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06 March

Ayesha Casely-Hayford | Actress blog

TRAID  – or Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development -is a company working with secondhand clothing.

‘Change your clothes for good’, ‘Secondhand First’. TRAID manages clothes donation banks and arranges to collect second hand clothing from homes. It recycles clothes and produces new designs in collaboration with fashion designers under its own ethical fashion label ‘Traidremade’.

I did a little volunteering for TRAID in one of its Brixton stores. From the outside window, TRAID does not look like a typical secondhand clothing shop – it’s got class and elegance. The store in Brixton is quite small but heaving. The amount of clothes shocked me. We waste A LOT. There were so many clothes that had not been worn by their original owners and still had the labels in. Designer clothes and high street. Vintage outfits. I arrived during the sales. Most items were £2 or £4. The customers would come and stay in the store for hours. A handful of women were there for over three hours and apparently people have been known to hang out looking through the back-room, waiting for more clothes to be put out, for up to five hours.

On another day, after the sale had ended, a man came in with a voucher for £150. He was homeless and rather than give him money, someone had taken him into TRAID and arranged a clothing voucher for him. Now that is such a beautiful idea.

On checking the pockets of a suit before it went out on the clothes rack I found a best man’s wedding speech. We all had a read. it wasn’t that good.

The people who came in were often regulars. People would sing and dance, one man stayed for ages admiring his own moves in the mirror. He was supreme. One woman had to sit down and requested a drink of water, she was close to crying, which made me nearly cry as it was 12pm and she was drunk.

We waste and waste and waste. TRAID is good. Extending the life of clothes and helping to improve working practices in the fashion industry by shining a light on cheap unregulated labour practices and human rights abuses. It’s been an interesting experience and I’ve met some interesting people. TRAID, for trade of experiences and life. It got me thinking about the lifespan of our clothes, our identify through what we wear and the necessity of clothing. What it means when we share and pass that clothing on through a company like TRAID, taking responsibility for what happens across the globe and thinking more about the clothes we are wearing – how it was made, who made it and how it is going to be disposed.  Landfill, recycling, carbon emissions.

I look at the clothes in TRAID and I think about the journey of a piece of clothing. Where is it from, where will it end up and who with, how will it be worn and how will it be loved…

Ayesha Casely-Hayford | Actress blog


Ayesha Casely-Hayford | Actress blog

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