Leather shoes, jackets lined with fur and never-before-worn designs makes the world of high-end fashion accessible to a very limited audience, but for Charity Fashion Live (CFL), style doesn’t equate to how much money is in your bank account.
“It’s to prove that second hand can be chic,” says London-based stylist Emma Slade Edmondson. “You don’t need to have a massive budget to be on-trend and to get into fashion and enjoy it.”
In its fourth year at London Fashion Week (LFW), CFL offers an alternative to the official schedule’s top designers and lavish outfits, usually made for select body types. Using only charity shop donations—those found in Oxfam—CFL recreates runway looks as they emerge on the catwalk. The event, led by Edmondson, demonstrates that a bit of inventiveness can bring inclusivity to fashion week styles and trends.
“Charity Fashion Live is all about showcasing secondhand and getting people to be creative with the textiles that are already existing,” Edmondson tells The Creators Project in the midst of Oxfam clothing racks and sorting piles.
For fans of vintage shopping, browsing through donated clothing can kind of be like playing the lottery, where luck can come in the form of a Burberry raincoat or Moschino purse. For LFW, CFL recreated 13 looks as they appeared in the Saturday, September 19th shows, including top designers Hunter, SIBLING, and Mother of Pearl.
“You can be sure it’s going to be a fraction of the price compared to if you were going to buy a designer look,” says Edmondson, who bought her Michael Kors laptop bag for 99p at an Oxfam. “But we’re looking at different audiences here.”
Typically reserved for press and buyers, fashion weeks were once a private affair, but social media and the digital streaming of shows has allowed for public access to even the most lucrative events. Certain tabooed topics are also making an entrance.
“This is a nice way of opening a dialogue to sustainability in fashion,” says Edmondson.
Charity Fashion Live Film - London Fashion Week SS16 | Oxfam from Gavin Toomey on Vimeo. Charity Fashion Live does SS16 looks in vintage with film director Gavin Toomey and Beautiful Train Ltd.
According to 2011 statistics from sustainable resource advocates WRAP, 386 thousand tons of clothing end up in UK landfills each year. By extending the life of clothing—by donation, for example—the fashion industry’s immense carbon footprint can be reduced.
“From that perspective, it’s really key to get people excited about what they can do with these textiles in fashion design,” explains Edmondson. “That’s even in terms of what’s in your wardrobe. Most people don’t use 30% of what’s there.”
With sustainability in mind, CFL promoted this longevity of clothing throughout London’s Oxfams during LFW. Embodying recycling, feasible and stylish values, was a crochet workshop, alteration advice and more examples on how to create runway looks out of your closet.
“Fashion is for everybody,” says Edmondson. “It should be for everybody.”