"A vintage shop owner's guide to shopping sustainably in Dublin
In the past year, there has been a recognizable shift in the fashion industry in Dublin. With sustainability weighing heavily on everyone's minds, many shoppers are choosing second-hand and vintage over on-trend and fast fashion.
A perfect example of this is Lou's Lot, a small online vintage shop based in North County Dublin. Owner and sole employee, Louise understands that shift all too well.
Q1. Tell us a little about yourself
I'm the owner and sole employee of Lou's Lot, a small online vintage fashion shop. I sell vintage designer accessories, reworked designer jewellery and vintage and pre-loved clothes.
Q2. How did you fall into sustainable fashion?
I used to work in the fast fashion industry as a product photographer, and the constant stream of clothes that I used to photograph was unbelievable. Every day, new stock, new lines - it was just endless. When I left that side of things, I knew exactly what I wanted and needed to do and that was run my own online fashion shop.
Vintage seemed like a natural progression for me. It aligned with my new found fashion ethics and it looked like a lot of fun. It didn't have the start-up costs that a traditional fashion boutique might have like mountains of inventory (stock) and rent.
It was about finding the best one-off pieces and feeding a niche market. I started selling online, first on adverts, then on Depop but it all really kicked off when Sustainable Fashion Dublin started their monthly flea market.
I had been following their Instagram page for a while and everything they said really resonated with me. I didn't want to be a contributing factor to the disposable society we lived in. I started doing their markets and along with it, grew confidence inside me and a kick for the flipping process.
Q3. Are you seeing more customers? Is 'slow fashion' becoming more popular?
Slow fashion is definitely becoming more popular. Not only am I seeing new customers every day, but they're also contacting me asking the right kinds of questions like, "Hey, what sort of packing do you use?" Or, "where do you source your clothes from?".
People are so much more aware of what and who their buying from now. A lot of people are deciding to have their own style instead of following trends and vintage is the perfect way to help you create that style.
Q4. How do you source your pieces? What do you look for?
I try my best to source items within Ireland, just to lower my carbon footprint but I do source some bits in Europe. I have a list of trusted consignment shops that I buy from, especially when it comes to designer - you'll never see fakes or replicas pass our hands!
The reason I look for designer pieces is mainly down the quality. Generally, they are made from better materials and they have a longer shelf life.
Q5. Who do you look to for style inspiration?
On social media, Laura de Barra kills it every time for me. Whether she's fixing a blocked pipe or heading out for a night on the town, she's probably wearing black and gold and/or Chanel. Also, she's quite a big champion of vintage.
Personally, I love a good 90s look. I'll google people like Winona Ryder or Drew Barrymore for a bit of inspiration if I'm stuck.
Q6. What are your top tips when shopping second-hand/vintage?
Don't be put off by sizes. Sizes from the 80s and 90s are far different to the sizes we have on clothes now. If you're at a flea market, try the piece on and see if it fits. If you're buying online, just ask the seller what dress size the model is for scale, if it's not already listed.
Have a look at the local vintage shops whenever you are abroad. You'll often find little gems that you just wouldn't get over here.
Check what material the item is made from. Remember, cotton lets you breathe, linen is durable and wool is super warm. All of the above are very sustainable but if you want to stop plastic going to landfills, buy second-hand polyester.
Get to know the people you're buying from. Build a relationship with them and often than not, they'll pop into your DM's and give you first dibs on certain items, especially if they know your style.
Remember that clothes can be altered, even if you can't sew yourself. There are so many gifted and talented tailors in Ireland. And it's not as expensive as you think!
Q7. Where can people find you? Where's the next event?
You'll find me at the next Sustainable Fashion Dublin Flea Market on Saturday 15th February from 12-5pm in the Workmans. There'll also be free cocktails from Roe&Co so it's a no brainer really.
If you can't make the market, you'll also find me online on ASOS Marketplace. Just search Lou's Lot or click here."