Hello fashionista world!

A brief introduction

Alternative Fashion and Clothing Recycling Expert

Selena Francis-Bryden

Welcome to my world!
This, inevitably, will end up as a rant rather than a blog.

Recycling is the buzz word at present and everyone likes to think that they are doing their ‘bit’ for the world. Eco-friendly products and produce, fairtrade, reducing our carbon footprints, and my favourite…mend and make do. Clothing recycling and customization is simple and unique to it’s wearer! And Everyone (yes everyone) can do it.
With Gordon Brown  always warning everyone to tighten their sparkling metaphoric Primark belts as we go through another year of economic strain we could save cash on expensive and inexpensive outfits by glamming up something that we already have. Vintage clothing is great, but, sizing, sourcing and finding good pieces is time consuming and can be expensive.

I want to walk down a high street and be curious about where clothing has been bought or made.

We are all becoming clones of each other and fashion has lost it’s way. We are so conditioned into this consumer market that we just buy. There is no need, just desire, but the desire is because it is cheap and accessible, not individual and special. Did your life change when you bought that £6 handbag? Did it reduce your insecurities? I will campaign (but probably in a very low key way) to get the woman of Britain to individualise their lives. Mix old with new and mend and make do with a twist of style and charm.

I have worked in this field for over a decade from home and Portobello Market and have a wealth of experience. I am a mother of two, Jack and Daisy. I have had many celebrity clients and worked for and with (for television) Sex and the City, Footballers Wives, BBC’s Spendaholics, Hollyoaks , to name but a few. I have also worked for Top Shop and as a commisioned artist with New look, , and Miss Selfridge online.

I also have a book launching this summer aptly named ‘DIY Fashion- Customise and Personalise’ I will let you know where when and how closer to the date.

Material Bulimia

There is only so much that one can say about recycling.
I suppose that it is up to the individual to decide how much they want to change, save or delete. For me, it has always been a part of my life to use, recycle, reuse and then, finally, when it it is really badly broken beyond compare…tape it back together for one last round.
I grew up with a ‘waste not want not’ mentality and although I probably am very materialistic about ‘stuff’ and was quite spoilt as a child, I do value my objects and probably obsessively so. My father was quite an Eco genius from the get go, which is definitely down to a relatively poor up bringing in Jamaica where people just made do and got on with it. He was not ‘potato sack for trousers’ poor but, from what I can decipher from a million “I milked the cows every morning” stories, life was not that easy. I used to laugh (under my breath of course) when he used to tell me how grateful I should be and that “We never had television and video, fancy trainers and Designer clothes.”
Now, twenty years on I find myself telling my children the same thing about ipods games consoles and mobile phones. We just have more to lose theses days. We worry about our children getting mugged for their Ipods and gadgets. When I was young(younger) it was jewellery and Naf Naf Puffas.
But I digress. We need to find a way to tune young people to a wave length where it is acceptable to wear secondhand clothes or to buy an old bike and put the hours in to do it up (or pimp it). Status seems to far out way any sense of morals and duty to our planet. I do not mean from a ozone layer, global warming sense, but, from a land fill, too much crap on our planet sense. I blame the Romans with their gluttonous ways.
We are material bulimics, throwing up everything that was great for a moment but out of vogue the next. Why do you need the latest mobile phone, laptop or outfit. Why do you want a new car every three years?
Life is too short to want so much stuff and spend sleepless nights worrying about how to pay for it and how to protect it. I overheard an elderly West Indian man in pub last week, talking to his friend he said “What is the point of being the richest man in the cemetery.”
He has a point.

A bit about my book.
It is all about recycling clothing and personalising your outfits.
I  really believe that everybody can do it. It is a formula of sorts. If you can learn maths, science, a poem, a song, then you can learn how to customise. You do not have to be a fashionista or style savvy to learn the tricks that make you look cool. Some people are born cool and some people have to work at it. Watch how the experts do it and then find your own look. Cloning the famous only works if you can pull it off. The majority of us do not look or carry ourselves like film and pop stars (we also do not have their lifestyles) which is why they are famous and we are not and I am not talking about Big Brother celebs that are just Joe-public with a five minute window.
Chose aspirational stars that relate to yourself and adopt small pieces of their thang. Whether it is Victoria Beckham, Sarah Jessica Parker or Katie Price. Chose carefully or you could end up looking like a dogs dinner.
Stop shopping in the high street and go to car boot sales, charity shops and vintage clothing markets (Portobello on A SATURDAY is a good place to start). That is where the real funked up celebs shop. You find fab unique pieces. (avoid charity shops in central cities and try going further out)you can also use it for inspiration for your own outfits.

Regain the power of individualising yourself. Decide what suits YOU. Colours that are ‘in vogue’ are not always the colour that will compliment your skin, hair or eyes. I love orange but it makes me look washed out and dirty. So, ask real friends (not shop assistants) to be honest about your clothes. If you have a fetish for something –Butterflies, cameos or even snoopy– integrate it into your outfits to give themes to your style. Keep it subtle though, a bag, a bracelet, a charm or brooch. Co-ordinate. Not just bag and shoes. Hair accessories, bangles, maybe a neck scarf if appropriate for such an occasion, you could also tie a scarf to your bag to bring a colour match in. More about recycling in the next blog.
Come down to Portobello Market and get started.

  Vintage will be a thing of the past
// Whilst at Portobello on Saturday, I got talking to a group of young gals from the local area. They were not the usual street savy kids from the Ladbroke Grove end of the manor, they were from the more polite end of the market where the media gurus and celebrities hang out. In passing, I asked one of these young filles where she had purchased her lovely dress…. Well, you can imagine my horror when she piped up with ‘It was a bargain in Primark! (the chilling music from pyscho floods through my head). Why? no? stop?

The future of vintage looks grim. There is only a certain amount of times that retro clothing can be worn, resold and worn again before it falls apart. Charity shops and car boot fayres will be full of cheap tacky mass produced rubbish, and rip off designer bags that are flooding the market. Surely, it would be much more satisfying to save up for nicer pieces. When you do eventually buy them you will appreciate them more and quality will again reign.
Recycle what you already own. Do not throw it away. If you do own lower quality items, redesign them in to something original and special. You will treasure it longer and save some cash. Never use your credit card to buy clothes. They do not increase in value and you end up paying back a fotune for something you may only wear a few times. If you can not afford it. Do not buy it. God Save the Green.

what happened to quality not quantity?
//  What is it all about?
We have become a nation of ‘spoilt for choice’ consumers. And Ironically, in this throw away (even if we have not worn it) society, we are desperate to strike up a relationship with the past and tirelessly search for vintage and antique items to fill our homes and worlds.
In the past few weeks I have spoken to furniture restorers and designers on just this subject. The main culprits in my rant are mass producing companies.
I can understand the need to buy inexpensive items as times are hard for most of us, but, where is the quality? With the exception of those pretentious furniture shops all over London that sell retro furniture for ridiculously over priced amounts, you can get really strong, hard wearing secondhand furniture for much cheaper than their modern, flimsy counterparts. The backs do not fall off and they don’t wobble.
I bought a fabulous 1920’s wardrobe for £20 at nine lives furniture shop in Rickmansworth. Car boot fairs are great and charity shops that specialize in furniture are also good for a bargain.But I digress. Clothing is getting too cheap and readily available, sounds like a drug! Well it is.
In an article last year Vivienne Westwood spoke about the need to stop buying clothes and give fashion a chance to metaphorically collect it self. She is absolutely right. Too much choice is given and therefore we loose the essence of style and clarity. Diluted outfits that have trickled down from the high end fashion houses end up in Tescos? Why would you want to buy cashmere with your carrots?