The stylist running “The Drop”, a rental pop-up for charity this Christmas, on fast fashion and dressing for yourself.

More often than not, hyped up clothing drops are insanely expensive. Too exclusive. Then worn fleetingly, frantically sold on Depop, and forgotten about altogether.

It’s no secret that fast fashion is pretty detrimental to our bank accounts, designers’ creativity and the environment, and a few innovative industry leaders have started to do things differently. This winter, renowned stylist Alizé Demange has curated The Drop, a pop-up at Westfield Stratford City, where you can hire coveted streetwear and designer pieces.

All proceeds from the rental store are going to Save the Children’s “Big Up Uganda” project, an initiative led by ambassador Adwoa Aboah and her best friend, fashion photographer Felix Cooper, which provides children with access to psycho-social support, as well as facilitating child-friendly spaces and support networks within refugee camps in the region.

To mark the store’s last reopening (you can drop in from today until 16th December), we spoke to Alizé about the project, her success as a stylist, and supporting new ventures and brands within fashion…

Alizé Demange at the launch of The Drop.

Alizé Demange at the launch of The Drop.

How did this project come about, and why did you want to be involved?
Westfield is a place I spent a lot of my teenage years: shopping and developing my own style, which is rooted in streetwear. So when I was approached by Westfield Stratford City asking if I’d like to collaborate and curate a streetwear collection that would be available for rental, I was really excited. It’s been an amazing experience, and getting the opportunity to feature iconic streetwear brands alongside up and coming streetwear brands is something I’m passionate about. It’s so nice for me personally to see such a desired interest in streetwear as a culture and design, especially with the fact that it’s available to hire.

What was your process for selecting pieces?
I really wanted to focus on making the collection as authentic as possible to streetwear culture, and work in celebration of something that has inspired and facilitated my career so much. It was also important to me to be able to feature as many unisex pieces as possible and catch that essence of DIY, which I believe is so integral to the growth of streetwear.

Why do you think streetwear pieces have become so covetable over the past few years?
I think the way people dress has drastically changed. It wasn’t too long ago that wearing trainers to a club in London was just not allowed – street and sportswear were associated with something “negative”, which is ridiculous. With globalisation and social media, we’re exposed to trends more quickly and are able to buy into it instantly. Perception of what’s valuable has changed – for example, sneaker culture now drives resale culture. I also do believe music and fashion go hand in hand in the UK particularly, where homegrown hip-hop, Afro swing, grime and drill are now dominating the mainstream scene. These artists are rightfully being looked to as the tastemakers of style within a culture where wearing streetwear and sportswear is the norm.

Is the sustainability value of a hiring system important for you to promote?
In a time where being conscious of sustainability in the fashion industry and as human beings is so important, I love the idea of renting clothes and being able to try different looks and styles without heavy investment, and all while supporting a worthwhile cause. It was great to have Adwoa apart of the launch, to be able to give context to a great charity that “The Drop”, in turn, is supporting. I believe in investing in quality over quantity, which is hard to achieve in a time where trends change by the week and affordable options are everywhere. The hire concept also resonates with me particularly as a stylist, as that is something I do every day with my clients.

Adwoa Aboah and AJ Adudu at the launch of The Drop.

Adwoa Aboah and AJ Adudu at the launch of The Drop.

What advice would you give to young customers wanting to get involved with fashion?
I think the best advice would be to be yourself – it sounds lame and cliché, but developing yourself is key. I started my career 10 years ago. The style I resonated with most was streetwear and sportswear, and it wasn’t something “fashion” necessarily respected, but I stuck to it because that’s me. Your work is not authentic when it doesn’t come from within you, and when something is not natural, it’s felt by others.

Do you want to use your platform as a stylist to do similar projects in the future?
I love curation; I love putting things and people together to make something we can all be proud of. I love being able to have a ripple effect in my work and inspire others in some way. I’m lucky and grateful that my work as a stylist is now allowing me to get involved in things like this, and develop projects that have more purpose.

Why is it important to you to showcase up-and-coming brands?
A lot of what makes streetwear great are brands that started out as small communities of friends and turned into global lifestyles. That’s what makes the culture and reflects the current time. Up-and-coming brands are the future, but most importantly, they’re a reflection of the present. I have a lot of respect for people who start brands from nothing – the sheer work and determination that comes from being your own designer, graphic designer, marketer, production manager, and leading your own tribe through your brand all at the same time. I utilise a lot of up-and-coming brands in my styling work, and it was a priority for me to be able to give a platform to people who I think are so talented.

What makes a good stylist?
Having a natural sense of creativity and innovation makes a good stylist. But being able to maintain relationships, be a people person and often be a problem solver makes a great stylist.

Do you think we should all be more mindful about fast fashion?
I think the way the world is going, we need to be more mindful of everything we do. How we consume everything from food to clothes needs to have more consideration. If there are viable alternatives, such as renting rather than heavily investing in fast fashion, I think that’s a positive incentive to change.

What’s next for you in 2019?
I’m working on a few different things. Hopefully it’s not as crazy as 2018 and has a bit more steady pace! Watch this space though – there’s some cute things in the pipeline.

Matt Alexander/PA Wire
Rosie Byers

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