Friday 29 January 2016

Malala, Used Clothes, And An Education Revolution

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Malala Yousafzai. Everyone knows her name. The girl who stands up for the right for everyone, regardless of gender, to get an education.  Now The Malala Fund is taking the message worldwide, with a little help from the most unassuming of items: a bag of used clothes.

In association with donated clothing programme Schoola, the Fund has provided students across the USA with He Named Me Malala bags. The plan: to fill those bags with lightly used clothing. Those items are resold, and the profits used to fund educational programmes across the globe.

The project has so far been a blazing success. Over 1500 filled bags have been returned to Schoola–a combined weight of 15 tons of clothing! So far, the kids of America have raised $103,000 for the Malala Fund, just by giving back some of the clothes they've either got bored with or simply outgrown.

There's an educational aspect too, of course. Information packs are sent out with the bags about the fund and its mission. By giving to The Malala Fund, students can learn about why millions of girls are not in school, and the importance of getting an education.

The reasons are manifold. Some girls have to work, or are tasked with looking after younger brothers and sisters. Some are forced into marriage at puberty. The threat of violence hangs over everything. For girls across the globe, it can be simply too dangerous to go to school. Teaching Western children and teens that something they take for granted as part of their everyday life is, for many, an unattainable dream, can be a shock that may just spark further action.

The money raised through the bags is helping to fund school programs and safe spaces for girls in Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Nigeria. It also helps Syrian refugees at risk from child marriage in Jordan and Lebanon.

Sadly, the project is currently US-only, but do read more about it here. Perhaps this is a project that could work in other Western countries, spreading the word about education for everyone–one bag of used clothes at a time.

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Tricker's: A True Companion

Pictured: The Henry Elastic Brogue in 1001 Burnished finish.
I have my eye on this one...
In some parts of the country it's already officially the wettest January on record. Although remarkably we've managed to stay warm and dry here at The Pier, we find that we're choosing our outerwear with a little more care– and a cautious eye towards the latest weather reports.

Dressing for damp weather while still looking good is something we British do very well. After all, we get a lot of practice. While there are plenty of modern styles out there, the sustainably-minded gentleman has always paid attention to the more traditional brands. Not just out of a sense of history, but because they offer investment pieces that are designed to last for a lifetime...and beyond.

Take Northampton-based footwear firm Tricker's. Founded in 1829, they have been providing sturdy and long-lasting boots and shoes to country folk for nearly two centuries. Tricker's quickly established a reputation for outstanding build quality, and became the brand of choice for farm and estate owners as well as the landed gentry.

In 1840 Walter James Barltrop, future son-in-law to founder Joseph Tricker, built a model shoe that would become the prototype for a new kind of country footwear: welted, and therefore waterproof. The thing is, Barltrop was only seven at the time. How's that for knowing your career path?

As the decades rolled on, Tricker's continued to innovate while holding onto traditional values. Moving into a new factory in Northampton in 1904 (still their base today) enabled the firm to build workshops that allowed their craftspeople to undertake specialised operations beyond the reach of other manufacturers. The elegant shape of the Tricker's boot became formalised into the design we still see today in 1926. New tanning processes developed in the late 1960s provided footwear that was softer and easier to break in, while still retaining the trademark durability and weatherproofing.

Today, Tricker's are still going strong. Their Nothhampton workshops regularly recieve and restore boots and shoes that are more than 20 years old, making them as good as new and ready for another double decade of wear and tear.

And that's the point of featuring the brand here. Apparel that is not just built to last but that can be repaired if needed is a cornerstone of sustainable fashion. Yes, the initial investment is steep, but you're buying a pair of shoes or boots that will be faithful lifelong companions. Maybe the style isn't to everyone's taste. But for this writer, a classic English profile tied up with impeccable sustainable credentials make Tricker's a brand worth celebrating.

Right, I'm off for a tramp in the woods. Puddles and mud hold no fear for me!

For more, hie thee to the website.


Tuesday 26 January 2016

The London Wildlife Trust: Keeping The Capital Green

Pic credit: Hedgehog III by Kalle Gustafsson via Flickr -

Image provided through a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 licence:

We think of London as a thriving, busy urban centre. A place of art, commerce and culture. We don't really consider the green parts of the city at all. But our capital is scattered with parks and wild spaces, with an honest to goodness National Forest licking at the eastern boundary of Greater London.

These places are important. They're good for the soul and the health of the capital and the people who live in it. From the grand expanses of Hyde Park to the calm sanctuaries of Sydenham Hill Wood, London is in some ways defined by the spaces that turn their backs on the stone and skyscrapers.

The green spaces of London are home to all manner of wildlife. From insects to birds to foxes and hedgehogs, if you know where to look old London Town is alive with interest. It should be another reason to celebrate.

But of course, things are never that simple. Developers and property magnates are always hovering, ready to swoop on unwatched and unprotected green spaces and build on them. Their argument: London needs more buildings. It's an argument that ignores the role that the parks and meadows play in the health of the capital as a whole. They are not just places for people to relax, or animal refuges. London's green spaces play a vital role in maintaining a heathy eco-system, helping with temperature control, air quality and even flood protection.

The guardians of London's green spaces are the London Wildlife Trust, who have been keeping an eye on the ecological life of the city since 1981. Their remit is simple: to protect and maintain over forty nature reserves across the capital, and to ensure that Londoners know that they don't have to travel outside the M25 to see a patch of grass. They work on projects that open up neglected areas of the city, not to another block of over-priced flats, but to the people of London as a whole. From Tump 53, an old munitions site in the heart of Thamesmead that's now a nature reserve, to the re-opening of the capital's most expansive purpose-built waterway, Walthamstow Wetlands, the London Wildlife Trust is working hard to connect the capital's green spaces into a necklace of jade jewels. A beautiful, natural gift for a glamourous city.

The current campaign is a little more down to earth. They're fighting to protect London's original street urchins–the hedgehog. Numbers of the spiny critters have plummeted over the last 50 years by almost two-thirds, as their natural habitats disappear. Plans for the HS2 rail link will further endanger hedgehogs, putting at risk the last known breeding population, in Regent's Park. Supporting the campaign, writer and adventurer Ben Fogle says:

“Everybody loves hedgehogs! It’s a tragedy that they are disappearing so quickly particularly when it’s easy to help them. We can all have a go at planting a native hedge, creating gaps in fences for them to pass through, leaving leaf or log piles and allowing parts of the garden to grow wild to give them a home.”

It's a campaign that's well worth supporting, as is the work that the Trust do as a whole. Here at The Pier, we've been supplying the London Wildlife Trust with custom apparel for years. They're doing great things, helping to keep the nation's capital green.

For more on the Trust's Hedgehog campaign, check out


Friday 22 January 2016

Build Your Own Bobble

Cold out, innit? I'm writing this from the end of The Pier, watching the Thames slowly freeze over under my tiny writing shack. Even wrapped up in hoodie and scarf, I'm shivering. You know what I need? I need a nice warm bobble hat.

If you too feel the pull of the bobble, and you're in the North London area tomorrow, then you're luck's in. Our pals at Hubbub are teaming up with TRAID to host a workshop that, at the end of the day, will have you the proud owner of a lovely warm bobble hat that you made yourself!

It's all about upcycling, of course. The idea is to bring an unwanted or no longer fit for purpose jumper along to the session at the Lordship Hub Co-Op. It's the ideal opportunity to do something useful with the Xmas pullie you got for last year's Secret Santa. You'll get all the help you need to turn it into fetching new head furniture. A couple of hours and a few steps is all it takes. You'll walk away with the glow of satisfaction that comes from making something yourself. And you'll have warm ears. What more could you ask for?

In the frankly unlikely event that you don't have a spare jumper, the guys at TRAID will even sell you one, for a measly suggested donation of £3. Apart from that, it's free to get in, and all materials apart from that all-important jumper are provided. There's even a shwopping event held at the venue beforehand. If you're feeling a bit crafty tomorrow, this is the place to go.

TRAID and Hubbub's Bobble Hat Upcycling Workshop is held at the Lordship Hub Co-Op of Higham Road in Tottenham from 2:30 to 4:30 tomorrow. For more info, follow the link:

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Knickers: Model's Own

Solo charity fundraising can be tough. To succeed you need tenacity, enthusiasm, some social media savvy and above all else, an idea to hook people in.

Caroline Jones has all of the above in spades.

For the last year, she has worn an outfit sourced entirely from the racks of Cancer Research charity shops every day. Posting pics on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, her Knickers Models Own campaign has raised over £49,000 for CRUK, and made her something of a social media star in the process.

For Caroline, it's personal. Her mother died of breast cancer last year, and she began the fundraising project using clothes from the Harpenden Cancer Research shop at which both she and her mum volunteered. Initially, it was a way simply to deal with the grief.

Caroline's wisdom, warmth and good taste shone through the posts she placed online, though. Soon she was getting a ton of attention. After the BBC interviewed her, Cancer Research began to offer support, and opened up the racks of their shops across the country.

The key is in how Caroline talks to her audience. Cleverly, she uses different platforms in different ways. Instagram connects the creative community. Fashion brands check her latest outfits out on Twitter. Facebook works on a much more personal level. It's where Caroline chats with her female followers and offers tips on how to get the best out of vintage clothing.

She's realistic about the challenges. Her advice: understand that it can be lonely, and break the task down into daily chunks. But don't miss a post, and be sure to connect with your followers.

It's been a crazy 2015 for Caroline. She's had an award from Cancer Research (and a spiffy lab coat with the campaign name across the... erm, lower back portion) and JustGiving named her Creative Fundraiser of the Year. She also has a curated rack of clothes at the CRUK branch where it all started.

Somehow, I think her mum would be pleased about that.


For more info, and to donate, check out Caroline's JustGiving page. Or, if you want to dig into Caroline's tips into looking good using charity shop finds, head on over to Facebook and join the party:


Monday 18 January 2016

Frankenstein Jackets and Ghost MA-1s

William Gibson in his custom MA-1
When we think about vintage fashion, for the most part we have a clear image in mind. Girls in forties and fifties wear, lots of big skirts, spike heels, the starlet look. For the gents, snappy suits, slicked back hair: the demob style.

But there's more to vintage than that. Strangely, it takes a writer best known for his science fiction to make that point.

William Gibson, the man who brought the term "cyberspace" into common usage, is a huge aficionado of military specification (milspec) garments and workwear. This love and knowledge led to the launch, in 2004, of a capsule range of the items he loves in conjunction with Japanese label Buzz Rickson. The clothes, which include tweaked reproductions of the classic MA-1 flight jacket, came about through an unusual circumstance. Gibson, in conversation with David Shuck of, lays out the way in which the jacket came to be...

"In 2001, I was writing a novel called Pattern Recognition. The protagonist was an American woman famous for the minimalism of her style. An internet buddy of mine in Seoul happened to visit Tokyo then, and told me he’d been able to buy a reproduction military jacket there, by a company called Buzz Rickson. He was excited about it, said their stuff was exquisitely made, hard to get. He had a pal at work who collected nothing but vintage US military zippers.

These guys had an otaku thing going on like nobody’s business. It was an N-1 deck jacket. I thought that the brand sounded right for my heroine, and I liked the idea of a passionate Japanese reproduction of an old US military garment, though at the time it was just an idea, because I’d never seen anything quite like that, though I’d been to Tokyo a few times. So I invented a jacket for her, but I made it a black MA-1, because I like MA-1s on women, and because she had a very limited color-range.

Eventually I received a baffled letter from Buzz Rickson, asking why I’d put their name on something they’d never made. I explained it as best I could, apologetically, and they told they really wanted to make that jacket. They’d been getting letters from people, asking where they could buy one. So the black MA-1 was our first jacket. I had them make it a few inches longer than the original pattern, though, because most MA-1s are a little too short for me."

Gibson's love for the workwear look is informed by his former career as a vintage picker, prowling the thrift shops of his native Toronto. The gear has an appeal beyond the look: rigorously designed for functionality and wear. It's built to last. The proof: it does, and we can still buy it. Gibson says:

" 1947 a lot of American workingmen wore shirts that were better made than most people’s shirts are today. Union-made, in the United States. Better fabric, better stitching. There were work shirts that retailed for fifty cents that were closer to today’s Prada than to today’s J.Crew. Fifty cents was an actual amount of money, though. We live in an age of seriously crap mass clothing. They’ve made a science of it."

The appeal of vintage clothing is clear (and, to bring it into the remit of this blog, seriously sustainable, of course) but the scene has led to some interesting Frankenstein garments too. Bivouac tents from WW2 in particular have formed the foundation of trucker jackets and other bits of seriously hard-wearing outerwear. This upcycling of vintage materiel shows how the thrift and invention of the lean war years still has a place in the more rarified fashion world of the 21st century.

The whole article is well worth a look for insights into the interconnections between utility clothing, workwear and high fashion. And, if you're interested in the scene, Gibson has some solid tips for where to start looking. Like I said at the head of this piece–the guy knows his milspec.


Friday 15 January 2016

Goodbye David, Goodbye Alan.

It has been a horrible week. In fact 2016 so far is off to a terrible start. The loss of two British cultural icons, David Bowie and Alan Rickman has sent a lot of us, me included, into something of a tailspin.

The similarities are almost too much to bear. Two men at the height of their powers, both dead at 69, both taken by cancer.

I'm finding it very hard to put anything coherent together in the face of this double-tap tragedy. So all I'll say is that it's probably very worth your time dropping a donation to Cancer Research this morning.

And I'll just leave you with a couple of videos.

Sorry, that's all I've got today. Have a good weekend. 

Thursday 14 January 2016

50p A Mile: How Give Penny Is reshaping charity sponsorship

The process by which we give to charity has changed radically over the last ten years. Once, it was all about plunking 50p into a collection box, or one of those fibreglass guide dogs with the slot in its head that sat outside every newsagents.

Now it's all about pledging via sites like JustGiving or Virgin Giving. It seems like every charity event has a way to donate online. It's easier and simpler, but there's an element of risk. What if, after gathering a big wedge of pledges, you can't actually take part in the event after all? What if rain stops play, or flu knocks you out?

As The Guardian reports, it was that situation that led keen fundraiser Lee Clark to start Give Penny. Unable to take part in a charity bike ride at the last minute due to an attack of flu, he worried that he had let everyone down, and wondered if there was a way to contribute without the sense of expectation.

Give Penny is a throwback to the way we contributed to charity runs and events back in school days–sponsorship based on milestones rather than a blanket donation. You can donate per mile run, per length swum, per bucket of ice water tipped over head.

There's nothing new about focussing on small donations, the so-called "digital small change". Charities such as Pennies have been around since the beginning of the decade, allowing us to round up our online purchases to the nearest whole pound and donating the difference. Much in the same way as popping that unwanted two pee into the collection box at Pret or McDonalds. And a little really does add up: Pennies has raised £5million since launching in 2010.

But Give Penny has a clever USP: the social aspect. Tying into popular fitness trackers like Fitbit and Runkeeper, as well as arguably the biggest platform for social giving out there–Facebook–makes it easier than ever to donate small amounts based on a given milestone.

The really interesting bit is Lee's vision for the future of Give Penny. He's left it open for charities to play around with the possibilities, allowing them to, for example, get large numbers of people to raise small amounts on a sponsored walk as a group activity, custom-building the donation experience to their own needs. Once again, the social aspect comes to the fore.

Research would seem to back up Lee's intuition, as analysis of JustGiving data has shown that people tend to give about the same as everyone else on a particular page. If you can only afford a little, you're discouraged from donating at all. By putting the focus on lots of small contributions, and allowing people to collaborate and work together, Give Penny takes the worry out, and lets fundraisers donate within their means.

Give Penny has already teamed with a set of small charities in its native Birmingham. Stanford Chau, informatics and database officer at Birmingham Children’s Hospital (now that's a job title) is excited about the possibilities of the platform. He says:

“This feels like a more social way of giving than we’re used to. It also has a very modern framework and its interface is more customisable and intuitive, which is refreshing in this space when compared to traditional online giving platforms’ fairly static pages.

“As a fundraiser myself, I often struggle to keep the momentum going when training, so I think something like this will help. I remember the 50p a mile concept from school and have always wondered why JustGiving doesn’t do this. I see some of our fundraisers with little to no sponsorship on their page at all, and I think setting milestones is a great idea and offers more visual storytelling and interaction and opportunities for giving small amounts.”


Our View: we're always keen to see innovation in fund-raising, and Just Penny feels like a great idea. By nodding back to the old days of motivational, goal-based sponsorship it helps both fundraiser and sponsor to feel better about the adventure ahead.

For more, check out


Tuesday 12 January 2016

FIT are closing the loop on natural dyes!

In a fine example of what can be done in a truly closed-loop system, students at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York are creating all-natural dyes in a rooftop garden–composted with a material they use every day that until now had been all too hard to get rid of.

Fabric dyeing packs a hefty environmental wallop, using all manner of harsh and potentially toxic chemicals. It doesn't have to be that way. FIT's garden shows that the process can be achieved using specific plants and flowers that are grown, then harvested and dried, to become a source of natural dyes. If it was good enough for the Saxons and Romans, right?

Gardens need food, and this is where the clever bit comes in. Students Lydia Baird and Willa Tsokanis took a good hard look at the waste products coming out of FIT's design studios, and asked themselves a question. Can we do anything with the huge amounts of muslin that the college gets through every year?

Cotton muslin is the unsung hero of the fashion world. It's used to rough out designs and make sure that fit and drape are correct before cutting the final finished garment. Subsequently, designers get through a lot of the stuff–easily a couple of square metres for a simple skirt design. But, as it's never used as part of the end product, when finished with the muslin is simply thrown away. Lydia and Willa wondered whether the unbleached, undyed fabric could be broken back down and used as compost.

Indeed it can. When mixed with organic matter such as food scraps and spent coffee grinds the muslin becomes a dense, nutrient-rich substance that can help fertilize and sustain growing plants. It also adds beneficial bacteria, fungi, and worms to the soil to help it retain water and add biodiversity. 300 pounds of muslin were mixed with 200 pounds of food waste from the FIT cafeteria and coffee grounds from the college Starbucks, and left to cook in compost bins. In December it became ready to use, and is now helping to nurture the spring crop of dye-producing plants for graduate shows in the summer.

Lydia and Willa's professor, Jeffrey Silberman says of the dye garden and compost build:

"These projects provide mechanisms for students to reach back into agriculture as a point of origin, and forward through the supply chain to biodegradation and recycling. It’s really a cradle-to-cradle learning approach to product development and a circular economy. It enables us to expose the students to every part of the supply chain.”

Both projects were student-initiated and led, which is enormously cheering. It shows that the new generation of fashion designers are really taking notions of sustainability on board, and are looking along the full length of the supply chain to see how innovation and a little lateral thinking can really help to make a difference to the environmental impact of our clothes.


Friday 8 January 2016

A Flood Of Support

The last month of 2015 was officially the wettest December on record. Thousands of people in the North of England and Scotland have been displaced, facing months of repair work and wrangling with insurance companies. For many, it has been a very unmerry Christmas.

Charities have been stepping up to help those in need, showing once again that Britain is a country that, while a little reticent, can pull out the stops when it needs to. Over £8million has already been raised for flood victims, a cool million coming from the most unlikely of sources: Daily Mail readers.

The Cumbria Community Foundation's Flood Recovery Fund, meanwhile, has smashed that barrier, raising £4.3million since December 4th. There were over 16,000 individual donations to reach that astonishing figure. Ian Brown, head of the Foundation, said:

“It’s very heart-warming and encouraging to see the overwhelming support of our local communities during this challenging time.”
But fundraising can only do so much. Help is urgently needed in the heart of affected communities. Here too, smaller charities have been making a difference.

One charity making headlines is Khalsa Aid. Based in Slough, this Sikh non-profit packed their bags and headed north to help stricken towns and villages like Mytholmroyd and Croston, badly hit after the river Calder burst its banks. Dishing out free food, it became clear to both the charity workers and the people they were helping that catastrophic events can fundamentally change people.

Ravi Singh, CEO of Khalsa Aid, put it simply:

“It’s been incredibly inspiring to see how people of all backgrounds have come together. There was no twiddling thumbs waiting for the government or authorities to help. They rallied around and they got stuck in. I think the experience will have a long-lasting effect on these communities.”
This sort of immediate action, unprompted by appeals or official calls for aid have been, for many, a wake-up call. Groups of Syrian refugees, demonised by some areas of the press, were seen helping with flood clearance efforts across the Calder Valley, shovelling silt from a playground in Mytholmroyd, or filling sandbags in Rochdale. Interfaith groups have been on the ground from the first day of the storms, offering food and warm clothing to people in need, working all hours for as long as they are needed. The preconceptions of a lot of people have been radically changed in the past couple of weeks.

Our View: it's easy in this age of supposed disconnection and selfishness to feel bleak about the world in which we live. But often, it's in the face of disaster that we are at our best, rallying round to help those in need in whatever way we can. People that last week scoffed at charities or took a dim view of certain ethnic groups are seeing that there is a lot more to the word "community" than they had thought.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Luxury Fashion's Ugly Secret

The comfortable fiction at the heart of fashion is that the clothes just kind of...appear. Somehow, magically, the hangers of stores worldwide are filled with new goodies for us to buy. We don't think about the hugely complex processes that go into every piece of modern clothing.

The thing is, it's in the best interests of the fashion industry that we continue to think this way. We're more likely to consume blindly if we don't think about the massive water and chemical use, or the global transportation costs that are part of even the simplest white t-shirt or pair of leggings. And that's before we consider the abysmal way that the people who make the clothes are treated.

If you think this kind of behaviour is only attributable to the fast fashion sector, then think again. The luxury end of the market has willingly taken up the practices of big brands like Zara and Primark. But worse still, they're keeping in the shadows the work of incredibly skilled traditional craftspeople who should be celebrated and nurtured.

An eye-opening article in Business Of Fashion teases out the relationship between luxury fashion brands and the artisans that help make their garments. India has over 34 million skilled textile workers, employed in everything from weaving to dyeing to elaborate, beautiful stitch work. But this huge force is largely based in rural areas. It remains unorganised, diffuse and therefore easy to exploit. Their efforts remain unsung, and that needs to change. Calling an item "hand-made" is simply not enough. This, from Bandana Tewari, the fashion features director of Vogue India, makes the point clearly:

"In my opinion, there is a basic element missing from the global luxury narrative, which does not give credit to people in countries like India whose skills are employed season after season. We must make the real stakeholders of ‘hand-made’ more visible. And each brand has a role to play in making the luxury sector’s link to these craftspeople visible and, in doing so, we will perhaps be able to address other challenges, like measuring their environmental impact and testing methods of sustainable growth."
It's not all bad news. Major figures like Donna Karan are starting to recognise the major role that traditional artisans pay in the creation of luxury goods. She's working with the Haiti Artisan project, helping to highlight the art and skill of the island's craftspeople. Non-profits like Nest, and smaller brands like Maiyet are showing hand-woven luxury goods at big showcases like Paris Fashion Week, in front of the big noises in the fashion game.

Our View: we think the luxury brands are missing a trick. High-end food products use rare and hard-to-find ingredients as part of their whole product strategy. That rarity and exclusivity makes, for example, single estate coffee or chocolate a highly attractive sell. You'd like to think that high fashion could use the same techniques, making their use of rural artisans a positive rather than a dirty secret.

The trouble is, of course, that luxury fashion brands are based around the concept and image of a sole designer. Celebrating the hard work and skill of the rural artisans behind the beautiful fabric and embroidery of their clothes makes an obvious lie of this idea. I wonder, though, how many people really believe that Alexander Wang does all his hand stitching. One thing's for certain: change is desperately needed, and the skilled people behind the world's most beautiful clothes should be applauded, rather than hidden away.

Monday 4 January 2016

A Sustainable Resolution

For most of us, today marks the return to work and reality after the long festive break. There's the whiff in the air of new chances, new opportunities and of course, the chance to improve ourselves.

Sure, there are diets, and new gym memberships, and pledges to stay off the booze for a month. But if you want to try and make your fashion choices a little more sustainable, there are plenty of simple, easy to achieve ideas that should see you facing 2016 in style.

First of all, buy wisely. I know we're into sales season, but ask yourself... Do you really need that top with the plunging neckline in puce just because it's half price? It's tempting, I know, but don't get something just because it's a bargain. If it sits never-worn in the wardrobe, how is that money well spent?

With that in mind, though, this is a good time of year to shop with an eye to the future. If you do spot a item that you like and you know you'll wear, pick it up in a couple of different colours. It could form the core of a whole new look for you. Think, too, about what you need for the coming year and shop accordingly. It might be boring to hit the sales for workwear, but let's face it, you'll be spending forty hours a week in smart clothes. Best to get that sorted while it's a little more affordable.

Bargains aside, it's worth considering spending a little more on key items. If you buy quality items (and not just expensive designer wear with an elevated price tag–they're often as shoddily made as Primark clothes), they'll last longer and look better. As Pier Crush Vivienne Westwood always says, Buy Less, Spend More, Choose Wisely.

If you're buying with an eye to sustainability, then it's worth making sure that the clothes you wear are longer-lasting. Make 2016 the year that you stop buying garments just for one event or party. Pledge to wear items thirty times before you consider recycling or donating. Look for garments that you can wear in different ways for different occasions. Get the most out of your hard-earned cash.

You might also consider washing your clothes less often.The biggest environmental impact that clothing makes is after it is bought, due to water and detergent use. Some clothes, notably denim, are actually better off for being washed less. Experts recommend not washing jeans at all for the first six months of use, especially with high-end selvage denim from Japan. If you're concerned about smell, simply hang them on a line outside, and let sunlight work it's anti-bacterial magic. Alpaca socks are equally robust, and can easily take three days of wear without causing discomfort to those around you. Again, they're a bit more expensive, but will last you for years.

Finally, think about retasking old clothes. A simple repair or a trip to the tailor for a quick resize can often bring an item back from the uncharted backwaters of your wardrobe. Or try wearing them in different ways, teaming with other garments for a fresh new look. Learning how to use a sewing machine (or making friends with someone that can) could open up whole new options, turning an old shirt into a dress, or restoring a jacket with a little bit of flair.

Some of this may seem obvious, but it's surprising how many people overstuff their cupboards with clothes that they don't really need or even want at this time of year. Treat 2016 as a chance to think again, think smart, and make the most of the bargains in the sales as well as the treasures you have at home.