Credit: The Circular Studio

By Samantha Eastcott, The Circular Studio

Shopping sustainably is no longer considered a new term. It’s something we have all become way too familiar with by now and actually, becoming more conscious with our shopping habits is something we can all collectively aim to work on. It’s definitely a challenge because trends still move quickly and the seasons change even quicker, especially in a country like Wales. 

The question is, how do we combat a trillion-pound industry that is now built on incredibly poor supply chain management, ethics and decades of poor decision-making? 

In some ways, the problem does start with us, the consumers, but it does end with the source, which is the suppliers, manufacturers and fashion brands themselves. If we were to look at the facts, in 2023 the global apparel fashion market was valued at £1.38 trillion, with a projected annual growth rate of 0.18% between 2023 and 2027. In terms of fashion’s contributions to the economy, it employs over 500,000 people in the UK alone, accounting for 3.32% of the total global economy.  

Despite this, the industry is still ranked as the fourth highest polluter for water use, the fifth highest for greenhouse gas emissions, and the second for land, so overall it’s not looking great. For us as consumers, this can be a lot to process when clothes have a huge part in our identities and creative expression.

Conscious change

Making conscious decisions when it comes to our clothes can be difficult because there are several additional challenges we have to overcome in the current state of things. We can’t excuse the fact that clothes have become more expensive, due to the cost of materials, labour and imports, which have all skyrocketed.

Let’s be honest, our economy is in a state of question and looking good has never been harder. Or has it?

Sometime last year, I noticed that there was nowhere to go higher up in the valleys if you loved fashion. I was looking to reconnect with like-minded people and make new friends, but there wasn’t anything or anywhere to go. That’s how I decided to start my own community. 

Not too long ago, we had a booming industry of clothing manufacturers, and though fashion in Wales has gradually diminished, the underground scene has never been stronger – if you know where to look. The Cardiff scene is strong, but the Valleys were still lacking some sauce. That’s why in January I launched The Circular Studio, which is re-thinking fashion and textile waste, while also offering opportunities in fashion to the local area. 

Since opening the doors to our first studio, we have assembled a team of four people and also opened a small container shop in the new Ffos Caerffili market, selling preloved designer and branded second-hand clothes and accessories. 

We cover all bases, from beginner sewing classes and teaching you the tricks to upcycling and repairing clothes to clothes swaps and Second-hand Saturdays, where you can bring in your old clothes to be used as in-store credit. Yes, you read that right! The girl math is not wrong on this one. Or, you can just buy really cool second-hand clothes for a fraction of the price. 

It’s basically a win-win, and you help to re-circulate clothes locally rather than adding to clothing export, incineration or landfilling. So, if you don’t know where to start, you can always start your conscious clothing change with us!

Credit: The Circular Studio

Reigning sustainable clothing

If you want to go a step further, here are my top tips for becoming a circular economy queen:

Start with your own wardrobe. Be brutal – if you have clothes you no longer wear, sell them, swap them or bring them to us so that you can start to curate your wardrobe, while also minimising your washing.

Pick out your core pieces and hang them up. The trick is to group the items you know work together and start using the 333 method. Building a capsule wardrobe and finding clothes that fit you effortlessly is the key to getting ready in 10 minutes. You’ll be surprised how much more you wear your clothes when they actually fit you.

Shop second-hand where you can. It’s the most obvious advice, but you need to practice what you preach. Don’t just think of charity shops as a way to dump old clothes (in fact, avoid this if you can!), think of them as a Cave of Wonders – you can’t go into them with a closed mind! You have to be ready to rummage and look through every rail because that’s how you find the good stuff – especially in the menswear section.

If you prefer shopping online, Vinted, Ebay and Depop are all great for finding secondhand treasures as well as selling them. Just do your research before you buy so you don’t get scammed – check the seller info, price and descriptions for any red flags. 

For more tips on becoming a circular connoisseur, follow us @thecircularstudio or even pay us a visit!

Author WCS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *