We were lucky to feature in the RTE Guide Green Issue. We talked about how we got into vintage clothing and what our passions are for vintage clothes.
Second life fashion
We were both children of the 80s when there was no Penneys or H&M in Ireland. The idea of mass produced cheap clothes wasn’t really an option for us. We wore hand-me-downs from sisters or cousins, our mothers made us clothes and we were happy with them. Clothes had a longer lifespan and went down through the generations. They weren’t made to be thrown out after a few wears. The idea wouldn’t even be entertained! You ripped your tights they were darned, your elbows wore away you put a patch on them; the same if you had a random hole in your clothes they would just be repaired. I still remember buying my first Penneys outfit down in Carlow, a bicycle and t-shirt set and being amazed! Sure cheaper mass produced fashion has given an afford-ability to a large majority of the population, but it also devalued them in our eyes too. Fashion changes so quickly, social media pictures wearing an outfit on a night out makes them unwearable in others eyes. We are just consuming clothes at an alarming rate and it’s having a catastrophic effect on the environment. Landfills fill with discarded clothes, rivers run in toxic dyes and millions of litres are used to produce singular t-shirts.
We are changing our ways and sustainability is on everyone’s lips. Large companies purport to have changed their ways but do a little investigating and you’ll see the changes are minimal. They still use manufacturing methods that are damaging to the environment and underpay their workers and put them at risk in unsafe buildings. This is known as ‘green washing’ using misleading or exaggerated advertising to create and appearance of being more responsible.
When we decided to start selling Vintage Clothes we wanted to see them get a second life. I’ve always worn vintage clothes from a young age even if sometimes it was dress up. I remember myself and my three sisters wearing a jumper of my father's one after the other through our teenage years, until my mother eventually threw it out! I still have some of both my parents clothes and I love getting to wear them. My mother actually ran a swap shop when I was in primary school and I remember being excited to look through all the clothes. She would send out clothes to a lady in her home village who give them to people who couldn’t afford them. I think this is where some people associated charity or vintage clothes with being poor. I like to think of vintage or preloved clothes as having a back story. Who wore that dress? What occasion was it? A first date, a wedding or a job interview. The stories are endless and I don’t think their story should end up in a landfill.
Madgrá Vintage curate women’s vintage clothes from the 50s to 90s. We pick what we would wear ourselves(some clothes never made it past our hands!) Grace and I have different tastes and that is reflected in the styles we stock. I’m a real 70s fan and Grace and 80s. We have turned our hobby into a business over the last year taking the decision at the end of March to set up a website. It took us a good few months to collate it altogether and we’re really proud of it. Every time we get a lovely post back from one of our customers it gives us an enormous sense of pride. We are delighted to get back to markets now that the country is opening up a bit more and will take part in three in our county over the next few weekends. Of course we are apPrehensive with Covid but we are hoping that we can welcome new and old customers to have a rifle through our pieces.