Rethreading Your Wardrobe by Robin Trimingham
There has been a lot of buzz on the internet regarding the evils of the rag trade, particularly the working conditions that some third world garment workers are subjected to and the global environmental impact of the clothing manufacturing industry in general.
As you might suspect from my surname, I have always supported the idea that islanders should “buy Bermuda” whenever possible but I also believe that we should make every effort to incorporate an element of recycling, up-cycling and sustainability into our wardrobes whenever possible, and as best possible, encourage merchants to make these items accessible whenever possible.
If you doubt that this is an issue worth considering, it might surprise you to learn that EDGE Fashion Intelligence estimates that the average consumer throws away 70 pounds of clothing and shoes annually (instead of recycling) and the vast majority of this is going to landfill sites. In Bermuda almost all textiles are imported meaning that anything that we don’t manage to recycle becomes waste. I don’t’ know about you but 70 pounds of waste seems like a lot when there are so many fun, useful and money saving ways to re-purpose many of our used clothing items.
At the risk of stating the obvious, Bermuda now boasts some first rate second hand and consignment stores. By giving your “gently” used items to The Red Cross, PALS Charity Shop or The Barn not only are you doing your part for the environment, you are also helping your bargain conscious neighbours step out in style, and if you find yourself tempted to peruse the racks after you drop off your donation, all I can say is “good for you!”. Every dollar that you spend in these establishments goes to support very worthy causes and that new scarf or t-shirt that followed you home will make friends with the items in your closet in no time at all. To really take this to the max, pick out a couple of oversized shirts or dresses and use the fabric to reincarnate them as summer clothes for your kids or a cute beach cover up for yourself.
For the slightly more profit minded, gather up your designer labels, that dress you ordered online that didn’t fit and that sweater you received from your ex and never wore, and head on over to Orange Bay on Victoria Street – the mecca of upscale rethreading. With heaps of “BoHo” style and price points to suit even the most meager budget, Orange Bay gives you the option to consign your goods, indulge in socially responsible shopping and experience the fun of putting a few dollars in your pocket all at the same time.
Got worn out items you can’t bear to part with? Not to worry there is a YouTube project out there just waiting to be found. Think patchwork quilt, braided rag rug, or designer sofa cushions yet to be. Even your extra tattered jeans can take on new life as a reusable tote bag, pencil case, or mini skirt for your daughter – all you need is a little imagination, a hand drawn pattern on a brown paper grocery bag and away you go. And while you are at it, don’t forget that all of your disused costume jewelry and extra buttons are just a glue guns length from becoming chic new belt buckles and hair accessories.
Who knows, you might even discover that you have the flair for designing cool stuff and turn your rethreading adventure into a table of wares at Harbour Nights or the Dockyard Craft Market, putting a smile on your face and your bank account.
Note: this article appeared in The Royal Gazette in Bermuda. Look out for ways to put these ideas into action in your home town!
By Robin Trimingham