Ruby Munson-Hirst meets Upstyler, the latest online store to be championing vintage and charity shop finds in the bid to make the fashion world a kinder, calmer and more individual place to be.
In their latest issue, “Work it Baby” (www.upstyler.co.uk), editors Susanne James and Dawn East asked if it was possible to have it all: a career, motherhood, a beautiful home, healthy meals on the table whilst keeping fit and looking good. Without an entourage as big as your extended family, they concluded that keeping things ‘in perspective’ was a better option to having other people running your life for you. Yet when I met the Upstyler creators Dawn and Suse, they seemed to have the majority of these pressures nailed down. As working mums, the duo traded in hectic careers at Grazia magazine to pioneer a fashion revolution closer to their own hearts.
Abandoning fast lane careers at an established and highly successful weekly glossy is a risk most people wouldn’t take. But with an itch to do something new and the independence granted by being their own bosses, Dawn and Suse dared and embarked on the Upstyler project as means to be able to balance the growing responsibilities of the real (grown up) world. Not only did they dare, they dared to do something truly worthy of their risk: saying no to fast fashion and the barrage of ethical and ecological baddies synonymous with it. The ferocious consumer battle that the fashion world and its buyers are facing is big and ongoing but Upstyler’s decision to donate twenty percent of their profits to charity Trekstock, is an admirable move in the right direction.
Upstyler.co.uk makes vintage shopping easy and available to everyone, cutting out the trawling through rails of stinky old jumpers and odd matching shoes, to magically reveal the hidden gems buried at the bottom of the pile, straight to your laptop screen. Sourcing from car boot sales, auctions, vintage warehouses and charity shops, Upstyler’s buyers pick out an ecclectic range of garments from classic vintage Prada Sandals to Neon fruit clip on earrings (both available at upstyler.co.uk).
Sat in their shared office workspace surrounded by overflowing bags of vintage delights I watched as Suse and Dawn excitedly scrambled to find their favourite new pieces just in. Also in tow was Dawn’s toddler Albert who seemed entirely unfazed by his mum’s enthusiasm for a load of clobber. The atmosphere was relaxed, fun but piping with energy… a long way from the intensity of working on someone else’s clock.
There is something deeply down to earth about how Upstyler operates, from its ethics to promote ‘an alternative to the ‘identikit’ high street’, to Suse’s inspiration being ‘girls she sees on the bus’ – they function at a level that balances the beautiful and shiny side of fashion with a conscience that is devoted to having fun and playing fair.