Where my clothes come from – No. 15

Jane Ruby

“I’ve realised I’m coming full circle”.

It’s important to me to shop locally. I was brought up on a council estate where there were lots of shops within walking distance. When I left my parents’ house to start work, there was only one corner shop and a bakery near my new home; and it felt as if something important was missing. So, when I bought my own home, I made a point of choosing somewhere I could shop for most things in the local vicinity.

Hebden Bridge is my nearest town, and it’s a ‘Fair Trade‘ town. I used to buy a lot of my clothes on the high street. But then I took out a subscription to Ethical Consumer magazine, and it made me much more aware of where things are from, how they’re made and the impact on the environment. And I started to realise that clothes have a social and environmental impact too.

Jane's necklace
Photographer: Sue Phillips

Before I retired I enjoyed looking very smart at work. But my relationship with clothes has always been about style rather than fast fashion. I’ve got pieces from the 1970s which I still wear.

Now I buy nearly all my clothes from a local shop called Dynamite. The owner, Kate Grant, sources entirely from companies that are environmentally or socially responsible. This cardigan and shirt both came from there. The cardigan is by Komodo; it’s a complete favourite of mine. I like the fact that the wool is certified, and not from mulesed sources. My organic cotton shirt is by Patagonia.

My necklace was a gift from two close friends. Pounamu (New Zealand jade, otherwise known as Greenstone) is also known as the God Stone by indigenous Maori people in New Zealand. Fish hook design draws on the rich mythological and spiritual connection of Maori to the sea … first a tool for survival, latterly a talisman for journeys over the sea.

Maori people believe that pounamu carving absorbs some of the essence of the person wearing it. My friends both wore this fish hook design necklace next to their heart for 24 hours before gifting it to me, so it has a very special meaning for me.

Jane's earring
Photographer: Sue Phillips

My earring is also from New Zealand. It’s a miniature silver version of a kete basket. Kete were traditionally woven by Maori people from flax, and used to store food and other items. So a kete is a symbol of plenty.

I actually buy much less these days. I find as time goes on I need less and less. We were quite poor growing up and I learned to darn, sew and make my own clothes. Now I have the money to buy expensive things. But I’ve let a lot of beautiful stuff go, because it doesn’t mean the same to me any more.

I still don’t throw anything away; I use Freecycle to pass clothes, furniture and other stuff on to people who will value it. Thrift was forgotten by a generation. But everyone, including me, is much more aware of waste these days. I’ve realised I’m coming full circle.

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Sue Written by:

I’m a finance professional who’s interested in whether we’re accounting for the right things in the right ways.

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