Belfast Telegraph

Teachers hand out lesson in sustainable style at fashion show

Maria Allen (left) and Jude Hawthorne who are behind the CollectEd initiative
Maria Allen (left) and Jude Hawthorne who are behind the CollectEd initiative
Some of the clothes on show
Some of the clothes on show

By Billy Weir

Two fashion-conscious school teachers are swapping the whiteboard for the boardwalk in the aid of charity.

Jude Hawthorne and Maria Allen, who both teach at Wallace High School in Lisburn, are self-confessed devoted followers of fashion, but not at any cost.

They felt that the damage of 'fast fashion' and its impact on the environment was something that needed addressing and, at a more basic level, recognised that the cost of buying new clothes can leave a lot of people feeling the pinch.

From that, CollectEd was born, a fashion show with the emphasis on sustainable shopping, which will take place this evening in Belfast.

Part-time modern languages teacher and mum-of-three Maria (39), who lives in Lisburn with husband Russell, loves fabrics and interiors and runs the pop up Salle Home, specialising in crafts and homewares, and by her own admission has recently dipped her toe into the world of sustainable style.

She said: "My mum recalls me commenting from my buggy commenting on the ladies' pretty shoes - a pair of brown loafers worn by a Franciscan nun - the obsession was real even in those early days!

"We felt charity shops and clothes swap events were under-utilised and set about plotting an event to engage women in sustainable shopping.

"Models of all ages and clothes sizes were approached and include friends, colleagues, family and women from our respective communities.

"We didn't realise how empowered these models would feel through the invitation and the challenge to carry off an outfit they might never otherwise have looked at in a shop themselves."

Jude (41) is a religious education teacher and lives in Parkgate with husband Ryan and their three children Ynes, Briagh and Farran.

She says she has been left overwhelmed with the enthusiasm and passion of the models.

"I love how our volunteer models feel empowered throughout this experience," she said.

"Their willingness and enthusiasm has been remarkable. Without this, we couldn't have got to this stage. I visit charity shops at least four times a week during summer holidays. I'm always on the lookout for a bargain and we as a family love a rummage. My children are avid charity shoppers too, though they head for the jewellery and purses.

"I'm passionate about building women's confidence, regardless of size and shape.

"Clothing can be empowering and I hope tonight is the springboard for change in how people view fashion.

"We'd encourage people to follow the hashtag #wearmeout for style tips and to learn more about sustainable clothes shopping."

Tonight's not-for-profit event will take place at restaurant Revolucion de Cuba. Tickets cost £12.50 with all profits going to The Homeless Period, a Belfast-based charity which helps ensure vulnerable women and girls in crisis have access to sanitary products monthly.

The clothing, gathered from local charity shops, will range from vintage right through to new with labels. These items will be available to buy on the evening of the event.

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