September! What a concept. Summer ends, Fall begins, the flat circle of time in 2020 continues. What is typically a transition month for wardrobes, like everything else, feels a bit different this year. But as the seasons change and your clothes begin to shift, this September is in some ways the perfect opportunity to cleanse what has likely been a hazy Summer filled with e-commerce, targeted ad, further reduction, out of business buy now, sensory overload.
Oxfam UK’s initiative of Second Hand September couldn’t feel any more like a retail dry January after an indulgent Summer defined by clicking to buy. Second Hand September is a movement that encourages consumers to refrain from purchasing any new clothing products for the duration of the month. Buying second hand and rental platforms may not be an overnight fix to fashion’s environment crisis, but the brief commitment to change can help set in motion the cultural alterations needed to rethinking the ownership in fashion.
If you’re looking for inspiration on how to make the most of a fluid, non-new-purchasing wardrobe, Michaela Coel’s championing of the movement offers a window into a world of second hand ownership.
In her recently acclaimed HBO series “I May Destroy You”, character journeys and confrontations with trauma are often expressed through outward appearances. From comforting faux fur and face-shielding bucket hats in moments of insecurity to green military pants strapped for confrontation, the cadence of costume design flows seamlessly alongside visceral turns each episode takes.
In order to fully show off the show’s vibrant East London setting, costume designer Lynsey Moore relied heavily on purchasing items from local secondhand stores and online platforms like Ebay and Depop, allowing characters to dress with distinct and vivid styles while staying within the resources available to everyday Londoners.
“The cheaper the item is—secondhand, vintage, charity shop—it’s sort of more desirable,” Moore explained to GQ about her sourcing process. “It’s one of a kind; you’ve made this cool. And in that way, it sort of has a bit of a status to it.”
Moore also helped craft the costume design with Coel on the filmmaker’s breakout 2017 series “Chewing Gum” which was similarly built on a vintage fashion archive. With both stylish works flipping the script on traditional, often highly exclusive, Hollywood sourcing methods, the task of crafting a personal month-long wardrobe without the use of new clothes becomes a more manageable feat. For more information on Second Hand September, visit Oxfam’s website and #secondhandseptember on social media.