Fashion

Clothing Swap Party – Italian Style!

Milan isn’t really a city that is renound for it’s sustainable and ethical fashion scene, however I was hopeful upon arriving here that I’d be able to uncover what it had to offer with my super sustainable sleuthing skills. Within my first few weeks I managed to nab myself an invite to a local Clothing Swap Party thanks to a Facebook group I’d joined called Girls in Milan.

The event, run by three friends, was aimed at women who were new to the city and wanted to connect with others through their wardrobes (cute, right?). The rules were as follows:

  • Bring at least 7 clothing items
  • All items must be good quality/washed/ironed
  • Accessories likes bags/shoes/jewellery are accepted too
  • Participants are given 7 tokens with their name on them when they arrive
  • Their clothing/accessories are then put on display on racks/hangers
  • Participants then browse and place their 7 tokens on the other items they want
  • The event was 5 euros (which covered champagne and yummy snacks)

I knew I’d found the right apartment when I came across bunting with the words “SWAP IT” on the door. I was one of the first people to arrive, and quickly explained that I didn’t actually come along to swap anything, but more to observe and hopefully make some friends (which was also totally acceptable). I started chatting to a cool Canadian girl named Jesabel with an enviable pixie haircut, and we quickly bonded over missing our boyfriends back home, entrepreneurship and running our own businesses (check out her brilliant Boss Girl video HERE and her Kickstarter Campaign HERE).

IMG_6796 2IMG_6791 2IMG_6801 2The small living room was very quickly packed with clothing and women, most speaking loudly and passionately in Italian, although I did manage to connect with a few others who were also there to make new friends. Once everyone had hung their clothes and had their tokens distributed is when chaos erupted. This is something I’ve experienced a few times in Italy, where things like personal space go straight out the window. Jesabel was in the thick of it, browsing swiftly and putting her tokens on the items she wanted. Pretty quickly she realised that someone had been removing her tokens and replacing them with their own (very bad form).

IMG_6804 2IMG_6794 2Together we discussed what to do, and both agreed to ask the hosts, however by the time this happened, the woman who had swapped out Jesabels tokens had left the party! It seemed Jesabel wasn’t the only one to get stung, and apparently it wasn’t just one woman doing the dirty (there was a pair who’d walked out with more than they’d swapped).

This put a bit of a dampener on the night. There wasn’t the slow and relaxing pace, conversation and connection that I had experienced at other clothing swap parties back home, but I think that had a lot to do with the fact that the ones I’d been to were with friends and not strangers. The language barrier also made it difficult, and the chaos of it all made me feel safer sticking to the sidelines eating carrots and hummus dip as opposed to trying to start a conversation.

IMG_6800 2Luckily, Jesabel managed to find 7 good quality pieces in the end, one of which was a sparkling straw hat which she picked especially for me. I walked away with a new experience, a really cool new friend and a bloody awesome hat.

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Fashion, Soul

The Prize – a semester in Milan!

The weeks before flying to Milan to study Fashion for a semester abroad, people kept asking me if I was excited. I would twist my face into a smile and nod, however the truth was that I was terrified. For someone as passionate as I am to have the opportunity to study abroad in one of the worlds Fashion capitals sounds like a dream come true, however having to face that fact that I would be doing it completely on my own was enough to make me feel like I had rocks in my stomach.

When I arrived in Italy, I was slightly delirious (nearly 48 hours of travel will do that to a girl). My taxi driver sped through the countryside, weaving in an out of cars between text messages he wrote frantically with one hand. I arrived at my new university – Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti (Naba) with my suitcases in tow. When I was informed that my other three house mates wouldn’t be arriving for at least five more days, I felt a lump creep into my throat. How was I going to survive here on my own for that long, in a place where I barely spoke the language? The first night in the empty apartment was the hardest. I curled up, fully clothed, on top of my bed, too tired to even get under the covers. I used a small hand towel as a blanket (pathetic I know). It was 4pm.

The next day I was awake before the sun. Having anxiety is nothing new to me, however on this morning I experienced it on a whole new level. My heart was racing, I felt sick, I was sweating. I was suddenly hyper aware of time. The thought that I was going to be away from my family and fiancé for the next 140 days made the room spin. I realized that in order to survive, I needed to connect with people. I had to make friends, and since I was so early and the other people I would be studying with hadn’t arrived yet, I turned to the next best thing – Facebook. I discovered a Facebook group called ‘Girls in Milan’, and once I was accepted I typed a plea for help: “Aussie girl, freaking out, homesick after two days, needs pals”. I was overwhelmed with responses, but one stood out. An English girl named Michelle empathized with how I was feeling, and was happy to meet up with me in the afternoon to show me around the city.

We met outside my uni (safety first) and instantly I knew we’d be friends. She had a relaxed, warm energy that made me feel calm again for the first time in days. We started to walk and chat, and as we turned the corner I quickly discovered that my apartment is right next to two of Milan’s most famous and beautiful canals, a fantastic vintage store and endless cafes and restaurants. We strolled along the cobbled stone streets, stopping for coffee gelato and enjoying the blistering Italian sunshine. The street fashion didn’t disappoint, as I admired tanned women in designer pleated skirts teamed with trendy sneakers and oversized handbags rush past me. There was something about their natural beauty that made me feel good about embracing less makeup.

Processed with VSCO with c8 presetI soon learned that Michelle had fallen in love with Italy at a young age, and had been living her dream to live and teach in Milan for the last four years. Her passion for the country was so genuine that part of me started to open up to it a little more as well. As we neared the city center, she stopped me. “I remember the first moment I saw it” she said smiling. “Saw what?” I asked, but before I could finish, I felt myself gasp. A church stretching high into the sky made from sparkling pink marble was glowing in the afternoon sun, and it took my breath away. The Duomo was more stunning and grand than I could have imagined, and there was something in seeing it that filled me with excitement and optimism. I was here, I’d made it. And although I was scared, I knew I’d be ok, because on the other side of the things you are most afraid of are always the biggest and best adventures.

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Fashion

REVIVE Festival

Today is the day I share my sustainable fashion story at the Revive Pop-Up Second Hand Festival at Southbank, run by the Brisbane City Council. I have an entire half hour spot (6:30pm, speakers tent) and I’ve already got the shakes as I write this post! Despite being on stage hundreds of times over the years, I still always get nervous. The only thing that pulls me through is the fact that I’m talking about something I care so much about – ethical and sustainable fashion. There will be live entertainment, thrift stalls, fashion shows, workshops and talks. I’ll also be sharing the stage as part of a panel with my pal Never Ever Pay Retail and Jill Chivers at 7:00pm (right after my talk). Hope to see your faces there!

Join me tomorrow night (Friday) at the @brisbanecitycouncil REVIVE pop-up second hand Festival at Southbank! The event runs from 12pm - 9pm and is packed with thrift stalls, food trucks, workshops and live entertainment. I'll be sharing my story at 6:30pm at the speakers tent, and will continue on to join a panel at 7pm alongside my pal @nevereverpayretail Hope to meet you there ♥️

Fashion

Ekka Speaker Series

It’s officially my favourite time of year… the Ekka is on! Come hear me chat all things sustainable fashion at The Ekka this Wednesday the 16th of August, 1pm. I’ll be sharing the stage with fellow slow fashion advocate Jane Milburn from Textile Beat, see you at the Fashion Stage!

Come hear me chat all things sustainable fashion at @theekka this Wednesday!! I'm so excited to share the stage with fellow slow fashion advocate @textilebeat