Thursday, 16 February 2012

Fashion kids @ NTU join forces with Oxfam and Upcycle

Today I spent my morning in the awesome treasure-trove shop that is Oxfam (you know - the quirky Goose Gate one in Nottingham). It’s nothing like your typical bog-standard charity shop, that generally lacks inspiration or imagination - oh no – it’s an absolute pleasure to wander around its shop floor, never knowing what you might stumble upon. The building is beautiful, and the interior decor is really vibrant and inviting and just plain FUN. Items are sorted into different sections, including high street and retro, with an eye candy rainbow rail of colour coded items near the entrance. Numerous vintage accessories including scarves and jewellery; in addition to scrap pieces of fabric and do-it-yourself projects are scattered around in various wooden trunks and chests, patiently waiting to be discovered. I just love it there. 

Anyway, back to why I was there (no, I wasn’t shopping and frittering away my student loan, again) – the first year Fashion Design kids at Nottingham Trent Uni (where I am currently a final year student) are embarking on an upcycling project with Oxfam. Working in teams, they were each handed a mysterious green Oxfam sack filled with a random lucky-dip of donated clothes, which do not meet the required shop-floor standards. Their mission, should they choose to accept it or not, is to rip, shred, tear, dye, print, deconstruct, and upcycle these old items into brand spanking new, on- trend show stopping garments, which will then be sold in the Oxfam shop. So clothes that would normally have gone to waste are being given a new lease of life, a step in the right direction to save our planet is being taken, the fashion kids get to have a lot of fun with an interesting project, and Oxfam will get extra money to save lives. It’s a win win win win

I must say it was very interesting watching the students’ faces as they delved into their green bags, hoping for some fine diamonds, while mostly finding cheap cloudy fakes. But that is the whole point of the project – it’s not supposed to be easy, and will most definitely challenge these young designers and their skills, but will also be extremely rewarding upon seeing their final garments being strutted down the catwalk. Oh, their faces were a picture...

the store-room

The students began to reveal the contents of the ominous green sacks. Some were pleased...

Others, not so much.

various old trims and bits & bobs that the students could help themselves to

The lovely fashion accessories lecturer Lee in the background here

The funniest trousers I've seen in a long while... He seemed impressively enthusiastic though...

Emma (a lovely lecturer @ NTU) with Thomas the Oxfam manager

I was fortunate enough to speak to the manager of the shop – Thomas – who was telling me that Oxfam are currently struggling to get enough re-sellable donations through the door, which I feel could be due to the explosion of eBay which makes it very convenient to sell your unwanted clothes and pocket some good money in the process.  In addition, Thomas believes that fabric recycling companies, which pay for un-wanted clothes by the weight, are also affecting Oxfam. So Guys & Dolls: PLEASE DONATE SOME OF YOUR UNWANTED CLOTHES TO CHARITY! No, you won’t receive any dollars in exchange, but what you will get is a whole lotta good karma; and that’s a promise.

I’ll keep you updated on this project, and will show you the final upcycled pieces once they’re complete!

You can also check out the online Oxfam shop @ or pop in to your local high street branch!

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