The rise of popular online shopping store Depop has caught the attention of avid thrifters and those seeking second-hand fashion or small fashion business’. Isabella Essuman is the small business owner of fashion brand Soul Vintage Co, a Depop and Instagram account known for their eco friendly pieces. Soul Vintage Co prides themselves on their ethically sourced fashion whilst promoting slow fashion and secondhand shopping. In contrast, the Fast Fashion industry (ie Zara, Forever 21 and H&M) produces 10% of all carbon emissions, with 85% of all textiles being thrown out each year. A 2017 report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimated that 35% of all microplastics in the ocean are a result of washing synthetic materials like polyester.
Penny Lane Hippy: What inspired you to pursue fashion retail on depop/instagram?
Isabella Essuman: My inspiration to get involved with Depop/fashion started from me always involved in trends and seeing how my values of ethicality and sustainability could be pursued through using a platform that had all of the wants I needed to fill as a consumer, I loved the idea that I could show consumers the concepts of ethicality and sustainability with quirky, alternative, vintage and era based pieces.
PLH: What has been your favourite and least favourite part of being an online seller?
IE: My favourite part of being a seller on Depop is being able to see my visions and creativity through expression of fashion. I don’t really have a least favourite part as everything is expected to come with the job.
PLH: Is there a message Soul Vintage Co is trying to relay?
IE: My main message that I’m trying to convey through Soul Vintage is to show consumers that you can find pieces that represent you in an ethical, sustainable and cheap way
PLH: What are your tips on shopping sustainably/ ethically?
IE: My tips would be to be direct and always know what you’re trying to find. Always look in multiple places and always search for the most sustainable practices done by businesses such as packaging, how it’s sent and materials used.
PLH: What’s your next goal for Soul Vintage Co?
IE: My next goal for Soul Vintage is to become a verified top seller on Depop, move my artistry to the fashion industry in full and later bring my own ethical brand to the markets
PLH: What is unique about your business?
IE: My business is unique as I strive to make sure that sustainability is first and foremost along with my customers/supporters. My customers are not just dollar signs but rather individuals who feed my creativity and I choose to thank them continually and make sure it is known how important the individuals who support my business are to me. My business is unique as it’s so customer based and sustainably based.
Changing How You Shop
For fast fashion brands to change, we have to stop giving them our money. Retailers can be culprits of Greenwashing, for example ASOS’ ‘Responsible edit’ collection and H&M’s ‘Conscious Collection.’ They trick customers into believing that they are investing in ethical garments that do not associate with the fast fashion agenda. However, even when a fast fashion brand has an eco-line, if its still mass producing other collections, the brand will still be contributing to unsustainable practices.
Consumer demand is what fuels this industry. Boycotting works only if we collectively put our money into slow fashion instead. It might cost more initially, but the garments will not be associated with exploiting its workers and the clothes will be a high quality investment to your wardrobe.
Think practical and stop falling for the trend traps that will make you buy from fast fashion stores and go out of fashion quickly. Instead, focus on the essential garments you need and staple pieces that you can rotate each week. Staple pieces include, a couple of pairs of jeans, a variety of tees for each season, skirts, dresses and outerwear. Find pieces that you can wear with a combination of the clothes you already have instead of buying a whole new outfit that only works as a whole (and that you’ll probably wear very rarely).
A major tip in preserving the wear of your clothes is to protect and repair the clothing you already own. Read the labels and follow the washing guide so that your favourite or most worn pieces stay good as new. If you notice a tear or loose threads, try and refine your sewing skills. There are plenty of youtube clips on how to thrift flip and transform your clothes from ‘meh’ to ‘yeah!’
In the occasion that something can’t be fixed, think out of the box for other ways it could still be useful. Old T-shirts daggy t-shirts can be crop tops, jeans can be denim skirts and dresses can be cute coord sets!
Check out some of BestDressed’s thrift flips and the magic a sewing machine can do. She even has tutorials that have no sewing needed!