18 July 2022

Tor's Thrifty Store Turns 1

Celebrating Tor’s Thrifty Store’s First Birthday with a Founder Q&A

Ican’t believe Tor’s Thrifty Store is already turning 1! The first year has been an incredible journey sharing my love of pre-loved luxury fashion with you and deepening my knowledge about the circular fashion sector. I’m so passionate about what I do and the values that we uphold, it’s been a true pleasure and joy to meet so many of you who are just as passionate and are advocates for environmentally friendly chic style. In honour of this milestone, I thought it was about time I get a bit more personal and share what fashion means to me, how it’s positively impacted my life, and my journey to getting to where I am today. 

What is your personal connection to dressing, and what does fashion mean to you?

Fashion has always been a big part of my life. To me, fashion is all about experimentation, expression, pride, as well as personality. The outfit you choose, not just the clothes but also the accessories you wear, can say a lot about who you are, and how you feel about yourself and others. We’ve all heard the saying that sometimes you need to transform from the outside in, well I believe that sometimes we don’t know what inside us until we see it in the mirror. I truly feel that once you find the perfect combination of clothing for yourself, it can feel like armour, it can turn a macabre day into something magical. The right ensemble can fill your day with beauty, self-expression, self-confidence, and personal growth. I know it’s a little cliché to say, but I can only describe my personal style as eclectic. Throughout the years it has matured, alongside my personality. I’m my own person, and I’ve always had my own style agenda, often my style reflects my mood. Currently, I am introducing more colour back into my life, as my wardrobe has become too monochrome. I am excited for how it will transform my outlook and attitude.

What is your first memory of a great vintage item you purchased and what’s your most beloved vintage item?

Gosh, this memory brings me so much nostalgia. My late father, before he passed, used to take me to Carnaby Street, Oxford, and Camden Market. In those days, it was more down and dirty than trendy. When I was about 16, I got this great pre-loved luxury fashion jacket, and ever since then, it’s been a staple in my wardrobe. It’s an amazing 60’s style oversized men’s suede jacket. I’m currently selling it on the website. It’ll be hard to let it go, but it’s time for it to become a part of someone else’s story. My most cherished vintage item is a gold Jimmy Choo handbag. I purchased it from Buy My Wardrobe in 2013, it’s bougie and a statement piece. But I managed to get the Givenchy Rottweiler clutch bag at a Charity Shop in Primrose Hill London it’s a real marmite bag but what can I say, it’s so me!

How has your style changed, and what triggered the change?

As I’ve gained more experience and learned about how the world works, I’ve become more mindful of the true cost of fashion. Not just the monetary value of the clothes themselves, but also the social cost. I am much more conscious of the items I purchase. If I am investing in luxury items, I use a cost per wear calculator to decide if it’s a worthwhile investment. I absolutely refuse to buy fast fashion unless it’s pre-loved. Not simply because the quality is often so poor, but because I feel ethically compelled not to support massive companies that contribute to the damage of our environment. I do my best to ensure my wardrobe is as close to my personal style as possible, therefore it’s constantly evolving and transforming as I discover things that move me, that speak directly to my spirit. If I’ve not worn something at least six times in the past three months, I tend to donate it to charity. You can find some of my personal items available on Tor’s Thrifty Store as I’m passionate about the circular fashion movement, however I also feel it’s extremely important to support charity stores as much as possible. Fashion and style are in constant flux, I see those that are keenly interested to be constantly evolving their personal aesthetic. Thinking about my style influences, I had the pleasure of having a Parisian boss who was always perfectly polished, the absolute epitome of chic, he helped me tremendously to elevate my style choices. A few of my pieces that are on the site now.

What was the journey to starting Tor’s Thrifty Store?

Tor’s Thrifty Store was established during the pandemic, no banana bread baking for this girl! As we were stuck at home, my friends and I quickly recognised that we were terrible clothes hoarders, we had so many amazing pieces that we felt like we needed to pass on. We all got started right away sorting our wardrobes. First, we made sure to put aside those items that we wanted to donate to charity, it’s important to me to give as much as I can to those less fortunate. With the rest, I put those towards building the brand. I’m from a different generation, so when I was growing up, there wasn’t the emphasis we see today on owning designer brands. Thankfully there wasn’t as much fast fashion. However today, social media adds so much pressure to obtain the luxury lifestyle and be wearing head to toe designer; it’s just not possible. Most people can’t afford to buy luxury labels at retail prices even more so as the cost of living rises. I decided that the mission of Tor’s Thrifty Store is to offer everyone a slice of pre-loved luxury pie i.e. fashion at a price that is attainable to their budget.

What have been the big wins and challenges in your entrepreneurial journey thus far?

Every time someone finds a blouse, bag, or an item that they love on our site that is perfect for their personal style and life, I consider it a personal win. One of the most notable achievements for the business was Leanne Brown of The Real House Wives of Cheshire becoming my first celebrity client. Also Lorraine Candy the iconic Journalist following my Instagram, I was so excited when Charlotte Broadbent, Kate Yuelle, Monica Marriot-Mills from The Monica Way and Fleur McCrone aka Stylist Fleur all purchased from the store, it made me feel like I was on the right path as they are huge influencers in the fashion & circular fashion world on Instagram. I am also very proud that we were able to reach 3,000 followers on Instagram in less than a year, but it hasn’t always been easy. Starting a business is a huge step and risk in life. You can write a great business plan and have a dream, but once you start, it becomes your life every minute of every day. If you want to succeed, you need to invest time and money. My advice, particularly helpful to know from the beginning, is that you are going to make some mistakes, and it’s ok. The most important thing is to accept that, learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward. Don’t let yourself be surprised with how many people won’t be your cheerleader, even if you thought they were going to be. You must be your own cheerleader and keep pressing forward as it will take some time to grow. Overnight successes are few and far between, and usually it didn’t all happen as easily as it seems. It’s better to be a lasting success than to be a flash in the pan, so stay strong and stay the course, you’ll achieve great things.

Do you think fashion will change for the better soon? Are you optimistic, and why?

There are some amazing opportunities in the world of fashion now, especially with the introduction of NFTs. I truly believe more and more people will buy digital fashion for the social kudos. I’m excited to see great new designers coming through in that space. Of course, we will always have the stars of the future designing for the glitterati! If I could have my dream, I would love to see fast fashion stamped out. Unfortunately, reality isn’t always ethical or kind, so I’m not sure that fast fashion will ever totally be eradicated. Plus, the fact that those companies can afford to pay for big name influencers to market them and their products, it makes it easy for them to remain at the forefront of public perception. Sadly, the average person either isn’t well educated enough to understand the effects fast fashion is having on our environment, the impact it will continue to have, or they can’t afford to pay the higher prices of more ethically minded companies that need to cover the costs of their production.

Let’s get to know you a little better. What’s your favourite food, colour, fashion city, hobby, friendship/relationship, song, book, inspirational person, or someone whom you admire, sport, movie, or anything else you’d like to share?

Favourite food: Asian infusion
Favourite colour: Sparkle
Favourite city: London (of course), but for unique pieces, it would have to be Bali or Ibiza (I’m aware these are countries but they do have some amazing designers).
Favourite book: Emotional Vampires and Those That Bleed You Dry! Everyone needs to read that one. Also, The Four Agreements.
Inspirational person: The most inspirational person in my life is my late father, I am his protégé! A very close second would be Bruno Barba, the man that I worked for and learned a great deal from. I credit him with having taken my style from what could only kindly be referred to as eclectic to what I like to believe now would be described purely as chic. I once wore a pompon cardigan and loved it, he hated it. I always knew when he hated something that I put together, he would look at me and simply say in his Parisian accent, “hmmm interesting choice.” That cardigan is now for sale on Tor’s Thrifty Store.
Favourite hobby: Definitely my dogs, I have three!
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Close relationships: I have a very small circle of friends, and that’s just how I like it. I try to keep my life low-key except of course when I’m being bougie.

Favourite sport: For me eventing is my sport, but in my earlier life, I adore yoga (I'm actually a qualified yoga teacher although an oxymoron one). I also love snowboarding.

Favourite song: I love Dream by Priscilla Ahn.

What is your favourite luxury brand?

Alexander McQueen and Balmain are always my go to luxury brands, shop my look below : 

I also adore Valentino and Dior has some great accessories and tulle skirts.

It would be an absolute dream to have a dress made by Galia Lahav. I do want to champion Mona Swims as well, the label is founded by my friend Carla and has epic designs for the beach. And as always, I love finding pre-loved luxury fashion treasures!

What luxury brand that you love do you think is taking sustainable actions that others could learn from?

The fashion industry is well known for its endless, and ever increasing, waste of textiles, as well as the constant growth of consumption. However, the future is not all this dark. As part of the new generation, and for the future of fashion, we all need to find a way to work in a more sustainable way, without losing the passion and love for fashion itself. It would be impossible to pinpoint just one brand, however as far as some designers that are already making great strides, I think Stella McCartney is doing a lot to be sustainable and ethical. I feel like a lot of the big fashion houses should follow the lead of companies like People Tree. Founded in 1991, People Tree was one of the first sustainable fashion brands and it is the only brand credited by the World Fair Trade Organisation and invests heavily in sustainable and environmentally friendly practices, including organic farming. People Tree promotes fair wages and good working conditions, and uses sustainable materials like organic cotton, natural fibres, and chemical free dyes.

How do you see the relationship between fashion and the body? Could you tell us a little about your own struggles with body positivity, and any tips on how to overcome them.

Like far too many women around the world, I’ve been a slave to the scale and the sizing label since I was 11 years old; that’s too long. The world is finally waking up to the terrible effect body shaming has. Thankfully, we are starting to see more inclusive advertising with more relatable personas on our screens and in magazines. However, I think it says a lot that luxury brands rarely, if ever, make clothing beyond a size 12; it’s disgraceful. With age comes wisdom, and although it may be cliché for me to say, I truly wish I had been kinder to myself and my body. I missed out on so many moments in life with loved ones, moments that I will never be able to get back. I missed my best friend’s 40th birthday party for no other reason than I didn’t feel thin enough to appear and be fabulous, can you believe that? I body shamed myself out of celebrating my best friend. I finally realised that life is just too short! I don’t know who was the first to say it, but it’s so true: “Take everything in moderation, and say 10 nice things out loud to yourself, and about yourself, every day.” To be honest, I find it hilarious how ludacris dress labels are. Take Marilyn Monroe for example, she was supposed to be a size 16, but look what Kim Kardashian put herself through to get into that very famous dress. I’ve been a size 8 to a 10 upto a 12  for years, and I only wish I could get into a size 10 from 1998, today that dress would have a label that says it’s a size 6. 

Before signing off I want to thank you for taking the time to get to know me, the woman behind Tor’s Thrifty Store, a little more, and for supporting my circular fashion brand, it truly means the world to me. Kisses, Tor.

To stay up to date with the latest new ins and fashion trends at Tor’s Thrifty Store, make sure to follow us on Instagram @torsthriftystore 

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