We know it's vital that we take responsibility for all of the items we produce. According to the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), extending clothing life is the single largest opportunity to reduce the carbon, water and waste footprints of clothing in the UK. We’re investing in initiatives that keep our pieces in circulation. The latest, TOAST Reworn, offers an alternative to buying new, with pieces that have been previously loved or selected from past collections.
To celebrate, we photographed members of our community who share a collective passion for shopping more sustainably. The shoot took place in Clapton, east London, and everyone gathered to share their stories of their connection to previously loved clothing and TOAST.
Dionne St Matthew-Daniel, pictured above top left, is a deputy head teacher from north London. TOAST embodies the slower and more sustainable lifestyle she tries to live, and is the reason she has bought pieces from us for over 12 years. “One of my favourite pieces is a jacket I bought around 2010,” Dionne says. “It was my third TOAST item and has been on many adventures with me, from Brooklyn, New York to Broadstairs, Kent,” she says, demonstrating that TOAST pieces from past collections can still feel modern today. “My first TOAST purchase in 2010 was a pair of Monkey boots, and every time I put them on there is real joy in my heart.”
A copywriter with a focus on sustainability, longevity is important to Fraser Southey, above top right, who you may have seen in one of our TOAST Live videos. He buys our pieces due to their hardwearing nature and still has a “phenomenal” menswear coat bought from us years ago. Two of his children used to work for TOAST, and they initially put him forward to take part in our TOAST Lives. “All of my children shop secondhand,” he says. “Partly on principle and partly because it’s more affordable. My middle daughter is a costume maker, so she is always buying secondhand things to make them into new creations. If I like something secondhand, I’ll buy it, particularly knitwear pieces.”
Sisters Grace and Olivia Barnes, above, live and work in London, and take part in our Exchange clothes swaps. At a recent event Grace, who works as a design assistant in publishing, found a pair of Ashley jeans that she swapped for one of her dresses. Olivia, who works in research and development in the arts, is the elder sister, and introduced Grace to TOAST. “I came across TOAST around 12 years ago,” Olivia says. “I was studying textiles at the time, and I've always been interested in fabrics and making my own clothes. You can tell that TOAST fabrics are really good quality and they last a long time, they wear really well.” Grace loves adding to her wardrobe with both secondhand and new TOAST pieces. “I love that older pieces still feel new – everything works together.”
As an interior designer, Krisztina Pasti, above left, prefers to use rescued furniture in her work. “I’ve always been drawn to old, well-made, good quality items, whether clothing or objects,” she says. Krisztina often attends our Exchange clothes swaps with her daughter. “I love coming along with my daughter, not knowing what we may find. It’s just like when I’m at Portobello Road market hunting for furniture or objects. We both share a passion for our environment and buying pre-loved clothing is a great way to do our part for the planet.” After being inspired by our Renewed collection of repaired clothing, she altered a green workwear top from Portobello, adding sashiko stitches to the collar for a pop of colour.
India Copley, above centre, is a textile designer, maker and art teacher. “I’ve always cared about sustainability in fashion,” she says. “I always think very carefully about my purchases to make sure I’m getting something that I’ll love for years.” India also repairs and alters her clothing, as well as making new pieces from deadstock fabric. “Working in textiles has instilled in me that you don’t want to waste things, and the importance of fabric. TOAST pieces last for ages, and you can get them repaired for free too which is great. They just last and wear really nicely – I like it when the fabric gets softer over time.”
When Caroline, above right, is not working in our Hampstead shop, she works within community engagement, and has recently qualified as a life coach. An experience she had, living out of a suitcase for six months during lockdown in Africa, gave her a new appreciation of clothing and its environmental impact. “I was more informed and thought more deeply about the clothing industry when I came back to London, and began to be far more intentional with my spending and shopping habits. I really love the longevity and quality of TOAST clothing, which sums up the brand.”
Graphic designer and art director Ipsa Dhariwal, above left, has a background in fashion, and became aware of the problems that the industry can cause in countries of manufacture. “I’m really concerned about the negative effects of fast fashion, particularly because I have family from parts of the world that create these pieces. But also, shopping sustainably is really fun!” She loves perusing in charity shops for secondhand pieces. “I love shopping for people’s old clothes, as there’s a story behind them and you make them your own in a different way. It’s also really unique, because there won’t be ten other people in the same outfit.”
Samantha, above centre, is a massage, reflexology and aromatherapy therapist and wellbeing clinic co-owner. “I’ve been buying clothes from TOAST forever,” she says. “I love the quality and style. I know that I won’t grow tired of what I’m buying, and if I buy a preloved item I know it has many more years of wear in it.” She enjoys swapping pieces at our Exchange events – “It’s great to find something new to wear from the archives.”
Deborah Potts, above left, who works in our Bath shop, has been buying secondhand clothing since she was in her twenties. “It was the ‘in’ thing to do back then,” she explains, and it was a way of saving money. She often participates in our Exchange events, seeking out workwear and utility pieces which define her style, and recently found a beautiful coat. “I’ll always go for pieces I can wear everyday,” she says.
Working in set design across films, music videos and commercials, Ellis Matthew Garbett, above centre, often picks up pieces that are available in sales at the end of shoots, where costumes are sold at a reduced price to members of the team. “That’s how I’ve ended up with a lot of my clothes recently,” he says. He likes to find affordable pieces and save clothing from being thrown away. “Nearly all of my clothes are from charity shops, are vintage, or have been given to me by friends.”
Gaelle, above right, is a calligrapher and bookbinder based in Oxford, who runs her own business making stationery and calligraphy pieces, as well as working as a university library assistant and a sales assistant for a small independent shop. “I want to buy more preloved pieces for environmental reasons,” she says. “I’m really excited about TOAST Reworn as it’s exactly what I need for an easy way to start buying secondhand, where I can be confident about the quality and condition of the clothes and trust the buying process.”
Photographs by Suzie Howell.