Women from a Manchester-based co-operative, Stitched Up, have reached the half-way marker in a 40-day challenge of limiting their clothing choices to just six items, in a bid to raise awareness of working conditions in the fashion industry.
Stitched Up, a non-profit which runs garment-making and upcycling workshops in the Chorlton area of Manchester, are raising funds for Labour Behind the Label Trust, which works to empower workers in the global garment trade.
Talking about her experience of taking on the challenge over Lent, Stitched Up’s Director and one of the founders of the co-operative, Bryony Moore wrote: “When I signed up to the Six Items Challenge this year, I did so mainly with the intention of raising awareness and raising funds for Labour Behind the Label. But added to that, I also hoped I might emerge from the Challenge with a new clarity on my clothes – and a more streamlined wardrobe. I would describe myself as an aspirational minimalist. The idea of a capsule wardrobe has always appealed to me.
“What I’ve been interested to discover, a week or so into the Challenge, is the change in my attitude towards these six items of clothing. They’ve become so much more important to me than they were before. I spot-washed my jeans immediately after getting bike chain oil on them, instead of chucking them in the wash basket and forgetting about them till it’s too late. I’ve been noticing when repairs are needed, washing them carefully, folding or hanging them up neatly at the end of the day, rather than dumping them all on The Chair.
“If I do manage to jump on the capsule wardrobe bandwagon, I’ll definitely be wearing a lot more than six items of clothing…It’s proving to be a logistical nightmare. I’m sat in a thin, short-sleeved dress, with my big cardigan over the top which is too hot, and also scratchy on my bare forearms (the smaller cardigan and my long-sleeved top are still drying).
“This isn’t the first time we’ve done it, so we know exactly how challenging a challenge it is! When you think about it, six items isn’t much at all – one dress, one skirt, a pair of trousers, two t-shirts, a jumper and that’s it!
“The rules specify that underwear and outerwear aren’t included in the six items, but this doesn’t make it any less of a daunting task…”
Stitched Up was set up in 2011 with the aim to inspire a sustainable, creative approach to clothing and the issues surrounding the garment industry.
The not-for-profit cooperative – set up by six women with a passion for the environment, human rights, style and creativity – also offers drop-in sessions, clothes swap parties, sewing machine hire, social gatherings and educational events “that provide an alternative to the chain stores and empty shops of your average British high street”.
Stitched Up operates a space for amateur and professional sewers with a shop selling reclaimed fabrics and haberdashery. There is a marketplace for ethical fashion and a calendar of workshops and events, from how to make a children’s superhero costume to sewing machine driving tests.
The team behind the Stitched up co-operative want to build an “alternative fashion industry” by sharing skills with their local community so they can mend, alter clothing as well as make unique pieces; supporting local economy and promoting sweatshop-free, guilt-free fashion; and viewing fashion as an “investment”, so “saving up” for good quality pieces that will last, then once they are done, recycling or donating worn out clothes to charity so they can take on a new lease of life elsewhere.
You can support the Stitched Up team as part of their six week challenge here.
Images: © Stitched Up
Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer who specialises in sustainable life & style, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com