In Conversation with… Jemma Finch, Co-Founder of Stories Behind Things

In our latest sustainable lifestyle conversation, we’ve been chatting with Jemma Finch, one half of the duo behind Stories Behind Things. Jemma and her co-founder Ella Grace Denton started their clothes swap event series in order celebrate the meaning behind what we consume through the art of storytelling.

We dig into what started Jemma’s journey into this space, and how they’ve made a success out of sharing fashion in our interview:

1. What sparked your interest in sustainable fashion and conscious consumption?

For me, my journey into sustainability came through a mental health-lens. I found myself extremely disconnected to what I was interacting with on a daily basis. Engaging with my clothing and understanding the story behind them, where they were made, what they represented to me etc allowed me to re connect. Thats when I started becoming ever more curious about where things came from, and whether they have a positive journey and affect on our planet or not.

Starting Stories Behind Things started as a passion project and was my personal journey to re- connecting to the material things that we surround ourselves with on a daily basis.

2. Why do you believe it’s important to discover and recall the stories of our clothes?

Celebrating the story behind our clothes is so important, it allows us to collectively respect that each piece of clothing takes time, effort and passes through many sets of hands before ending up in the store or online as a finished product. Understanding the story of our clothing encourages us to make judgement as to whether we want to buy into that particular brand or ‘story’. When we buy clothing we are voting with our money, at Stories Behind Things we believe it’s important to understand where you moneys going.

3. By their nature, no two clothes swaps are the same. Does this make organising your events a challenge?

The fact that each event is different makes it exciting! You never know what you are going to find, what people will bring and who you’ll meet. It’s the perfect example of one man (or woman’s) trash is another man’s treasure.

We work with @WhoWhatWear.UK for this series of events to offer fashion brands a sustainable alternative to their dead stock, over produced lines and sample stock. I found out the other day that 30% of all production in the UK leads to unsold stock (this was from a documentary on the state of the fashion industry) - Isn’t that shocking! These are all pieces that are imperfect condition. So it’s exciting to see our list of brands donating collections ever growing - giving items that the industry sees as ‘waste’ a new lease of life!

Brands that have donated to our series so far; Harvey Nichols, Riley Studio, Free People, People Tree, Warehouse, ASOS, Gap, H&M, Charles & Keith... the list is growing everyday and it’s incredible to see brands embracing this concept.

4. With London Fashion Week last week, what was your plan for Stories Behind Things?

We attended the Positive Fashion Exhibition and talks to celebrate the brands that are shaping the industry for good. It’s encouraging to see many brands featuring in this exhibition.

5. And as it’s #SecondHandSeptember, what are your best tips for purchasing pre-loved pieces?

1. Carve out an hour on a weekend to wonder and explore the charity shops - you can’t rummage under time pressure! Grab some friends and a coffee, then your weekend is set! 2. Don’t have an item in mind, be open minded with what you are looking for. 3. Prioritise investment pieces that you’ll love for a lifetime 4. Be open to embroidering a piece to give it new life!

6. Alongside buying better, what actions can we all be taking to encourage a more responsible fashion industry?

Embracing the sharing economy is a fantastic place to start. If you cant attend our clothes switches, host one with your friends! We have enough clothing on this planet, let’s make the most of what we have before we think to purchase something ‘new’.

7. And finally, can you tell us the story behind your favourite items in your wardrobe?

My favourite pieces have stories, dresses that have been worn on a special night. I have many pieces I wear that my granny once wore and they make me feel magic whenever I put them on. Clothing has the ability to give you superpowers!!!!

Thanks Jemma! If you’d like to attend Stories Behind Things’ next clothes swap, The Big Clothes Switch, you can book your tickets here:

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