Interview by Vassilios Nicolaos Vitsilogiannis
Stilvi Psilopoulou is a distinguished Greek actress having worked with some of the very best directors and actors for almost a decade. She is running her own show on YouTube while she’s having founded an online thrift shop called “Thrift Me Harder” that carries sustainability and ethical fashion.
How you came up with this idea? Why an online thrift shop? What’s the philosophy behind it?
It all started almost a year ago when I had to move out. My closet was full of pieces I didn’t want to wear any longer. First thought was why not sell them? So, this was how my thrift shop was born. But as I was looking at all these clothes, I started realizing of all the waste too. I started thinking that year after year, I went shopping and supporting all these well-known fast fashion chains and what was the outcome? A closet full of pieces with no personality, no style and uniqueness and most of all no quality. All of them were pieces you could only wear for a year because right after that, they quickly went out of fashion. What was happening? I totally felt like being taken advantage of. Styling was always something rebellious to me, like a way of expression. How on earth have I ended up following fast fashion that much?
While searching online things got worse when I came face to face with the ugly truth. Fast fashion industries produce high volumes of poor-quality clothing so that they don’t last long, so that you keep buying and buying and buying. The outcome is that all these clothes end up in landfills and here many environmental issues arise. In addition to that, fast fashion garments spark a lot of ethical concerns too. They are often made in sweatshops where workers are employed for long hours in unsafe conditions.
So, launching my own thrift shop became a necessity and from that time on I started supporting other thrift shops too.
Do thrift shops become more competitive than brand shops?
I think that this will happen in a few years. Right now, people are not fully aware of the destruction fast fashion causes. They think they are saving more buying cheap stuff and they don’t realize they actually spend more. On the other hand, when you get a piece from a thrift shop the quality is always better and it will last longer. They also don’t realize the unjust terms under which these people work in sweatshops. But thrift shops become more and more popular and this is really promising for the near future.
Is something thrifty as well as hefty? Does it last long?
It depends on the quality of the garment. The majority is hefty for sure. But you can also find many pre-loved fast fashion pieces but at least you know that your money doesn’t support this unethical industry.
Please tell me what do you ultimately want to achieve?
I want to inspire people to get their own unique style by being at the same time more aware of environmental and ethical issues. Styling is art. It shouldn’t be dictated by mass production. It should be rebellious and free.
What is sustainable and ethical fashion for you?
Whitney Bauck once said: “Regardless of what your background is, we can all agree on some really basic things—no one should die to make a T-shirt, and we shouldn’t be pouring toxins into our planet.” (Green Dreamer Podcast Episode 129).
This quote kind of summarizes both concepts.
First, sustainability is the idea that goods and services should be produced in ways that do not use resources that cannot be replaced and that do not damage the environment. In other words, not using more natural resources than the planet can naturally replace, and not producing anything that the planet can’t naturally reabsorb. So, when it comes to fashion it refers to garments that are designed, manufactured, distributed, and used in ways that are environmentally friendly.
On the other hand, ethical fashion, aims to address the problems with the way the fashion industry currently operates, such as exploitative labour, environmental damage, the use of hazardous chemicals, waste, and animal cruelty.
Have you ever thought of being part in the designing process?
Being an artist myself, the creative process of fashion designing is definitely something I’d like to try in the future. I visualize it as another means of expression with no borders and limitations.