Reflections: Exhausted Workers and ‘Vintage’ Overuse

Wardrobe 1Last night, I decided to opt for some quiet time and recorded the new programme ‘This Old Thing'; in which the ever-wonderful Dawn O’Porter tried to convince fashion and High Street lovers that Vintage is the way forward.  I had some great feedback about the programme from friends and visitors to my FB page, so great that, in fact, I thought there was just too much media fodder NOT to talk about the art of vintage/secondhand shopping.

In truth, has there ever been more of a prevalent time to shop second hand and source your clothes from somewhere other than the High Street, than now?  I’m not talking economic downturns, I’m talking about the shocking story in the media this week about the Primark shopper who found this rather sobering label in her recent purchase, presumably written by a despairing over-worked employee in one of their sweatshops, or a bunch of guerrilla crafty-minded activists. 6213002-large Sadly, this isn’t the only case like this that has been reported, yet Primark and its other fast-fashion conglomerates continue to rake in profits like no tomorrow whilst shoppers give little or no thought to how or why their beautiful, affordable clothing really are SO cheap.  Everything, no matter which way you look at it, or what side of the world you are fortunate to live on, comes at a price.

After catching up with ‘This Old Thing’, some of the attitudes of not-easily-persuaded shoppers feel almost alien to me, as someone who revels in rummaging through charity shops and thrives on the adrenalin of eBay bids.  I’ve said it plenty before on this blog and I’ll say it again, for all its fast fixes – I don’t miss the High Street at all.  But it does lead me to question, is a love of vintage and secondhand really innate, does it grow with your own personal style?  Or can it be taught?

Firstly, like some of my Facebook Peachy People, I’m not sure I like the word ‘Vintage’ being banded around as often as it is.  It is, after all, mostly a euphemism for ‘second hand’, just as ‘Nouvelle Cuisine’ was a euphemism for ‘hardly anything on your freakin’ plate’.  My love of vintage stems from my desire to not look like anyone else and the freedom a mix and match wardrobe of good quality pieces from all the very best decades can bring you.  I’m in love with fashion in the same way that Coco Chanel was, I love how clothes can accentuate your personality and make you feel.  I’m not a follower of trends, I like to think I look comfortable in my own skin and I like to feel unique, that has been a lifelong desire of mine.

I don’t think about whose bodies my clothes have previously encapsulated my ‘vintage’ finds, a common concern for the guests on Dawn O’s show.  I have a washing machine after all.  I really do enjoy the process of rummaging through the bits and bobs, as I know many people do.  I like the feeling of authenticity in my pieces, I love the stories and tales that could be hidden, pressed into each thread, I like that my wardrobe is a mish mash of one-offs and  quirky tastes.  It is a more rewarding hobby, in my opinion, to find your own fashion in the treasures of people’s pasts than in the racks of monotony.  But that’s just me.

Becoming a lover of vintage secondhand, in favour of all things High Street, is not a learned behaviour, I don’t think.  I think one has to feel connected to the past, long to relive decades gone by, to find their own sense of personal style in everything that has, sort of, been already.  Yes, you can do the ‘Mad Men’ trend, for as long as H&M stocks that shape, but a love of real secondhand fashion takes dedication, focus and a little bit of disappointment, sometimes.  Which simply isn’t for everyone.

But, with all this news of hidden labels and cries for help, can we really afford to be so in love with fast fashion anymore?  With news that H&M has a sweatshop running in the UK, the problems faced by these exploited workers – all in aid of all things ‘affordable’ – are even closer to home than we like to imagine.  So, with that in mind, I’d like to fly the flag for all things vintage, secondhand and even me-made, safe in the knowledge that I won’t be finding any hidden labels in my clothes anytime soon.

Are you following a Frugally Fabulous Year?  Fancy doing it?  Keep it here for more handy tips on life without the High Street!

meStay Peachy x


10 thoughts on “Reflections: Exhausted Workers and ‘Vintage’ Overuse

  1. sue arnold

    I totally agree about the over use of the term ‘vintage’, it’s become ridiculous…Lets call it second hand & be proud of it. I am always rummaging about in charity shops , sometimes i make mistakes and wonder why i bought ‘that dress’ or ‘that pair of trousers’ that i simply had to have, but it’s easy to re donate it, give it to a friend, or even better sell it on ebay!

    My best find in a charity shop recently was a Hermes blouse,in a silk crepe, which is absolutely stunning..the workmanship second to none. You certainly wouldnt find that in the high street!!

  2. honey bee

    I think the labels in the Primark clothes are suspected to have been done by a campaign group and all power to them for raising awareness! I would never shop there or indeed most High Street retailers, I love true vintage and buy lots of second hand and like you am lucky enough to possess a washing machine so no harm done as long as it’s not undies right? 😉 xx

  3. Margo

    I agree with you that Primark should not be raking in huge profits at the expense of those exploited workers. But one thing worries me. If Primark, in a fit of philanthropy, suddenly stopped having their stock made in grim sweatshops by underpaid, and usually under-age workers, what would happen to the workers? Would they suddenly be given jobs appropriate to their age, in clean, safe well-lit factories at a decent wage? I think not. Their future may be rather more precarious than their present circumstances. What the answer is I don’t know but I do think it’s rather more complicated than high street stores vetting their suppliers.

    1. Post author

      I agree with you. I’m not sure what the answer is either, it just doesn’t seem fair to exploit the workers and, for the most part in this country, remain ignorant to the exploitation itself. It isn’t an easy subject to write about, because I definitely don’t have an answer – but I also can’t stand the way our system works sadly

  4. Caroline

    I’m totally guilty of not considering where things come from. I know I should.

    I get really annoyed by the misuse of the word vintage. Drives me bonkers.

  5. Little Bo

    This post is wonderful. I have always shopped second hand, flea markets, jumble sales, eBay, charity shopping is my favourite type of shopping. I love to stand out and unique. It makes me laugh when people comment on my attire for me to say ‘oh flea market 50p’ lots of people disapprove whereas I know I look bloody awesome. I love to revamp, upcycle everything too, yes I agree, I avoid the high street, I’m passionate about second hand and can be found rummaging in the nearest charity shop. Unfortunately I feel ‘vintage’ is another word used as an excuse to hike the price up high! Gone are the days when a teacup was £1 that is sad. Anyway, amazing post….I’m off to follow you everywhere. Xx

    1. Post author

      Ah this is a lovely comment thank you so much for stopping by – you sound just like me – it’s great to connect with so many people who love the whole ‘thrift’ thing! I’m heading over to check your blog out! Looking forward to hearing more from you! xx

  6. Naomi

    I love how your posts make me take a second thought about my clothes buying ways! I have been known to buy secondhand clothing before it’s not something that I’m too fussed about, If I like it I buy it :-) I must catch that documentary you talk about … Thanks for sharing this! N x

    1. Post author

      Thanks so much Naomi – It’s only my opinion and I do find secondhand shopping can be difficult at times. It’s a series so definitely let me know what you think! x

  7. Kate Williams

    Love this, I used to buy loads of second hand clothes but am totally priced out now as ‘vintage’ is so expensive. What a brilliant bit of marketing someone has done there!!


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