In the book Shaping Sustainable Fashion, Sociologist Juliet Schor is featured as citing the cultural critic Raymond Williams when she says, ‘we are not truly materialistic because we fail to invest deep and sacred meanings in material goods. Instead our materialism connotes an unbound desire to acquire, followed by a throwaway mentality’ (Schor, 2002).
RUDE believes its garment and textile scavenging is true materialism, where we connect and engage, not just with the garments’ qualities but the associated experiences of self-improvement, and with ourselves as human beings. We agree, that to be in a state of engagement and connection, people have to be active and able, to have access to the skills, tools and opportunities to use them.
Scavenger Style is partly about honouring and appreciating all that was involved in a garment’s original construction whether it’s of high or low quality. There is no better experience for me [Karen] than to REuse or REfashion a high quality garment from the point of landfill. This type of garment, even if worn and torn, has a quality that’s becoming rare to find, especially at landfill. You feel like an archaeologist REscuing precious artefacts at a dusty dig site. But more than that, you have to think like the museum curator who will eventually get the artefact. For example, the curator will have to see the potential for display and/or for storage until the time is right for the exhibition. This is not unlike discovering a garment and seeing its potential for REfashion and wearing.
What is mostly seen by RUDE at landfill is piles of fast fashion, some only suitable for rags but most garments able to be washed and worn immediately. This is where I have to think much more creatively about the possibilities for garment REscue, REuse and/or REcreation. In this situation, I feel like Mother Teresa helping to provide orphans in the slums of Calcutta with a better life. Saving fast fashion garments, in my opinion, is very much true materialism, and much more noble because these garments really are considered not worthy of REscue by many. Hence the large amounts that are not even downcycled but sent to landfill.
This is where Scavenger Style is unique, compared to what is being promoted by other REfashion bloggers. Scavenger Style really involves scavenging, like a seagull scavenges for its food. There is no walking into clean consignment/vintage clothes or charity stores where all the goods have been picked over, sorted, colour coded and displayed for sale. There is no going to a textiles’ wharehouse where garments have already been REscued and sorted for on-selling. There are no styling blogs for scavengers, except Rude Record styling outfits mostly made up of garments and assessories direct from the point of landfill.
Scavenger Style involves getting down and getting dirty, beating off other scavengers, sorting through piles of unsorted stuff and haggling over price. Many people complain of musty charity shops, well Scavenger Style is about accepting the odours of rotting household rubbish. It is not for the faint hearted and/or those who prefer the thrill of shopping in consignment stores for high quality vintage, the cleanliness and organisation of charity shops and/or buying new at department stores.
And of course that’s not the end of RUDE’s scavenging story. You get in your car to come home and your hands are dirty. If you suffer with allergies you can be affected by the dust. When you get home [after washing your hands] you have to immediately sort and start cleaning the scavenged items. This is work and takes time and effort. You don’t have to do this, but we do not leave anything lying around inside that is unclean. And whether deemed clean or not, most garments are immediately sent to soak overnight.
At a time when charity shopping is on trend worlwide, RUDE has shifted its focus to an alternative source of secondhand shopping. Come share a journey with us, that just may be on trend in years to come.
Check out my scavenged onesie and zipper replacement in this video.