I have worked in retail for over 20 years. Starting as a 'Saturday girl' in my local Debenhams and spending time in the head offices of six high street retailers. So it goes without saying that part of the roles involved making sure I knew what other retailers were doing and this in turn meant spending time in shops.
Nowadays, the only reason I visit shops is to see if they're doing anything to promote eco or ethical clothes or accessories. I've reached a point where I actually dislike going into stores and seeing the same thing – rails and rails of the same colours, shapes, prints….
Where has the individuality gone?
I dislike the word 'fashion' as this implies change for change's sake and to appease shareholders and private owners. I dislike having to go through pages of ads in magazines to read the odd article and the 'fashion pages' promoting those brands that have advertised in the magazine.
But don't get me wrong, there are lots of things I do like: such as the word 'style' – as Yves Saint Laurent famously said "fashion fades, style is eternal".' Style is permission to be creative, wear the same thing year after year, mix things up, customise, be an individual.
I love vintage fairs, car boot sales, second-hand websites and charity shops. Never knowing what I'm going to find and the excitement when I find a real gem; one that has been enjoyed by someone else.
There is so much on this planet already. The past has a personality, was usually made by hand and requires skill and imagination.
And if I can't find what I'm looking for from one of my usual 'treasure troves' I go on-line for eco-ethical clothing and accessory brands.
These designers, makers, small companies share many of the values of the past and they take real pride in the things they produce. Over 250 such companies are listed on www.StyleWithHeart.com but obviously the list is growing weekly and internationally.
Shoppers probably don't know the detail behind global clothing supply chains but they are aware that a £2 t-shirt cannot be produced in a way that benefits the people making it or the planet. But everyone does have a choice.