Belfast FashionWeek Goes Green

Following on from the success of the first Belfast Fashion Week Resale/Rail Sale last October, the event is set to return on March 21 at Life Church, Bruce Street. 

The sustainable fashion event will focus on reselling vintage and previously owned clothes as well as hosting a free upcycling master class with the team from Brix Collective as well as some sewing and stitching workshops with Ciaran Doran from Stitch Up. 

Managing Director, Cathy Martin stated: “We all need to be more aware of the impact that our everyday choices have on the world around us, including what we wear. The pollution caused by ‘fast fashion’ and the unethical production practices that many fashion producers use has led to the fashion and textiles industry having the worst reputation for climate damage. It brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘a crime of fashion’. The need for speedy production and low costs in order to deliver frequent new collections means that environmental corners are often cut, leading to water pollution, the use of toxic chemicals and increased levels of textile waste, not to mention unethical employment practices, but that’s a whole other issue!

“Our aim is to help normalise shopping second hand for fashion; but also to increase awareness of the bigger issue of fashion and textiles eco-damage, and help show how reselling/buying second hand can help to balance out what’s been done and prevent further extensive damage with a constant demand for new, new, new.

“There will be over 40 resellers taking part, including vintage stores, charities like Oxfam and St Vincent de Paul as well as lots of individuals selling off their own previously loved items, so I would love to see hundreds of shoppers come along and shop sustainably with us.”

 “Customers are demanding better sustainable practices from their fashion providers, so the fashion industry needs to join rank and become more responsible. The growth in popularity of resell sites Vestaire Collective, HEWI and eBay highlights how the industry is changing. And it is doing so because more and more customers are demanding it. 

“I think it’s important to say that I still love creative design and fashion, and will still buy clothes; but I will do so more consciously. I will check labels. I will purchase fewer, and when I do purchase I will do so with the planet and long term in mind.”

For those wanting a lively and free hands-on experience at the event, creative curator, Ciaran Doran and her team will once again be running ‘Stitch Up’ workshops throughout the day. All attendees will have the chance to create unique designs using pre-loved fabric, with all materials and equipment provided – the perfect opportunity to learn some new skills. These workshops were full throughout the day last time and welcomed people of all ages and stages of ability. 

Ciaran, who regularly curates collections for museums and galleries as well as libraries and charities, also encourages participants to bring their own well-loved pieces to give them a brand new lease of life under her guidance so they can rework it into something new instead of discarding. 

Also joining the event will be the team from Brix Collective, a community of people passionate about sustainable fashion.  Founded in June 2019 and co-led by Lisa and Amy, the Collective has hosted regular clothes swaps and upcycling events across Belfast and beyond. Their aim is to creatively encourage people to adopt a more thoughtful mindset when purchasing fashion in order to become more sustainable and ethical in their fashion choices.

It’s fair to say that over its previous 29 seasons, Belfast FASHIONWEEK has always been innovative as far as consumer fashion events go. They had curvy models leading the way on the show’s runways over a decade ago, championing the early days of fashion for every size. Back in 2013 the team hosted a ‘Fashion over Fifty’ show in association with AgeUK, at which both male and female models, all aged 50+, showcased classic and edgy fashion with pride, way before other shows in London made this a ‘thing’; then in 2017 Cathy again championed diversity by being the first consumer catwalk to have a Downs Syndrome model take the lead on the runway. That model, Kate Grant, went on to do a global campaign for Benefit Cosmetics and a national campaign for River Island, among others. 

Cathy concluded: “So I suppose we’re no strangers to leading the way, and like our other campaigns, this is not a publicity stunt nor a fad. I think if you have a platform and a voice you should use it for good. And fashion needs to wake up and smell the pollution.” 

The FASHIONWEEK RESALE RAIL SALE takes place on Saturday March 21 at Life Church, Belfast, from 10am until 5pm. Entry is £3.00 Tickets available from Eventbrite here:

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