#GIRLBOSSES Jess & Krithika from Solus Shop

I interviewed students Jess & Krithika, founders of Solus Shop (@solus.shop), who started their Instagram business in 2017. These two fashion-savvy ladies scope out op shops all over Melbourne and overseas to find unique and chic second-hand clothing to sell on their Instagram, which has 2,000+ followers and counting. Here’s what these lovely ladies had to say about navigating the world of Instagram fashion business.

Can you tell us a bit about Solus Shop and how it came to be?

Solus began with our love of op shopping, we would spend days going to op shops around Melbourne. It was from here that we decided to start a business. Solus sells vintage and revamped clothing, we also specialise in hand embroidered t-shirts.

Did either of you have any prior business experience? And if not, how have you found setting up a business?

Both of us did not have prior experience in setting up a business, which we have found challenging at times. However it was dedication and a lot of research about prior start-up businesses that managed to really help us out. We also make sure to listen to our customers; it can be as simple as posting polls to see their preferred payment method.

What is the process of finding clothes to sell?

We have spent many hours and days at several op shops and also checking out wholesalers around Melbourne and overseas. We source our t-shirts from other people who have bought it in bulk and no longer need it so it doesn’t go directly to the retailers.

What are the benefits of running a business from Instagram?

Being able to directly communicate through the app with the customers. Having an instant click to show our followers what we are doing, how we are doing it and why we are doing it. We also have the opportunity to help contribute different beauty standards to Instagram which has become full of unrealistic expectations. We seek to have all different types of models and refuse to edit our pictures aside from filters.

How does this business concept fit within the current backlash against fast fashion?

Australian’s buy at an average 27 kilograms of new clothing each year and only 6000 kilograms goes to the landfill every 10 minutes, this was reported by ABC News report. We want our business to be able to reduce this number by reusing clothes to fit the new trends.

LOVE their work and what they’re doing to negate the effects of fast fashion. Check them out on their Instagram @solus.shop!

Advertisements

Winter is Coming….And I Cannot Buy a Thing

This wardrobe is definitely going to get a workout

Winter is coming and my favourite time of year has arrived: the introduction of autumn/winter fashion. I absolutely love it when new clothing collections are draped on mannequins in store windows and brands release photos of their autumn/winter campaigns on social media – it gets me so hyped for arguably the best season for fashion. This is the glorious time when I can begin preparations for my winter wardrobe by selecting new key items that will get me through the cold season that coincide with the current winter trends. What colour coat should I buy? Which style of boots should I invest in? And most importantly, what will be my winter colour scheme (almost always black)? But alas, this cannot be the case this year.

My 2019 resolution to not buy ANY clothing for the entire year has stopped that yearly activity in its tracks, and surprisingly I don’t even mind that much. I see you all shaking your heads in disbelief and cry ‘how?’ exasperatedly. The truth is that my attitude towards fashion has undergone a complete transformation ever since reading the book Every Women’s Guide to Saving the Planet and becoming a subscriber to The Fashion Advocate (see relevant article here). As a lover of all things fashion, I felt an ethical obligation to educate myself on the impacts of one of the world’s most polluting industries and the accompanying social justice implications. When I realised the extent of the damage caused by fast fashion, overconsumption and the exploitation of human capital, I felt ashamed of my past spending habits. I have a wardrobe filled to the brim with clothes and shoes, and although I love every piece I own and have made great attempts to shop ethically in the last few years, why do I really need all of this stuff? Surely I don’t need to anything more and can survive on what I already own.

So, as inspired by The Fashion Advocate’s mission to not purchase any new clothes in 2018, I have decided to embark on the same mission. The only purchasing I have to allow is the mandatory buying of uniform for my fashion retail job (which I have tried to keep to a minimum). And I know that it’s only early days, but I am shocked at my lack of desire to buy anything at all. Becoming educated on the ethical and environmentally-conscious consumption of fashion has halted any inclination to go out and buy, and I hope that I can continue this momentum in three months time when winter officially hits. Of course, I anticipate that I will eventually enter struggletown and want to cave into my favourite act of therapy (shopping with my mum). I will have to continually force myself to re-read Every Women’s Guide to Saving the Planet and The Fashion Advocate to curb any dangerous cravings. But during this journey, I will endeavour to educate others on becoming aware of the environmental and social impacts of fast fashion and the importance of shopping sustainably, because in the words of The Fashion Advocate, It’s not about giving up fashion. It’s about making it better.

So, when an urge kicks in to browse for a pair of black cowboy boots or a faux fur jacket “just for fun”, I will say NO – THIS IS UNNECESSARY, LAURA – and take a scan of my wardrobe to reinforce the fact that I absolutely don’t need any new clothing in my life. I will probably have a lot more spending money by the end of it, develop a greater creative styling ability, and hopefully raise awareness of the fact that we all have the power to minimise the damaging effects of the fashion industry through our consumption choices. Stay tuned!

Blue Velvet

An understated but utterly elegant outfit can be comprised of a pretty skirt and a plain t-shirt. Toss in some slides or boots plus a pair of killer earrings and that’s an outfit sorted – especially when that skirt is in teal and velvet. Readers of this blog are bound to know that I have an endless love affair with teal, which was why I ended up convincing myself to buy this Michael Kors skirt at a bargain sale price. It’s swishy, long and remarkably light, making it perfect to wear in winter with boots or slides and mules in summer.

I wore it for the first time with my Balmain x H&M t-shirt and a black belt I have had lying in my closet for years that I’m pretty sure previously belonged to my mum. Big belts are officially back, and look fabulous with long skirts or wide-leg pants. Op shops usually have a great selection of belts, so if your wardrobe lacks this accessory of the season, then don’t bother heading to buy new and consider your local op shop.

Finally, I finished off the outfit with my plastic mules from Midas and a silver bag from Nine West. Silver and teal are a match made in my personal heaven.

Skirt: Michael Kors

Top: Balmain x H&M

Bag: Nine West

Shoes: Midas

This skirt is definitely my favourite purchase in a while. I just want to wear it all the time! It will also be my last purchase in a long time, because I have pledged to avoid buying fashion in 2019. After realising the destructive impact of fashion on our globe (and particularly fast-fashion), combined with the overwhelming feeling I experience when I peer into my wardrobe filled with stuff, I decided that I need to to take action on a personal level. I was inspired by Claire Goldsworthy from The Fashion Advocate (her story can be found here) who did not buy a single thing in 2018. This is going to be a challenge, as even op shops are a no-go. However, I truly believe that I have everything I need within my wardrobe and I certainly don’t need to add to my already burgeoning collection of belongings. Maybe I’ll even rediscover a few things I forgot about, and it will surely challenge my creative styling abilities! I plan on updating my progress (well, lack of purchases) on this blog, so look out for any frustrated or erratic ramblings (hopefully that is only a joke).

Thanks for stopping by! I would love to hear what you think of my ambitious plan in the comments below! x

Summer Shop

As I was reorganising my wardrobe for the impending Melbourne summer, I internally despaired about not having anything to wear. A great chunk of my wardrobe is still from my early teen days, and there is a distinct lack of colour and excitement that I am planning to embody this summer. It comes to a point where you need a change – but an inexpensive one for a mere student like myself. Rather than immediately scoping out some online stores or setting a date for a ginormous shopping trip to Chaddy, I headed to the local op shops (otherwise known as thrift shops). I have found some of my favourite clothes from op shops, and the satisfaction I receive from finding a treasure is much greater than getting a really good deal from a normal store. Plus, it’s completely sustainable and ethical!

The other day I discovered a periwinkle blue top originally from Nicolangela, and a floral skirt originally from Topshop. I tend to shy away from these lighter colours because I don’t believe they suit my skin tone, but I actually love how much the top compliments the colours in the skirt. The transparency of the skirt gives it a slightly sexier look and the light-weight material will be perfect for the summer heat, which is often difficult to come by with maxi skirts.

This summer outfit cost me $13, which is incredibly reasonable and guilt-free. So, if you’re looking to spend less or re-energise your wardrobe, consider taking a trip to the op shop.

I always rely on these tips for a successful op shopping trip:

  1. Go for quality: There is plenty of treasure amongst the trash, but there is still trash. Unless you’re willing to put some effort into it, don’t purchase anything that is already pilling, has fuzz balls or is broken because it is unlikely to last much longer. You can also often tell by the brands if the labels are still on the clothes, as I try to avoid purchasing any clothing from brands that are known for their cheaper quality.
  2. Sizing doesn’t always matter: Look at the all the clothes that are your size, and then branch out. I’ve purchased some things that fit absolutely perfectly and I can’t believe they’ve existed. I’ve also purchased clothes that were beautiful but too large, but I’ve been able to make them work through wearing it in a different style from what was intended or resizing them.
  3. Don’t overlook anything: Carefully comb through every item and consider how they could fit in your wardrobe. I find the best items are the ones that challenge my style and add something different to my collection.
  4. Don’t stop at one op shop: Visit all your local ones, and then head out to more areas where there may be a greater variety of clothes. Also, the smaller ones often make for the best finds, so don’t skip those!

Good luck with any future op shopping endeavours, and thanks for visiting my blog! x

The Other ‘F’ Word

Credit: harpersbazaar.com
Credit: harpersbazaar.com

Fashion and feminism do not always come hand in hand; scores of women view fashion to be an oppressive sphere that attempts to convince women that the only way to be considered ‘beautiful’ is to conform to standards laid out by the dictators of the fashion industry, who are often men. Plenty of women regard Vogue Magazine, considered the fashion bible, as a beacon of sexism that undermines a woman’s worth. And let us not disregard the lack of diversification of the female body as plastered in magazines and seen strutting down runways in nothing larger than a size 2 mini-skirt. It is far from perfect or positive, and the fashion industry appears to exude a certain unattainable exclusivity thanks to celebrity endorsements and high fashion magazines. It is clear that the industry has plenty to work towards, and as someone who wants to work in the industry, it is an unsettling reality. Although it is necessary to acknowledge the negative aspects of the fashion industry, fashion itself is not a rigid and institution. For me, it is the most liberating medium I can use in order to express myself.

Fashion has been a facilitator of my exploration through feminism. In a world where women have historically had a lack of means to express themselves and communicate their thoughts, fashion has been used as defiance to their oppression. Some of the most iconic and outspoken women paved the way for change using the clothes they wore, setting aside cultural and societal conventions to make way for female empowerment. Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Josephine Baker and Audrey Hepburn are just a handful of women who each showcased unique and controversial styles, proving to women all over the world that being yourself and staying true to your values is a wonderful thing. Thanks to these women, others were inspired to push against their limitations and explore their capabilities in a way that led to cultural revolutions and the success of the feminist movement. It is remarkable that such power stems from style, which is essentially comprised of clothes, individuality and a hint of courage.

I’m not planning on instigating any cultural revolutions anytime soon, but I think I will start with using fashion as a way to summon confidence within myself. In the end, personal style showcases your individuality and is not indicative of what you can achieve. I would hope that when I choose to dress in a feminine way that I am not considered to be naïve or less capable, and if I want to dress in a way that is considered sexy, that my value as a person is not undermined and I am treated with the respect I deserve. It is most empowering when people can make decisions about the way they look without concerning themselves with the opinions of others or the stereotypes of gender, sexuality, age and ethnicity. And this is a message that must be relayed by the fashion industry.

There is no doubt that there have been notable changes in the industry. The androgynous look is on the rise, there is a growing response to the call for a greater variety of body shapes and skin colours on show, and there has been outward support for feminism by designers such as Karl Lagerfeld and Maria Grazia Chiuri, who is the first female creative director of Dior. Despite being long overdue, these acts are crucial as they give people the confidence to embrace who they are and to explore that through fashion. Although I don’t need affirmation from high profile designers that the feminist movement is important and necessary, it does raise awareness of the fight for gender equality and garners acceptance. And supporting the movement for gender equality is something I will continue to do through self-expression as conveyed by my fashion choices.

NOTE: Care must be taken to ensure that the clothes you’re putting on your back to proclaim your feminism or self-identity is not contributing to the exploitation of children and women in the textiles industry, which is something I have learnt recently. Being a feminist means supporting other women and preventing their mistreatment, and one sure way you can do that is through shopping ethically. Click here for a list of how top fashion brands rank in worker welfare.