How to Break Up with Fast Fashion with Lauren Bravo

How to Break Up with Fast Fashion with Lauren Bravo

Fast fashion is the ultimate toxic relationship. It's bad news for the planet, our brains and our bank balances. We can't go on like this; our shopping habits need an overhaul.

We are proud to be hosting a very special sold-out Q&A event with journalist and author Lauren Bravo on her new book Breaking Up with Fast Fashion this January in our Bristol and Brighton stores!

We spoke to Lauren about her latest book, vintage shopping and how she sees the future of sustainability. 

What inspired you to write your latest book?
I’d gradually been buying less and less new and more secondhand over the course of a couple of years – partly because I’d become disenchanted with fast fashion, spending too much time and money on clothes that never really delivered what they promised, and partly because I’d been reading more about the environmental impact and humanitarian problems of the industry and felt too guilty to keep on shopping the way I was. But the biggest wake-up call was probably moving flat when I was suddenly faced with five years’ worth of shopping mistakes.
Sifting through pile after pile of sad, crumpled polyester was the push I needed to make that final break. So I challenged myself to go a whole year without buying anything new (or new-new – I was allowed secondhand), in an attempt to end my toxic relationship with fast fashion and fall back in love with the clothes I already owned instead. And then, a few months into the challenge, I was approached by my publishers to write a guide to breaking up with fast fashion. There were some brilliant books out there that looked at fashion's problems from an academic, analytical perspective but not much that felt super accessible, or – dare I say it – fun.
I wanted to write a book that celebrated the joy of fashion while also being brutally honest about the issues. I wanted to give people helpful, practical solutions rather than simply overwhelming them with scary stats, and I wanted to discuss the emotional side of clothing as well as the cold hard facts. Hopefully How To Break Up With Fast Fashion ticks those boxes!      
What are some top tips for those who are keen to shop more sustainably?
There are so many different ways! That's the first tip: don't feel you have to follow the same path as everyone else. If you feel ready for a shopping ban, they can be a really great way to hit 'reset' on our relationship with fashion, and challenge yourself to make the most of the clothes you already own. If you're not up for trying a whole year, start with a month and see how you go. Or alternatively, ease yourself in with a rule like #secondhandfirst. Before you buy anything new, always look to see if you can find it secondhand.
Check vintage shops, charity shops and resale sites like eBay and Depop – you'd be amazed how often you'll find the exact thing you wanted, or close enough, for much cheaper than you would have paid new. I also recommend swapping and sharing as an alternative to buying; investigate some of the brilliant new rental platforms that are coming along now, or just put the call out on WhatsApp and see what your friends are willing to lend. And re-familiarising yourself with a sewing kit is a brilliant thing. If you're prepared to alter clothes and repair them as they get worn, it breathes so much more life into your wardrobe. 

What do you think is the future of the fashion industry?
The industry has to change and fast. We need to see the big fashion brands slam on the breaks and seriously slow down their rate of production – to take the pressure off factories and garment workers, as well as reducing the number of surplus clothes that end up in landfill (300,000 tonnes each year in the UK alone). We need to find better ways of working with the materials we already have, recycling old clothes into new, and move towards a circular economy where much less is wasted. We need brands to be open to alternative models of consumption; rental, resale, repair. I'd love a future high street where you can buy a preowned dress from the same shop as a new one, and have an old garment repaired next door. And crucially, more sustainable fashion needs to be accessible to everyone – whatever their size, style or budget. It can't only be the preserve of the thin and rich. 

What are your favourite vintage/second-hand pieces in your wardrobe?
It's usually the ones with the biggest emotional connection. So I have two coats that belonged to each of my grandmothers – one a fabulous faux astrakhan, one a really classic navy pea coat – and wearing them always feels really special. There are a couple of vintage dresses that I wore to death in my first year of uni, and they're knackered now but I'd never part with them because they remind me of being young and fun and free. And then there's a dress that I bought from Beyond Retro on the day I decided to write the book. It's a casual, floral-print 70s midi in really soft cotton and it fits like a glove, works in all seasons, goes with everything, and has become a bit of a lucky charm over the past year. I must have worn it about twice a week, and I'm showing no signs of stopping.

What would you advise for those who are new to vintage shopping?
Take your time. Shopping secondhand isn't the same as buying from the high street, and it isn't necessarily meant to be. Give yourself time to really rummage, and comb every rail twice if you can – I don't know why, but I always find brilliant stuff on the second sweep that I didn't notice the first time around. If in doubt, always try it on. Vintage sizes have varied hugely over the decades so never trust the size on the label; always go by the measurements, or just give it a go. And have a little imagination. If you're prepared to tweak your vintage finds a little bit – taking up a hem a few inches, cutting out shoulder pads, changing buttons etc – it really opens up your options.
Finally, if you're nervous of vintage or think you can't "pull it off", ease yourself in with separates that you can style with newer pieces, and take your cue from trends (at least at first) to stop you feeling too fancy dress. All the 90s trends currently on the high street are still out there from the first time around, remember! So much better to have the original thing than some high street reproduction. 

You can buy How to Break Up With Fast Fashion here
Transgender Awareness Week

Transgender Awareness Week

Transgender Awareness Week is a one-week celebration from November 13th - 17th leading up the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

This #TransWeek we’re working alongside some incredible people to help raise the visibility of trans and gender non-conforming people, and begin to address the issues the community faces as well as celebrate our local queer community by raising fund for ELOP, LGBT+ mental health and wellbeing grassroots charity based in East London. 

Tangerine x Zodiac 

The first of our fundraising events is with our good friends Zodiac Film club, who are hosting an evening of film for Transgender Awareness Week on Monday 11th November, with a screening of the incredible film Tangerine (2015). 

Sean Baker's improvised day in the life of two trans sex workers, played by Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor, is a colourfully chaotic screwball dramedy with a tender friendship at its core. Underneath the frantic and raw energy, this film is a portrait of friendship and human connection and rather impressively shot on entirely on an iPhone 5.

Join us from 7 pm for free drinks and a few zodiac surprises. Tickets are on a sliding scale with all profits going to Elop, with a standard donation or low wage donation. 

Navigating Style Through Gender

To commemorate the end of Trans Awareness Week, on Tuesday 19th November we’re teaming with several artists and activists from London’s queer community. With special speakers Jamies Windust, William Dill Russell, Tobi Norman and Erik Pascarelli.

As well as this, we’ll be celebrating with free drinks, makeup masterclasses from Emily After and a DJ set from our very own Xoey, with every penny raised going to ELOP. Tickets are on a sliding scale, with a standard donation or low wage donation. 

We spoke to our speakers to find out a little more about what they do, their personal style and everything in between!

Jamie Windust

An EVER INSPIRING non-binary activist, writer, model, speaker AND editor-in-chief of Fruitcake magazine. 

Hi Jamie, tell us about how Fruitcake magazine began...

Fruitcake started in 2018, for my final year at university. I was asked to create a new business, and the summer previously I’d interned at stonewall. This, and the poignant spike in anti-trans media, I knew I wanted to do something for the queer community, but I just didn’t know what. 

The response I got from social media was overwhelmingly promising, it felt that this was a magazine that people wanted and people needed. Once receiving funding, it became a reality. 

Its run by me, but the premise is mostly contribution-based. We only have one issue a year, and my only stipulation is that entries are fun, quirky and able to be printed. It's incredible how many young people approach me, I get 13-14-year olds sending me amazing ideas, so I have the chance to give them a platform to speak. And it feels the need for the magazine is still very much present.

How would you describe your personal style?

For me, there’s no one way to look non-binary. The way I decide what to wear comes from me not believing in the rules. I’ve never cared for rules like what is “day” or “night” appropriate, so just wear what I want, when I want. I love anything fun, I definitely like 80s clothes in particular, and look for pieces unique to me and my identity. 

I first started experimenting with my personal style with vintage clothing. Growing up with rural Dorset, when an independent vintage store opened nearby, I started spending my whole evening there after school. 

Coming to London, there were so many shops to discover! Beyond Retro Soho was one of my favourites, it felt like opening Pandora’s box! I was amazed at how much there was and how accessible it all felt. I love finding vintage pieces and making them my own too. I came to a leather painting event in Beyond Retro with Alice Dean, and I gave her an old leather jacket of mine to paint ‘Nancy Boy’ on the back. It's now one of my favourite pieces, and it makes something truly yours when you can upcycle it. 

Fashion and gender have a complicated relationship. Could you tell us about how your personal style reflects your identity?

In the beginning, when I was experimenting with fashion, I was exploring my identity at the same time, so the two came hand in hand. In fact, I feel I have learnt a lot about my identity through fashion. When I first found out about the idea of non-binary, I had just moved to London. I began to fully experiment with the way that I look, and the gender experimentation and style experimentation fed each other. Now that I feel confident in my identity, I don’t think about my style as interlinked as it once was. 

You’ve spoken a lot about the concept of safe-spaces, and have done so much important work in creating those for gender non-conforming, non-binary and trans people. 

Something we love about vintage fashion is that it acts almost like a safe space for those marginalised groups to explore their identity - vintage fashion is like a toolbox for the exploration of your identity. With vintage clothes, you can always find something that feels so unique, and so you. 

What’s your relationship with vintage clothing like? 

I sometimes work for fast fashion brands on their social content or on a consultancy basis, and their lack of transparency makes me want to balance and counteract it, so I tend to shop predominantly with vintage stores. You find pieces that are more representative of your personality, you can begin to make fashion more relevant to who you are, rather than just piece, to allow you to wear your personality on the outside. 

What are your favourite pieces of vintage in your wardrobe?

One of them is definitely my graduation dress that I got from Beyond Retro - it's one of those pieces that is always in my wardrobe, sometimes ill wear it just around the house! It’s a navy sequin halterneck, fitted to the floor, with a little train. Something very special! 

My second piece is unusual but another personal one for me. When I passed my driving test, my driving instructor noticed I had an individual style, so she gave me a jacket of hers from the 80s that she thought I would like, and I still wear it all the time.

Tobias Norman 

YouTuber and makeup artist, breaking down the binary ways in which we view masculinity.

Hi Tobia, tell us about yourself.

I'm a 20-year-old Queer Transgender-man advocating for open expression free from prejudice, sharing my views here on the internet, under my YouTube persona Laddie. The words are simple, but getting there is hard. And as I've recently entered the world of a trans-male makeup artist, I know this all too well. So, let's talk about it, and hopefully, the discussion will get us a little closer to where we want to be!

I started my YouTube page about three years ago under the (rather cringe) name of CallmeLaddie. It didn't start off as an LGBT+ oriented channel, but when I saw the support and encouraging response when I made my first video speaking about how I identify all those years ago, sharing my experience for the benefit of others became a constant part of my content. I have made transition timelines/updates, in-depth behind the scenes documentaries of top surgery, funnier content and have now moved on to MUA work as I began to delve into the makeup world. The most important part, however, is that YouTube has helped me to be a more confident person, exposed me to so many opportunities and I will always be grateful to my amazing supporters!

How would you describe your personal style?

My personal style is a few words. Unique. 90's. And never the same.

It was once described by my mother in the best possible way "You're just something that can't be defined" and with my style, I really like it that way. I buy clothes from the men's section that I can make feminine and from the women's that I can make masculine. Whether it be dungarees and big white platform boots - to ripped jeans, graphic T's and beanies, I love any 90's or unique style. As my masculinity often fluctuates so does how flamboyant my style is and I love to experiment with that! 

When did you being to explore makeup?

It surprises many people to know that I only started exploring makeup properly again just 5 months ago. I was so caught up with my dysphoria and ideas of "what a man really was" that I didn't dare let any makeup go near my own face, I just practised my love for it on my friends. But as my transition made me feel more comfortable and confident in my own body, I tried a little bit of eye-shadow, and it all went from there - gradually doing more and more makeup on myself until I started my first MUA Instagram to show it to the world. My style definitely leaned to the more extravagant and flamboyant during this time but it was fun to explore! Many people ask but I can't quite describe why I don't feel dysphoric when I wear makeup - and I shouldn't have to - I feel fierce, and that's all that matters.

Fashion and gender have a complicated relationship. Could you tell us about how your personal style reflects your identity?

I would say that my identity and style are very different but some it of that shines through. I am a transman and sometimes my expression would lead people to believe that my gender is more in-between that of male and female. My expression always fluctuates between the masc and fem ends of the spectrum but my gender remains constant, however, I think the "uniqueness" of some aspects of my style helps me embody my queer (pansexual) sexuality and trans identity a little on the outside. 

What’s your relationship with vintage clothing like?

I've based a lot of my more recent looks on 90's iconography and I’m OBSESSED! It's my new favourite era of fashion and edgy clothing that really compliments my personality and I completely agree that vintage fashion can help me explore uniqueness without boundaries. Sometimes I even look back to even earlier era's if I want to expand the areas of style available for me to explore. Fashion trends never die, they merely have a nap.

What are your favourite pieces of vintage in your wardrobe?

I would for sure say my favourite piece of vintage clothing in my wardrobe is my lush Denim Dungarees, pair that with the original 90's white platform Buffalo's shoes and we have a winner! (also don't forget a trusty beanie from UO).

William Dill Russell 

Fashion designer changing the way we think about gender non-conforming fashion.

Tell us about yourself and your fashion label.

I’m a non-binary designer, originally from Wolverhampton, who’s currently based in London.

I started my fashion label in 2016 to generate income as I was unable to afford the internship year during my studies. Since then I have created 3 collections which I have retailed online. I have had the pleasure of working with some incredible people such as Tilda Swinton, Tim Walker and The Metropolitan Museum of Art during their 2019 exhibition ‘Camp: Notes on Fashion’.

My collections usually tell a story of an individual, a problem I feel I need to address or empowerment I feel we need.


Where do you find your inspiration for your collections?

I predominantly find inspiration from history. I enjoy watching documentaries and reading about ancient characters. I’m often drawn to people in history who I either feel an affinity with or that I feel are a caricature of people in our current times. Therefore, I like to develop my collections as extensions of what I feel these characters would wear if they existed now.

 I’m also incredibly inspired by the queer community. Instagram is a fabulous (often sometimes scary) way of finding inspiration. Seeing how people across the world style themselves, do their make-up or even how they talk about queerness is so inspiring and motivating. This does sometimes develop into an obsession with someone I don’t know in real life. As I don’t know them personally, I create a character of what they might be like in my head which I develop into a person within my collections. This is the same for people in ‘the real world’. I love seeing how people dress practically. When people are travelling on the tube in London, I love to see how they carry their bags, or how they fasten their coat or what angle they wear their hat at. All these things filter into my design process where I often drape things to re-create these amazing people. 

How would you describe your personal style?

My personal style is often very historical. I love a skirt with too many meters of fabric and ruffles on every inch of the hem paired with a fleece. Often my clothing is second hand or vintage, therefore things often fit strangely on my shoulders or waist. So, I have to try and style things to make them not just look like they don’t fit me correctly which often results in some amazing ideas!


Fashion and gender have a complicated relationship. How do you feel your work explores gender and identity?

I’m of course inspired by a lot of incredible LGBTQ+ who have all had their own take on clothing and their identity. I, therefore, take their points of view, along with mine and people I know to try and create clothing which isn’t specific to binary gender identities.

This means I have to look at design elements such as the silhouette or the materials used for a garment. But it also means I need to look at how a garment is cut across someone’s chest or crotch, which way a garment fastens and where the garment’s hem is. All these things can make people of different identities incredibly dysphoric so I really try to talk to people to see what they would feel most fabulous in.

Generally queer folk find it more difficult to reach higher-paying jobs, therefore they don’t have the disposable income to spend on incredibly expensive clothing. Therefore, I try to keep the prices of my pieces as low as possible, and I’m looking into more intimate ways of creating clothing so that pieces can be altered to fit an individual’s needs along with offering payment plans to allow people to buy a high quality, personal piece of clothing which they can wear forever. 

What’s your relationship with vintage clothing like? 

I have always loved vintage clothing. Whether it be vintage things I bought when I was a child to go in my fancy-dress box, or whether it be the Victorian clothing I have in my wardrobe. I’m so inspired by the construction, materials and techniques used in vintage clothing that I can only hope to create such interesting pieces in my career.

I also like that vintage clothing is often accessible for people whether it be bought from a car boot sale or a vintage shop. I feel this allows people to create their own sort of ‘archives’ of pieces that they love and cherish whilst helping them to appreciate clothing and the longevity of pieces as appose to fast fashion items. 

What are your favourite pieces of vintage in your wardrobe?

I have the most incredible vintage Schiaparelli hat which I got for my 18th Birthday, which I adore. I have some vintage coats/ dresses which have slowly disintegrated as I’ve worn them and I find the natural way they distress and the different silhouette it creates so interesting.

Erik Pascarelli

Queer hairstylist working in both fashion and in-salon, specializing in colour. Erik mainly works with his fellow queer and trans clients to offer a comfortable salon experience. 

Tell us about yourself Erik, and your work as a hairstylist.

I started training at Bleach London around four years ago. Before this I'd never really considered hairdressing as a 'real' job that I'd end up doing, I'd just done bits and pieces for me and my friends. It started with me cutting my own hair because I was fresh 'out' as trans and every hairdresser I went to tried to give me a 'feminine' cut. This lead onto me cutting my other trans friends hair, and then branched out further to anyone! I had no idea what I was doing, but it was a lot of fun and gave me the confidence when I started training professionally to really go for it and try to learn as much as I could. Before hair I'd always thought I'd have a career in fine art, but now I have a job I really enjoy and still get to express myself creatively, whilst still being able to make money, 

How would you describe your personal style?

To be honest it changes about three times a week. On the whole, right now I suppose I'd describe myself as quite 80s, big textured mullety hair and Levi’s. I've always related quite heavily to being a bit more emo or goth though, as that was the style of most of my teen years. No matter what style I'm going for I'm almost always wearing a mash-up of hand-me-downs, charity shop and eBay finds. As a hair colourist so many of my clothes get ruined, so I try to tye-dye over old colour stains or cut up and crop ruined shirts. 

Tell us more about your exploration with hair as part of a look?

Hair can either be a statement piece or complement a look. If you can't be bothered with choosing an exciting outfit every day, then colourful hair can be an easy way to stand out without much daily effort. Almost like carrying around a designer handbag. I wear quite a lot of colour these days, so I like keeping my hair a warm blonde, but I think this really goes with the 80s glam rock vibe. The same with different cuts or styling - I think you can really solidify a style you’re going for by matching your hair to what you're wearing.

Do you feel that your hair is an expression of your identity? Do your clients see their hairstyle as an expression of their identity?

I think hair is one of the most obvious expressions of identity that we have. Often you have to wear a uniform to work, but within reason can usually have your hair how you want. It's becoming so much more accepted to having colourful, funky hair. For me as a queer person as well I really feel like my hair has been so important for my self-expression. When I was younger I would change it constantly depending on how I felt at the time, every cut every colour I could manage, almost like a mood ring. Early in my transition especially; if a Gender Clinic appointment fell through or I got misgendered, I'd just shave a bit of my hair off. There are lots of things you can't control in your life, but hair is the one that you can. 

What’s your relationship with vintage clothing like?

I'd like to think I have a very healthy relationship with vintage clothing! On the whole, it never does me dirty, nothing fits the same as vintage clothes. I've actually made a pledge to only wear second-hand clothes from now on as fast fashion is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. 

What are your favourite pieces of vintage in your wardrobe?

I have a vintage 70's cowboy-style shirt that is the absolute apple of my eye. She only comes out for very special occasions. That with my unfortunately unnumbered light blue Levi’s (if only I could find the same fit) and red cowboy boots are the most important items in my wardrobe. 

Who are ELOP?

ELOP provides dedicated, high-quality, user-centred, responsive and professional services to local lesbian, gay, bisexual & trans (LGBT+) communities, that aim to preserve, promote & improve mental, emotional, psychological and social health, wellbeing, safety and empowerment, whilst working to challenge and eradicate discrimination and inequalities faced by LGBT+ people, and others questioning &/ or exploring their sexual orientation and/ or gender identity.

This ELOP undertakes through the provision of a range of services & activities including:

  • counselling & therapy services
  • Head up – mental health action plans
  • social & support groups: young adults, asylum seekers, LBT women, GBT men, Rise Above Hate
  • advice & information
  • signposting & assisted referral
  • support & advocacy
  • community safety & victim care
  • youth group & schools project
  • same-sex families service
  • consultation, training representation & awareness raising
  • community activities, events & workshop; and
  • a range of community volunteering opportunities

ELOP started from a group of local people exploring the need for a local service and we started with a volunteer team of 2 counsellors; providing a service to 6 people a week: our counselling service now has a team of 40 counsellors: providing a service to 120 people a week. We provide a range of social and support groups: work with young people, work with families and those becoming families, work with older people, work with asylum seekers, and a range of support, training and consultancy work to support providers of mainstream services to be better equipped and meeting the needs of the LGB&T community and work with 5000 people a year.

The most important achievement has been our support to keep people alive at points of crisis and we regularly work with people at the point of desperation in their lives, whether this be due to their experiences as LGBT asylum seekers, and the horrendous ordeals they have fled from in countries around the world, people in crisis as relationships break up, people in crisis due to ongoing mental health issues, young people facing violence at home when they come out to family, older people facing bereavements and limited social connections with others, the devastation that drugs and alcohol can have on the lives of our community members and much more. 

We know that many of these issues are compounded and at times caused by growing up in a culture that is not LGBT affirmative, that does not provide enough role models, especially for sections of our community in relation to faith, ethnicity and disability and gender identity.

ELOP has a small staff team and our financial resources are small, so any support received enables us to sustain the work we do, we know that our work saves lives and provides a safe space for those that need it.

An Interview with the Author of "I Married Me!"

An Interview with the Author of "I Married Me!"

Self-love and dating in 2019 both have their difficulties, however, Sophie Tanner has been able to find the ultimate solution by marrying herself. Describing herself as a sologamist, Tanner had a cultural ceremony in Brighton where she declared her love and commitment to herself in front of her friends and family.

Sophie bought her wedding dress from Beyond Retro and as champions of self-love, and people doing whatever they want in general, we are excited to announce that four years after her ceremony Sophie will be launching her new book with us in Brighton! READER, I MARRIED ME! is Tanner's first novel, described as ‘engaging, uplifting and empowering’, the book follows the main character Chloe’s journey to self-discovery.

After captivating the attention of the media for her radical act of self-love, Sophie’s book is sure to inspire and encourage other women to abandon the relentless cycle of dating and take time to appreciate and love themselves.

We can’t wait to celebrate with Sophie at our Brighton store on the 18th of May and ahead of the launch we spoke to Sophie about love, life and living as a sologamist.

Q- First off, how have the first four years of sologamist marriage been for you?

I can honestly say these past four years have been the best in my life. Making a public commitment to face my disappointments and embrace my dreams has been more powerful than I ever imagined. Obviously, I’m never going to be perfect and I’m always going to make mistakes (because I’m a human!) but I’ve learned so much on this journey of self-love and met some amazing people along the way. Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, I have to remind myself of my vows to love and respect myself and it really helps! 

Q- What was it that inspired you to marry yourself?

Well, I was recovering from a bad break up. It wasn’t the first time I’d been cheated on but, somehow, this time it had really knocked me. I couldn’t help blaming myself and feeling like it must be my fault. Then, one morning, a few months down the line, I woke up and was so relieved to feel my usual sense of optimism returning. The sun was streaming through the window and I looked around my bedroom and realised that I wasn’t the loser; I loved my life - my family, friends, home and, most importantly, myself! I wanted to jump up and celebrate the fact that I knew I could be fully happy without another ‘half’ to complete me. In our culture, everyone blindly applauds you when you announce you’re ‘in a relationship’ but you don’t get nearly the same reaction when you decide to focus on your relationship with yourself. In fact, everyone pities you when you’re single. I decided it was time for that to change and I figured - what better way to celebrate self-love than with a wedding?! 

Q- What does sologamy mean to you and how do you deal with people who don’t understand?

For me, sologamy is an ongoing commitment to self-compassion. After all, kindness begins with the self. And, once you start to acknowledge and accept things about yourself, I think you’re in a much better position to have more meaningful relationships with other people. Not everyone gets this, there are many who read the clickbait headlines and react in anger or ridicule. It’s kind of bizarre how nasty the trolls are, I don’t really get it, because there’s nothing more harmless than working on loving yourself! However, the way I deal with it is to write a novel about it - it’s been very therapeutic.

Q- Tell us a little about the book and what did you find most difficult about writing your first novel?

READER, I MARRIED ME is based loosely on my own experiences of sologamy but it is fiction. I’ve dramatised all the different layers there are to self-love. It’s a light-heartedly subversive challenge to the traditional rom-com narrative which suggests you need to find ‘the one’ for your ‘happily ever after’. I’ve always wanted to write a book and this has been such an awesome learning curve. I guess the hardest thing was realising that the action in a book isn’t like the action in real life - where you might be in lots of different locations and meeting lots of different people every week. I had work hard to keep the story arc focused on the key themes; luckily I had the excellent guidance of my publishers at Trapeze Books.

Q- What does self-love mean to you?

Self-love is a bit of a buzz-word at the moment. For me, it’s more than taking a hot bath and treating yourself to a glass of wine or chocolate. It’s about paying attention to what’s going on in your body and mind, it’s about acknowledging that there are some things you can change and learn from and others that are out of your control. I think self-love is also about gratitude and being ‘happily ever now’ - it’s important to want what you have and not always have what you want. 

Q- Your wedding dress was vintage from Beyond Retro if you could have had the wedding dress of any celebrity from history who would you choose?

Oooooh, if I get the choice I’d probably have to go with the queen of style - Gabrielle Bonheur ‘Coco’ Chanel!

READER, I  MARRIED ME! is available from the 18th May and you can get your free ticket to join the celebrations in Brighton here.

words by Eloise Gendry

Sustainable Spotlight Interview - Gemma

Sustainable Spotlight Interview - Gemma

There's no better way of finding out more about sustainability in Beyond Retro than from our incredible staff! Sustainable Spotlight is a new series of interviews with the staff that make our company tick - from warehouse, store and head office across the globe.

We spoke to Gemma, our Beyond Retro LABEL Designer to find out more about her role, the impact her role has on the environment and what she loves about working within the sustainability lead the Beyond Retro company!

  • What’s your role in Beyond Retro/Bank & Vogue and what exactly does it entail?
  • I’m the designer for Beyond Retro’s Label brand. My job is to find a creative solution to the excess amount of clothing which can not be sold within our vintage range and would otherwise be destined for landfill. Inspired by current and future trends I redesign garments either through customising, altering or using the fabric from a garment to create something completely new to give them a new purpose!

  • What’s your favourite part of the job?
  • Being able to create relevant and trendy designs and know that I am doing something to help the planet at the same time. We get to travel to India to work with the manufacturing team out there and it’s great having lots of interaction with the other teams in the business

  • Tell us more about how your role impacts the circular economy?
  • Living in the throwaway society we seem to have been accustomed to I think everyone is becoming more and more aware of the impact the fashion industry has on the world and the people on it. We have a great platform here where we can educate customers to make smarter choices when buying clothing and show how you can still dress fashionably affordable and not have to succumb to fast fashion.

  • What’s been the most interesting thing you have learnt about the sustainability of the fashion industry through doing your role?
  • Visiting the clothing recycling warehouses has really opened my eyes to the amount of clothing we are throwing away. The fashion industry has become faster and faster with ever changing trend and styles and the high street producing millions and millions of items of clothing which may only ever get worn a handful of times before being discarded and moving onto the next.

  • How have you seen the way we perceive sustainability change?

    Over the last few years, there has definitely been much more media spotlight on the issue of sustainable fashion and lots of big companies are starting to make changes within their business to try and help contribute to finding a solution. Take back schemes are becoming more common and designers are starting to take more action to raise awareness and make a change.

  • What do you try to do in your everyday life to help impact the environment positively?
  • I try and live as consciously as I can - recycling where possible, only driving my car when essential, reduce plastic usage where possible. I buy second-hand clothing and furniture and give to charity when something is no longer suitable for me to use. Small changes can make a big difference.

  • What do you wish you did better?
  • Finding the time to go to good fresh food grocers where items are not packaged in plastic.

  • What do you see in the future of the recycling industry?
  • I definitely feel like there are positive changes starting to happen with the government making new laws and trying to ban products which are damaging to the environment. I would like to see more companies who have power and influence setting examples and raising awareness so others will follow suit.

  • What do you think is key to reducing waste in the fashion world?

    I think encouraging everyone to make smarter choices when buying clothing. If it’s something that will be discarded within a short space of time then is it worth it? Investing in good quality long lasting pieces rather than throw away fashion will make a big difference. I also think that bigger companies need to look at the amount of clothing they are producing and re-evaluate the necessity of what they are manufacturing.  

  • What’s your top sustainable tip for our customers?
  • Be more mindful when shopping and don’t just buy things because of a ‘fad’. By taking the time to shop around and investing in better quality and better fitting products its more than likely they will become a staple piece in your wardrobe and you won’t want to throw it away!

     For more helpful tips on becoming more sustainable in everyday life, check out our blog for some super helpful tips on how to reduce your environmental impact.

    Beyond Retro team in India

    Meet Our Reworked Vintage Team From India!

    This Fashion Revolution week, we're focusing on our vision to make the fashion industry more sustainable. With our Reworked Vintage range being created entirely from recycled materials and to get the conversation on eco-friendly fashion started, we're talking to the talented ladies behind our remixed Reworked Vintage collection in India about their role in the company, their ideas of sustainability within the field and what they get up to in their free time.

    Padmini Venugopal - Raw Material Manager 

    Beyond Retro In India
    Hey Padmini! How long have you been working at Beyond Retro?
    I have been working in Beyond Retro since 2014! 
    What is your role and what does it entail?
    My role in the company is to procure raw material for our production process. I'm guided by the UK and Canadian teams on what exactly they need and my team of 17 have the task of then meeting these requirements. 
    What do you enjoy most about your work?
    I add life to every garment that's made in Beyond Retro. Since it's a rework of existing garments and accessories, we are able to be innovative in every product we make. We explore ways on how to create things that the customer would love. The ability to think innovatively each day is the best bit about my work.  
    Why do you think sustainability is important in the fashion industry?
    Sustainability is definitely important in the fashion industry because as citizens of Earth we need to protect the environment for future generations. We are responsible for every bit of damage inflicted on the atmosphere, environment and nature. It's high time that we raise our hands and do our bit to help every day. 
    What are your interests outside of work?
    Outside of work, I like cooking, playing badminton and reading books. 

    Deepali Gajra - Fashion Designer

    Beyond Retro Fashion Designer
    Hi Deepali! How long have you been working at Beyond Retro?
    I've been working for Bank & Vogue (our parent company) for three years! 
    What is your role and what does it entail?
    As a designer, my work begins by contacting the London design team where we discuss upcoming design ideas and clothing trends. After receiving the final designs, I get to work sourcing relevant hardware and trims for the upcoming clothing and accessories. 
    My main role on the factory floor is sampling, where I explain the design to sample cutters and tailors and describe how they're going to be used. After we finish the sample, we send photos and examples back to London to get them approved. Once the sample is given the go-ahead, I check all spec sheets and trims to make sure everything is ready for production and iron out any problems. 
    What do you enjoy most about your work?
    This is my favourite question!
    So in my work I really enjoy making new design samples, it's always fun to make a new sample and see what it looks like after completion. I also love when the London team comes over to work together on new season designs. 
    Why do you think sustainability is important in the fashion industry?
    The fashion industry is the second most pollutant industry in the world. Sustainable and eco-fashion is a part of the growing philosophy of sustainability where the goal is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility. 
    What are your interests outside of work?
    I like listening to music, travelling and adventurous hobbies like camping, tracking and hiking. But mostly I like shopping ;) 


    Nithya Mukandan - E-commerce Manager

    Beyond Retro Website
    Hello Nithya! How long have you been working at Beyond Retro?
    I've officially completed 5 years as of this April! 
    What is your role and what does it entail?
    I manage the online production of Beyond Retro, making sure supply meets demand. 
    What do you enjoy most about your work?
    That the whole team works together to make stuff happen. We all support each other to offer creative feedback and make our ideas a reality.
    I love the challenge of coming in every day and solving the problem of creating more traffic to the website from around the world. Each day is different and a constant adventure, I just love my job and my team! 
    Why do you think sustainability is important in the fashion industry?
    Sustainable clothing is really important. There are many elements that go into producing clothing: the fabric materials, the type of dyes, the amount of pollution, the transportation of the products, the factory employees, the amount of water used, etc. 
    Sustainably-made clothing is produced by finding ways to make all of these elements less harmful to the planet we live in. For example, using organic cotton over plastics like polyester can be a more sustainable way to save the environment from toxic elements.
    What are your interests outside of work?
    Travelling all around the globe! 
    It helps me connect with new people, which helps improve my interpersonal skills. Meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds helps you connect. This acquired skill is useful when working with global distribution. And after a full year of work projects, it's like a much-needed dose of oxygen. 
    Discover our treasure trove of sustainably Reworked Vintage goodies and uncover the gems that our talented team have been working on. 
    Beyond Retro at Innovation Forum

    Steven Bethell at The Innovation Forum 2018

    Five years after the Rana Plaza incident, this Fashion Revolution Week the Innovation Forum is hosting a two-day conference on Sustainable apparel to discuss how brands can transform supply chains. With global speakers from all areas of the fashion world, the conference will look at the latest innovations in circular fashion, transparency and factory engagement in the apparel industry. 

    Our very own director Steven Bethell will be taking part at this year's event, so we caught up with him to find out more about Bank & Vogue's involvement.

    Steve Bethell

    Why did Bank & Vogue decide to get involved in this year's Innovation forum?
    With over 20 years of working in the recycling industry, and with 15 years of Beyond Retro, we see this is an exciting time for our industry. There is a huge possibility for the landscape of second-hand fashion to change in the next 20 years and we are excited to be a part of this future. 

     The Innovation Forum has a huge list of guest speakers and an amazing agenda, which talks are you most looking forward to?
    I'm interested in everyone's idea's, it's extremely important in this industry to listen to each other and share new thoughts and breakthroughs.

     Tell us a little more about the talk your taking part in?
    'How can brands ensure that circularity is embedded from the design stage? ' is a panel discussion to create conversation around the future of manufacturing. 
    We'll be sharing our experiences through the success of our Beyond Retro Stores in UK and Sweden have proved that there is a huge appetite for a sustainable alternative! The transparency of the 'used' industry makes us different to the other methods of manufacturing all over the world, and though it's not easy, it's an exciting challenge that we are looking forward to discussing further. 

    I'll be in discussion with Katrin Ley from Fashion for Good, Cecilia Takayama from Kering, Cyndi Rhoades from Worn Again and Sigrid Barnekow from Mistra Future Fashion

    How are Bank & Vogue helping to transform the supply chain?
    We're excited about going to the next level and providing a second life for used fabrics in our vintage offering and our Beyond Retro LABEL range which creates trend-led, upcycled pieces from reclaimed fabrics. There is a transparency throughout Bank & Vogue and the wider team, we're proud to show where our pieces come from and who is making them. 

     What is the importance of an ethical and sustainable economy to you?
    I am constantly getting energy from nature, which gives me the motivation to find out how to make less impact on the world. 

     What advice would you give to those who want to contribute to the circular economy on a smaller scale?
    Start with actively looking to buy used items, after a while, you'll get a daily appetite for it. Ask questions, find out where is the product coming from? Who made it? How is it made? How did it end up here? Find value in your new-to-you purchase!

    For more ways to keep sustainable read our 10 tips on reducing your environmental impact!

     To find out more about the innovation forum, listen to podcasts with people in the industry and to find out more about the Sustainable Apparel Conference, head over to their website:

    International Women's Day

    Meet The Wonder Women Behind Beyond Retro

    We're celebrating this year's International Women's Day by asking the beautifully brainy ladies behind Beyond Retro about their inspirations and aspirations for the female future. 

    Casie Brown: Vintage Picker 

    Vintage Picker

    Who's your biggest female icon and why?
    Yoko Ono! Her album Approximately Infinite Universe is such a powerful feminist statement. It's created with humour, compassion and ideas that still resonate today. 
    What's the most important aspect of the women's movement to you? 
    Intersectionality; in order for the women's movement to be successful it needs to be representative of ALL self-identifying women, across race, gender, class, ability and ethnicity. 
    What are your hopes for the future of feminism?
    That the future generation of women grow up recognizing and naturally utilizing the importance of their voices and stories, and bodies. 

    Emma Lodin: Store Manager 

    Emma Lodin

    Who's your biggest female icon and why?
    I'm going way back in time and say The Suffragettes. Those strong female icons empowered women to start thinking for themselves. Their legacy and message lives on today. 
    What's the most important aspect of the women's movement to you? 
    To raise awareness of the millions of women who still find themselves oppressed.
    What are your hopes for the future of feminism?
    The utopian dream would surely be that the term feminism becomes a thing of the past when equality becomes something that is inherent to everyone on earth. 

    Alishia Dickenson: Digital Marketing Assistant Manager

    Alishia Dickenson

    Who's your biggest female icon and why?
    Cliched as it sounds, my fabulous Mama. Her positivity and love of life is infectious; she has a wild laugh, an uplifting spirit and sees the beauty in everything. She's definitely my go-to person on a rainy day!
    My celebrity icon is Tracee Ellis Ross. She's witty, eloquent and induces serious hair envy.
    What's the most important aspect of the women's movement to you? 
    Support of one another emotionally, verbally and vocationally. For too long women have been pitted against one another and we oftentimes hold the same prejudices as some men without even realising it. It's not a case of being a race to the top, it's about getting there together.   
    What are your hopes for the future of feminism?
    That it will no longer need to be a movement because there is a mutual respect and admiration between the genders, and we've achieved what we set out to do. Idealistic yes, but it can be done one day! 

    Nithya Mukandan: E-Commerce Manager 

    E-commerce manager
    Who's your biggest female icon and why?
    My Mom. Playing different roles so beautifully at the same time, be it the role of a caring mother, a loving wife, a strong adviser and managing all of them with a sweet smile whilst still working is nothing less than magic. 

    She taught us to "never say can't". I am indebted to her entire generation of women who blazed a path for me and my generation of females. 
    What's the most important aspect of the women's movement to you?
    Opening up huge opportunities for women, ensuring them equal access to higher education, compelling colleges and universities to support women's athletics. an undeniable improvement in the lives of women everywhere.
    What are your hopes for the future of feminism?
    The future of feminism should be to celebrate femininity because of it's essence instead of as a reminder of basic rights. Individual choice and equal opportunity for everyone.

    Caroline Jonasan: Office Manager 

    Beyond Retro Office Manager
    Who's your biggest female icon and why?
    When it comes to vintage style icons my favorites have been the same for years: Katharine Hepburn, Jane Birkin, Kim Gordon and Nico. 
    But if we talk general female icons I could probably go on forever cause I'm quite obsessed with tales of mysterious women through history - everyone from Pocahontas to Cleopatra and Jeanne D'Arc... Sure, I'm a geek.
    What's the most important aspect of the women's movement to you?
    Equal pay, to be free from sexual violence, free abortion and right to education for women worldwide.
    What are your hopes for the future of feminism?
    That the word feminism in the future will have the same value and importance as the word democracy. In a nearer future I hope the Feminist Party in Sweden will have some success in the election later this year.

    Tatiana Nicholaeva: Production Analyst 

    Tatiana Nicholaeva

    Who's your biggest female icon and why?
    Irena Sendler, she is a brave woman who saved approximately 2,500 Jewish children during World War II. 
    What's the most important aspect of the women's movement to you? 
    The most important aspect of the women's movement to me is the acceptance women as human beings with rights, equal to men's rights. 
    What are your hopes for the future of feminism?
    That the future generation of women grow up recognizing and naturally utilizing the importance of their voices, stories and bodies. 

    Sophie Guyte: Assistant Manager

    Assistant store manager

    Who's your biggest female icon and why?
    My old dear, we've had some family hardships which allowed me to see her strength and determination. She amazes me everyday. She's truly my best friend and role model!
    What's the most important aspect of the women's movement to you? 
    That it's helping to inspire and motivate generations of women. 
    What are your hopes for the future of feminism?
    That it leads to more strong women in positions of power and authority. 


    Boyzone valentines day card

    Keeping Up With Kazvare

    With just over a week left until Valentines Day, love is well and truly in the air whether you like it or not. This year Beyond Retro is celebrating with a bunch of hilarious pop-culture inspired cards from the Kazvare Made It. Featuring all your favourite lovebirds from the 90s, we've got IRL honey's like Britney and Justin making an appearance as well as the fictional dream team that is Titanic's very own Jack and Rose. 

    We caught up with the super talented illustrator to find out exactly what is behind these bad boys.

    Valentines day cards

    • Hi Kazvare, describe your work in 3 words...
    Bold, colourful, playful.
    • Where did your love for illustration come from?
    I've always loved illustrating. I remember particularly loving to draw the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was younger and would send my creations to various relatives (whether they wanted them or not).
    • What drew you towards using celebrities as your main subjects?
    I find popular culture and the rise of celebrity fascinating; I incorporate famous figures into a portion of my work because there is often a great deal of fun I can inject into whatever I'm making. Moreover, having an immediately recognisable icon is a way to draw people to my art by using the familiar.
    • Your captions are a fun play on words, whats the cheesiest line you've come up with yet?
    I try to aim less for cheese and more for the LOLs. I think making Valentine's Cards can be tricky in that respect; adding enough sentiment but still keeping things lighthearted is the balance I try to aim for most of the time.
    • We're super excited about the new Valentines range, got any love horror stories of your own?
    No horror stories per se. A few years ago I had to go on a day trip (the day after Valentine's Day) to Paris by myself because my boyfriend didn't manage to get his passport back in time. But I had a great time to be honest; I got to visit all of my favourite thrift stores in Paris and I then went to the Louvre mostly out of guilt and just to say that I did something 'cultural', ha! The shirts I purchased were obvs the highlight of the trip though.
    • What's next on the cards for Kazvare Made It?
    We have lots of exciting things in store. We are definitely working on world domination and have already begun with an amazing feature in VOGUE Japan's January 2018 issue. We also aim to expand our range and release a few fun books we've been working on. Stay tuned and follow us on Instagram and Twitter to witness our adventures!
    Fancy sending your Valentine a truly hilarious card? Shop our selection of Kazvare Made It creations in store today. 
    Staff Xmas Wishlist: Jessica

    Staff Xmas Wishlist: Jessica

    In the run-up to Christmas day, we are asking our beloved Beyond Retro staff members what they're getting up to over the festive period. It's our second busiest time of year so of course, everybody is loving being pestered right now, although the majority of us are in high spirits and are waiting in excitement for Santa's arrival.

    First up on the nice list is Jessica Hayman, one of our lovely sales assistants working in our flagship Cheshire Street sore near Brick Lane. 

    Hi Jess! What have you asked Santa for this year?

    Santa isn't real babe.

    Yes, he is. What would you like anyway?

    An industrial sewing machine, lots of clothes and make-up.

    What are the best and worst gifts you've ever received?

    The worst was a broken iPhone and the best was my dog.

    If you had limitless bags of cash, what would you buy your best friend this Christmas?

    Lots of designer clothes and trainers.

    Fingers crossed you win the lottery then. What about your Mum?

    A car that actually works and a holiday.

    What is your Christmas party outfit or festive jumper looking like this year?

    It's a Louis Theroux jumper that says "Dashing Theroux The Snow".

    What do you get up to outside of Beyond Retro?

    Seeing family, visiting exhibitions and going for drinks with friends. 

    Fab! Thanks, Jess. 

    Artist Interview: Arran Shurvinton's Nosferatu

    Artist Interview: Arran Shurvinton's Nosferatu

     In 1922, the world saw the ever so frightening and highly influential silent horror film, Nosferatu. When this classic Halloween creature became Arran's stage persona, we just had to interview him to find out where his love for creepy creatures came from!

    What made you decide to become Nosferatu on the reg?

    I've had a long-standing love affair with silent, black and white movies from the 20's for many years. While I was trying to develop my character persona for stage work, my physicality and art deco gothic aesthetic pointed the way to the 1922 Nosferatu by F.W Murnau, and I fell in love with becoming my interpretation of the character.
    If Nosferatu was considering branching out from his usual maxi cape, what would he consider wearing?
    Well, as a gender non-binary creature the options are limitless, and, "living" through a countless number of style changes (and centuries!) they've seen a lot of trends come and go. However, I see them being drawn to architectural pieces, like the extreme body sculpting tailoring of the 70's/80's or a trailing maxi dress from the 30's, but they aren't something who likes to put limits on personal style. 

    Your fashion sense is very spooky. Who are your biggest style influences?

    I'm very much influenced with whatever I'm "in to" at the moment. Currently, I'm very inspired by looks of the early "Shakespeares Sister" music videos. Androgyny in monochrome.

    How many products and how much time does it take to get into character?

    I keep the colour pallet very minimal as, they are a black/white character, but I find red really makes him pop on stage, so with the prosthetic ears, teeth and eyes, I keep his skin products minimal, but use around ten to twelve products to get the right effect on the lips and around the eyes. All in all, it will take me as long to get ready as I can. I love the process of transforming, so it can go from 45 minutes to 3 hours depending on how long I have, and I'll love every second of it.

    What does Nosferatu like to get up to when he’s not on stage?

    Well, after being locked away for so long, they are ready to get out and see the world! They can be found in as many theatres, clubs and cabarets as will have them, and always be happy to dance, take pictures, give hugs, with those who aren't too scared to make the first move!

    What other characters have you dressed up as?

    I'm always attracted to a good monster, I've been a snake person for a hot second, a spider woman is on the slow burner and a semi-real vaudeville woman called Frieda Hollandaise of the "Hollandaise Sisters" all infused with that "Deco Punk", dark comedy, a gothic sensibility that I love.

    Does Nosferatu have any Halloween plans?

    Well, they are desperate to get out and meet as many people as possible while the opportunity is here so hopefully, cloudy weather permitting, they will be lurking around the Brighton Beyond Retro store for as long as they can, to meet everyone and try on as much as possible. Then, the evening of the 31st, some friends of theirs, Sophie and Megan (Cinebra) are holding a History of Horror seminar at the Brighton Rialto Theatre in which they make a delightful cameo. The show starts at 20:00 so cancel all plans and get yourselves down there, you may even see little Noss Noss in the shadowy corners.


    If just like us, you're a huge fan of Arran's work, you can follow the life of Nosferatu over on his Facebook, Instagram or Youtube channel!
    All images by Greg Bailey at Alright Darling Zine
    Feeling the Halloween spirit? Shop our huge selection in-store and online!