#EalingSewnUp is an ongoing whirlwind of creativity and enthusiasm which continues to grow from all corners of Ealing. Since the first seed of the idea was sown with OPEN Ealing an incredibly rich network of creators and curators has developed. One example of what can come of a single conversation was my introduction to vintage fashion legend, Brenda Dennison.
Brenda is a stunning woman with a huge heart. She’s the kind of person who would look good in anything! When she arrived at the first stylists’ meeting she wowed everyone with a head-to-toe vintage denim outfit with impossibly high heels. With Brenda it is her enthusiasm and kindness that radiates beyond her incredibly stylish exterior. She is yet another #EalingSewnUp self-made sustainable fashion hero who cannot fail to inspire.
When Brenda was introduced to her models for styling she immediately made them feel comfortable and soon had them trying on a range of outfits perfectly suited to each character having gently encouraged them to try a slightly new style. Brenda’s focus on understanding who someone is and what makes them feel comfortable is what makes her so good at what she does at Preloved Fashion Pop-Up where she curates vintage outfits for style not a fleeting trend.
Brenda’s style icon and muse was her mum, a social worker who never left for work without her heels and matching accessories; always looking so glamorous! Brenda rebelled against heels and dainty dresses, spending her teens in tracksuit bottoms and trainers – then at 17 she began raiding her mum’s vintage wardrobe. At a party, Brenda’s friend didn’t recognise her because she was wearing a skirt!
Combining her background in personal training and her mother’s eye for style, Brenda understands women’s bodies and how wardrobes must adapt with an individual’s changing needs. She always understood the power of the right outfit for an individual but it wasn’t until she watched the jaw dropping film “The True Cost” that she realised the power of the right outfit on the world! Having made the decision to go vegan a few years earlier, she was not shy of trying new things but this time she had found her calling. Brenda could not believe how modern fashion was costing so many lives, “I never knew there was a dark side to fashion, so learning that over 1,000 people died in the Rana Plaza fashion factory disaster had a profound impact on me. I quickly realised there was an out-of-sight-out-of-mind attitude to the true, unethical fashion industry conditions, and this prompted me to make a u-turn on my own fashion habits. I believe you can look good and do good at the same time, without costing or killing the planet. With an estimated 80% of garment workers being women*, I cannot condone this injustice whilst enjoying the liberty of wearing fast fashion. Understanding what fast fashion is and the negative causes it perpetuates for people and the environment was enough for me to say no more!”
Brenda felt life had finally clicked, “I have found my purpose in life, in advocating for us all to make more sustainable fashion and lifestyle choices. Yes, there was a time I shopped trends because all the advertising persuades us to. But now, sustainable fashion has excited the activist in me. Preloved Fashion Pop-Up is committed to re-loving fashion that already exists. The future of fashion has got to move towards a more circular system of reuse, repair, reduce, recycle. I absolutely love finding vintage and preloved gems that make someone feel like the best version of themselves.
Our pop-ups are an empowering social shopping experience, that inspire us all to recapture the fun of fashion. Preloved Fashion Pop-Up celebrates real life interactions – the exciting buzz you feel when browsing in-store with friends, feeling the textures and trying on different styles in the mirror, this cannot be replicated shopping online. All customers come for the fashion and stay for a chat! We bond and laugh and I prepare their purchases with love – always in a recyclable, eco-friendly paper bag. At every pop-up, I am blessed to meet wonderful, fascinating people who always enrich my life, and in turn, I am confident that every vintage and preloved piece from Preloved Fashion Pop-Up will enrich the new owner’s life story, and so the sustainable fashion narrative goes on.
When I got to hang out with Brenda for the day as we prepared for the Sustainable Fashion Show & Swap, she reminded me of all the times I have been complemented on something I am wearing – whenever this has happened it has been something with a story, either second-hand or repaired or re-imagined. So many other volunteers had a similar experience, Caroline with her patched jeans, Agi with her reclaimed zip bags and Camilla with her aunt’s handed-down jackets. I love Brenda’s motto of “curating for style”, it sums up the love and vision all of us could make more time for when it comes to our wardrobe habits.
If you want to meet Brenda (and other curators and creators), discover more about sustainable fashion or experience your first clothes swap you can buy your £5 tickets @ visitgunnersbury.org/whats-on/special-events/fashion-show-and-clothes-swap/