There's so much choice on the high street, but when we buy from independent shops we're investing in eco-friendly shopping, supporting local businesses and making sustainable choices. We asked you how you feel about the issue in our recent Sunday Debate, and here's what you had to say.
There are challenges associated with shopping in independent shops – they can be harder to find or get to, and products can be more expensive. But there are so many advantages and it was great to hear how much joy and satisfaction you all gain from shopping in independent shops.
A cheeky preview of our recent photoshoot in Brighton - the hubspot of indie shops in UK
One of the things that is just so appealing about independent shops is the passion the staff have for their products. So often, it's about so much more than selling stuff. They love what they do and want to share it with others. Often, they are really well informed about a broad range of issues associated with the products they are selling. And to buy something from someone who made it themselves is a really special experience. There's a story behind it and a real person's heart inside. They really care. And because they care, the customer service is usually fantastic; they want you to love their product and to help fix any problems that might arise.
And what an opportunity – to support someone's dream and help them make it come true, whilst enjoying the fantastic products they make! This is true in the clothing and creative industries but it's also true in other areas, for example with independent booksellers. It is an unrivaled pleasure for any keen bookworm to go into an independent book shop and talk books with the seller. There's a whole world of knowledge and information there to help you make the perfect choice and to enhance the experience as you go.
Indie shopping is all about experience
It was lovely to hear in the debate from other indie owners who described how rewarding it is for them to be part of a community and gain a customer base to share the journey with. Unfortunately, it's also really expensive to have to pay for a shop in town and that can make it really difficult. But building community and human connections is what we're all about at Lucy & Yak and has been one of the most rewarding parts of our journey too.
It's been disappointing to read in the press recently about the way in which high street brands plagiarize the work of independent designers. There's a thorough and eye-opening account of what's actually been happening for years here:
Another worry with big fashion retailers is what they are doing with returns and waste. There have been news items about clothes being dumped or burned. That's just not the kind of thing you get with independent stores.
At Lucy & Yak we use www.depop.com for items that are damaged but can still be worn and we try to use offcuts and spares in other ways too.
Ethical & independent
With increasing awareness, we hope this kind of thing gets called out and stopped. It is true that with more indie shops opening, customers are seeing that there is a choice beyond what they see on the high street. It's so easy to impulse buy when you're walking past a chain store, but sometimes it's worth checking out what is available elsewhere. It's true that the price tag might be higher, but it's always worth remembering that that cost is carried somewhere else along the line when clothes are cheap.
I think we were all inspired by @coffeequeen2.0 who, at 14 is trying to shop independently where possible despite the financial restrictions that can make that more difficult. It's a journey for us all as we try to manage costs, try to buy less frivolously and make purchases that will last the test of time. And actually many of us are noticing that while cheap clothing seems like a good option financially, it often doesn't last and that economy is a false one. Add to that the hidden costs to people and planet and it's looking like a much less attractive option.
There was some helpful advice in the online debate. It was particularly interesting to hear about how there is a link between supporting locally owned business and the local economy, and how this feeds into the economy more broadly. This doesn't just apply to the fashion industry. It can feel overwhelming if you try to make a big change in one step, but a good beginning is to aim to buy one item each week from a local shop rather than the supermarket. One step at a time. Others achieve a better balance by making sure that for every purchase they make in a high street store, they make sure their next buy is from an independent shop. It's all about finding what works for you.
A few of our favourite indie shops
So, in the spirit of loving independent designers here are a few more of our favourites:
Syd and Mallory: http://www.sydandmallory.com/about
Everything is handmade to order and totally inspiring!
Two Thirds: https://twothirds.com/
Two Thirds have an interesting set up where you pre-order items and they make the number they need. A good way to cut down on waste and part of #weareocean
Grace and Ted: https://graceandted.co.uk/
These guys are all about pre-loved, great stuff.
Much Ado Books: https://www.muchadobooks.com/
A super-exciting independent bookstore.
Hanging Ditch: https://www.hangingditch.com/
An independent wine bar and store in Manchester.
And a quick shout-out to all the fabulous designers and makers on Etsy!
Lucy & Yak Store in Brighton
Finally, we have recently started on our own brick and mortar journey by opening our first shop in Brighton! Come and visit us in North Laine, we would love to see you!