Taken from the September issue of Dazed & Confused
The rag-and-bone business may be all but extinguished in modern London, but it’s still a source of endless inspiration for designer Claire Storey. The Westminster BA graduate uses second-hand materials to construct a ruffian cacophony of clashing prints, textures and tones. “I love mixing patterns and colour,” she explains. “I don’t think there’s a combination that shouldn’t go together. You can make the craziest designs out of what you find in charity shops.” The result is a collection of oversized patch-work cardigans, coats and over-alls that Albert Steptoe would be proud to wear.
The theme stems from an adolescence spent sewing out of necessity and sifting through the second-hand stores of Luton. “Nothing fit me,” she laughs. “I was like a little bone at school!” When applying for fashion internships, Storey looked to Traid, which fights poverty by collecting and distributing second-hand clothes to charity shops across the UK.
Fascinated by the troves of unwanted clothes stored in the Traid warehouse – “It’s like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in there!” – Storey focused her dissertation on sustainable fashion’s struggle for popularity. It’s a burning issue for an industry fuelled by fast fashion. “There’s so much junk around these days. People buy their clothes and dispose of them very quickly.”
Storey also interned with couture designer Nicholas Oakwell, and happily admits that she had never previously understood the “glamorous side of fashion.” Oakwell gave her a lesson in sartorial sustainability, “the importance of executing something beautifully and making it desirable, not just throwaway.”
With this in mind, Storey constructed her own collection. Working with recycled clothing and donated yarn, she sampled for months, experimenting with many types of knits and constructions before patching her designs together.
Storey’s patient and pragmatic approach gave birth to a collection that is as playful as it is cosy, with none of the hippie and twee associations of so much sustainable clothing. There may be a long way to go, but her vision shows that there is a future for a fashion industry that gives back.
All clothes: CLARE STOREY
Photography: AMY GWATKIN
Styling: SIVAN CURRIE
Hair: NAO KAWAKAMI
Make-up: NAMI at THE BOOK AGENCY using MAC COSMETICS
Model: IZABELLA at NEXT
Photographic assistant: NATHAN CHANDLER
Follow Tempe Nakiska on Twitter here @tempenakiska