There's no better way of finding out more about sustainability in Beyond Retro than from our incredible staff! Sustainable Spotlight is a new series of interviews with the staff that make our company tick - from warehouse, store and head office across the globe.
We spoke to Gemma, our Beyond Retro LABEL Designer to find out more about her role, the impact her role has on the environment and what she loves about working within the sustainability lead the Beyond Retro company!
I’m the designer for Beyond Retro’s Label brand. My job is to find a creative solution to the excess amount of clothing which can not be sold within our vintage range and would otherwise be destined for landfill. Inspired by current and future trends I redesign garments either through customising, altering or using the fabric from a garment to create something completely new to give them a new purpose!
Being able to create relevant and trendy designs and know that I am doing something to help the planet at the same time. We get to travel to India to work with the manufacturing team out there and it’s great having lots of interaction with the other teams in the business
Living in the throwaway society we seem to have been accustomed to I think everyone is becoming more and more aware of the impact the fashion industry has on the world and the people on it. We have a great platform here where we can educate customers to make smarter choices when buying clothing and show how you can still dress fashionably affordable and not have to succumb to fast fashion.
Visiting the clothing recycling warehouses has really opened my eyes to the amount of clothing we are throwing away. The fashion industry has become faster and faster with ever changing trend and styles and the high street producing millions and millions of items of clothing which may only ever get worn a handful of times before being discarded and moving onto the next.
Over the last few years, there has definitely been much more media spotlight on the issue of sustainable fashion and lots of big companies are starting to make changes within their business to try and help contribute to finding a solution. Take back schemes are becoming more common and designers are starting to take more action to raise awareness and make a change.
I try and live as consciously as I can - recycling where possible, only driving my car when essential, reduce plastic usage where possible. I buy second-hand clothing and furniture and give to charity when something is no longer suitable for me to use. Small changes can make a big difference.
Finding the time to go to good fresh food grocers where items are not packaged in plastic.
I definitely feel like there are positive changes starting to happen with the government making new laws and trying to ban products which are damaging to the environment. I would like to see more companies who have power and influence setting examples and raising awareness so others will follow suit.
I think encouraging everyone to make smarter choices when buying clothing. If it’s something that will be discarded within a short space of time then is it worth it? Investing in good quality long lasting pieces rather than throw away fashion will make a big difference. I also think that bigger companies need to look at the amount of clothing they are producing and re-evaluate the necessity of what they are manufacturing.
Be more mindful when shopping and don’t just buy things because of a ‘fad’. By taking the time to shop around and investing in better quality and better fitting products its more than likely they will become a staple piece in your wardrobe and you won’t want to throw it away!
For more helpful tips on becoming more sustainable in everyday life, check out our blog for some super helpful tips on how to reduce your environmental impact.
We're celebrating this year's International Women's Day by asking the beautifully brainy ladies behind Beyond Retro about their inspirations and aspirations for the female future.
Casie Brown: Vintage Picker
Who's your biggest female icon and why?
Yoko Ono! Her album Approximately Infinite Universe is such a powerful feminist statement. It's created with humour, compassion and ideas that still resonate today.
What's the most important aspect of the women's movement to you?
Intersectionality; in order for the women's movement to be successful it needs to be representative of ALL self-identifying women, across race, gender, class, ability and ethnicity.
What are your hopes for the future of feminism?
That the future generation of women grow up recognizing and naturally utilizing the importance of their voices and stories, and bodies.
Emma Lodin: Store Manager
Who's your biggest female icon and why?
I'm going way back in time and say The Suffragettes. Those strong female icons empowered women to start thinking for themselves. Their legacy and message lives on today.What's the most important aspect of the women's movement to you?To raise awareness of the millions of women who still find themselves oppressed.What are your hopes for the future of feminism?The utopian dream would surely be that the term feminism becomes a thing of the past when equality becomes something that is inherent to everyone on earth.
Alishia Dickenson: Digital Marketing Assistant Manager
Who's your biggest female icon and why?Cliched as it sounds, my fabulous Mama. Her positivity and love of life is infectious; she has a wild laugh, an uplifting spirit and sees the beauty in everything. She's definitely my go-to person on a rainy day!My celebrity icon is Tracee Ellis Ross. She's witty, eloquent and induces serious hair envy.What's the most important aspect of the women's movement to you?Support of one another emotionally, verbally and vocationally. For too long women have been pitted against one another and we oftentimes hold the same prejudices as some men without even realising it. It's not a case of being a race to the top, it's about getting there together.What are your hopes for the future of feminism?That it will no longer need to be a movement because there is a mutual respect and admiration between the genders, and we've achieved what we set out to do. Idealistic yes, but it can be done one day!
Nithya Mukandan: E-Commerce ManagerWho's your biggest female icon and why?My Mom. Playing different roles so beautifully at the same time, be it the role of a caring mother, a loving wife, a strong adviser and managing all of them with a sweet smile whilst still working is nothing less than magic.
She taught us to "never say can't". I am indebted to her entire generation of women who blazed a path for me and my generation of females.What's the most important aspect of the women's movement to you?Opening up huge opportunities for women, ensuring them equal access to higher education, compelling colleges and universities to support women's athletics. an undeniable improvement in the lives of women everywhere.What are your hopes for the future of feminism?The future of feminism should be to celebrate femininity because of it's essence instead of as a reminder of basic rights. Individual choice and equal opportunity for everyone.
Caroline Jonasan: Office ManagerWho's your biggest female icon and why?When it comes to vintage style icons my favorites have been the same for years: Katharine Hepburn, Jane Birkin, Kim Gordon and Nico.But if we talk general female icons I could probably go on forever cause I'm quite obsessed with tales of mysterious women through history - everyone from Pocahontas to Cleopatra and Jeanne D'Arc... Sure, I'm a geek.What's the most important aspect of the women's movement to you?Equal pay, to be free from sexual violence, free abortion and right to education for women worldwide.What are your hopes for the future of feminism?That the word feminism in the future will have the same value and importance as the word democracy. In a nearer future I hope the Feminist Party in Sweden will have some success in the election later this year.
Tatiana Nicholaeva: Production Analyst
Who's your biggest female icon and why?Irena Sendler, she is a brave woman who saved approximately 2,500 Jewish children during World War II.What's the most important aspect of the women's movement to you?The most important aspect of the women's movement to me is the acceptance women as human beings with rights, equal to men's rights.What are your hopes for the future of feminism?That the future generation of women grow up recognizing and naturally utilizing the importance of their voices, stories and bodies.
Sophie Guyte: Assistant Manager
Who's your biggest female icon and why?My old dear, we've had some family hardships which allowed me to see her strength and determination. She amazes me everyday. She's truly my best friend and role model!What's the most important aspect of the women's movement to you?That it's helping to inspire and motivate generations of women.What are your hopes for the future of feminism?That it leads to more strong women in positions of power and authority.
In the run-up to Christmas day, we are asking our beloved Beyond Retro staff members what they're getting up to over the festive period. It's our second busiest time of year so of course, everybody is loving being pestered right now, although the majority of us are in high spirits and are waiting in excitement for Santa's arrival.
First up on the nice list is Jessica Hayman, one of our lovely sales assistants working in our flagship Cheshire Street sore near Brick Lane.
Hi Jess! What have you asked Santa for this year?
Santa isn't real babe.
Yes, he is. What would you like anyway?
An industrial sewing machine, lots of clothes and make-up.
What are the best and worst gifts you've ever received?
The worst was a broken iPhone and the best was my dog.
If you had limitless bags of cash, what would you buy your best friend this Christmas?
Lots of designer clothes and trainers.
Fingers crossed you win the lottery then. What about your Mum?
A car that actually works and a holiday.
What is your Christmas party outfit or festive jumper looking like this year?
It's a Louis Theroux jumper that says "Dashing Theroux The Snow".
What do you get up to outside of Beyond Retro?
Seeing family, visiting exhibitions and going for drinks with friends.
Fab! Thanks, Jess.