London is one of the fashion capitals of the world, but I have to admit I have not experienced too much of it yet. Fashion is not my usual forte, and never had to be because as a researcher any outfits were covered up with lab coats. While I enjoy dressing up, in my previous work it just wasn’t possible. Working with zebrafish, I also had to adapt my outfits to suit the lab environment (28°C animal rooms and lots of water). After leaving academia, I joined a software company where the dress code is also quite relaxed. Although when I first moved to London I was known as the ‘suit girl’, but I soon adopted a more casual approach to my day-to-day wardrobe. Back in April (yes this post is long overdue), I ventured out of my usual comfort-zone (comfort-clothes?) and enjoyed a rather fashion-filled weekend.
Saturday: Clotho Hackathon
In my quest for breaking out of my usual routine, and discovering all that London has to offer, I decided to join a fashion hackathon. It was organised by Clotho London, a sustainable fashion start-up that collects unwanted wardrobe items from London closets, and passes them on to good new homes (you can trade in the clothes that just sit in your closet because you end up never wearing them, even though they are lovely). In my regular life, a hackathon has a completely different meaning and involves many developers. The Clotho hackathon was quite a bit different. We met at Google Campus, and started off the day with some coffee and snacks.
Vivien and Caroline, the ladies behind Clotho, gave a brief presentation about how they started their sustainable fashion business and some instruction for the day. We then set off on a frenzy of cutting, pinning, and sewing. Piles of clothes not suitable for resale were transformed into unique outfits.
I started off combining the top of a pair of shorts with the bottom part of a skirt to create an updated look. After finishing that off, I moved on to a bigger project. Before starting the day I was leafing through the book “wardrobe surgery” by Junky Styling, and fell in love with the instructions for an upside down blazer jacket. It involves taking off the sleeves, re-attaching them, and shaping the jacket again. A striped jacket with a darker lining was the perfect candidate because the reshaped piece shows off the lining in the new collar.
The Clotho girls made a video of the event, which you can see below. In fact, at around 1:02 min you can see me sitting behind a sewing machine!
Sunday: Clothing Swap in East London
It was a very fashion filled weekend and on Sunday I joined the Clotho ladies again for a fashion swapping event. The premise was to bring a bag of clothes and accessories that otherwise are cluttering your space, and leave with some new pieces by the end of the afternoon. I gathered a number of different pieces and cycled over to a swanky East London flat where we would have brunch, and swap clothes.
Once I arrived there was already quite a growing pile of lovely pieces from the Clotho inventory. As more women piled in, the crowd and the pile grew further. I cleared out half a drawer at home, and came back with a dress, a cute little purse, and a pair of pants.
I even received some style advice from a professional stylist! Daisy from Wardrobe Workshop was attending the event as well and offered her professional eye. She got lucky herself and snapped up the perfect faux white coat and matching ear warmers with built-in headphones.
While I enjoy dressing up and I do like fashion, I do not consider myself a fashionista. Nevertheless, I have some roots in fashion: my grandmother was a professional seamstress, and a very good one at that before her eye-sight started failing her. Being involved in the sewing projects during the hackathon and connecting with the fashionable ladies at the clothing swap was a fun way for me to feel a bit more connected to my roots again. Who knows, you might find me paying a bit more attention again to fashion after this experience!
Want to refresh your wardrobe at a clothing swap? There will be a tea, scones and clothes party on July 4th.