Safia Minney and Natalie Minney

At 17, I used to work as a maid by night, cleaning and cooking, for an old rich man in exchange for a room and food in London. That way, I could work my dream job in publishing, on a tiny salary. Needless to say I couldn’t afford to buy clothes – I spent my lunch time at the Oxfam shop near work trying to find a local great buy. In that same Oxfam shop I picked up a book about sweatshops and the real cost of fashion and vowed I would never buy new stuff, unless I knew where it was from. So my wardrobe from teens and 20’s is a mis-match of second hand treasures and the first Fair Trade fashion bits that I designed. Quite a collection!! (A little embarrassing in places!)

You may find a designer piece you’ll treasure forever at your local charity shop – I found this John Rocha raincoat.

Now, here are my 17 year old daughter Natalie’s tips on dressing sustainably:

1. If you’re going to buy new, buy Fair Trade and organic cotton or upcycled. Support Fair Trade and ethical brands. This uses fewer resources and ensures that the worker and the environment are protected.


2. Otherwise there are so many ways to buy great clothes second hand and make your clothing allowance/budget go further, such as;

• Your local charity shop, e.g. Octavia Foundation, they get better and better – so many great and exciting finds –buy an outfit for less than £10 and spend a little more on new fashion.

Natalie bought this top to style with her new People Tree trousers

• Buy on Ebay. Fabulous second hand clothes and accessories from a butterfly top for Nottinghill festival to a mohair 60s sweater!

• Buy on Etsy – great handmade and upcycled things, direct from the maker.

Swap and Swishing events are a great way to clear out the old and bring in the new. You can set your own up with friends. You bring a few items of clothes, shoes or accessories and swap them with others for a completely new wardrobe.


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