The wonderful Dhanya (of @slowfashiondiariesofmrsd) talks us through her relationship to clothes and how she went from being addicted to fast fashion to being a slow fashion lover and advocate.
What do clothes mean to you?
I grew up watching my late grandma and mum getting ready each day, their individual closet was like a wonderland for me with streams of beautiful, colourful and almost always locally sourced/made sarees (I grew up in India before moving to the UK a decade ago). I would say my introduction to clothes and style was pretty early on because of these two ladies. I also learnt how to value clothes and not see them as something replaceable. Clothes for me are thus more than fabrics. It is a living memory, it is an idea, it is a symbol of representation, culture, dissent even. Some days it is the courage that helps me to get out and get going but mostly it is something that brings me joy.
What is your favourite item in your wardrobe and why?
My favourite item is a floral white and pink dress. It is a beautiful v neck with a pretty pink A-line pattern. It is special because it is the first item I got for myself with my first salary. It was almost like an introduction to adulthood and responsibilities.
Could you tell a story about an item in your wardrobe, or a story that you remember whenever you wear that piece?
I have an unhealthy obsession with anything pink and polka dots and it is mainly because of this pink polka dot frock I had when I was about 5. I am still told, that I was obsessed with the dress and would wear it almost every day (thank God Instagram was not there otherwise I would have become the not so cool outfit repeater even back then :D). Once we were somewhere cold and I refused to wear a cardigan because I wanted everyone to see its pretty polka dots. My parents still say that I drove them absolutely nuts that day!
Do you have any clothes passed down to you that gives it extra meaning to you?
My late grandma gave me this beautiful blue mix of turquoise and teal saree when I graduated from uni. It is extremely meaningful for me and I wear it even now but it is one piece of clothing that gets extra TLC from me.
Is there much in your wardrobe which you don't wear often/at all?
I try and wear whatever I have and my aim is to wear each thing 30 times or more. But I am not perfect, I and make mistakes one such mistake is a black dress I brought a couple of years ago out of impulse. It is not my style, and colourful things are my signature style so this dress gets very little wear.
Can you tell us a little bit about your slow fashion journey, from being someone who shopped new a lot, to what you do now?
I used to be a complete fast fashion addict and impulsive buyer up until the latter half of 2019. I had a very stressful job at the time, so shopping became an excuse. I would shop when I was anxious, I would shop when I had a really bad day, I would shop when I was happy....there came a point when I realised this 'high' of buying something new rarely lasted and was often accompanied by a low of feeling guilty and not to mention dwindling bank account ;) so it started very selfishly to save money, I did a 3o day no shopping challenge and started reading about the environmental and people implications of fashion, it was eye-opening. No one should die to make a £10/20 dress, a Rana plaza incident should not take place again.
Today, I either shop from vintage/second-hand places, small businesses upcycle when I can (even though my skills are very questionable), and if I can from sustainable/ethical brands.