Second Time Around: Meet the brands flying the sustainable flag
Preloved fashion is proving increasingly popular providing stylish alternatives to a wear-once-and-throwaway culture. Three brands flying the sustainable fashion flag talk shop with Lisa Millard
Boutique and vintage/preloved agency
3a Rous Road, Newmarket CB8 8DH
Contact: (01638) 661666
Naz Jackson and Benjamin Christensen are friends and the business partners behind Newmarket boutique D’Oro celebrated for its carefully curated vintage fashion and one-off preloved pieces
Bijoux boutique D’Oro is an array of fashion treasure. Vintage pieces reflect a sophisticated eye and more than a flourish for styling. “My interest in pre-loved clothes and accessories comes from when I was younger and could not afford new designer and high-quality items. Buying preloved gave me the opportunity to own the clothes I wanted to wear. Now preloved is all I really look for when shopping,” says Benjamin, who is impeccably turned out with the added style bonus of his dog TANK tucked under his arm.
“I started to deal in vintage pieces to sell due to my love of fashion history,” says Naz, who has the most beautiful eyebrows I have ever seen. “We wanted to take our knowledge and passion for fashion to the next level and create a unique shopping experience. We collect and curate quality vintage items spanning many decades, helping our customers create a unique look. Our preloved pieces are often sourced from local and worldwide clients to offer luxury items at a smarter price.”
Sustainability is in the mix too. “Yes, it’s most definitely becoming more important to different age groups now,” says Benjamin. “We try to educate people on the longevity of buying quality pieces which can be used through years, even generations. One of my favourite items in my wardrobe is an oversized cable knit jumper that my grandfather used to wear and gave me.” Naz agrees: “Buy quality, buy less, buy what you like, not just to follow fast trends.”
Hunting fashion treasure is part of the day job but every now and then the duo discover something very special. “We recently came across a 1970s collection of high-end ladies’ pieces by Jean & Martin Pallant. They are truly spectacular and definitely on trend right now – think lots of different textures, materials, and prints. Another prize find was an old, marked and mouldy, cream Chanel bag which we lovingly and painstakingly restored before it crossed the ocean to be with its new owner in New York.”
Both know what they like when it comes to their own style: “To be honest I don’t stick with just one look. I dress for how I feel that day. That is what I love about fashion – you can express yourself daily in different ways,” says Benjamin. “One statement piece in an outfit, often the jacket or shoes,” says Naz. “I always admired Karl Lagerfeld who carried on and respected Coco Chanel’s vision of making women feel empowered but introduced a modern yet classic approach to the fashion house. He always kept the luxury and longevity key making most pieces a fashion investment.”
Benjamin has a host of fashion heroes: “There are so many greats. I mean, Gianni Versace, Coco Chanel, Christian Lacroix, Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, just to name a few. I look to all of them and find inspiration in different ways as they were all so talented.”
The New Year will see D’Oro go online. “We are very excited to launch our website in early 2020. It will showcase a smaller collection, while keeping our boutique and honoured position at a London vintage fair as our priority,” says Benjamin. “The personal interactions we have with our clients are precious to us and we don’t want to lose that aspect. We’re also looking forward to finding more independent designers’ creations to bring into the boutique and we will be sourcing many more luxury and unique consignments.”
D’ORO pictures by Stephen Manion
Benjamin: “At the moment I would have to say a pair of preloved pinkish-red Gucci Brixton loafers are my top spot. Honestly, I think the client must have only worn them once or twice. They have Gucci’s signature horsebit hardware and are versatile in design – they have a collapsible heel that converts the loafers into slippers. It’s like you are getting two pair of shoes for the price of one.”
Price: £320 Size: 36/6
Naz: “It has to be the 1980s long black velvet Thierry Mugler dress. I love the sheer elegance of black velvet but Thierry mixes theatre with classic styles to celebrate the female figure. This dress does just that beautifully.
Price: £275 Size: 8
The Preloved Boutique
Sophie Weedon and Petra Hayton are friends and neighbours living in a village near Newmarket. Together they run Perth Avenue, a new online boutique – with occasional pop-ups – offering customers the chance to sell and buy preloved fashion items.
“We have both always had an interest in fashion,” says Sophie. “Petra is the stylist out of the two of us and loves trends and putting together outfits – she has also worked in the fashion industry as an assistant buyer and in sales. My interest in fashion started with photography but grew as I recently lost weight and Petra encouraged me to try new trends which led to me finding my true style.”
While the business ticks the fashion fan box, the preloved aspect is a key factor. “Sustainability in fashion is very important to us both and our business reflects our values of no waste and reusing or repurposing items from our wardrobes. One person’s old is another person’s new and we are very mindful of the impact fashion can have on the environment. We appreciate well-made clothing and good quality fabrics which in today’s world is very expensive and can be quite unaffordable. We both search through preloved fashion to be able to wear quality and style without the price tag.”
Perth Avenue shows a good eye for fashion finds. When I had a rummage around the site I spotted a Jaeger pure silk square in fetching tones of aubergine and caramel (£10), a baby blue Hobbs cross-body handbag (£60), a Whistles dress (£25) and Jimmy Choo damson-coloured dinky-heeled boots (£40) – the latter sadly too small for me.
“We hand pick unique items from the best of the high street to high end labels,” Sophie says. “At Perth Avenue style comes first, we choose style over brand and it is important for us that we are inclusive of age, shape and size. We are both quite similar with style and our everyday looks. Petra has always worn a mix of masculine and feminine fashion – give her a man’s oversized coat with a silk shirt hidden underneath and she will happily stomp down the road in her biker boots. I have a new-found love for dungarees and cannot be parted from my new best friend – the headband.”
Over the years both women have unearthed fashion treasures – Petra has a Jigsaw knee-length black Crombie coat from 1990 (bought new in the year I was born) which she wears every year. Her fashion hero is Diane Keaton who rocks a similar style,” reflects Sophie. “I recently purchased my first pair of preloved Levi 501s which I am totally in love with. My fashion hero was my nan who was glamorous, chic and bang on trend at all times; I remember her walking into a room wearing Italian tailored clothing and beautiful shoes.” All good fashion reference to draw from when turning a passion into a business.
“We have both given up all other commitments to put our full focus into building our dream business using our personal savings. We are incredibly lucky to have supportive husbands who have also contributed – one is a senior business analyst and the other is an IT specialist, so their advice has been invaluable. And we have big plans for this year;
2020 is going to be such an exciting time. We can’t say too much until all is signed, sealed and delivered but we are very interested in sustainable products and creating fashion from other sustainable materials. Watch this space.”
Harriet Stannard’s blogs showcasing her love of and flair with preloved fashion is a delight. “I think it all stems from my mum taking me charity shopping as a child and the love for a rifle through the rails that has always stayed with me,” says 24-year-old Harriet, who hails from south Cambridge. “I think it became a major part of how I shopped when I moved to London for university, I wanted different and unique outfits but couldn't afford to shop on the high street. It made me a lot more creative with how I put together clothes and introduced me to all these different brands that I would then look out for when I went thrifting.”
Looking after the planet and making fashion a sustainable habit plays a big part of Secondhand Stan. “In more recent years sustainability has become very important to me and something I think about every day. Fast fashion contributes a huge amount of pollution to our climate. I think it’s time to take advantage of the clothes we already have and reuse, re-wear and recycle. I’m a firm believer that if everyone starts taking small steps towards more sustainable fashion, it will have a massive impact.”
It was comments from friends and colleagues about her style that got Harriet thinking about making more of something she had always simply enjoyed. “People frequently said they loved what I was wearing, wanted to know where items came from and how I could afford such high-end brands. They were so surprised when I told them it was all from eBay or from charity shops. One day I was looking at my wardrobe and realised I had put a lot of my time into buying preloved and I could do something with it – that is how Secondhand Stan was born. It really feels like a platform where I can channel all my creativity and positivity and hopefully help make a sustainable difference.”
Secondhand Stan is a fresh and vibrant take on how to mix preloved clothes with items from existing wardrobes to create individual and stylish outfits. “I think it’s also good to show people it’s possible to wear cool brands featured in magazines and online by looking out for the labels when thrifting. I have found items in charity shops that I couldn’t for the life of me afford otherwise. It feels great to find clothes I love and know my money is going to help people who need it. My best-ever secondhand fashion find is a vintage linen Mulberry blazer that I got from the British Red Cross shop in Cambridge for a mere £10. It has amazing padded shoulders and is just the perfect oversized summer jacket. I was pretty chuffed to have stumbled across it in my local shop.”
Her own style, she says, is eclectic. “I think my friends would describe me as loving anything that involves colour and print. I’m a bit of a magpie and attracted to anything a little bit different. I love playing with textures and print clashes. Sometimes I am described as granny chic with an edge which makes me laugh but to be totally honest is pretty spot on.”
Harriet’s eye for mixing preloved items has not gone unnoticed and she has styled shoots for a Boutique by Shelter charity shop. Currently working full time as a creative assistant, Harriet plans to carry on collaborating with charities to promote sustainability and the importance of recycling our clothes: “On a personal level I also want to carry on educating myself on the carbon footprint fashion contributes and make more changes in my life to help live a more sustainable life.”
Secondhand Stan’s top tips for finding preloved fashion gold
• Make sure you know the brands that embody your style and look out for the them. I have a list of my favourite brands on my instagram page that I recommend taking with you when shopping.
• Don’t just focus in on your specific size rail. A lot of times my best bargains have been found by looking through all the rails. Something a bit oversized might be a lot more flattering and create a cooler vibe. Also, make a mental note of European and American sizing as things might be labelled differently and you could find a real gem.
• Definitely be prepared to have a good rummage. It is a real thrill when you find something special. Do what I do and put on a podcast and get stuck in rummaging through the rails – trust me it’s very therapeutic.
• Have a look for charity shops where they get some of their stock from other places like London. The charity shop Fara on Burleigh Street in Cambridge gets daily deliveries of clothes from London and is one of my all-time favourite shops. You can find amazing brands from the high street to high end, the staff are lovely and I never leave empty handed.
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