Claire Myers-Lamptey of The Old Post Office – TOPO – in Harleston is focused on sustainability following the COP26 Conference and shares with us her passion for slow fashion.
The phrase ‘disposable fashion’ didn’t exist when my grandparents were younger. I doubt that it did for anyone of that generation, and yet somehow, we have ended up in a ‘fast’ world where items are discarded the second they become a minute too old. This is why I have long been a fan of the slow fashion designer, Jeanette Baron.
The drawing room at TOPO is themed around arts and crafts. Here, you will find Strawberry Thief wallpaper by William Morris and these are complemented by napkins and Christmas stockings made under Jeanette’s brand, Winifred J. On her website, her words resonated with me, as I am sure they will you, as she described a time now past – and one that I think we need to bring back to help sustain the planet. She said:
“The brand was inspired by my grandmother ‘Winifred’, or Winnie to us. My grandmother was not a shopaholic or a collector of clothes. My mother would have a couple of sewing patterns that would be reused year after year when my grandmother needed a new dress. Winnie had never heard of the terms ‘fast’ or disposable fashion. She never once threw something out because it required mending. She mended it and continued to wear it.
“We waste so much and think so little when it comes to our wardrobes and our shopping. I’ve devoted this brand to paving the way for a gentler, kinder way to shop, which is less about excess and more about living life beautifully.
“If my grandmother was still alive and I tried to explain ‘sustainable living’ to her, she would simply call it ‘living.’”
What I love about the Winifred J range is that many of her products are made from off-cuts, with smaller fabric scraps sent to local schools for crafting projects. This really does minimise waste, and I think we all need to be a little bit more ‘Winifred’
Continuing this theme, we are hosting a Recycle Fashion Workshop here at TOPO in the coming months with master designer Janice Bell. Janice customised the jean skirt in the 1970s and has been recycling clothes since the 1960s, and this workshop will focus on crafting skills. And on 23 November, at the Miss Dior book launch, we have Woven Anew here as well. Jenny McGreal, based at Creake Abbey, works sourcing, selling, and styling pre-loved and pristine designer clothing and accessories.
Community remains strong in all I do, and I have been involved in organising the Harleston 12 Gifts of Christmas Competition Trail that sees late night shopping until 7pm every Friday from 26 November to 17 December. Among the activities is a free family concert by respected pianist Beatrice Nicholas on Saturday 20 November 10.30am at St John’s Church. Beatrice grew up in Suffolk and we plan to collaborate on bringing a free concert to Harleston.
The theme is Space, again turning our attentions back to our planet and the universe.
TOPO has become a hive of activity of late. Our Christmas tree has been up since September, originally for a photoshoot, but passers-by loved it so much that we decided to leave it there. Our Wednesday evening supper clubs have become very popular, and we are launching our Christmas supper club shortly. We also have a host of guest speakers and craft weekends – check out our social media for full details and also head to the nourish website and their events page.
If you are stuck for what to buy someone this Christmas or Valentines, a gift voucher for our Hamman Spa and massage makes a lovely present. A visit to our spa also makes for a lovely treat for yourself, as you shrug off 2021 and welcome 2022 with open arms.