Saturday, May 13, 2017

Catching up with Vic & Lily: Vintage Sustainable Fashion

I try not to think about the fact that my girl Vicki is a bazillion miles away in London, but the truth is... she is. Not only is she a fellow lover of cheese and wine, late night shenanigans and tattoos, she was for the longest time, my local vintage dealer. She fueled my obsession with vintage with her fabulous selection of vintage dresses, skirts and blouses like no one's business. And, we even collaborated on a little vintage rescue project, too. Rehoming good vintage pieces is a worthy cause!

Anyhow, she's appeared on my blog before. First with an Etsy Confessions interview, another time when we did a fur coat shoot together and multiple other occasions. I thought it was about time to catch up with her on the blog and let you all know what she's been up to since leaving Hong Kong, especially as it relates to the topic of sustainable fashion and Fashion Revolution (I know, I know...I'm behind in my posts, but so be it. That's life).

I noticed recently that Vicki had changed her Instagram profile to read "Vintage Sustainable Fashion" and I was curious about what brought about the change. As long as I've known Vicki, she's not only curated beautiful vintage pieces, but she's made creative alterations to them (taken off sleeves, brought up hemlines, etc) and even completely reconstructed and upcycled pieces to salvage them. Included in my collection of Vic & Lily pieces are some Vic & Lily originals like the top seen here.

While living in Hong Kong, Vicki had begun to sour on the fashion industry. In her own words, she'd become a little bitter about it. Moving to London, she was ready for a change.

"For a long time I bought and wore vintage (mostly 'cos I was getting better quality garments for waaay cheaper) and that was OK, but I would end up wearing them to death - I miss my classic black silk shirt that I cut off the sleeves. In my last few years in HK I started to shop more consciously, purchasing better quality high street garments to add to the vintage. I still shop like this when I really need something that I can't find in vintage shops or markets. I don't have many things that I don't need, a space saving habit I have kept with me to an extent from HK."

Finding her footing in London was tough. The vintage market is much harder to get into since there is so much choice. It is much more difficult to distinguish herself from others who are selling at the same price point.

Her "aha" moment came to her as she was walking to an interview.

"Walking down Oxford Street researching for an interview project I was just thinking...none of these people really care what we design really, they don't care about the process etc etc. And it was then I decided that I didn't want to be part of that world anymore, fast, mass produced fashion does not share the values that I do."

"I love changing things up using my experiences from designing to help bring a new life to some vintage that isn't either selling or really in a great shape to sell. I believe this is the most sustainable of 'sustainable fashion.' So many clothes are thrown away, but what if they could just be changed into something else? The fabric, once deconstructed, can be used to create something else. It is slightly more time consuming than just buying fabric, and no two garments will ever be the same (unless a whole lot of clothes are the same perhaps) but that makes each piece more special, I think. My shorts for example are all the same style in shape but they are all from a different dress or shirt. I even have a pair myself that was a blouse."

Like me, Vicki has also watched the documentary The True Cost which painfully depicts how our consumption is negatively impacting our environment and garment workers around the world. As a fellow believer of the importance of sustainable fashion, it confirms so much of what we already know. "It made me so mad to be the consumer and I so badly want to make everyone I know watch it with the hope that we can all do something about it."

"Sustainability for me as Vic & Lily and as a person is key to making the world a better place. " 

So, even as I feel a bit sad writing this post and it has made me miss this lady SOO much, I love hearing her muse about her hopes for Vic & Lily. She hopes to make the redesigns to be more of a collection and build up the basic block patterns to become the foundation of the Vic & Lily label. She'll still continue to sell vintage as is "because if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and to get into a few markets and grow a following in London.

For you readers, here's your opportunity to get to know Vic & Lily if you don't already. She's offering an exclusive discount to be used in both her Etsy and ASOS Marketplace shops. Simply enter VICXNOR25 at checkout for 25% off for the next month. What are you waiting for?

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