One of Denises' dresses

Tackling fast fashion with inspiration from an older generation

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Sometimes, small ideas become big. For fashion designer Denise Anglesey, tackling the fast fashion industry has changed her outlook on what we consider to be waste.

In Kaikoura, 2008 after “winning a couple of categories” at a local recycled-trash fashion show, the garments were set on display as an exhibition. It was “so successful, it ran for two years.” During that time, “we began to up-cycle waste denim that was headed to landfill.” Selling skirts to locals and tourists meant “we diverted 100% of all the waste denim from landfill during that time frame.” They were approached by local and international media, which prompted “a more serious approach to recycling waste clothing.”

Denise takes inspiration from her grand and great-grandparents. “They did not have a throwaway society. Everything was used and reused.” She believes that “even in a modern society there is room for everyone to drastically reduce the amount of waste they generate.” Her focus shifted from buying her own clothes. “I no longer shop randomly in retail stores and only buy what I need from them. That is usually underwear and shoes. All my wardrobe clothing is either recycled, up-cycled or made from scratch.”

She recently connected eight similar businesses who now utilise each other’s waste materials to help up-cycle what they would have originally thrown away. Although she primarily targets the fast fashion industry, Denise believes “the concept could be maintained on a larger scale with the right processes put in place.”

Denise’s attitude of a ‘circular fashion economy’ also extends to how she “manages waste at home including reducing our rubbish bin to the smallest available, recycling, using produce bags at the local supermarket and accessing the local fruit and vegetable co-op.” Her advice? “Just start with something small and implement changes gradually.”

Denise’s tips to help you on your journey:

Tip 1: Our great-grandparents did not have a throwaway society. Everything was used and reused.

Tip 2: Design a 3-week menu planner that allows for bulk buying of groceries.

Tip 3:  Only buy what you need.

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