Discover thrifting at UK’s leading vintage store, Rokit, with Cheryl Koh during a Ngee Ann Polytechnic study trip to London. 

By Cheryl Koh

Rokit, UK’s leading vintage store Photo Courtesy: Marianna Reid's Blogspot
The store front of one of Rokit’s outlets at Camden. Photo Courtesy: Marianna Reid’s Blogspot

Thrifting is affordable and the “in thing” to do. Despite the presence of  thrift stores in Singapore, this alternative shopping method is not as popular here compared to the United Kingdom (UK).

“Thrifting is not just a thing that the cool kids do. It’s also another way to decrease your global footprint,” says Loranique Pienaar, Head of Rokit Recycled Production, one of the more well-known thrift stores in London.

Make a Google search of thrift stores in London and Rokit will be the first name to pop up. The brand has four outlets at Camden, Covent Garden and two at Brick Lane, making it the largest thrift store chain in London alone.

Rokit’s sub-label, Rokit Recycled upcycles unwanted or unwearable clothes and textiles into seasonal trendy designs. The apparel comes from clothing banks in Canada — an effort to contribute to sustainable fashion.

“In contrast to reusing or recycling, upcycling uses existing materials to improve on the original ones,” said Pienaar.

Upcycling reduces clothing and textile waste by reusing dead stock or gently used fabric to create new garments and products. It also reduces the strain on materials such as cotton, wool, polyester to manufacture clothes, which is what big fast-fashion brands such as H&M and Forever 21 are currently doing.

“Environmental consciousness is something that everyone should be thinking of when shopping at high-street stores,” said Pienaar

Thrift shops are a great place to find timeless pieces and hidden gems — a pair of vintage Levi’s shorts can cost as as low as £7 ($12.50).

The small team of 6 designers at Rokit Recycled ensures that all clothes are handmade with a personal touch to fit the brand’s purpose of upcycling and timely altering. This approach, differentiates Rokit Recycled from international brands where clothes are made in sweatshop factories.

The different items that can be found in Rokit's vintage store.  Photo Courtesy: Marianna Reid's Blogspot
The different items that can be found in Rokit’s vintage store.
Photo Courtesy: Marianna Reid’s Blogspot

Rokit is a prime example of how London has made a significant step towards supporting the sustainable fashion movement. In addition, there is the Green Carpet Challenge (GCC), a platform founded by brand consultancy Eco-age to fuse glamour with ethical clothing production.

GCC has collaborated with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts to organize red-carpet events which are attended by celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Luke Evans and Pixie Lott, which puts sustainable style in the limelight.

Founder Livia Firth said in an interview with the London Evening Standard that it is not a matter of coincidence that the Green Carpet Challenge was birthed in London. This has influenced high street brands to produce garments in a sustainable manner, in a bid to do their part for the environment.

“I personally think it’s a step forward but I don’t think any fast fashion company could be completely eco-friendly,” said Pienaar.