a picture of Ella Grace Denton and Jemma Finch - Stories Behind Things
a picture of Ella Grace Denton and Jemma Finch - Stories Behind Things
a picture of Ella Grace Denton and Jemma Finch from Stories Behind Things

On what could have been proclaimed as the last day of summer we met up with Ella Grace Denton and Jemma Finch, the two girls behind Stories Behind Things. Although they started the project just recently we could feel the intelligence and passion deriving from them. They did say that at the moment there is a lot of exploring and feeling into the things but we feel there is an amazing idea coming together.

Certainly some of you may wonder what is Stories Behind Things?

If you would connect the two – fashion and the name ‘Stories Behind Things‘, it would become rather self-explanatory. Both of the girls have loved thrifting around second hand shops for years and from early on they realised the added value that comes from buying vintage. It is a unique chance to own an item with an identity and history in itself. It is also exclusivity – the feeling that people would know when Jemma or Ella would appear dressed in something cool there would be no chance of them buying the same thing.

As Jemma explains: “If you find something that you love it sort of heightens everything because no one else is gonna have it and if you leave it there and don’t buy it, you will probably never see it again. It is quite exciting. You find a gem in a shop full of things that aren’t that special. In high-street you just get racks and racks of the same pieces.”

But it wasn’t just about that as Ella added they wanted to ‘shine a light’ on that second hand community and also increasingly on sustainable brands since they have committed to only buy clothing from one or another. They feel like there is a movement in society towards more conscious thinking.

As Ella explains: “Just looking at our generation it is unreal that we have audience on Stories Behind Things and people are like – it is a trendy thing to shop second hand right now. It is so great to bring that back in. We love seeing people being interested and taking ownership over their self expression. Before you would see everyone in the age of fifteen wearing brands like Abercrombie, Zara and Topshop but now suddenly people in their twenties want to express themselves in a more wacky way – which is nice. In addition, you see all these new sustainable brands and minimalist brands popping up and they all are super trendy. There is nothing trendier than starting up a sustainable, lovely brand that has a great story behind it. It is simply good social entrepreneurship.”

Jemma who is working at Matches Fashion says that even such a major luxury brand retailer is taking on smaller sustainable brands like Ace & Jig and this is because not only they make beautiful clothes but they have great story behind the brand. “Matches take them under their wing and says that what you are doing is great and we will put you in with the rest of the brands.” Jemma remarks that:

“Seeing that brands that are emerging still have place in the market of luxury fashion is interesting because it means that you can make a choice. Even though prices can be the same. If you get a choice between brand with a great story that is just as aesthetically pleasing as a different kind of product that maybe has not such a great reputation consumer would take that into consideration.”

Girls explained that self education is highly important. Watching documentaries like True Cost, researching things on your own. This creates a change of control. As Jemma puts it: “In my opinion it used to be that big firms, big brands and big names were depicting to all consumers what they should buy and what they should like and I think now we definitely have more control and interest in general. Because the consumers are making the decisions and they are saying that ‘we don’t want to shop from brands that aren’t doing the right thing’ and then brands would go and say we got to change what we are doing.” Ella adds to this:

“No person wants to do harm on the planet and other people, they just don’t know what they are doing. So if you inform people on what they are doing then they will actively try to change their habits and it is about people and brands working together and forming this alliance.”

Of course there are a lot of people who take action once they find out that something is injustice but what about others. We were curious about their thoughts on that: “I think sometimes when you approach the consumer with the truth they don’t want to see it because it is too scary and it upsets the way they buy. I would say it should definitely be done with compassion being like – none of us knew! So it would empower them and make them not feel threatened. It has also a lot to do with bigger brands, government and people higher up. I don’t blame anyone, even with veganism or clothing. I don’t blame anyone for consuming they way they are. It is what they know. We live through the cultural stories we have been told. So if you just can come at someone with love and be like –  look, I don’t blame you but, please, let me show you this because I think that the way you are living doesn’t fit with the way I know you are,” tells Ella.

When asked if they have a person that inspires them in fashion industry Jemma can answer this question instantly: “I think in fashion industry we can’t have this conversation without mentioning Stella McCartney. She is very firmly within luxury market and has so much power that she can sort of use that to make fashion lines all over the world whilst getting them produced in the cheapest places. However, she really stands for sustainability as a whole and talks about it whilst powerfully spreading the word. You need iconic people with large outreach to start shouting about things like that. This is where it will trickle down.” And we couldn’t agree more.

the shop window of Hunky Dory Vintage in Shoreditch London
the shop window of House of Vintage in Shoreditch London

On a less serious but equally important side we really wanted to hear what suggestions Jemma and Ella has for great vintage shopping in London.

Jemma: “In Shoreditch, East London, just off Brick Lane is one store called House of Vintage, it is all themed and there are clothes hanging off the walls. They also have an underground section. Shop is really tiny and only one person runs it. Every time you go in there they have 1930s music playing – I love vintage stores that have music playing load. Hunky Dory Vintage is another one on the Brick Lane that we love going to, they also always have music booming and it just puts you in such a happy mood – you are just happy hunting and everybody is dancing.”

Ella continues: “There are lots of different types of vintage stores and you appreciate them all. Like Hunky Dory and House of Vintageare very curated. The guy working there goes and he finds special pieces. A lot of others, for example, have a lot of denim shorts, checked shirts or Levis shorts. Which is great if you are looking for specific item. But often these people specially curate stuff in a way you have never thought before and you find really special things.”

Jemma: “And the guys that runs the shops are dressed fully in vintage. They have such a character and you can tell they are passionate about what they are doing. Not just like ‘oh, I work in a shop’ but like it is their life. It is really nice.”

Besides London girls mention Brighton and Leeds as a great places for vintage finds but with second hand it is always so much to explore as Ella says: “Like, for example, I am about to go away to America for a month for traveling so I will be sharing shops there and Jemma will be sharing the places where she is.” Besides online is a great place as well like Etsy marketplace where Ella recently found a stunning vintage silk dress.

There is also a specific way girls goes around the shops. Jemma says that the fabric comes first for her, then colour and pattern and then she would go and explore what kind of shape it is. At the moment she loves everything silk. “I love how the fabric feels. It is so light and I love how it shines. It is very soft and you can wear it during the day and in the evening.” Ella says that they both are drawn to light colours – neutrals, creams and light pinks. Besides she mentions that recently she has been daydreaming about vintage furniture and those bohemian aztec rugs. Who knows maybe Stories Behind Things will soon start to feature vintage furniture. We, for sure, are excited to see what is next for girls. On that note we finished our conversation and went off to enjoy that last hot summer day.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Madara Freimane ARTICLE: What’s Your Legacy

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