In Conversation With... Vanessa Chambers

26 year old Interior Designer Vanessa Chambers, started her Instagram simply as way of communicating with her family but since then it has grown into a go-to page for effortlessly cool thrifted and vintage style pictures. Her love of colour clashing, print and ability to elevate a simple shirt and jeans outfit showcases how shopping secondhand can really help you create a unique style. I wanted to chat to Vanessa to find out why she developed a love of sustainable fashion, how her job influences her style and how migrating from Jamaica to Canada played a major part in her thrifting journey.

@ohheyvanessa

What made you decide to set up your Instagram page?


"I started my Instagram just to post random pictures and talk to my friends and family back home, it wasn't with any specific purpose or message just a fun pass time."


Where does you love of secondhand stem from?


"My love for thrifting didn't really start that way, it was out of necessity. I had just migrated to Canada for college and with the drastic weather difference between Jamaica and Canada I needed to find an affordable way to build my wardrobe. I use to be quite ashamed to be honest, I found it embarrassing to say I got something from the thrift store so I only bought brands that you could find in malls and department stores so I could have an answer to that question without outing myself as a poor immigrate. Eventually with the help of Tumblr, and the promoting of individual style at the time, slowly I started to love finding pieces that were cool that people I went to school with wouldn't have. And then was truly able to define my own style."

What advice would you give to someone who is new to secondhand shopping?


"I would say start with a mood board, pull together an idea of what you like and use that to loosely look for things that fit that vibe, don't be too hell bent on finding the same exact pieces but maybe similar aesthetic, colour way or fit."


What advice would you give to someone who wanted to set up their own page?


"I would say just do it, I didn't start my page for any particular reason and only recently started talking about my passion for sustainability. It doesn't have to be a particular aesthetic or perfect feed just post what you like and are inspired by."

Do you have any secondhand shop recommendations?


"With COVID- 19 in the picture, Depop and I have become close friends, I also love a store we have in Canada called Talize and an independent store in Toronto called Black Market."


What inspires you creatively?


"Definitely my roots, my friends, I was blessed to come to know some of the most amazing artists in so many different forms over the years and they really inspire me. As an Interior Designer I find inspiration in random colour combos and patterns I see around me. In terms of media I would say maybe Sex and the City wardrobe choices and Keisha from the movie Belly."

How would you describe your style?


"I would say my style is very black (not the colour but the people) as a Caribbean woman, I pull so much energy from colour combos that remind me of home, or a beachy vibe even dancehall culture. Outside of that I love to mix masculine and feminine silhouettes just to play around (I love a good corset and pants suit combo). Lots of vintage meets modern too."


Why is secondhand sustainable clothing important to you?


"Even though I can afford to buy fast fashion now I still refuse for so many reasons. First a lot of these brands steal ideas from black creatives with no compensation, then turn to poor countries with no real labour laws to make their clothing, primarily POC countries, and barely pay them. And there's the sustainability aspect, so much already exists in this world, tons and tons of clothes get thrown to landfills. I wanna do my part to minimize my global impact. I don't want the world to end just so I can have a bomb wardrobe."

What is your 'go to' outfit?


"I was looking through my Instagram recently and as boring as this sounds, I noticed my go too is just vintage denim and a cute white top."


What do you think is next in your thrifting journey?


"I'm in the process of launching a sustainable home decor line all of the secondhand and up-cycled pieces called @personalspaceliving. COVID- 19 has put things on pause for a but I'm sure it'll be up and running in due time."

Follow Vanessa on Instagram - @ohheyvanessa

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