This week sees the celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd. It's a timely reminder that our planet is begging us to do better for it, and that includes re-looking at the way we consume. We're the first ones to put up our hands and admit that we love beautiful things but we're all looking inwards at how much, and what, we consume.  Of course, the most sustainable consumption habit is that of consuming zero new things, but for many of us, that's not realistic. So while we continue to champion the established brands that are attempting to make a difference to their waste footprint on this planet, we're also discovering new outlets that show us how shopping what has already existed for years is just as fulfilling a shopping experience as from brand new.

Cue Gigi's Vintage, handpicked dresses (mainly) curated by fashion-lover Megan Johnstone-Mackie. Named after her grandmother who, according to Megan, "was always obsessed with fashion; getting herself a place at the renowned Central St Martins but unable to afford to go, and becoming a nurse instead."  Later in life, "she finally fulfilled her dream and rented a small shop in a Tudor building at the bottom of Farnham highstreet and opened her very own high-end lingerie shop in the 1980s called Gigi."  She passed on an appreciation of the finer things to Megan, teaching her "the importance of gorgeous fabrics, perfect silhouettes, and expertly created garments from a very early age. Knowing this naturally made me adverse to low-quality fabrics and poorly made clothes. In other words - fast fashion."

It wasn’t until March last year when lockdown happened Megan's idea of selling vintage finally took flight. "I started getting absolutely obsessed with finding vintage items online when the shops were closed, whether they were the right size for me or not. I launched my own Instagram account (after a friend relentlessly told me I had to do it) where I started sharing images of myself in my own vintage items and selling the odd piece to test the waters. Initially, I sold a few dresses through eBay and Instagram. Once I created a strong enough community and developed enough confidence in myself, I invested in building a website. And the rest is history!"

The dresses you find on Gigi's Vintage all look like they'd be happy on the dance floor at Coachella, Glastonbury, or any festival really. They have a Little House on the Prairie vibe that's all the rage in luxury fashion (ahem, hello Gucci quirk!) - so why not try the real source? "I love 70’s maxi dresses, beautiful ethereal hippy style dresses that flow and move with you, with dramatic angel sleeves. As a child I loved watching old western films like Calamity Jane and Gone with the Wind for the huge ball gowns, think Scarlet O’Hara!  I also really love the Edwardian look with the puff sleeves and empire waists, I think these are hugely flattering and romantic," Megan admits. " I look for quality, beautiful designs, intricate details - every item must be unique and beautiful in some way! I want my buyers to know that they are wearing something that was chosen with love and that only they have."

Part of any good vintage seller's success is their keen eye and sniffing out treasure.  "I have slowly been making quite a long list of my favourite vintage brands such as Lorri Deb of San Francisco, Dolly Rockers, and Jody T of California," Megan shares when prodded.  "Each garment in my shop is very carefully chosen and I can spend literally hours searching for each new piece. I have now managed to make a couple of contacts from whom I purchase the stunning theatre dresses.  Because of the eras that I tend to buy and sell from, generally, we can assume that they were not mass-produced to the same extent as they are now. Fashion was much slower; people had fewer clothes hanging in their wardrobes with each piece acting as a staple item. So distant to the cheap fast fashion created today, with shopping hauls being the norm, made by underpaid workers in shocking conditions. Only to be worn once or never at all."

We admire the very specific skillset that treasure hunting requires - patience, resilience, determination and a special sniff-out capability for all things precious. When we asked Megan to share a great find story, her response made us misty eyed: "I love the idea that pieces have had a previous life! I paid through the nose for a deep pink ruffle neck smock dress from Laura Ashley. The woman I purchased it from had worn the dress when she was pregnant in the 1970s and so it was a very special item of clothing to her. We struck up an online friendship, emailing back and forth. She told me stories of how she felt wearing the dress when she was pregnant and how pleased she was that it was coming to me. When the dress arrived, she had written a little note describing it as “our dress” - this actually made me cry! I then sent her some pictures of myself in it which she also loved. It is stories like this that make it all worth it!

With history attached to each piece such as this, it's no wonder we can tell there is something special about Gigi's Vintage. Go discover it for yourself. 

Shop Gigi's Vintage ecommerce shop here

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