Millie Mackintosh: ‘I want to teach my daughters about sustainable wardrobes’

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  • With Secondhand September in full swing, now’s as good a time as ever to embrace secondhand clothing, whether that’s only buying vintage clothes or sourcing fashion gems in the best charity shops – or selling your clothes online.

    With that in mind, TK Maxx has launched its annual Give Up Clothes for Good campaign, with the support of model and TV star Millie Mackintosh and activist Munroe Bergdorf. The pair are fronting the campaign and have donate their own clothes, to help raise money for Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People.

    You can also donate pre-loved clothing, accessories, and homeware items by dropping them off at the donation point in your local TK Maxx store. Donated items will go to Cancer Research UK shops to be sold and given a second lease of life.  Each bag could raise up to £25 to help more children and young people survive cancer.

    I (virtually) sat down with Millie to chat about the campaign, and how she’s building a more sustainable wardrobe.

    How did you get involved in the campaign?

    I was delighted to be asked to be part of the campaign and to help raise awareness of the campaign because me, it’s just such a great cause, especially as it helps children and young people.

    And then what I also really love about it is that you’re encouraging people to donate their clothes and give their clothes and stop them from ending up in landfill, which is obviously much better for the environment.

    Did you donate some clothes yourself?

    Yes, I filled up quite a few bags, it was a good chance to do a clear-out which I try to do about twice a year. Since having a daughter, I’m conscious of not having as much space in the house. It’s lovely to think items go to a new home, things you’ve been clinging even though they didn’t fit anymore, or they weren’t your style. I have been stricter with myself this past year, like, ‘why am I holding on to these things anymore?’. And maybe ‘this reminds me of like a kind of much younger self that maybe it’s time to like move on from’. So it’s definitely a pivotal time to reassess my wardrobe.

    Do you ever struggle to get rid of clothes?

    Often clothes have memories attached to them, so for sentimental reasons you want to hold on to them. But even in those cases, I tried to be strict and think of how many times I’ve worn it recently, if it really goes with anything else etc. You’ve got pieces like that in your wardrobe, but they’re too much hard work to wear, so it’s not worth it.

    Has becoming a mother made you more environmentally aware?

    Definitely, I think it really has changed how I think about shopping and what I’m what I’m wearing and how I make my wardrobe. During this pregnancy (Millie is currently expecting daughter number two) I’ve really tried to wear as much as my own wardrobe as possible, and to supplement that a couple of good basics.

    As I’ve got bigger obviously I’ve found that things like jeans don’t fit me anymore, and I need new underwear, but I’ve been wearing a lot of dresses all summer long. So I’ve really been making what I’ve already got work for me and I would say I found being pregnant during the time was easier than when I was pregnant in the winter.

    Are you now shopping for clothes in a different way?

    I definitely shop less, and I really tried to think about how the quality of the fabric, how well it will wear and how well it will wash. I ask myself how many times I’m going to wear it, and whether I’ll still wear it in five years’ time. I do resell things, or give them to charity, or my sister, people that are very willing to come over and borrow dresses! I often share things with friends, and occasionally I rent things as well, especially for a special occasion.

    That’s something I found quite useful while I’ve been pregnant, because I’ve gone up a size or two bigger to accommodate my bump, instead of buying something than maybe wouldn’t fit me in the future.

    A lot of people also don’t realise what journey their clothes go on, when they don’t want to wear them anymore.

    Completely. I’ve definitely really encouraged other women, pregnant women, to just work with what they’ve got already – how they can wear it or adapt it. And if they do get a few things to fit their shape, to think about whether they could wear it afterwards. I like to borrow Hugo’s shirts for example, and that’s definitely something I’ll be doing as well when I’m breastfeeding afterwards.

    Are there any tips you share with your followers who want to be more sustainable with their wardrobes?

    I would say ‘have a look at your wardrobe, work out your style is and what makes you feel good’. And I’d say definitely encourage them to shop less, and shop less trend-led items that would just be a fad, and they wouldn’t wear in the future. I think figuring out what you feel confident, in terms of what suits your shape and makes you feel confident, and complement that.

    It’s always good to look for vintage, and renting when you can. You can visit your local Cancer Research Research UK store and find something you love and do good at the same time.

    Is this something you will try and instill in your daughters?

    It’s definitely important to show them how to look after things. And obviously children grow out of things so fast, so I don’t buy too much. I feel really fortunate to have two girls because the younger one will get to wear some of her sister’s clothes. I definitely want to get them involved in that donating process so they can see from a young age how important it is to to make your clothes do more and they understand the cycle of things.

    Have you kept any special pieces from your wardrobe so that they can wear them when they’re older?

    There a couple of special occasion dresses and a couple of vintage pieces, which I have a special memory of and that I couldn’t bear to part with.I might not wear them again anytime soon, but I’d love my daughters to wear them. Growing up, my favourite thing was playing dress up and we had this big dressing-up box and it was filled with a mixture of things. Some fancy dress costumes but also some of my mum’s clothes. That’s what really started off my love of fashion. Sienna is so cute. She’s really interested in clothes already. She’ll pick up that fabric and really look at it and she does a little dance to see how the fabric moves.

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