Taking to the streets and alleys of Peckham, The Wall collaborated with TRAID Peckham
to feature a series of entirely pre-loved pieces — proving secondhand doesn’t mean sans-style.
Cue the age of ethical fashion — it's become more pertinent than ever to rethink the way we shop. Fast fashion is quickly becoming one of the most damaging issues to plague not just our planet, but working practices of the textile industry.
TRAID (Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development) is a charity based in the UK that works to improve the cycle of clothing consumption. With over 1,500 charity clothing banks around the UK, TRAID has managed to divert about 3,000 tonnes of clothes from landfill every year.
Being increasingly populated by young creatives, Peckham was identified by TRAID as its latest target location to set up shop. The Wall spoke to TRAID’s CEO Maria Chenoweth and TRAID’s Head of Education Sarah Klymkiw to find out more about TRAID’s efforts, and its new Peckham outlet.
TRAID has stores located in various areas around London — from Brixton to Camden to Peckham — populated by young creatives. How does the demographic of these areas affect the types of stock that end up in stores?
Maria: The type of clothing that ends up in TRAID shops is dictated by what people kindly donate, however there is an element of selection for shops through our central sorting, where shop managers come to our Wembley warehouse on a weekly basis and select clothing for their customers.
Sarah: TRAID has 11 shops across London, on busy bustling high streets. Each of our shop managers visit our clothes sorting warehouse in Wembley once a week and have a strong influence as to what goes in to their shop. Cherry picking items that they know will sell well and be attractive to their customer base. This also allows for the shop managers to channel a little of their personality into the range they offer. We aim to pack our shops with a good selection of vintage, designer, high street and basic as well as children's, linen and ethnic materials and clothing. At least 1,000 items a week are sent out into each shop to encourage regular visits and we aim to merchandise based on the demographic and the community to which our shops serve. Young creatives do frequent our shops and we have tried to brand our shops in an attempt to dispel the mothball myth of shopping secondhand and make them nice places to shop. As when you're shopping secondhand, everything is one of a kind so although it might take a little longer to hunt down that perfect jacket or evening dress than the average high street shop. When you do find the one that fits you perfectly, the bond you're created with that item is so much stronger and you might be inclined to keep that item for longer.
What made TRAID decide to open a store in Peckham?
Maria: TRAID opened its latest shop in Peckham, as it’s attained a large store with high footfall that is located in a very diverse community. The people of Peckham really love and have embraced their TRAID store, it’s a great relationship.
One of the reasons why many of us are still consuming fast fashion is a lack of awareness on its environmental and social impact. How is TRAID working to raise awareness on the issue?
Maria: Tackling fast fashion and its impacts for TRAID is a two-pronged approach. Firstly, offering an alternative to the consumer such as our second-hand clothing is a great antidote. Secondly, we have our educational and international development work. TRAID education offers a high output and broad range of engagement for people to gain awareness and then make the choice on their consumption behaviours. Our international development work involves grassroots working with non-governmental organisations to counteract the harm done to people and their environment in the production of clothing.
How does TRAID go about handling outreach and education?
Sarah: TRAID's education programme launched in 2005 to engage audiences of all ages to understand the importance of reusing and recycling our clothing. We see our education work as an exploration into better understanding our own values and how that relates to valuing our clothes and go on a journey to strengthen our relationship with our clothing through theory, discussion, creative play with textile 'waste' and skill-sharing forgotten repair techniques. Approximately 10,000 items of clothing are still sent to landfill every ten minutes in the UK, so we still have a lot of work to do. By working collaboratively with teachers, local authorities, community groups and other organisations, our hope is that we have a circular approach to sourcing and discarding of clothes where #secondhandfirst is an attractive alternative to conventional consumerism.
TRAIDremade is an initiative that really differentiates TRAID from many other organisations. Tell us more about how it all works.
Maria: TRAIDremade was initially set up to use the textile that had no use, through up-cycling garments and materials to be able to be used again. Over the 13 years that the label has been alive, it has morphed into many things. From high end to high street; from being made in-house to made by external designers. TRAIDremade's current destination is with the fantastic designer, Alex Nobel, where the concept of our label is also used to highlight, campaign, and fundraise for specific areas of the injustice within the garment industry.
How can the community support TRAID's efforts towards sustainable and ethical fashion?
Maria: Community support is the most important aspect for TRAID, whether shopping for clothes or donating clothes we depend on community engagement with our passion for keeping clothing out of the waste stream. We have a number of community activities such as our mending activists that repair damaged clothes, people can volunteer in TRAID shops, come along to our events and talks we even have a scheme where we will come and collect peoples clothes through our home collection scheme. The simplest way for people to support ethical fashion is to buy or donate clothing to TRAID’s charity shops, which support our reuse and environmental activities while raising funds to support the lives of garment workers globally.
Sarah: I think collectively we need to feel empowered to know that our actions can make a difference. Certainly the most sustainable item of clothing is the one we already own, and it's too easy to get confused by greenwashing so buying ethically can often be a minefield. We don't buy clothes because they are ‘sustainable', we buy them because of their aesthetic and price first and foremost. The problem we're faced with is that clothes aren't bought with longevity in mind, often it's the experience of buying that we enjoy rather than getting the most value out of the item that we've bought. The cost per wear, we're not factoring in the intention to wear and use of the garment, and considering what we already have in our wardrobe that makes it work, washing it less, repairing it when a hole appears or a button falls off.
Conversations with young people through our education outreach has highlighted the pressures of media and social media, so I would always recommend shutting out those voices and choosing clothes that reflect you, as an individual, with your own mind and your own values and if you're wearing something more than the average six wears — great! You’re wearing clothes as they were intended. And to consider taking our #secondhandfirst pledge to try and meet your clothing needs by sourcing more secondhand whether that be through swapping, sharing, mending and charity shopping. And naturally when you don't want the item of clothing any more, donate it to TRAID for reuse and resell to help us to improve working practices within the textile industry!
Interview & styling by Weiqi Yap
Photography by Kay Ibrahim
Model Josephine Vermilye
Makeup by Crystal Ong
All clothes courtesy of TRAID Peckham