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On buying in shops vs websites (And October wartime wardrobe challenge roundup)

Ta dah! It’s November! Not sure why I am excited about this, but it does mean that there are two months of the wartime wardrobe challenge left, so here’s another instalment.

In October, the biggest thing I bought is the El Naturalista shoes. I actually got them for a review, and with the review voucher they were only £40, which is all good for my bank balance which is going to take some time to recover from the mat leave period. I was a bit worried when I first wore them and they gave me blisters, but thankfully that went away almost immediately and they are now completely suitable for wandering about for hours.

El Naturalista boots

They’re not bad on the sustainability front either, as far as these things go. The leather is naturally tanned and dyed, hence the gorgeous colours, and the rubber contains recycled materials. They’re a bit vague on what proportion mind. They do have an eco policy and a social responsibility policy, but they’re in Spanish so I’ve no idea. The shoes are 5 points on my WWC tally.

The other thing I bought is tights. Loads of my lovely colourful pairs have come/are coming to the end of their lives, so I want to stock up on colourful brightness. I went rounds loads of high street shops, but for some reason they’ve all decided that colour is not necessary this year. Last year there was loads! And ethical options there never was any in the first place, in any year. In the end I got two mustard pairs from h&m, one thick structured cotton pair and one nylon pair. I’m not even *that* keen on the colour, but I was sick of black tights all the time. £10 and £4 respectively, 2 WWC coupons each.

So that’s me for this month, taking my tally up to

Coupons used: 28
Coupon equivalent for second hand items: 111
Money spent : £240.63

Previous posts in this series:
Introduction to the challenge; January; February; March; April; May; June; July-September

Another thing I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while is how I deal with independent designers. It’s really more of a moral issue than a sustainability/broader ethics one: If you’re going to buy from independent designers, are you better buying from them direct or from a shop that stocks them?


This came up ages ago, in the summer, when we visited a cute little jewellery shop on Victoria Street that carries stuff from various jewellers. I really liked these earrings by Filipa Oliveira and at one point was vaguely considering asking for them for my birthday. I didn’t in the end, obviously, but if I had been, I would have been conflicted about whether to get them from, as the designer has a website. They were £5 less on there than in the shop, and all the money would have gone to her, whereas in the shop 50% (probably, that seems to be the standard rate) would go to the shop. On the other hand, without the shop, I would never have known about her, and I do value the contribution those kind of shops make to the city. They need support too, otherwise it’s just going to be all the usual high street chains and nobody needs that. And it’s not as if the designer gets nothing.

So I don’t know! What do you think, but from independent designers direct or via intermediaries?

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  • Sadie 4 November 2013, 6:42 pm

    I got lots of coloured tights (purple, plum, magenta, teal) in M&S a few weeks ago – last winter I struggled to find any at all, which was very disappointing!
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  • Meg 4 November 2013, 8:04 pm

    I experience that dilemma with music. Indie record/CD stores are like hen’s teeth and need support but most of the musicians I listen to are on the folk scene so working very hard to make a living from their art. I try to navigate the dilemma by buying from the artist direct at a local gig but from the shop if the artist is based abroad or rarely includes a London date on his/her gig list. Or if I discover something new courtesy of the shop they will get my first purchase and thereafter I buy direct from the musician. It is not always perfectly balanced but it is an attempt at supporting two equally worthy livelihoods…

    PS – I know what you mean about the fickleness of the stockings scene. The number of times a shop assistant has told me there is no call for something that was readily available for several years…
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  • Martha 5 November 2013, 3:53 am

    Is there any other way you can support the shop? For example, if a shop introduces you to clothes from Cool Independent Designer, and they also sell shoes (or stockings, speaking of stockings) made by a Multinational Megalith that you’re going to buy anyway, then maybe you could buy the clothes directly from Cool Independent Designer, and then buy the Megalith shoes from the shop. The designer benefits from your clothes purchase, the shop benefits from your shoe purchase, and the fact that the Megalith benefits from you was going to happen anyway.

    Of course, the more Megaliths you eliminate from your purchasing, the harder it is to find these “support swap” opportunities.
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  • Style Eyes 6 November 2013, 6:51 am

    I tend to buy mostly online because I don’t have time and It means I can have access to greater choice of ethical/ sustainable brands. That said if I see something in a shop and it fits with my ethics, I will sometimes buy it there and then. I think it is nice to support local businesses and encourage them to stock sustainable brands but once I have discovered a designer I may also go and seek them out online aswell.

    You have just reminded me that I need to stock up on a few more pairs of coloured tights.
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