‘I’m tempted!’ a girl in a bright green mask and gray jacket, belted with a bow exclaims behind me, contemplating an elegant gold bracelet that gleams in its black box. Temptation seems to be the mood of the night at DONT WEAR’s debut pop-up shop, as a fashionable crowd mills between the two floors of Spoiled Life set to driving synth beats and warm lighting. They eye the ready-to-wear designer brands that hang on the racks and are arranged artfully on the tables, everything from baggy t-shirts with graphic prints, to feminine crop tops made from recycled fabrics to a bright red swimsuit with a spray of yellow-lined flowers across the neckline. The most coveted items of the night, however, appear to be the gorgeous velvet bomber jackets from Collections Warehouse, which student designer Angelica O’Donnell leads me up the stairs to show off in all their glory. Effusive and friendly, Angelica uses adjectives such as ‘timeless’, ‘anti-fast fashion’, ‘long lasting’, and ‘multi-seasonal’ to describe her creations, and draws my gaze to the vintage-inspired statement brooch, which she terms as ‘bringing back something that had died’. The bombers sell out not even halfway through the night, and I later meet two friends of Angelica’s who are matching in soft blue and bright red. Jasmine, showing off the label in the lining of her jacket, praises its versatility and sustainability, while Libby enthuses about its comfort. As they move on to another part of the store, I’m pleased to notice the sense of community in this intimate and stylish event.
‘DONT WEAR is our young designer platform,’ DONT WALK’s Events Director Zoë Ellison explains to me as we sit outside Spoiled Life – home territory to her, where she also works. ‘We started DONT WEAR last year, however because of Covid, we couldn’t formally launch it… we just wanted to do this to initiate and get everyone excited.’
As Zoë occasionally turns to welcome people inside the store, excitement is a palpable mood, with shoppers chatting as they step in, and walking out half an hour later holding black bags emblazoned with the DONT WEAR logo in slim silver lettering. The guests with whom I speak, some holding glasses of complimentary prosecco while they browse, are both discerning and appreciative when it comes to all the styles on show. I meet Cameron while he’s looking at a loose-fitting, dark brown t-shirt from Seoul-based brand DAUSPICE, which screams streetwear style.
‘I love the cut, the boxy, how it hangs,’ he comments as he continues to glance through the shirts, verbally echoing the mood of the style-conscious crowd that has assembled here tonight. One of my favourite looks of the night has got to be the bold, cool tones worn by Emma A., who graciously poses in bright sapphire blue pants and a square-cut blazer with psychedelic swirls for our photographer, Lola Weiss, on the steps of the staircase in the window of Spoiled Life.
When asked about what their collaboration with Spoiled Life shows best about DONT WEAR, Zoë answers, ‘We care so much about using our platform for good… we care so much about the designers we get in. We want to do the best for them, we want to fulfill our word and actually sell the clothes that they’re giving us.’ She calls the event ‘a taster of what is to come’ for DONT WALK’s main event, their fashion show. Lily Angelone, the head of DONT WEAR, later tells me how the event gives people ‘a chance to wear clothes seen on the runway’, featuring the work of international up-and-coming designers, such as the intricate jewelry designs by Singaporean designer Chaotic Reason that she raves about. They scout for their designer on platforms from Instagram to Depop, looking at the pages of design schools and reaching out to promising candidates, especially those with a focus on sustainability.
Overflowing with a sense of luxury, with strong importance placed on ethical fashion – this seems to be the aesthetic that DONT WEAR x Spoiled Life is pursuing. If the success of their first pop-up shop is any indication, DONT WEAR looks as if it will be a staple in the St Andrews fashion scene.