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Behind the gram: Alice from ‘Conscious and Colourful’

This week we’ve interviewed Alice Christina, otherwise known as the person behind the second-hand fashion account, @ConsciousAndColourful.

By Bekki Ramsay

As someone who loves colour – so much that her gorgeously vibrant orange hair is a trademark of hers – Alice found that many sustainable clothing brands, with their muted tones, didn’t cater to her personal style (or to many others for that matter). 

So, with this in mind, she decided to create an Instagram, blog and the #consciousandcolourful hashtag on Instagram to not only share her own personal experiences of sustainable shopping, but as a means of creating a community for those that were, perhaps, feeling the same.

Since the creation of these sites, and thanks to her positive online persona, she has highlights that you can still make sustainable clothing choices without having to compromise on colour (or a budget) through second-hand shopping.

Intrigued, we wanted to ask her a couple of questions about her positive and more broad approach to sustainable clothing. Read on to find out what she had to say… 

When did you first start gaining an interest in sustainable fashion, and why? For example, was there a particular breakthrough point or was it a natural flow?

I guess my initial interest in sustainable clothing was back in 2015, when I started volunteering in a local hospice shop whilst at university. Through this role, I was introduced to the wonders of second-hand shopping, and it didn’t take me very long to have a wardrobe full of second-hand purchases. However, back then, I was still regularly shopping on the high-street and was still very much had the fast fashion mindset of ‘buy, buy, buy!’

It was, however, when I decided to become a vegetarian, back in 2017, that I really started to gain an interest in sustainable fashion. You’re probably thinking the two aren’t linked but once your eyes are opened to what you eat and how this affects the planet, it’s so easy to question other aspects of your life – including clothing consumption choices.

After an initial questioning of my clothing habits, I decided to watch the documentary ‘The True Cost’ which ended up being the biggest turning point for me, and many others that I’ve spoken to. It really opened my eyes to the damage the clothing industry was causing both on the planet and the lives of those who make the clothes we wear.

If this sounds of interest, I’d also really recommend the Stacey Dooley documentary she created a couple of years ago. She covers a lot of the environmental impacts of fast fashion, whereas The True Cost focuses a little more on how it affects the people who manufacture the clothes.

Unfortunately, sustainable clothing seems to have gained a stereotype of only being available in muted tones but also classic silhouettes. However, in the most refreshing of ways, your personal brand of ‘conscious and colourful’ is quite the opposite. Why is breaking this stereotype down important to you, and what are your general thoughts on conscious clothing generally not being colourful?

Logistically, I totally understand why a lot of sustainable fashion brands stick to classic, minimalistic designed pieces, which in the long run will most likely get worn more and are less frivolous than trend-led items. But personally, this just isn’t for me. I love colour!

I remember a few years ago when I first dyed my hair a vibrant copper colour, I decided it would be easier for me to stick with a monochromatic wardrobe, as a means of not clashing with my hair. But after about a month, I was already so bored with my wardrobe. Instead, I decided to start embracing colour again and straight away, I felt like ‘me’ again.

I’m a firm believer that your wardrobe is a reflection of you and your personality. It’s how you show the world who you are and what you’re all about. I find because I’m a fairly introverted person, sometimes it’s not the easiest for me to project the real Alice out into the world. So, personally, my colourful clothes are my way of showing the world who I am before I get comfortable enough to do it with my voice. 

Do you have any tips for those who want to have a colourful wardrobe that is still conscious?

Often, I think there’s a misconception that you can’t dress colourful or trendy and be conscious at the same time, but this isn’t strictly true! If there’s a brand you love but perhaps you find their ethics a bit dodgy, why not look on eBay, Depop or Vinted and see if you can find some of their items listed? There are so many pieces of clothing that already exist in the world, so chances are there’s something second-hand that really suits your style. I’m a firm believer in recycling and re-using what is already out there instead of buying brand new, and this is a good way of doing it.

It has taken me a while to figure out the style of clothing I like, and what suits me best, and even then, I still struggle – but that’s totally fine. Second-hand shopping is a great way of trying out new styles you may not have considered if you were buying them at full-price, plus, if it doesn’t work out – you’ve still donated some money to charity!

Where are your favourite places to buy sustainable clothing?

I’ll be honest – I don’t buy a huge amount of new sustainable fashion and instead, tend to stick to buying second-hand.

However, I do love Lucy & Yak! For those that don’t know, they’re a sustainable clothing company that are best known for their colourful dungarees. They use organic cotton in a lot of their products, and they’re made in a small factory in India owned by a tailor called Ismail! They’re still fairly new as a business, but they’re always really open and honest with their customer base on how their products are made, what they’re doing to improve their business model and they admit when they could have done something better. They also regularly collaborate with artists and illustrators to bring out limited edition designs and I just love everything they stand for. Not to mention the fact their dungarees are the comfiest thing I own.

Locally we are lucky enough to have Uncaptive clothing, who are based at Stack in the city centre. Again, they are a fairly new company, run by the loveliest couple who have recently had their first baby, Diego! They stock a lovely selection of basic clothing like t-shirts, sweatshirts and even low waste living products like Bamboo toothbrushes and shampoo bars.

Can you think of any alternative ways in which people can be more sustainable with their clothing consumption?

My biggest tip would be to wear what you already have. I know it’s easier said than done, especially in this era where you may feel obliged to keep up with the latest trends. But so many of us have more clothes than we really need, and that includes me too!

Surprisingly, I actually use Instagram a lot for outfit inspiration and regularly save images of my favourite outfits. However, instead of focusing on the particular item an influencer or a blogger is wearing, I try to look at what it is about that outfit I enjoy. Focusing more on how they’ve styled that item and look at if I have something similar, I could recreate the look with, instead of going out and buying yet another slogan t-shirt.

Being able to alter clothes I think is a huge bonus too. During the lockdown, I finally decided it was time for me to learn how to use a sewing machine, so I’ve started altering some my own clothes. It’s still early days but even just understanding the work and effort that goes into making one garment has really helped me to appreciate my clothes more.

If you do really want to buy new clothes why not try giving charity shopping a try or go to a vintage fair, or even plan a (socially distanced) clothes swap with your friends. 

There are lots of ways you can get ‘new’ clothing without it actually being new. I’m a firm believer that shopping sustainably and having a more environmentally friendly wardrobe can still be fun.

Follow Alice on Instagram.

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