Second Hand September

second hand september

Oxfam are running a campaign asking people not to buy new clothes for the 30 days of September but to buy secondhand clothes instead.

See what we found and what we felt about this campaign.

Ella and I tried to source the same sort of trends that we found on the high street in our local charity shops. The current craze for skin prints was very easy to  find and most items were priced between  £4.00 – 7.50. The garments were from mid to better end high street stores and there were frankly only good quality items on offer.

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A fully lined playsuit, a jersey red long sleeved T shirt and a full sleeved feather print floaty top.

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A gold foiled snake print cardigan, a printed wool top and a multi skin Ombre patchwork top.

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We also found some Marvel licensed garments which were a bit more quirky and fun. Both appeared to have been barely worn.

cobalt skirt

A fabulous cobalt suede skirt, casual monochrome gathered pants and last year’s striped trousers will do just fine for another season.

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There were some good prints which would be very easy to wear with jeans and a gorgeous horizontal ombre ditsy floral from French Connection.

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I wanted Ella to look also at the quality of the garments and we found a great red jacket for quality but the styling was a bit old fashioned. However there was a brand new Hollister jacket for £28.

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We found two great quality knits. Nylon is added to the blend to help garments keep their shape and add strength to the fabric. We found a pretty fuchsia cardigan from Boden. The merino wool V neck jumper from Jasper Conran was superb.

Screen Shot 2019-09-15 at 16.29.35I am not sure about this campaign as I see the problem as far more complexed than being presented. The reality is that as a nation we consume and discard way too much in all areas. 

Since time in memorial the textile industry has been a major pollutant of the world, along with many others, transport, construction, mining, agriculture, metallurgy, etc. It is definitely time for all to clean up their act.

In the last few decades the UK has seen a trend for cheap throw away fashion. Cheap always means a reduction in the quality of the products, both in terms of fabrics and garments. In reality few of these garments are likely to make it to the Charity Shops.

Currently the high street is suffering, thousands of people are losing their jobs and this is not what the British fashion industry needs. Also remember behind the very worthy message of “Secondhand September” is marketing goal to sell more clothes from Oxfam’s high street outlets.

Charity shops are exempt from paying business rates, staff are mainly volunteers, and so they have minimal operating costs. You can be pretty sure that one will be coming soon to that empty shop on your high street.

My advise is to shop wisely, be prepared to pay more and demand better quality. Finally, I believe that there is room to support both the high street stores and your local charity shop by making a conscious decision to avoid throw away fashion.


Ella goes to College

This is Ella and she is about to start college so we decided to go shopping together to find her suitable clothes to wear.

We began by visiting all the high street stores and in this blog we will cover the prints that we found. I was guided by Ella and we tried to steer away from animal prints as she, like me, is rather fed up with them. As she said, if you bought them last year why would you buy more this season.

Ella is also very practical and wanted clothes that were interesting but not too flamboyant as this was daywear. The garments also needed to be comfortable and easily mixed and matched.



Although it has been done before, Ella liked the spotty printed tops to wear with trousers from Miss Selfridge


Red Herring, Hollister, Miss Selfridge and Topshop all had very similar colour palettes and ditsy florals.


Topshop was more colourful in two floral prints and had an interesting holey fabric which was a welcome variation.


Ella liked the more abstract take on skins and the warmth of orange in these prints in DP.


These more inky spot abstract skins were different, the first in DP and the second in Topshop. This was a skin print but she liked the warm colouration in New Look.


H&M had some interesting geos but the fabric was thin. This last one from Topshop was different.

gA diagonal plaid skirt in Miss S and a khaki tropical in H&M  were very wearable. Again khaki camo and chain prints but a less flamboyant chain more suitable for daywear, both in River Island.


Topshop and New Look have very similar leopard and zebra patchworks and this H&M nude and brown ground is a pretty colour.


Ella liked the baroque print in Wallis only the scrolls and not the  jewels. We liked this print in H&M until we saw this on the mannequin.


The overall winners were the navy and orange flame animal from TS, the autumnal tie and dye to wear as a flash of colour and a very pretty fine line floral from H&M.

Taking a 16 year old girl around clothes shops should be an exciting affair but frankly it was not. I have been getting rather despondent by what is out there and did this exercise in order to see whether I was just becoming old and cynical.

Frankly high street you need to up your game. Too much looked the same or rehashed ideas from last year. Colours were drab, in store choice was limited and there was very little difference in the offering from shop to shop. I let Ella choose where to go and do remember that this was to source daywear for college. Some shops we entered do not even feature as there was nothing for her.

Oxfam has launch “Secondhand September” as a campaign to primarily raise funds for the charity, however this is addressing the amount of clothing that goes into landfill each year.  If the quality of garments does not improve then they will not make it as far a charity shop. Also note that this marketing drive is not going to help the downturn in high street sales and the job loss implications that this entails.

Next we will be taking up the “Secondhand September” challenge. Watch this space.



All together now

Enlisting the help of four up-and-coming young musical talents, Stella launches the new ‘All Together Now’ collection, inspired by The Beatles’ film ‘Yellow Submarine’.

The film’s timeless message of peace, love and togetherness resonates deeply with the Stella McCartney ethos, and Stella sets out to reimagine it for a new generation. A fun, uplifting and hopeful statement of unity, at a time when it feels more important than ever.

50 years on from the original release of the iconic Beatles film ‘Yellow Submarine’ a digitally remastered version of the movie; with its vivid hand-drawn imagery (by German artist Heinz Edelman) inspired Stella McCartney to create an exciting new collection.

It affected me in a way I just wasn’t expecting. Especially this idea of connecting people and bringing people together—politically this message has never been more relevant. So, I came out and I was like ‘I have to do something.’” – Stella

The campaign film sees our four musical talents KEYAH/BLU, Joy Crookes, Oscar Jerome and Femi Koleoso exploring the Sea of Holes from ‘Yellow Submarine’, as they are transported to the hallucinogenic world of Sergeant Pepper Land.


Discover the collection online now and get involved on social with #StellaMcCartneyxTheBeatles.


all photos taken from below link where you can shop the full collection:




Printed lampshades

Light up your favourite space and take inspiration from some of these fabulous brands that specialise in printed lampshades.

Pooky Lighting

Images from

The “marbling” of paper is a craft that dates back hundreds of years, and it is fascinating to watch. Paints and oils are carefully dropped onto a thickened water, and are then “raked” and “stretched” to create the pattern. The paper is then slowly laid on top and once imprinted removed from the liquid and dried. No two pieces of paper can ever be the same. We are thrilled with these patterns – bold and brilliant.

House of Hackney

Images from

‘The house we’ve created is a sanctuary from the outside world, adorned with prints and colours inspired by the sublime palette of nature. It’s not filled with lots of ‘stuff’ – only things that have a purpose, created for both their beauty and their meaning. We call them ‘future heirlooms’: artistically designed pieces made in England by craftsmen specialising in generations-old trades. ‘

Kitch Republic

Images from

Candid Owl

Images from




With the current incoming trend for the ethnic tribal prints we thought we should investigate a major producer of the African fabrics and the story is truly fascinating.

In the 1800s there was a family owned cotton printing mill in Helmond, The Netherlands, called P.F. van Vlissingen & Co, which later became known as Vlisco. This was the dawn of the industrial revolution which the mill eagerly embraced alongside the exciting global trade opportunities of the Dutch East Indies, present day Indonesia.


Part of the  Vlissingen family owned a sugar plantation on the island of Java in the Dutch East Indies. Frits Vlissingen visited a small factory in the southern part of Java, where men and women were drawing lines and dots on cotton with the technique of wax-resist dyeing, known as batik. He was so impressed by the quality of these fabrics that he immediately sent samples to his family in Helmond.


In Helmond Pieter Vlissingen set about developing mechanized ways of reproducing the batik techniques which were laboriously hand crafted in Java with the vision of selling these into the Indonesian market. He was not alone as the British, Swiss and Belgians had the same idea and it was HKM from Belgium who likewise became important suppliers to the East of these new mass produced batik effect cloths.



Later in the century the demand for batik designs in Indonesia waned as local fashion and production methods evolved and Vlisco were forced to look for new markets. They turned to both nearer to home and also to West Africa where an appreciation of the complexity of design and use of Indigo was a huge hit.

This success has continued today as Vlisco fabrics lead the way in West African fashion and we will feature some of their latest collection in our next blog.

The Printing Process…

the process

the designer

1. The Designers

The creative minds behind Vlisco designs sketch out their ideas.

the design support

2. Design Support

The people who make the creative ideas of the designers technically executable.

the printing rollers

3. The Printing Rollers

Where the design is transferred from digital information on to two copper printing rollers.

the wax printing machine

4. The Wax printing machine

Dripping in wax, the rollers transfer the design onto both sides of the cotton cloth.

indigo bath

5. Indigo bath

The wax printed cloth is dyed in indigo baths and the parts without wax become a deep, intense blue.

the wax breaking machine

6. The Wax Breaking Machine

This machine is unique – by swinging the cloth in containers, random parts of the Wax are removed, revealing the white cloth underneath.

first colour

7. First Colour

The cloth is dryed and the first colour is printed on top of the remaining Wax.

second colour

8. Second Colour

The Wax is now completely removed. When the cloth is dry, a second colour is printed.


9. Washing

The cloth is washed to remove all excess colour.

final visual inspection

10. Final visual inspection

As the fabric whiz passed the eyes of the highly trained experts inspectors so that all the fabrics are of Vlisco certified quality.

Take the time to watch these true beautiful and informative animated films from Vlisco that are works of art in themselves.

We would like to thank Vlisco for allowing us to share all this with you.


Printed Swimwear

For those of you lucky enough to be escaping to warmer climates, we though we would put together a range of some of the high streets most interesting and fun swimwear. From edgy Speedo collaborations to more traditional pretty floral swimsuits. Hopefully there is something here to inspire everyone. Enjoy the Sun!

House of Holland X Speedo collection


Tie dye

Make waves in and out of the water with the tie dye range inspired by House of Holland’s Pre-Fall 2019 collection.

Sunset Stripe

Don’t just watch the sunset this summer BE the sunset! Inspired by House of Holland’s Pre-Fall 2019 collection.


A shape and a fabulous print for everyone in the amazing extensive collection of fabulous swimwear on the fig leaves website. A few of out favourite florals and other colourful designs below.

Fantasie Anguilla Tropical and Fiji prints

Figleaves Fiji Palm classic and hawaii floral prints

Figleaves Oriental Jade and Lima prints

Above swimsuits from:


On Vacation collection.

Ocean Ombre collection.

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Modern Art collection

Above images from: