During April and May, we hosted thought-provoking conversations and a chance to swap your garments in a selection of our shops, as part of TOAST Exchange (formerly TOAST Circle). We heard from thought leaders in the field of fashion circularity and had the opportunity to discuss important issues, ask questions, and connect with our community.
Through these events, we hope to foster a more conscious and circular lifestyle, look at the life of a garment beyond its first wearer, and discuss new ideas around thoughtful consumption. If you missed them or want to re-watch, you can catch up on the talks via our TOAST Exchange page, and there will be more swapping events in the months to come.
The first event, hosted at our Brighton shop, was a talk on The Circular Economy with Katie Treggiden. A craft and design journalist as well as founder and director of Making Design Circular, Katie spoke about the role that taking part in the circular economy can play in personal wellbeing and building community. Katie highlighted the fact that by extending the lifespan of a garment by just nine months, you can reduce its carbon, water and waste footprint by 30 per cent. She also spoke about the importance of repair, exploring why we mend and swap clothes rather than buying something new.
Many attendees brought in handmade story cards with their TOAST pieces, detailing where and when they enjoyed wearing the garment. One guest, Jane, found a beautiful dress on the rail which she loved, and spoke to the previous owner. “She adored it for many years, but it simply didn’t work for her anymore as her style had changed,” Jane explained. “I'm walking away today with a beautiful dress and a personal connection to the life it has lived so far. I plan to wear it for my wedding anniversary.” Our Brighton shop manager Nik Ratcliffe also enjoyed the evening. “Seeing our shop evolve into a community space and take on a new purpose is fabulous, and I can’t wait to do more,” he said.
At our Oxford shop we discussed “The Role of Styling & Community” with Alice Wilby and Katelyn Toth-Fejel. Alice, who works as a creative consultant, educator and activist spoke with designer, artist and PhD researcher Katelyn about the topic and its relationship to tackling the climate crisis. The conversation opened up to attendees who spoke passionately about issues of inequality in society, how to challenge colonial narratives, and what we can do to move towards a more responsible relationship with clothing. “We need to question the perpetuation of fashion imagery on social media, and these aspirational, high-carbon lifestyles.” Alice said. “We need to change the narrative.”
Discussions on important issues continued among guests after the talk, as they continued to consider new approaches to clothing and share ideas for moving forward. “There’s been a huge uptick in designers who are using existing clothes as source material,” Katelyn said. “That is a skill of the future. It’s harder to take something that already exists, but we have to consider what we do with the clothing we have.”
To bring the series to a close, Professor at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, Kate Fletcher spoke about the craft of use at our Harrogate shop. Kate has over 70 scholarly and popular publications in the field of fashion and sustainability, and is author of nine books including Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys. She explored ideas and practices of durability including from outside the global north, clothing volumes and the usership of garments. “There are many ideas of fashion that exist far beyond the narrow confines of just shopping,” Kate said. “There’s lots of things we do in different places, such as here today with this rail of TOAST Exchange clothing. These are the kind of changed priorities, the values that make everything different.”