Sustainable fashion in the Liberties

In a world of fast fashion and ever-changing trends, it is important to be aware of the clothing industry’s effects on the planet. Clothing cannot be 100% sustainable, as even washing them takes its toll on the environment. However, there are ways in which we can make more environmentally-friendly decisions.

One such way is by supporting charity shops who provide fashion that’s not only good to the planet, but also to your pocket. Thrifting has become popular in the last few years, and the Liberties is filled with shops that provide sustainable fashion to the people of Dublin 8 and beyond. In fact, there are over 10 charity shops to choose from.

One such shop is run by Enable Ireland; a charity who help those with intellectual, physical and sensory disabilities across the country. They currently have 21 shops in Ireland, including one on Thomas Street, which has been providing sustainable fashion to the Liberties for over 20 years.

While the shop helps raise funds for a very worthy cause, it also helps to reduce clothing waste. Communications officer of Enable Ireland, Brian Dineen says their shops can benefit everyone involved, “somebody’s once loved items can be loved again by somebody else”.

In 2017 alone, they recycled over 2,266 tonnes of donated clothing to a new home. Dineen explained the positive effect this had on the planet. “Not only is this a healthy example of sustainable fashion, Enable Ireland has helped reduce the national carbon footprint by recycling items that would have otherwise ended up in landfill,” Dineen says.  

He highlights the “stigma” that often surrounds charity shops and drew attention to the fact that they are no longer “dusty, musty shops filled with unwanted junk,” He said, “the quality of donations has increased dramatically, and people can get unbelievable bargains in our shops.”

The branch on Thomas Street is a “favourite” among not only the people of the Liberties but also to tourists. Dineen encouraged people to pop into the shop to see their stock.

Another charity shop that has become popular amongst locals is the St. Vincent de Paul branch on Meath Street. The shop opened five years ago and manager Anita Csaszar says it has become a “daily meeting point” for their customers.

The shop’s online presence has evolved, advertising their sustainable clothing online for customers all over the capital to see. “We update on a regular basis with the photos of the most exciting and most interesting items available,” Csaszar says.

Not only are there plenty of charity shops that provide sustainable fashion in the Liberties, but there are also a number of shops that stock specialised vintage clothing. Space Out Sister is a vintage shop for nightwear, lingerie and loungewear. Located above Two Pups Coffee on Francis Street, it has a collection of carefully selected pieces from as far as the United States.

Customers are greeted on arrival by the shop’s owner Karen Forrester and can enjoy a glass of retro beverage Babycham as they browse through the eclectic collection. Although Forrester does produce some of her own vintage-inspired items, the majority of the stock is from past decades that has been preserved and restored. Shops like Space Out Sister prove sustainable fashion can be just as dazzling as newly produced items, while also helping to cut down on fast fashion.  

Sustainable fashion is slowly but surely making its way into show business too. Avoca Reaction is a drag performer who wears almost exclusively sustainably sourced outfits on stage. Along with designer Kyle Cheldon Barnett, they frequent the Fabric Counter across the bridge in Smithfield where they choose a selection of material that is then transformed into a stylish outfit.

Avoca said, “that means I can avoid high street shops and online shopping”, which are some of the main catalysts of fast fashion. In terms of online shopping, they noted that the delivery of clothing bought online generates air traffic and air miles, which also has a toll on the environment. Avoca does not adhere to traditional drag standards and avoids wearing wigs, which are made of plastic and “non-traditional sources”. Instead, they opt to wear turbans.  

As a performer in the public eye, Avoca noted the necessity of choosing sustainable clothing, “It’s very important for me to be a conscious performer, to be a conscious artist and that extends the whole way through my drag.”

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