Kidswear Chronicles meets Ginnie Chadwyck-Healey

Reading Time: 6 min

We catch up to ex-Vogue Executive Retail Editor turned private stylist and mum of 3, Ginnie Chadwyck-Healey who is a huge advocate of sustainable style. 

Buying less and being more sustainable is a way of life for you. How has this impacted on the way you raise your three children?

I rarely shop for them to be honest. They share and rotate a lot of clothes with their cousins who are older and a lot of friends hand things on, and I always look now to preloved sites - but that doesn't mean they don't want (or deserve) the odd treat. And typically, being brutally honest, they are keen on all the things I dread buying. My daughter, Maggie, is a tom boy who loves (polyester) football kit.... but given that they literally rotate about 3 favourite outfits (I'm waiting for that to change with age!) I do allow them the odd 'nasty' and I just try to wash bad things in a Guppy Bag. And that's very much my ethos. No one brand is perfect, no one is doing this sustainability drive 100% perfectly. No consumer is perfect in their sustainable spending power. I think we have to nurture small changes that collectively create bigger impact, rather than shame the slightest wrong. 

In your opinion, which brands are killing it in when it comes to sustainability and why (doesn’t have to be just fashion)?

I love AllBirds, I love how they have made the comfiest shoes in the world, (and they're not even the sexiest shoes!) but they have managed to win the hearts (and spending power) of so many different age groups. Very clever. I also admire Aligne - the British fashion brand who I see is now stocked in Liberty, alongside some of the biggest names in fashion yet their price point is far less. They've made sustainable drives more affordable. Beauty-wise I'm interested by Antipodes and Kaea, plus I just love the glass bottles of Votary, which I reuse as vases. My kids reuse them as 'Harry Potter Potion Bottles'.

Over the last few years, we have all seen how important environmental responsibility is to the planet. What advice would you offer people trying to make more sustainable choices when it comes to fashion in particular?

Read your labels. We understand the colour wheels we now see on food packaging, we understand our diet, our nutrition. I think we now need to understand the ingredients of our clothes. Aim for natural where possible, aim for organic, avoid too many synthetics, avoid neon dyes (so bad), avoid sequins. That doesn't mean you can't still have fun with fashion. I don't have a completely natural wardrobe but what I do look out for now is cuts that will stand the test of time, that are flattering on my shape (so I tend to buy a little looser now), I avoid too much denim now - I've got enough. Ultimately, I'm trying to encourage people to start investing in a future-proof wardrobe. 

As part of your business VCH Style, you work as a private client stylist. Are your clients open to wearing vintage and pre-loved? Or do you feel there still a stigma? And if so, is there a way you can help overcome this?

Sadly many see shopping for vintage as a hassle that takes time. I think trawling vintage shops feels a luxury if you are at a certain stage in your life (kids, busy weekends, perhaps parents to care for) and then of course many feel the 'very best' vintage stores are in the major cities so it's often the privilege of those living within reach. That's why I think the shift in technology to bring both vintage and preloved to a new audience (I love Reluxe and HEWI and of course Vestiaire Collective has a cult following) is a game-changer. The jury is out as to whether these are big money-making technologies, (I say this because I'm genuinely interested in the business of fashion and where it's headed) but ultimately the sharing of past-era styles is a positive for fashion. It cannot be lost. The importance of vintage should not be overlooked. It's a tapestry of creativity, cultural moods and movements, a reflection of past era, of history. In this world of speed, where big brands copy styles over night, and the 'gotta have it now' culture still exists, I think anything authentically vintage really has to be put on a pedestal and kept sacred! (This is why we must all go to more fashion exhibitions!)

You launched a virtual personal styling service in 2020, what are the common problems people come to you with?

A huge lack in confidence - mainly from women returning to the work place either post baby or post Covid.

A feeling over overwhelming confusion as to what actually suits the person; what do they really like rather than the algorithms they face each day guessing what they like. If you think about it, we used to look at magazines, adverts and of course history for influence on what we wanted to wear. Now EVERYONE is a brand, everyone (including me) is posing on their doorstep in an outfit saying 'you've gotta try this'. It's a very noisy landscape. I'm the one trying to say DON'T SHOP for the sake of it. Really ask yourself what you like, when you feel your best, how much do you really want to spend, what can you really afford to spend and what really works for your lifestyle.

You worked at British Vogue for over 12 years. What was the most important lesson you learnt there, that continues to impact how you work / live today?

That personal style continually evolves and that we are all unique and that has to be something to embrace, else we will all become minions. If anything I think we focused too heavily on the trends when I was at Vogue. Personal style is far more celebrated now.

What does the future hold for VCH? anything in the pipeline that you can share with us?

My new agent has big plans. I've always loved championing smaller brands doing good, but now I think to see a real shift in this conversation I want to sit down with the biggest names in UK fashion. They have the buying power to really make a difference to our impact. Honestly, I'm really trying to keep a balance (ha!) between work (which pays the bills) and research; all the new fabrics/ technologies and targets that are being set. I have to keep on top of the research and that's near impossible. Hopefully, there will be some more collaborations in the pipeline. The world doesn't need another fashion brand, so I'll never do that, but I would love to work with my favourite brands to create future-proof VCH pieces.

What are your go-to kids fashion brands and why?

  • Toastie
  • Mini A Ture
  • Mori
  • Dotty Dungarees
  • Caramel - to dream!!!

Can you share a few of your favourite Instagram accounts with us and why you like them?

  • Julia Samuel got me through lockdown
  • Celeste Barber has me in stitches
  • I seem to like everything that Toteme post and I LOVE following Gabriela Hearst because she says it how it is. Chloe appointing her as Creative Director was an eye opener for the Industry.
  • My favourite podcast is Wardrobe Crisis - it's intense but it feeds my mind

QuickFire Questions:

Mini-me and twinning. Naff or cool? I’m sorry but it would genuinely be physically impossible to get my children to twin with me! I LOVE their individuality.

Old Celine or New Celine? I will forever worship at the altar of Phoebe Philo, BUT I did just make my first New Celine purchase..... GULP. Can I say both?!
Alessandro Michele Gucci or Tom Ford Gucci? Alessandro - but I have to be honest, I've had my fix of Gucci now! And the pieces I bought from his early collections still have clout; they just work over and over again. See? Future-Proof fashion! You shop in a way that means you just don't have your head turned by the newness as much as you might have done in the past.