This modern day fashion muse began its life purely for function.
During the war most airplanes didn’t have an enclosed cockpit so pilots had to wear something that would keep them warm, the coat to do the job was originally known as a flight jacket.
Heavy bomb raids in Europe in WW11 took place from at least 25,000 feet where temperatures could drop to -50 degrees celsius so a thick warm ‘bomber’ as they became known was absolutely essential.
Thankfully they are used for loving not fighting these days and have morphed into a wardrobe must have.
I think it’s because of their practicality and design, they were made to be a working garment. A good bomber jacket is water resistant, super snuggly, extremely comfy and it has a cool attitude.
So it’s no surprise that they are a timeless staple for fashion brands, the style conscious and celebrities around the world.
I saw them everywhere at MBFWA this year so I wanted to challenge myself to be a soldier of fashion and potentially stop a preloved bomber marching off to the battle field that is landfill.
Enter Gumtree, an awesome preloved market place where you can find so many amazing and on trend items for less.
A simple search for ‘bomber jacket’ as well as ‘khaki bomber’ revealed quite a few options and all for $100 or under.
My heart skipped a beat though when I spied this NIKE Tokyo bomber, not only is it the iconic green nylon with orange lining, just as the soldiers had back in the day but it is sporting some very cool detailing. Embellishment, logos and personalisation is huge in fashion right now, so this item was a no brainer. Originally over $200, I scored it for $100.
My other tip for shopping on gumtree is to type in brands you love, that’s how I found this brand new with tags
PE Nation bomber jacket, with a bangin 80’s feel for half the price!
It’s never been worn and for sure one of the Australian brands to watch right now.
In terms of styling it, of course it’s great for casual vibes but I also really like teaming mine with the unexpected.
For the khaki bomber I mixed things up with my metallic boots and a corset.
With the PE Nation find I tried it with a maxi skirt and sneakers.
So i say bring on the bomber babe and why not wage a war on waste by shopping yours second hand.
I found everything for this look in my wardrobe. I saw this color palate on someone else and loved it, never thought to wear these items together but now its one of my favorite outfits!
‘ I bought a tonne of stuff online last night because it was cheap! Not sure if I’m even going to wear it but I’ve got to look hot for Greece!’
Two girls sitting beside me at training this morning confirmed it, we really think we have to buy new to be beautiful.
Not only can that be a waste of money for you, it’s really not ideal for reducing our waste and footprint on our beloved planet.
Reality is, fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world, second only to oil. So here’s a thought, why not shop your own wardrobe before you head back to the high street!?
When you take the time, you’ll discover you actually have a serious amount of options sitting in your very own closet and it’s really no more effort than heading to the shops to spend on pieces you probably don’t need
Here are my top tips
1. GET ORGANISED
If you can’t see your clothes you don’t know what you have. I’m a big fan of color coding my clothes and also keeping my wardrobe seasonal, so in summer for example pack away your heavy coats. Go through your wardrobe and look at what you have and ask yourself these questions –
Does it fit properly? It is comfortable? Is it damaged? Is it too hard to clean or care for? Does it spark joy? Do I wear it?
If it’s too daunting to do this all at once, just set aside even half an hour once or twice a week and do it slowly.
As you go along, start putting together a donation pile to give what you don’t wear to charity or if it’s in really good nick why not try selling it on a platform like Gumtree or Etsy.
Once you’ve decluttered, get in the habit of ironing and organising so everything is available. This will make it so much easier and quicker to get dressed in the morning.
Take a leaf out of Grandma’s book and fix anything that’s damaged. Missing buttons, a broken zip, hems hanging down or small holes can be easily repaired either by you, a local dressmaker or even your dry cleaner can help you out and it will definitely be cheaper than buying a new item
Another look I found by shopping my own wardrobe. It was a New York street style image that inspired me.
3. THE POWER OF PRETTY
When you head to the high street, one of the things you are probably sub-consciously attracted to is the fact that everything looks beautiful. Hangers are identical and symmetrical, clothes are in colors and stories, outfits and items are neatly organised, it’s all very pleasing to the eye. The power of pretty! There’s no reason you can’t do this for yourself though. Invest in orderly wooden hangers, I have white ones I picked up from Ikea, I color code my clothes so its lovely to look at and I fold all my tees and jeans so I can see them and they are easy and appealing to shop.
4. GET SOCIAL
Style platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are stocked with so many great closet storage ideas. They are also wonderful for outfit ideas. Pick an item you have like a trench coat for example, search it and I’m sure you will find so many new ways to wear it.
I love to create collages of my style icons and outfit inspirations. This helps me plan my looks. I use an app called Pics Art – you can do it all on your phone.
5. TAILOR MADE
I have my dressmaker on speed dial and she is so invaluable for sartorial nips and tucks. Take up sleeves that are too long, switch out old buttons to update a jacket, hitch up the hem, simple alterations can totally transform an item not only in appearance but how it fits on your body – this means you will wear it more. Tailoring is relatively inexpensive but can have a huge impact.
6. BLING IT ON
Time to detox your accessories! Clean anything thats tarnished, detangle necklaces, organised your brooches and earrings. Steal a few ice cube trays from the freezer for a sneaky way to reorganise smaller items. Suddenly you’ll have a whole new pile of accessories to pull from which is a great way to update your look.
7. PHONE A FRIEND
Ask a friend you trust to come over, browse your wardrobe and have them create a few looks for you. There is something to be said for the way we see ourselves versus the way others see us. You could find a totally new vibe and hey if it’s good enough for the girls in the Sex and The City movie, then we owe it to them to try!!
My friend Amanda and I helped each other put these outfits together based on current trends we loved
8. TO DYE FOR
Do it yourself or see if your dry cleaner does. Dye a pair of faded jeans back to jet black, update dingy white tees and tans with completely new hues. I’ve recently discovered natural dyeing with plants and flowers, my dressmaker and I are actually dyeing my bridesmaid silk dresses with brown onion skins, you should see the color!
9. BIBLE STUDIES
I like to refer to British Vogue as my style ‘bible’…it has taught me so much about color, cut, fabric and fashion trends. It keeps me up to date with what’s hot but also inspires me to think about how I can recreate the looks with what I have. While there can certainly be some more avant garde ideas in Vogue, you will always find timeless items like denim, shirting, blazers, trench coats and pencil skirts amongst the pages. Seek ideas for the classics. Online sites like Who What Wear and searching celebrity and street style in google is another great way to source inspiration.
10. DOCUMENT IT
Make a note of what you wear so you can see what worked, what didn’t and uncover how you felt in it. Did you wear it well or did the outfit ‘wear you’ and saw you fidget!? For me I always gravitate towards my skinny jeans, bomber jackets, plain t-shirts, rock tees, black lace, heels and pencil skirts. I’m about to do a declutter because I know there are things that I’m not wearing anymore. It’s important to keep your fashion moving, don’t hoard, that ain’t the fast track to feeling fabulous.
So shop til you drop in your own wardrobe darling, I bet you’ll be surprised!
It’s a big claim but let me tell you this humble item absolutely lives up to the title!
Not only is it the greenest but for reals it actually biodegrades back into the earth, so its completely zero waste too.
Oh and co founder Graham Ross actually created the fabric from scratch without any previous textile or fashion industry experience.
I was fortunate enough to meet him recently in Sydney at a Fashion Revolution pop up and we connected on so many levels, sustainable fashion kindred spirits I feel.
We both have a television background and a burning passion to make a difference to the planet but I am absolutely in awe of Grahams creative and ethical genius.
Check out my interview with him below
Faye: We had a great chat at the Fash Rev Pop up in Sydney and I was so taken with your passion for what you do, what was it that drew you to this new ethical purpose?
Graham: My passion came from an unlikely place. A couple of years ago I realised there was a pile of sports event finisher shirts filling up my wardrobe. I had tried wearing them but the fabric and cut of the shirts were really uncomfortable. This prompted me to do some research about the materials my shirts were made from. I was shocked. I had no idea how much impact the clothing industry had on the environment. I thought at the time, if this is the state of my wardrobe and there are 7 billion people on the planet…that’s a lot of wardrobes and a lot of impact. This coincided with a marathon I ran over the Great Wall of China. It was a life-changing experience. I was working in the television industry at the time and we’d just moved our family overseas for my wife’s career. I was looking for a new focus, something more meaningful, something that might leave some kind of legacy for future generations.
Faye: Give me the elevator pitch for Kusaga and where does the name comes from?
Graham: Kusaga Athletic creates future fabrics and sustainable lifestyle apparel for run, yoga, gym, outdoors. Our business model is based on the principles of the circular economy and our actions directly reduce the clothing industry’s impact on the planet. Most importantly, our garments give consumers the ability to play a part in mitigating climate change.
Choosing a name for any company is a hard decision, but with two co-founders, you can find yourself going round in circles. After going back and forth a few times, in desperation, we ended up searching for words in foreign languages. Kusaga means ‘recycle’ in Swahili. We liked it for its strength, plus it has a nice rhythm, and it’s not gender specific.
Faye: You are the creator of the greenest tee on the planet, um that’s pretty amazing, why is it so green?
Graham: That sounds really cool when someone else says it. After we were successful in making a 100% plant based fabric – ECOLITE, we wanted to make a product that would illustrate the environmental benefits of the material. The humble t-shirt seemed an obvious choice. There are around 2 billion t-shirts sold each year we discovered it can take 3000 litres of water to manufacture a single cotton t-shirt, which seems like a lot right? It’s actually a huge amount – the equivalent of 38 bathtubs full of water!
Our Greenest Tee uses less than 1% of the water needed to make a regular cotton t-shirt, and requires 80% less land to grow an equal tonne of fibre. Importantly for end of life, it’s also compostable. So less water, less land, and back to the earth.
Faye: What are your biggest priorities with the brand and what are you most proud of so far?
Graham: What I’m most proud of is that from a crazy idea by two blokes with no knowledge of the textile industry, we created a range of fabrics that directly helps people reduce their impact on the planet – without sacrificing performance or comfort. I believe it is up to businesses and producers to create products that are sensitive to finite natural resources, reduce the impact of climate change and at end of life can be reused, recycled or returned to earth.
The biggest priority for Kusaga Athletic is educating people about the benefits of making smarter, more informed choices with their clothing and in validating the plant-based fabrics we have created as viable, commercial alternatives to cotton and polyester. We are constantly researching, refining, and developing our fabrics and garments.
Faye: I have seen in my own work, that there can still be a stigma attached to ethical and eco fashion, that perhaps its just tree hugging hippies who don’t really have a handle on style, what do you say to that?
Graham: Designers like Stella McCartney have been creating ethical and sustainable luxury fashion for many years. Of course, many other designers have also created eco fashion products. I think there is a willingness and interest to work with sustainable materials but the speed of uptake for Eco-fashion will be driven by both designers and consumers. Education and acceptance is important for both groups.
New textiles present new design opportunities and styles. The pioneers of these fabrics are the ones with a mindset that is about looking out, broader thinking that is more than the latest thing on the runway, which is how we got into the whole fast fashion mess in the first place, blindly following fashion trends without stopping to ask: Who makes my clothes? How are they made? What are they made from?
I believe consumers want to make informed choices, and more and more we will see those choices reflect their personal philosophy – whether that’s about the environment, social change or how they express themselves.
Faye: They say nothing worth having is easy, what have been some obstacles for you along the way?
Graham: What’s the other saying? If it was easy anyone could do it? For us, having limited knowledge of theclothing industry meant that we were blissfully unaware of just how challenging it would be to take on an established industry. We had a ton to learn, but we learnt fast! There are lots of moving parts to clothing manufacture and we were producing our products in several different countries, so controlling our supply chain was at times a real challenge.
One upside for entrepreneurs coming into an industry on a steep learning curve is the lack of constraint. You don’t know the old processes or the usual way of thinking. That knowledge is a double-edged sword. I believe great change is created with fresh thinking and looking for new directions. It’s hard to be held back by the status quo when you don’t know what the status quo is. Often you hear ‘it can’t be done’ or ‘we don’t do it that way’. My response is always, ‘why not?’
The greatest obstacle we faced was during the production phase of our Kickstarter campaign for The Greenest T-shirt on the Planet. Our production partner had to close their business and we were left with rolls of fabric and hundreds of unfulfilled pledges. Often production schedules are booked out months in advance and we were pushing the delivery deadline already. We had to find a factory that could quickly create samples for approval and then move directly into a full production run – all in another country. We also had to tell our wonderful supporters that there would be a delay in delivery. Rather than make up excuses and blame others, we decided to let everyone know what had happened but also take the chance to be very open about the challenges we have had to overcome during the company’s lifetime. What we learnt was that our community didn’t mind that there was a delay in delivery, what they wanted to was to share in the journey and be part of the experience – upside and downside.
My love Lee and I rocking our Kusaga tees the day we picked up my engagement ring!
Faye: Aside from fashion, how has sustainability morphed into other aspects of your life and what are your tips for people who want to become greener?
Graham: Being one of the voices for a more sustainable planet has become a huge passion in my life. I imagined a scenario in the future where I’m sitting at a family gathering, with hopefully with some grandchildren, and realising I had done little, if anything, to leave the world in a better place. I didn’t want to be that person. The one who had a chance to do something about climate change, and didn’t act.
For me, in the beginning I had to be continually aware of my lifestyle, but after a time, like all habit changes, you don’t even notice how you behave. Simple things, like skipping the packaging when you buy things, carrying around a reusable water bottle or a keep-cup for your coffee is a new normal for us. At home, my daughter has a 100% plant-based diet, and gradually the rest of the family began to eat less meat and other animal protein, while discovering new foods and new ways to cook old staples. It’s been an amazing discovery we’ve shared as a family.
Wearing the ‘Greenest Tshirt on the planet’ from Kusaga Athletic! Jeans by Outland denim, super ethical and all about helping women less fortunate.
Striped trench coat by Lois Hazel, honest womens wear made in Melbourne. Tee by Citizen Wolf – these guys are all about small runs and bespoke tailoring. Jeans from Outland Denim
Love this bag from The Hides, an Australian brand focused on sustainable manufacturing. The accessories are all a by product of the beef industry and come from reputable tanneries.
Might Good Undies! Certified Fairtrade and Organic cotton goodness for your cheeky be-hind!
A close up of this fantastic bag from The Hides
Citizen Wolf stripe tee, I chose the mens for that comfy slouchy fit and did the same with oversized jeans from Outland denim. Belt by the Hides
Dress by Saaki. In the ancient Indian language Sanksrit, SAAKI means a loved one. Saaki features carefully curated and one of a kind limited pieces.
‘The idea that you can’t access responsible fashion is a mindset’. A valid and very true statement from Melinda Tually who heads up Fashion Revolution here in Australia and NZ. I touched on this in my last post It’s Easy Being Green and attending an eco fashion event and forum last night drove home the same message, there is so much we can do!
I was fortunate to play dress ups at the Fashion Revolution and Good On You Pop Up shop in Surry Hills recently so I wanted to show you some of the stunning pieces I found. Have a look under each photo for details.
Everything you see here has mother nature in mind yet style is still at the forefront.
Explore the brands for yourself and make fashion great again
Well the good news is, if you ask me it’s easy being green and our individual impact can actually have a profound effect.
My top two tips are
Ask questions!? Check out online app Good On You. This is a great platform which allows you to be more informed and find out whether the brands you love are doing loving things. Type in a label you shop with and uncover their ethics, production values and workers rights. From there you can make choices that feel good for you.
Get thrifty with it! Op shopping is a great way to save money and support charities helping those less fortunate. I hope through my work you can see that second hand never means having to sacrifice style. It’s also a fantastic thing to do for mother nature, preventing textile waste from ending up in landfill.
I reached out on instagram and asked my followers how they get their #grexy on (Grexy = Green + Sexy)
Here are some of their responses
‘Faye you inspired me to really start opshopping when I saw all the awesome things you had found and up cycled. It has been a huge shift of belief for me to buy second hand (former snob here!) I have shifted so far that I have challenged myself to 12 months of only opshopping‘
‘Don’t be a slave to trends, stick with your style and invest in outfits you’ll love and wear for years to come
‘It’s all about buying pieces that are stylish and not trend based. Also quality fabrics’
‘Think outside the norm. Don’t be afraid to modify clothes and put pieces together in ways that surprise you. The small outlay in cost gives freedom to risk and have fun’
‘Fall in love with your current wardrobe. We have an attention problem as consumers because we always want something new to add to it. I put this down to advertising. i laugh sometimes at how we shop because we discard what we already have to make way for the new but i think imagine if we treated our relationships like they were as disposable as our fashion’
‘I love it when you find a one-of-a-kind treasure that seems to have been waiting there just for you. My favourite pieces are the unique pieces with unique personality that resonates with your own. it feels so lovely and just the opposite to choosing something off the rack from a row of a dozen items that are exactly the same. that feels a bit sterile somehow, like those pieces of clothing have never been on an adventure and have no stories to tell. i dream about my op shop finds and the stories they could tell about their if they could talk‘
‘Purchase quality second hand garments and don’t worry if its too big for you, you can always have it taken in. Go for classics that are pertaining to your own style. For every item you purchase, take one out of your wardrobe to donate. Make sure its a good quality donation though’
‘Definitely good quality second hand. I have my favourite source but I also track a few brands on eBay and buy second hand there. Regular pop ins are essential for finding great thrifted goodies’
Some great tips there from my eco tribe! PS I’m wearing a thrifted pure silk Fleur Wood jumpsuit I found for $15, the belt is thrifted too, it was 50c in Brooklyn. I found my authentic Manolos for $25 at the Salvation Army in NYC (They still had the $840 sticker on the sole!!!) and my biker jacket is vintage, 3 old ones upcycled into a new one! All second hand but totally on trend.
When you don’t really want to change out of your nightie so you turn it into day wear…introducing sleepy style!
Slip dresses are a big deal right now and I get why, they are so darn comfortable and the coolest bit is they are totally acceptable as outerwear. Fashion is in a sense of rebellion and I’m feeling it.
I saw this all white combo in a Top Shop campaign recently and I loved it, what made it modern and cool was how it was tied in with a cute pair of sneakers. However, rather than catching the fast fashion train I decided to take a tip from the tortoise and slow down.
In all honesty a lot of fashion can be uncomfortable so I am relishing this whole athleisure/femme leisure vibe. Basically I can dress like a dude and still be cute. Branded sportswear like Fila, Champion, Hilfiger and Calvin Klein are big right now but the price tag can be too, so I always do my best to source it second hand.
Op shops and preloved portals are a great place to cast your peepers. I found this fantastic Calvin sweater for $25 on Etsy and to play into another big trend, I had my trusty dressmaker help me add a corset feature.
Give this trend an edge and elevation by adding a feature boot, bonus points if they look like you should live on the moon.
Sports luxe with a lovely unique twist.
So in love with this customisation I’m thinking about creating more
Is that Vetements? No, it’s actually Vete-nots! One of the biggest cult labels on the fashion circuit right now is, I have to admit seriously cool, but $1000 for a ripped champion brand sweat, c’mon. I’m on a wedding budget so I can’t be spending that and if I had it I’m not even sure I’d want to. Fashion can make us feel like we need to have all this stuff to be excepted but doesn’t it get exhausting trying to keep up with the Kardashians!?
So to combat that, I love devouring the latest street style and fashion trends and seeing how I can get the look for less.
Now the coveted Vetements X Champion collab is essentially an oversized red Champion sweater which has been distressed by snipping the hems and cuffs. So you know what I did!?
I headed to Etsy and searched for a second hand champion sweat and after two days I found the perfect vintage one for $25. Oversized, worn in and exactly like the coveted one!
Then I studied the picture of the authentic piece and replicated what I saw.
I cut up the middle of the back sweater band and then across to leave two strands hanging down.
Then I cut the wrist band to emulate the picture and took a snip from the back strand and stitched it on one of the wrists to make the front strand longer, like in the pic.
This simple DIY took 10 minutes and all I needed was my trusty scissors and a needle and thread.
The only element my version doesn’t have is ‘Vetements’ embroided on the wrist, but I guess that’s what you pay $1000 for!? If I can find a local embroider I might even add Vete-nots, because well why not!?
There you have it, a super slice of a current trend for $25
More than happy to hold on to my remaining $975…totes (vete)-not up for parting with that
A simple walk around my wonderful Paddington hood never fails to inspire me.
The Sass & Bide window will always stop me in my tracks and get my crafternoon cranium ticking.
The exposed bralette is a big trend this season and these girls reign supreme when it comes to divine details and stand out features.
While I would love to pop in and purchase everything I see, I am saving for a wedding and trying to be a sustainable little sister while I am at it.
The following day I headed to work, to check on one of our Salvos Street boutiques and to my surprise I saw a stunning little playsuit with a very similar Sass &Bide feel. Now I might add this playsuit was on the $2 rack due to a slight tear in the bottom half – bargain!! While a short playsuit isn’t my vibe, a cool bralette under a blazer totally is and I could see that said romper could become exactly that! Plus I truly believe in the fashion underdog and was excited to give this discarded item another chance to dance.
Enter my trusty dressmaker Jan (Who lives in my street, thank you fashion angels!) I told her my idea and she snipped it up in half an hour. Simply cutting it in half and adding a popper button and a new zip at the back to keep it in place.
Et voila Sass & DIY’d my version of one of my favorite designer looks for less.
Worn here with my vintage Levis, Graziela Blazer and my beloved Valentino bag
FIVE 2017 TRENDS YOU CAN SCORE AT A THRIFT STORE 1. Tees that Talk – Rock Bands, lifestyle brands (Hilfiger is huge right now) slogans that make you stop and think and bright graphics are all having a moment on the humble t-shirt this season and you know where I always find the goodies? In the mens section of a thrift store, they are oversized and wonderfully worn in. Etsy is a great spot to hunt too, lots of small independant sellers with great one of a kind stock.
2. Cold Shoulder – strapless and off the shoulder shirting seems to be everywhere, a lot of the expensive brands are making specific items to suit, but seriously just grab yourself an oversized men’s stripe shirt or plain white button down from your local thrift store and create the look with your own two hands. A super simple way to start off with this trend is to undo a few of the buttons of your shirt and pull it down to sit just so on your shoulders, et voila instant chic and slick new look for a classic staple.Check the collage for inspo.
3. Raw and ragged – It’s ironic that unfinished hems and ripped denim is some of the most coveted and expensive fashion items that are trending right now. Why should we have to forkout a months paycheck for a look that is essentially prelovedin appearance!?
My tip have a crafternoon – check out my video for DIY inspo
4. Patch Things Up – The 70’s called and they want their jeans back! Patches are popping up everywhere on denim, the back of jackets to handbags and beyond but the designer versions are so expensive. You can quite often find patches in thrift stores, at markets, craft stores or even on ebay and etsy -grab yourself a bunch and big things up your own unique way.
5. Coat Tales – We are coming into autumn/fall in Australia and its time to bring your jacket game – I especially love a camel coat moment, the color goes with everything and looks so chic. Puffer jackets are big this season too, try a white button down and a bralette underneath for a great layering look with texture and interest. Start searching thrift stores now as winter stock is already being put on the racks – just like the high street stores. My Tip is to up the ante with the trimmings. Switch out average buttons for beautiful military inspired gold offerings. If it’s heading into spring where you are, try this with a light trench or a collared shirt.
PS Use my collage as an eco chic reference point – snap a screen shot and take it shopping with you. That’s what I always do and it really helps me fine tune my hunting.