Suffolk students aim to lead love for sustainable fashion

Composite images of four textile students

Fashion textile students at Suffolk One College share thoughts and tips on shopping sustainably. Pictured from left to right: Georgie Hawthorne, Jessica Keane, Abi Gills, Tiffany Gray-Moloney - Credit: Eastern Colleges Group

From using natural materials to buying second hand, young people in Suffolk are trying to make a difference through sustainable fashion. 

In recent years, the fashion industry has come under close scrutiny due to the considerable impact it has on the environment.

Fashion textile students from Suffolk One College are among those talking about how the industry can play its part to be more sustainable as well as share their thrifty clothing tips for young people. 

Georgie Hawthorne, 17, said the fashion industry can make simple changes to the way it carries out certain processes, for instance dying clothes.

She said onion skins – something you may throw in the bin – can actually be used to naturally dye fabric. 

17-year-old Georgie Hawthorne

17-year-old Georgie Hawthorne says she would like to experiment with natural dying technique - Credit: Eastern Colleges Group

The teenager said she wanted to experiment with these techniques and is already practicing sustainability in her own work.  

She said: “I am going to try out natural dyes because I know you can use lots of different plants to dye with.   

Most Read

“Sometimes I go to charity shops to look for curtains or different dresses which I can cut up and use. 

“We’ve also been laser cutting which is quite sustainable because we can cut out intricate bits of fabric meaning we waste less.”  

Tiffany Gray-Moloney, 17, added that she uses scrap materials left over from other projects.   

A piece of weaved material that a student at Suffolk One has made

An example of Tiffany's work using scrap material - Credit: Tamika Green

But what about when the students are buying clothes for themselves? 

Jessica Keane, 17, said that her favourite place to shop sustainably is at kilo sales.

Kilo sales are where you pay a set amount of money, roughly £10, and can bag up a kilo worth of clothes of your choice.  

She said: “It’s a proper day out going to different thrift stores – I love it! 

17-year-old Jessica Keane standing in front of student work

Jessica Keane says she enjoys shopping at kilo sales - Credit: Eastern Colleges Group

“If you went shopping out in the town you would spend so much money, but if you go to kilo sales you can come out with so much stuff and you’re spending less than half the price.   

“The kilo shops are definitely more directed at young people,” she added. 

For 17-year-old Charlotte Squirrell, the uniqueness of the clothes she finds at kilo sales is what appeals to her the most.   

“Usually, stuff at kilo shops is vintage. It’s not like fast fashion where everything is the same.

"You can go to a kilo sale and find some amazing pieces that are really cheap, that are unique, sustainable and still going after 30 years.   

Head of department Sarah Abercrombie with two students showing student work

Head of department, Sarah Abercrombie and two students showcasing student work - Credit: Eastern Colleges Group

“As long as you keep looking in the same charity shop every week there will always be stuff in there,” she added. 

Abi Gills echoed this, explaining that her top tip to young people wanting to try shopping sustainably is patience. 

The teenager said: “Online shopping is so fast now. You look through and you find something straight away, whereas in a charity shop it’s a lot more effort, but I think it’s definitely worth it.  

“That’s something to think about when you’re doing it – ‘is it worth it?’ And the answer is always yes because of sustainability. 

Abi Gills standing in the art room in Suffolk One college

Student Abi Gills says clothes should be thought of as pieces with personalities - Credit: Eastern Colleges Group

"You’re getting something that you love that you’ve worked for. I think it’s about having that appreciation that clothes are pieces and personalities rather than just an item.” 

She said it is easy to fall into the habit of buying similar clothes, but encouraged young people to be brave and try something new. 

Abi said: "It’s hard sometimes to keep on top of trends and going into a charity shop, you can’t always find exactly what you’re looking for. But then it’s about trying to have a bit of personality in your style and not being afraid.  

“The stuff you find online is samey and if you like that stuff then that’s fine, but equally be confident enough to wear what you want." 

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter