Matcha with… Shaunie Brett
We spoke to sustainable fashion consultant and stylist Shaunie Brett about how curbing consumer habits can lead to a more free, creative life.
What inspired you to launch ‘SUSSED’, your own sustainable fashion consultancy?
I have worked in fashion for 12 years, 7 as a strategic leader, designing customer experiences and influencing consumer behaviour. When I became more aware of how damaging the fashion industry was, and in particular the dangers of overconsumption, I decided to use these skills for good. So, through my consultancy, I work with businesses and citizens to encourage more responsible shopping habits.
In 2019 you did a whole year of not buying any new clothes. How has this changed your approach to buying clothes and fashion more broadly?
That’s right – it was a year of no shopping at all – not even second-hand. The first two months felt like a breakup from a really toxic relationship! But by the third month I started to feel free, in a way I hadn’t for a very, very long time. I had a lot more time on my hands, more money, more headspace, and I started being a lot more creative with the clothes I already had.
Now that the year is over, I’m still shopping very rarely. I don’t follow any fashion influencers and I don’t have any newsletters coming into my inbox. I never allow myself to impulse buy – if I need something, I add it to a list, and if I still need it a month later I shop for the most sustainable option to fulfil that need.
But crucially, I still love getting dressed in the morning, putting together creative looks and expressing myself through clothes. I’m just wearing them now, rather than consuming them.
What do you think the fashion industry will look like as we return to the “new normal”?
It’s impossible to say. My prediction is that a lot of organisations will try to go back to their traditional ways of working. But I’m optimistic that some of the more forward-thinking businesses will be rethinking their business models from scratch and setting goals that optimise for long term wellbeing and survival, rather than short term profit gains.
In your #Livefromthewardrobe IGTV series you talk about identifying “flexible classics” that are never go out of trend. What’s your ultimate flexible classic and why?
My vote for the ultimate flexible classic is a pair of black work-boots (mine are DMs). They’ve never felt dated in the 10-ish years I’ve owned them, and they are still in excellent nick. They are sturdy enough to wear on country walks, but can also be polished up to look quite chic with a crisp white shirt or a dress. They’ve seen me through thick and thin; at this point they feel like old friends.
Can you give us 5 tips for living a more sustainable day to day life?
- Do an audit of your socials, and unfollow anyone who makes you feel any of the following: envious, competitive, inadequate, judgemental of your own appearance, or rushed to buy something before it sells out.
- Allocate a friend to run every clothing purchase past. As well as ensuring that every purchase is well-reasoned, you’ll curb the impulse-buying.
- Think of everything you buy as your responsibility, even after you throw it away. With every item you bring into your home, you should be willing to care for it until it is unsalvageable and ready to recycle.
- Shop local, or from small ethical businesses that deserve your support. We’ve become accustomed to ordering something today to arrive tomorrow, but that level of convenience has become addictive and gets in the way of us making the more ethical choice.
- Put Black Friday in your diary, and dedicate that day to money-free acts of giving and self-care. Give blood, write a letter, walk a dog, bake a cake.
Read more about her journey here: @shauniemaker