Tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
I’m Richard Murr, 27 years old and I run a small store in Gateshead. I’ve had a passion for vintage clothing for many years and since discovering the amount of clothing which we send to landfill in the UK. I decided to set up my own store to help minimise this waste. Over the last year or two I’ve been slowly transitioning to a more sustainable way of living, switching from conventional products to more ethically produced ones. It’s been a tough journey and I still have a long way to go. As a consumer I found it so difficult picking the right products and alternatives. There’s a minefield of information out there and it can be hard to see the wood through the trees at times. This is why I wanted to offer alternatives in store to make it just that little bit easier for others who are wanting to switch to a more ethical/sustainable way of living.
Everyone has an unexpected luxury - or a different way of defining luxury. What does luxury mean to you? What do you consider to be a luxury that others might not?
Luxury to me goes hand in hand with quality. Both terms are subjective, but for me, the better quality an item is, the more luxurious I believe it to be. Everyone is able to spot quality, a poorly made product can be spotted a mile off and usually where there is low quality products, there is low quality working environments, business ethos, etc.
What is the most environmentally or socially positive project you have ever worked on?
My store - Open House & The Spare Room @ Howay Inn! We're a relatively young business and spend every opening day educating our customers and showing them how easy some simple changes can be and how those changes can help minimise our impact on our planet. We focus on ethical, recycled, organic and sustainable items.
Do you think the future of apparel is sustainable? Why? Why not?
I think a lot needs to change in order for apparel to become sustainable. Public mind-set needs to change alongside the mind-set of well known brands.
In my opinion the only way to resolve this is to use the clothing which we have already produced. Shopping pre-loved and encouraging individual style instead of ‘fashionable trends’, for me is the best way to tackle the issue of clothing sustainability.
There are sustainable brands out there, one of which I stock in store. These brands are amazing at what they do and ensure all of their materials are sustainably made, but until this is the norm, sustainability within the industry will not be achieved. I’d personally love to see “eco brands” become more mainstream and replace the big names.
Do you have a piece of clothing or an accessory that you have had forever - a completely indispensable classic?
I have a cotton Newcastle United Football button up shirt which was given to me by when I was growing up. It must have been made in the 60's and is still in amazing condition. It hasn’t been worn in a long time though, I’ve put on a few extra inches around the stomach!
I also have a pair of mittens which were knitted for me by an old colleague. She made them years ago for me as a Christmas gift, they are amazing and make an appearance every winter!
Tell us about the last thing you bought which would be considered socially or environmentally sustainable. Why did you choose it?
The last thing I purchased was a bar of soap from Primal Suds, one of our suppliers. The bar I took home is called SMOO and has an unbelievable scent! All of the ingredients used to make their soaps are natural, biodegradable, vegan and free from any nasty chemicals. Choosing soaps like these ensure the body doesn’t absorb any harmful toxins which larger soap companies use. They protect our water systems, as all of the ingredients are naturally occurring and don’t generate any plastic waste!
If you could make one change in your own industry, to make it better, what would that be?
I would remove the idea of “current trends”. This term encourages fast fashion and gives people a sense of insecurity about their own style. Each individual is exactly that, individual, and fashion should reflect that.