Marlene Birger dress, worn by Sienna Somers photograph by Paul Pickard

At last Fashion Revolution Week (18th-24th April) has dawned upon us once again, trying to mend the broken links in the supply chain and helping us to fall in love with our clothes once again. In an era dominated by fast-paced, emotionless fashion, we need to take a step back, slow down and learn to appreciate the garments.

This year, Fashion Revolution is asking us to write a Love Story on a favourite item, the journeys you’ve shared with it and why you love it. My love story is based around my year 11 prom dress.

I had already looked everywhere: vintage fairs, ebay, high street but this dress was elusive and my search was endless. It had to be special.  I bought a reserve prom dress at a vintage fair for £20, which I have worn several times since, but I knew it wasn’t the one.

During a trip to London Fashion Weekend, in September 2011, I found what I thought was the dress. I tried it on. It was long, it was silk, it was gorgeous colours of the sunset, it was perfect. It was ripped. This wasn’t just an easy-to-mend rip due to the delicate nature of the material and the voluminosity of the skirt. The whole waistband would have to be removed and remade.  Then to my dismay, the price was significantly higher than I initially thought due to my misreading of the product code as the price! So I decided, with considerable reluctance, to walk away.

But this dress didn’t walk away from me. I obsessively googled the Marygold dress. I tried to find one so many times online. I phoned Malene Birger. I visited the shop. I came to the conclusion that the dress was very limited edition. I sadly moved on.

My mother always used to visit Clerkenwell Vintage Fair when she was showing at London Fashion Week as the two always coincided. In the middle of February 2012 my mother found the dress. It was the very same dress, bought by Miniola Vintage at London Fashion Weekend, mended by her, and for sale on her stand at Clerkenwell Vintage Fair.

After school one day, my mum surprised me with the dress.

The dress was greatly admired at the prom.

I treasure the dress and long for another opportunity to show it off…

Wearing one of the prom dresses I bought at Clerkenwell in 2012. Photograph by Paul Pickard

Wearing the dress. Photograph by Paul Pickard

#Secondhandfirst Week  was launched by the fashion reuse charity TRAID to celebrate the power of second-hand to change the world by keeping the resources we already have in use for longer. This year, it runs from 23 – 28 November.

Take TRAID’s #SECONDHANDFIRST Pledge and let them know what percentage of your wardrobe you will commit to sourcing second-hand, rather than buying new. Tweet your progress to @traid #secondhandfirst

Susie Lau of Style Bubble has taken TRAID’s Pledge in support of #Secondhandfirst Week, will you?

celine bags susiebubbleweb


canada goose This year I took part in Fashion Revolution’s #haulternative – a new way of refreshing your wardrobe without having to buy new. You can see many of my great secondhand finds in this video. If you would like to make your own #haulternative video to show off the great #secondhandfirst finds you have made, there is now a brilliant guide to the Haulternative available to download on the Fashion Revolution website:

One of my best charity shop finds of recent months has to be this pair of gold Valentino trousers for just £10 in our local cancer research shop.


TRAID charity shops, and many of its partners in London, across the UK and globally, are hosting a week of events and actions designed to connect you to the huge environmental and social benefits of second-hand and to encourage you to buy less new. Over-consumption is having a seriously negative environmental impact on the planet, while exploitative labour and unsafe working conditions are commonplace in our supply chains. This insatiable demand on rapidly diminishing resources, like land and water, simply cannot continue. Sourcing more of our clothes and other goods second-hand reduces consumption, our use of scarce resources, waste and carbon emissions. At the same time, we extend the life-cycle of wearable clothes and other material objects while sourcing things in more interesting and socially beneficial ways like swapping, lending and making.

Susie Bubble crocheting rachel_manns_HTHTxFRD15_lowres_75

Events and ways to take part include:

  • Late night charity shopping will help you to rebalance your wardrobe way from buying new to second-hand
  • TRAIDTALKS with author and design activist Professor Kate Fletcher on how we use our clothes
  • Spoken word performances from poet and rapper Potent Whisper, Sabrina Mahfouz and other guests
  • Plastic Seconds Jewellery Workshop transforming unrecyclable plastics into art objects led by Maria Papadimitriou
  • Screen printing with reclaimed garments with Peckham’s Captured in the Rye
  • Discover the lost art of darning at repair workshops run by TRAID and Fabrications
  • Global film screenings of the documentary ‘Udita’ by documentary makers Rainbow Collective on Bangladeshi women workers in the garment industry
  • A ‘river of waste’ art installation at Hornsey Town Hall and much more.


This year, #Secondhandfirst Week coincides with Black Friday, a day of price cuts by major retailers on items like TV’s, furniture and clothes designed to create a frenzy of consumption that has seen fights, crushes and huge queues over discounted goods. Black Friday is an uncritical celebration of materialism without regards for its impacts on people and planet. #Secondhandfirst Week provides a counterpoint to this orgy of consumption and aims to increase society’s appetite for second-hand as a viable alternative to buying new.

Maria Chenoweth Casey, TRAID’s Chief Executive and a passionate proponent of second-hand said, “#Secondhandfirst is more than a week, it’s a philosophy that celebrates and recognises the power of reusing clothes – and other resources – to improve our world, and, it’s a practical way of immediately adopting a more sustainable way of living.”

Susie Bubble rachel_manns_HTHTxFRD15_lowres_61

The benefits of dramatically increasing our use of second-hand goods also includes a social and cultural dimension that has the potential to transform us from individual consumers into collective citizens connected to communities and people rather than material objects, and that loosens the grip of advertising and corporations on shaping our style and identity.

Fittingly, #Secondhandfirst Week ends on Sunday November 29th the day of the global People’s Climate March in London. This march aims to break last year’s record for the largest climate change mobilisation in history, and TRAID will be making a banner from second-hand textiles and invites everyone to march with them to stop climate change.

Image credits: Traid and Fashion Revolution

seasalt fudge

For me, fudge is a great indulgent treat to have with a cup of tea. I use coconut sugar to replace normal sugar, as not only is it a healthier option but also gives a great roundness to the flavour of your fudge.

Not only does the rosemary add a great taste, sniffing or ingesting rosemary has been scientifically proven to to enhance your memory. Rosemary has been associated with memory retention for centuries.



I recommend making this fudge around exam periods, to increase your retention of information for an exam. Also try drinking Rosemary tea, which is a great tasting and refreshing drink – add a little honey to taste. Rosemary can be found frequently overhanging walls, I even found a massive bush right outside my lecture theatre!

canada goose In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia says, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” (Hamlet, iv. 5.)



celine bags Sienna making fudge

1 can condensed milk
500g coconut sugar (you can granulated sugar)
4tbls unsalted butter
120ml water
two large sprigs of rosemary (you could replace with any other herb such as Lavender or fennel if preferred)
few drops vanilla essence
1/2 tsp sea salt

1. Strip the leaves from two sprigs of rosemary and bruise in a pestle and mortar to release the oils.  Put the leaves in a tea ball, or muslin.

2. Choose a large pan with a heavy base.  Dangle the tea ball or muslin bag filled with rosemary into the saucepan. I attached mine to the handle with an elastic band.

ingredients fudge in pan

3. Mix together the condensed milk, coconut sugar, butter and water and stir with a wooden spoon as you bring it to the boil.  Once the fudge starts to boil, stir it for around half an hour, ensuring you get into the bottom of the pan so the mixture doesn’t stick.  After half an hour the fudge should be noticeably stickier. If you have used coconut sugar you won’t be able to see the difference in colour, but with normal granulated sugar you will notice the mixture darken.

boiling fudge

4. Once the mixture has thickened and reduced in size, remove from the heat, add a few drops of vanilla essence, and beat for a minute.  Pour the mixture quickly into a pre-greased baking tray – if you leave it too long it will start to stick to the sides of the pan.

fudge after stirring

5. Flatten the top of the mixture and sprinkle the sea salt over the top, pushing it in slightly to the mixture.

6. Leave for several hours to cool until it feels firm (although we were picking at it from the moment it left the pan!)

 Eat and enjoy.  Make some more….

cleavers, sticky weed savvy student sienna somers

Cleavers, sticky weed, goose grass, Galium aparine grows abundantly in towns, parks, roadsides has many names and is easily identifiable as the weed which made long childhood walks bearable by seeing how long the weed could stick to a family members back without them noticing, or rolling into a ball and pelting it at each other. Apart from these recreational uses, it’s also drinkable. From the same family as coffee, G. Aparine can be used to produce drinks and ointments.

To create a substitute coffee, you can gather the small seeds from inside the small burrs and roast them. However, due to the quantity needed for this coffee, it takes a significant amount of time in order to get a decent batch of coffee.

However, you can dry the leaves (so you can store the plant for longer amounts of time) and you can pour boiling water over the leaves, creating a herbal tea. I usually add teaspoonful of  honey which makes it an enjoyable drink.

cleavers, sticky weed savvy student sienna somers

Consumption of cleavers has been linked to weight loss. It has been associated with cleansing and detoxing of the body for may years, even being used as a slimming regime in the sixteenth century!

It is also edible, it can be used in a similar way that you would cook spinach, for example by steaming it.

I’ve started adding cleavers to my Green Smoothies to pack a lot nutritional value into my smoothie but without breaking my bank.

cleavers, sticky weed savvy student sienna somers


You can create a toner by soaking the plants in cold water overnight. This has many uses, from clearing the complexion, helping eczema, removing dandruff and soothing burns. I apply some with an organic cotton pad to my face in the evenings.

For me, Cinnamon is the holy grail of spices, not only is it utterly delicious, it has an plethora of health benefits. From aiding weight loss by increasing circulation to having great anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties. From a day to day basis, I enjoy cinnamon in my life, from cinnamon tea, you can either just pour boiling water over a cinnamon stick or I enjoy Pukka tea’s Liquorice and Cinnamon Tea, I also add a sprinkle of cinnamon over yogurt or mixed with oats and fruit for breakfast.

Home baked cinnamon buns are a good way to get cinnamon into your diet as they’re irresistibly moreish, and by making them yourself, you can monitor the amount of sugar and adjust the recipe to suit you. Sometimes I change the flour to be 50/50 plain flour to rice or Tapioca flour and I often change caster sugar to coconut sugar or honey which is a healthier alternative. I also add Cardamon which creates another dimension of flavour but you can remove this if you prefer.

Cinnamon and Cardamon coconut sugar buns – a twist on the classic Swedish cinnamon buns

Great for breakfast or afternoon tea.

Cooked buns

Makes 8 buns – double the recipe for 16

50g unsalted butter (room temperature)
65g coconut sugar
350g plain flour
Half a sachet of dried instant yeast (9g)
150ml milk
Half a beaten egg (you will use the other half for the glaze)
Small pinch salt

45g coconut sugar
75g unsalted butter (room temperature)
Half to One Tablespoon of Cardamom according to taste
2 Tablespoons of cinnamon

Half a beaten egg
Syrup to glaze (this can be a sugar syrup with a little hot water or, if you have it, golden syrup or agave syrup.
Dusting of sugar – I used granulated as the white sugar looked pretty against the crisp top of the buns, but you could use coconut sugar again.


1. Cream butter and sugar together.  Add the egg to the creamed mixture and beat for a minute or two.

2.Sift the flour if you want to, I didn’t bother, and stir in the yeast and salt.  Alternately add a few spoons of flour and a splash of milk until all added.  If you have a mixer with a dough attachment, or a bread maker, you can use this, or knead by hand for 15 minutes until the dough is elastic.  Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel or cling film and put somewhere warm to rise. If your house is cold, you could heat the oven to a low temperature, put the bowl in and turn off the heat.

3. While the dough is rising, cream together the butter and sugar for the filling, crush the cardamom pods to remove seeds and give them a quick squash in a pestle and mortar if you have one.

4. After about an hour, take the dough out of the bowl and shape into a rectangle. Roll it out (a wine bottle with the label removed will do if you don’t have a rolling pin) to about 2cm thick.   Spread the sugar/butter filling over the central part of your dough rectangle. If you get too near the edges it all squidges out.  Sprinkle your cinnamon over the top and then add a few pinches of cardamon.

Dough with filling

5. Fold in half one way and then in half again the other way.  Roll out the dough again until it is about 2cm thick.  It doesn’t matter if some of the filling gets on the outside of the full movie Baywatch

6. Cut into 8 strips.  Take one strip in your hand, wrap it around two fingers of your other hand, take it off and tuck the outer end through the centre of the bun so it looks a bit like a knot.

Dough rolls

7. Put the buns onto a tray lined with baking paper, or just grease a tray with butter if you don’t have baking paper to hand.

8. Put the dough knots back somewhere warm for a further 45 minutes.

9. Put the tray in the oven Gas Mark 5, 200C, 400F for 10-15 minutes. You want the buns just slightly brown on top.

10. Remove from the oven, brush with the syrup and dust with sugar.

Try not to eat them all at once.


Bun on plate with tea