With sustainable style and conscious consumption becoming more and more of a 'hot' topic I've been keen to educate both myself and my clients on how we can be mindful when it comes to our shopping habits.
I first discovered Violet a couple of years back and was a fan from my first visit.
Sara's boutique is beautiful - with a carefully curated collection of contemporary womenswear and accessories sitting alongside premium label pre-owned pieces in a beautiful townhouse property in the heart of Harrogate.
Sara is passionate about the topic of sustainable fashion so I reached out to her for this week's blog post - prepare to be surprised and inspired by what she has to say...
"I love great design and luxury fabrics and have always dressed by the mantra of buy better, buy less and wear more."
Do you want to start by telling us a little something about yourself and how/why the idea for Violet came about?
So I am the owner of Violet Store in Harrogate which is a business I opened 2 years ago.
I had the idea after spotting a gap in the market for a luxury space where I could sell my own much loved and looked after contemporary designer pieces. I love great design and luxury fabrics and have always dressed by the mantra of buy better, buy less and wear more. But when I wanted to sell items that no longer worked for me for one reason or another, I became frustrated at the traditional ‘pre loved’ outlets where garments are displayed in spaces that I wouldn’t have enjoyed shopping and pieces are crammed in amongst rails of items which just would not have appealed to me – so why would they to anybody else?
I just felt that there was a better way of doing things. I also had neither the time nor inclination to use online re selling sites – I just wanted the hassle taking out of the process I suppose!
So we do things differently – the shop has been beautifully fitted out and items that we take in are curated to be relevant to the season.
We only take in pieces from luxury contemporary designers which are from very recent collections and are in pristine, laundered condition. A good proportion of our stock has never been worn. We also showcase contemporary accessories from young British designers alongside the pre owned collection and many of the pieces are exclusive to us in limited edition runs.
We have a growing collection of new wardrobe staples including organic cotton bretons , oxford shirts and customised Levis so that our customer can build a capsule wardrobe around sustainable basics that she can wear season after season.
Myself and my staff are all from a fashion and design background and give honest, friendly helpful styling advice – customer service is our number one priority.
Sustainable fashion is big news right now, but it something you have personally been championing for a long time. When do you feel it is so important for us to shop more consciously?
It is at the heart of what we do and we are building on this each season. Fast fashion and clothing manufacturing practices are one of the worst environmental damage contributors – as anyone who watched the Stacey Dooley documentary recently on the issue will have been horrified to discover. I think just as we are now more mindful of our choices around food and its provenance and about reducing our single use plastic consumption for example, we will all need to consider the impact of our appetite for the volumes of clothing we now consume. The numbers around how much clothing production has increased, how few times we wear our clothing and just how much waste is in the system are truly shocking. I do think that retailers need to lead this change with better labelling, a reduction in the number of drops and collections that they turn over each season and address the over production issues but as customers there are so many things that we can change. Buying less, buying better quality and wearing your pieces for much longer along with buying pre owned pieces and saving them from landfill and giving the garments many more years of use are all small and easy changes to make. I actually believe that the most stylish people that I see don’t dress head to toe in new season pieces but reflect their own personality with a mix of vintage, pre owned finds along with quality well cut basics.
3. Do you think the future of apparel is sustainable?
Yes I do but I really believe that the change has to come from customer demand and a change in our habits – retailers want to deliver what we want. There are huge things happening in sustainable fabric manufacturing – silks made in labs without the need for moths, organic non toxic cotton, recycling fibres for example and this will help in the future but the fundamental change will happen through consumer habits. There are many exciting new brands which put sustainability at the core of their business and are offering amazing pieces which are every bit as desirable as any collection out there and I can see this only growing at all price points.I think there are signs of change from younger customers too, which are encouraging, with their use of online selling sites such as Depop where they curate their own mini shops of vintage and preloved pieces and style them in really interesting and aspirational ways – I love it!
4. If you could make one change in your own industry to make it better, what would it be?
Taking the stigma and fustiness out of the idea of pre loved clothing! The biggest buzz I get from my day to day business is the look on customers faces when they ask me for a piece in another size and I tell them I only have one as the item is a pre owned piece – they have no idea they are shopping in a pre owned store and in that moment any pre conceptions they had are gone! Shopping is an fun and sociable experience and pre owned shopping should be too and that's what we offer , a luxury fresh space showcasing beautiful pieces for you to browse and enjoy.
5. Why should people buy pre-owned, high end items, rather than cheap fast-fashion pieces?
Well, sustainability aside – affordability, a better fit, a more interesting range of clothing and pieces that will last you for many seasons to come. We sell luxury knitwear at one third of the original designer price for example – so a beautifully cut and thick ply cashmere will be no more expensive than an M&S cashmere sweater – but which would you rather own? A pair of well cut fine wool trousers or a great dress for that special occasion with make you feel amazing but will cost you no more than a much copied, everyone is wearing it, high end high street piece.
Find out more about Violet Store by visiting their website here.