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Coast at Greenwich: Reclaim fashion

Updated Tuesday 20th November 2007

Holly Berry reveals how recycling can keep you stylish as you save the planet.

As part of the 2007 series of Coast, The Open University and Crown Estates came together to organise a range of events around the country, the final event being held at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

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Copyright The Open University

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I’m Holly Berry, and Reclaimed Fashion is the name of my company and my workshops that I do, and it’s what it says on the label really, you're recycling materials into new fashion garments.

I'm a designer but I spend a lot of time doing workshops like this around London to highlight the detrimental affects of the fashion industry on the world and offer an alternative method in recycling and thinking about ethical fashion.

And that’s what I'm doing today is talking to people, the whole thing is about the environment and design, but also working with young people to get them to think more about where their clothes come from, who’s made their clothes, who’s died making their clothes, how much they’ve spent on their clothes and what happens to their clothes when they're not fashionable any more or they’ve worn them twice, or can’t be bothered to wash them.

And it all basically comes through, well a lot of it goes to landfill and a lot of it goes into recycling centres where I get donations from the recycling centre to do workshops like this to educate people about what happens.

What do you think people are specifically getting out of it?

I think a little bit of an education; an insight into ethical fashion. I think it’s all over the news and the press at the moment but you're hardly ever offered an alternative that isn't a really expensive new label down Islington that’s cost loads of money and you have to be a tree hugger to want to buy it, and it’s all hippy.

And I think what I'm trying to offer is an alternative message that’s very much more about yourself, making it fashionable for yourself, not me preaching to the converted and selling to people who want to buy ethical fashion but me, not selling to, but talking to people and creating a buzz about what's wrong and right in the world and what people can do to make it their own and take ownership of a problem and ownership of their wardrobes as well.

Because I'm a trained fashion designer, and that is what I do, that is what my business is, but I think education’s also a really important part of that. Because I found, when I was studying, and when I was entering into the fashion industry with my label, it’s really impossible to get people, grown up people, to change their opinions, change their buying habits.

People are lazy, they don’t want to walk down a road for half an hour to find a recycling centre, they don’t want to look for their clothes in obscure places, they just want convenience because everybody’s very lazy in what they do and what they buy, what they make, what they throw away, how they throw it away.

So I mainly work with little people who haven't formed those lazy ideas yet and who everything that I say make so much sense to them because they don’t have those buying habits or shopping habits or throwing away habits.

So yes I tend to work with children because they listen better.

And do you really notice a big difference when they leave you?

Yes, lots of funny little statements. I've got here, loads of little pledges that people have made about what they're going to do, but often the little ones can’t really believe what happens, and they don’t know why, and sit and say things, ‘I can’t believe what you can make out of all this rubbish, I can’t believe why people have thrown this away,’ and all this sort of stuff.

So yes I think it has an impact, it opens their eyes. And whether they go home and tell their parents about it and demand that their parents start tidying up their recycling habits, or whether it just remains with them when they become consumers or politicians, or parents or admin assistants, whatever they're going to be, you know, it’s talking to as many different people as you can when they're at a young age - I think things stay with you when you're a kid.

 

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