Recycled fashion - designer, to be exact. Say hello to The Real Real...


The prominent conversation in fashion right now is a sustainable one, and thank goodness. Of the activists clubbing together online and at marches in an effort to salvage our environment, fashionistas make up a large sector. Odd, you might think, for fashion (fast fashion, specifically) is responsible for a lot of its initial damage.

In fact, last year fashion insiders boycotted Calvin Klein's (admittedly gorgeous) plastic coats; bloggers Camille Charriere and Monica Ainley designed a line of semi-affordable suits from off-cuts of material which would have otherwise been burned (not great for the old ozone layer); and then there's cult brand Reformation, which shares the life cycle of its clothes with consumers, urging them to wash at environmentally low temperatures. Sustainable, guilt-free fashion is on the uprise (hoorah!) - but its still pricey, meaning unethical fast fashion prevails once again. I mean, what else is a girl to do with an empty bank account and an appetite for fleeting trends?

The answer, my friends, is vintage.

It's basically recycling, but for clothes. It is the Green Wellie Brigade of fashion, saving the environment one garment at a time. Until recently, I'd been a bit fed up of regular vintage shopping - there's only so many straw handbags and silk scarves that smell like fusty old wardrobes that one can take. I often drool over the vintage Chanel at What Goes Around Comes Around in NYC; and a recent activity I've taken up is swanning around the retro shops in Notting Hill, pretending I have an inheritance to blow on perfectly preserved Versace and Dior. But in reality, I can't afford designer vintage - or so I thought.

I came across The Real Real via ManRepeller's Leandra Medine, who had posted a photo on Instagram of a pair of pristine Manolo's that she found on the site for under $100 (£70). Was this some kind of sick joke? Was this just one of those glorious, elusive, one-off bargains fashionistas seem to just 'happen across'?  I thought to myself, typing the website address into google. I gazed in wonder at the first item the popped up on the page: a Lanvin LBD priced at £55. Had I just found the Mecca of designer vintage?

It would appear that I have. And I've pulled 15 affordable pieces from the site to prove it.

If there's one thing to go by when it comes to vintage clothing, its that each piece comes accompanied by the certification of timelessness - solid evidence that it will never go out of style. With the added benefit of reducing strain on the environment, it's really fashion worth investing in.