptious regularly run competitions to find new artists to contribute to their animal and nature inspired lines of products.  They offer a broad range of designs on items such as greetings cards, notebooks, coasters, placemats, clocks, mugs, cushions and prints.  All are made in the UK.

Retail prices from £2.50.

Gifts, greetings cards & stationery: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

YooJoo Cards

YooJoo’s Monster Cards have a second life as a bookmark: you simply tear the perforations when you’ve finished displaying it.  If that weren’t ingenious enough, owner and illustrator Julie has now added the Plectrum range.  She collects used store cards from shops then makes plectrums from the plastic, adding them to her drawings of acoustic and electric guitars.  Again these can be kept when the card is recycled.

From £2.75

Candles

 

 

Candles: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

Light Me Bio-oil Candle

Did you know that 4.3 million people die every year from indoor air pollution?  It was this statistic which inspired the creators of the Light Me Bio-Oil Candle to create their product.  Their alternative maintains the ambience of regular candles but are clean burning, without the soot and melted wax.  They also self-extinguish if knocked over.

From £10.99.

 

Candles: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

Melt

For almost twenty years, Melt have been making hand-poured candles with scents that differ from the usual perfumed options.  From Angel and Aubergine to Verbena and Clary Sage, Violet and Black Pepper, there are many distinctive perfumes available in two jar sizes and three freestanding options.  Furthermore, more than 94% of their ingredients come from the county of Lancashire, where they are based – supporting local business while keeping their carbon footprint to a minimum.

From £8.95.

The Recycled Candle Company

You know how there’s wax leftover whenever you’ve finished burning a candle?  Well the clever chaps at The Recycled Candle Company go round collecting this seeming waste product from London churches, pubs and hotels then they recycle all the bits into beautiful new ones.  Isn’t this the greatest recycling story that you’ve ever heard?!

From £6.00.

Christmas

Keep this cracker

Upon realising the amount of waste generated each Christmas by single use crackers, Bea Thackeray came up with her own solution: reusable ones!  After some experimentation, she perfected her model.  You fill the gift box centre with whatever your choose, thread the snap through and pull as normal – except the whole thing slides apart rather than rips, so you can use them again!  All you have to replace are the snaps, which she also sells.  Genius!

There are also options for wedding favours and other occasions.

From £3.10 for the crackers; £1.10 for six replacement snaps.

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Christmas (yes in July): Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

Nauseni

Founded in response to the 2015 Nepal earthquake, Nauseni (now-se-ni) strives to empower Nepalese women by offering skill development and income generating opportunities.  The firm works closely with teams of women artisans who they have trained to produce needle felted ornaments that reflect the centuries of wool making crafts in the Himalayas.

Prices unavailable at present.

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Vintage Fayre, Music Festival: the vintage tent at Coventry’s Godiva Festival

Vintage Fayre, Music Festival: the vintage tent at Coventry's Godiva Festival

I’ve recently written about Positive Outlook, a conscious clothing company based with a store in Coventry (and also available online!).  While researching this piece, I became more aware of the flourishing vintage scene in Warwickshire and the West Midlands.  Obviously I’d have been surprised if one of the huge trends of the last decade or so wasn’t evident around here.

Still it’s been fun to discover local sources for gorgeous second-hand goods!

I was able to delve further into this new-to-me world when at Coventry’s brilliant Godiva Festival this weekend.  FarGo Village, the city’s home for independent creative businesses (including Positive Outlook), hosted a vintage marquee and I had a good rummage while chatting to various stallholders.

Before I introduce them, I want to say a huge thanks to my partner Mark for patiently holding my Pepsi during the time I was in the tent.  The bars were refusing to give out lids and it’s hard to browse racks, rails and table tops with an open bottle of pop in one hand!  He’s waited outside a lot of shops and stalls as I’ve conducted important research 🙂

So if you’re committed to conscious clothing, here are some great central England sellers.

 A Little Bit of Vintage

Birmingham based Kathryn’s stall stocked some real gems.  With the label ‘vintage’ too often used to describe clothes that are simply used, it was refreshing to see racks filled with genuine old school items.  I was particularly taken with a colourful patterned housecoat and a red and white dress comprised of a peplum top and pencil skirt, complete with original red patent belt.

Kathryn also had a range of compacts, fans, purses and bags, all at great prices.  She’s on Facebook if you want to find out more.

I wish I’d bought: one of the lovely little bags, but I couldn’t choose between the woven one and beaded one (okay, I could have bought both but this was only supposed to be a research trip!).

Martha’s Bazaar

If you’re looking to create a distinctive look then check out Martha’s Bazaar.  There was so much buzz around the stall’s vintage Asian clothing that I struggled to get a look in but even from a distance you could see the beauty and quality.  The dresses, separates, scarves and shawls come in opulent colours with rich embroidery and embellishment.  Anyone who’s ever harboured a Princess Jasmine fantasy (and who hasn’t?!) needs to check them out.

Martha’s Bazaar sell Asian décor and accessories too.  They’re on Instagram, Depop, Twitter and Facebook.

I wish I’d bought: several sets of the always stylish jewelled bangles to stack up both wrists.

Millerchip’s Vintage

There aren’t many vintage stalls that capture the attention of tween boys but that’s what Cindy managed to do with her display of unusual pocket watches!  Her section of the tent was like an Aladdin’s cave, full of quirky jewellery and clothing from the 1940s to 80s.  I was reminded how the high street hasn’t always been synonymous with throwaway fashion when I stumbled across an old Dorothy Perkins top, complete with a ‘Made in Britain’ label.  Hard to imagine.

Vintage Fayre, Music Festival: the vintage tent at Coventry's Godiva Festival

Cindy offers vintage parties – what a great idea is that?  Find her on Twitter for more info.

I wish I’d bought: the patchwork suede purse – a fashionable twist on the Roy Cropper shopper.

Fab Fill a Bag by Heaven Vintage

The concept is simple and familiar at vintage fayres up and down the land: get a bag, fill it up and pay £10 for all the contents.  If it’s an eighties or nineties aesthetic that you’re after then this is the place to stock up!  There were tons of classic sportswear and casual options.  Jean jackets and cut-offs seemed especially popular with punters, which is always good to see given the environmental impact of producing new denim.

Heaven Vintage offer branded high street and branded goods alongside vintage.  They are on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr and also have a store at FarGo Village.

I wish I’d bought: an old school wax jacket.  It was too hot to even think about trying them on!

Mrs Flower’s Fabulous Card Company

Not vintage clothing, but I had to give a shout out to Alison and her amazing wares!  Alison has a passion for old cards, be they greetings, cigarette or the playing variety, and upcycles these ephemeral items into unique nostalgic artworks.  I ran out of superlatives, not only to describe the beautiful old designs but her skill in giving them a fresh look.  There were people buying gifts for Christmas already!

Vintage Fayre, Music Festival: the vintage tent at Coventry's Godiva Festival

As well as cards, Mrs Flower’s stall housed a selection of small vintage accessories and homeware.  Her website is here.

I wish I’d bought: given Adam West’s recent death, the Batman cards really pulled on my heart strings. Kerpow!

Do you have any ‘I wish I’d bought’ vintage moments?  Or have you splashed out on something that seemed frivolous only to find that you wear it all the time?  I’d love to hear your vintage tales; you can comment here or on social media (links below).

Thank you for reading!

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Scrimping with Style

In an article I wrote for Native Magazine last week, I reflected on how the greatest compliment I’ve ever received was being told by a complete stranger passing me in the street that she loved my style.  The fact that we were outside Vogue House in London only added to the magnitude of my pleasure at hearing this!

Charity shop skirt & the washbag that doubled as a clutch bag

I was also thrilled because what the kind stranger particularly liked was my skirt, which I’d bought for £2 from a Scope charity shop in Coventry the previous day.  Since that January day, I’ve worn the skirt innumerable times in all kinds of weathers and I always feel good in it.

We all have these kinds of treasures in our wardrobes.  The items that whenever we pull them on, we instantly get a confidence boost.  The garments that we know will get us through the day (and night too) feeling that bit more pulled together.

Yet as my skirt suggests, our fashion favourites aren’t necessarily the most expensive things that we own.  On the contrary, sometimes it’s the bargain finds that bring us the most happiness!  My friend Catherine over at Midlands Minimalist shares this view; she found that a cream and black Jean Muir skirt that she picked up in a dress agency fitted her perfectly and lasted for years.

Sartorial scrimping doesn’t mean sacrificing style. 

Choose to make-do-and-mend, whether for financial or ethical reasons, can drive ingenuity.  Not being able to chuck money at wardrobe crisis forces us to come up with more creative solutions.

Scrimping Style: washbag that doubled as a clutch bag || raeritchie.com

I admit that this is a lesson that I’ve had to learn over and over again.  I’ve made expensive mistakes, like limited edition trainers in a colour I loved but that I only wore once or twice because at the time I always wore heels.  In contrast, some maroon canvas pumps that I got for 20p from a jumble sale had a happy life on my feet last summer.  When I then wore out another pair of second hand trainers, I figured maybe it was time to invest in some brand new ones.

 

Last week I forgot to take a clutch bag on an overnight trip.  Given half a chance, I’d have purchased another but as that wasn’t possible I ended up using my small washbag instead.  I got several compliments on it and afterwards was glad to not have impulse purchase guilt.

Changing the buttons

Changing the buttons seems to have particularly magic powers in the realm of make-do-and-mend.  Over the years I’ve had two gorgeous second hand coats (one from a rail at the back of an ice cream parlour in the Cotswolds) that just needed replacement buttons to bring them back to life.  If you’re a bit uncertain about how to do this, Jen Gale of My Make Do and Mend Life has a straightforward guide to this entry level repair job.

Scrimping Style || raeritchie.com

Life styling

It isn’t just our wardrobes that can flourish when opt to make-do-and-mend.  It can benefit our spaces too.  Recently one of the sun loungers broke beyond repair, prompting a search for some new garden furniture.  Determined to continue the thrift theme, I dug two cream kitchen chairs that we no longer use out of the garage (purchased at the tip shop for £3) and found a butcher’s block in a local charity warehouse.  I added two bright cushions from John Lewis in the sale, and that little corner is now a new seating area.  And I feel inordinately proud of what £20 can do!

Scrimping with style

I’m now a bit obsessed with this idea of scrimping with style, looking around wondering what I can tackle next!

To help scratch my new itch, share your scrimping with style stories.  Tell your thrift treasure tales!

Reworked, reused, recycled – whatever it is, I’d love to hear about times when you’ve scrimped but the results have seemed anything but cheap.

You can comment below or on social media.  And if you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do share – it really does make a huge difference!

Thank you for reading 🙂

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Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

While the sun shone down gloriously on London this Tuesday, I spent the day in the giant greenhouse that is Kensington Olympia.  I was there for a trade show featuring lots (and I mean *lots*) of companies looking for new retail outlets; imagine the Clothes Show or the Ideal Home exhibition without being able to buy any of the goods.  This is probably a good thing as I wanted so much, from sea shell earrings to several different kinds of bag to some oversize pink earrings!

Window shopping opportunities aside, I was there on a specific mission. 

In my fashion and beauty writing, I’m committed to featuring eco, ethical and sustainable firms as much as I possibly can.  In particular, I want to highlight the many innovative and stylish small brands working in this area – brands that don’t have huge publicity budgets but deserve exposure.

At Olympia, I was looking for companies doing good work in terms of conscious consumption so that I could share them with you.

Boy did I find some!  Below I’ve detailed my highlights in five categories (beauty, candles, fashion, jewellery and other).  I hope that you like their look, and their ethos, as much as I did.  Visit their websites, follow them on social media (check out my following lists on Twitter and Instagram if you like) and next time you’re making a purchase, consider buying from one of them.

‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’ Lao Tzu

Do you have any brands that you like to recommend?  Tell me about them!  You can comment below.  Plus if you enjoyed reading this post, please do tell others about it on social media – it really helps!  Sharing buttons are also below.

 

  • Beauty

Corinne Taylor Aromatherapy Products - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

Corinne Taylor Aromatherapy Products - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Corinne Taylor Aromatherapy Products

Corinne Taylor Organic Aromatherapy

Natural, organic handcrafted and vegan friendly, never animal tested, ethically sourced and eco-friendly handmade products in recyclable packaging.  Also free from SLS, parabens, synthetic fragrance, petroleum and mineral oils [That’s quite a list!].

Nathalie Bond Organics

Small batches of handcrafted botanical skincare and essential oils candles made using completely natural and organic ingredients [These aren’t a new discovery – I love their soap, as I mentioned last week – but they definitely warrant a mention].

Nathalie Bond Organics - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

Savon Stories

Raw minimalist organic skincare, handcrafted in England and made according to the family’s century’s old ethos of nurturing the best of good green earth and being rich with less than more.

 

  • Candles
The Bird Box - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
The Bird Box
The Bird Box - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
The Bird Box

The Bird Box

Sustainably sourced, handmade in Britain candles and home scents made using pure essential oils.

 

Join

Vegan, carbon neutral natural soy wax candles with cotton core wicks, essential oils and recycled packaging, handcrafted in small batches in a garden studio.

 

Join - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

The London Refinery - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

The London Refinery

Candles free from petrochemicals, parabens and synthetic fragrances.

 

 

 

 

Sun.Day - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

Sun.Day of London

100% free from synthetic perfumes, chemicals and paraffin, using only GMO-free coconut and plant waxes, pure cotton wicks and uniquely formulated aromatherapy grade essential oils.

 

 

 

Sun.Day - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

  • Fashion

Aura Que - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

Aura Que

Each product is created by handicraft charity units or World Fair Trade Organization producer groups in Nepal, giving local people an income in line with fair trade principles along with a continually developing commitment to minimising environmental impact as much as possible.

By Studio Hand - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

 

By Studio Hand

All products are designed and made in the UK using nontoxic dyes and organic fabrics; all are vegan.  The clutch bags are hand painted and made from abstract paintings, making each one unique.

 

Egos Copenhagen - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

Egos Copenhagen

Natural wool slippers designed in Denmark, manufactured in Nepal using eco-friendly dyes, World Fair Trade Organization certified.  Profits also support a Nepalese orphanage.

 

 

Pala Sunglasses - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Pala Sunglasses

 

Pala Sunglasses

For every pair of sunglasses bought, one person in Africa who needs prescription glasses gets them.

Pala Sunglasses - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Studio Kimono - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Studio Kimono
Studio Kimono - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Studio Kimono

 

 

Studio Kimono

Vintage silk kimonos from Kyoto are upcycled into unique new items, such as clutch bags and jackets.

 

 

 

Terracotta Row - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

Terracotta Row

These bags are made in England from fabric discarded by industry.

 

 

Valentina Karellas -Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

 

Valentina Karellas

Trans-seasonal designs made from textile factories’ surplus yarn.

 

 

  • Jewellery and Accessories
All The Things We Like - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
All The Things We Like

All the Things We Like

Designed and produced locally to their Dutch studio using local artisans and social workplaces as well as environmentally sound materials such as FSC certified or recycled wood.

Artisan Life - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Artisan Life

Artisan Life

Focused on fair trading and supporting Columbian artisans, particularly women with no other employment options, while also using suppliers certified by the Administrative Department of the Environment in Columbia.

Caliz Jewellery - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
‘Vegetable ivory’ seed used in Caliz London jewellery

 

 

 

 

Caliz London

Handcrafted jewellery created from vegetable ivory, a seed from a Columbian palm tree – a natural, ethical and sustainable alternative to elephant ivory.

 

Just Trade - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
A Just Trade collaboration with WWF
Just Trade - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Just Trade

 

Just Trade

Just Trade collaborates directly with eight groups of artisans in Peru, Ecuador and India to create handmade jewellery that is fairly traded and crafted from locally-sourced and ethical materials where possible.

Ziko Afrika - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

 

Ziko Afrika

Founded by two sisters, Ziko Afrika (‘Afrika has it’) creates modern jewellery using traditional craftsmanship by local artisans in Kenya.

 

Ziko Afrika - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’

 

  • Other areas
Anneka Textiles - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Anneka Textiles

Anneka Textiles

Creating upcycled homeware by taking mixed fibre knitwear, returning it back to fibre then re-spinning and felting into new sustainable material without using any harsh dyes or chemicals.

Helen Moore Revival Collection - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Helen Moore Revival Collection

 

 

 

 

Helen Moore

The Revival Collection of home accessories is made using off-cuts from the fast fashion t-shirt industry that are saved, sorted, shredded, woven and then reused by Indian families working in good conditions.

Tangent GC - Eco, ethical and sustainable brands to buy: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’
Tangent GC

 

TangentGC

Organic skin care along with garment care and shoe care, inspired by the creator’s grandfather, designed to allow us to better look after what we already own.

 

 

 

 

Seedball

Seedballs are designed to encourage bees and butterflies by making it easier for everyone to grow either wildflowers or herbs or salad.  They’ve been designed specifically for a north eastern European climate and each one containing of these British made balls contains a mini ecosystem of seeds, clay, peat-free compost and a little chilli powder to deter predators!  This is a new concept in the UK but seed balls have been used in ecological restoration projects around the world.

For more from me straight to your inbox, sign up for my monthly mailing.  It includes exclusive offers and giveaways! Every single subscription makes a real difference to me and my work.

You can also follow me and my freelancing adventures on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.