February 22nd, 2012 by Brigitte Leave a reply »

Businesses, charities, students, volunteers and community groups all came together in January for a fun fashion event aimed at highlighting the problem of disposable fashion.

Held at the Town Hall in Oxford it was a free event where anyone could bring their old clothes, buy a refashioned garment or learn crafting and repairing skills. Catwalk shows featuring students and themed performances took place throughout the day.

ReFashion Oxford 2012 from Sustainable Witney on Vimeo.

Jenny Carr from the environmental sustainability team at Oxford City Council: “I had this idea to do a clothes swapping event in the town hall and when I discussed it with colleagues in recycling the idea just snowballed! Fashion is fun, and that’s exactly what we want ReFashion to be about. I’m a keen crafter and love sewing so the event appeals to me on many different levels. I hope others will get enthused to bring their old clothes along to repair, embellish, swap or simply recycle.”

In Oxfordshire around 3% of household rubbish is textiles. This adds up to over 8,000 tonnes of clothes, shoes and fabrics discarded every year which costs local councils over £660,000 to collect and dispose of.

Chairman of Oxfordshire Waste Partnership Cllr Lorraine Lindsay-Gale: “We’re so used to recycling our cans, bottles and paper, but we forget that there are many more items that can be reused and recycled too. Clothes are a perfect example of something that can be reused. Damaged, ripped and tatty clothes can all be recycled into upholstery or rags, but if they’re in good condition then it’s even better to get them worn again; especially if a charity can benefit too.”

People who brought clothes to the event had the option of swapping them for free, passing them to a charity or agent to sell, and could find out how to repair or decorate them or even transform them into something totally different. Clothes that were past their best could be taken to the crafting area, and all the fabric at the end of the event was recycled . Even if people turned up empty handed there were opportunities to purchase clothes, take part in a crafting activity or watch one of the fashion shows.

Lorraine added: “Many people may have had a new injection into their wardrobe over Christmas or from shopping in the sales. Because of this they might want to get rid of their old outfits. By giving our unwanted clothes a new lease of life or letting them be recycled into something totally different, we’re not only reducing the environmental impact of fashion, we’re saving money and ensuring we stay looking stylish!”

There were several charity stands selling good quality second-hand clothing; a stall selling bags made from the left-over material from the outer protection covers on the sides of lorries; toys made from old socks; a swishing stall – ‘swishing’ is clothes swapping – people bringing clothes to the swishing area were given one token per item, they then exchanged their token for another item of clothing that had been brought in by someone else.

I went along to see how it worked and was inspired to see so many people there and such a range of activities and stores on offer. The catwalk demonstrated the quality and possibilities of reusing others unwanted clothes and the crafting was based on such simple ideas that even I, a non sewer, felt I could have a go. ReFashion is on our to-do-list!



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