Creativity giving clothes new life

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The fashion industry is notorious for its massive waste and is known as one of the biggest polluters globally. It’s a fact Lucy Ferguson couldn’t ignore and it inspired her to create an online platform where she could promote slow fashion, conscious consumerism and self-expression in the form of “rad thrifted threads”. Rebecca Ryan talks to the 26-year-old former Oamaru woman about her new venture – East End Thrift.

A few years ago, sustainable fashion was not such a big topic – and not so trendy.

But Lucy Ferguson’s Instagram following suggests times have changed.

The former Waitaki Girls’ High School pupil is one of a growing number of people using an online presence to promote a more ethical approach to fashion, selling and creating vintage and upcycled clothing on her Instagram page East End Thrift.

Miss Ferguson grew up in Oamaru and, after leaving Waitaki Girls’ High School, studied at the University of Otago, graduating with a Bachelor of Teaching.

She taught at Fenwick Primary School for two years, before heading overseas and teaching and travelling around Asia and Europe.

It was when she was living in London that her passion for art and fashion evolved and she started making a conscious effort to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.

Miss Ferguson, who described her personal style as “ethically hip”, said thrifting unleashed self-expression and creativity. She believed upcycling was one of the most sustainable moves people could make when it came to fashion.

A lot of her inspiration came from the streets of east London, her “absolute style queen” mother and artist father.

“[Mum] has always dressed against the mainstream trends and is an avid thrifter,” she said.

“My dad is an artist and he has taught me a lot about hand painting on fabrics and has always provided tips and tricks.”

She created East End Thrift after moving back to New Zealand last year, and has also started her own collection of opshop pieces she upcycled by hand painting on them called Faces in Spaces.

“I wanted to create a sustainable collection which puts a unique flare on some of the gems I find at thrift stores,” she said.

She was surprised by how popular it had become.

“Whether it’s the support and messages from my followers or customers purchasing an item from the collection, it gives me the drive to keep on creating and gives unwanted clothing items an afterlife,” she said.

Now based in Christchurch, she juggles East End Thrift with teaching full-time.

Her goal for the next few months was to grow East End Thrift by attending markets and collaborating with other small businesses – and to find a good balance between teaching and creating.

While there was a lot to be said about the negative effects of social media, Ms Ferguson had found it to be “an incredible platform” to work alongside, support and be supported by similar businesses – learning more about, and raising awareness of, fast fashion along the way.

Quickfire questions

Q What’s your Instagram handle?

@eastendthrift 

Q How has your style changed over time?

I think my style has always been a little out there, but it has definitely been influenced by the streets of east London and travelling around Europe.

Q What’s your best opshop find?

Probably my biker leather jacket. I found it under a pile of clothes in a warehouse of vintage clothing in Mile End, London. It cost jackets of that style and quality sold for vintage markets.

Q Outside of fashion, how do you lead a sustainable lifestyle?

I am a conscious consumer, I eat a vegetarian diet and avoid plastic where possible.