Tolly Dolly: The Interview
Hello, thank you for having a chat with us; could you introduce yourself to our readers?
I'm Tolly (also known as, Tolly Dolly Posh), I'm 18 and for the past 6 years I've been writing and producing a fashion blog which has slowly morphed into a platform for ethical and sustainable fashion. Over the years, I've been featured in publications such as The Telegraph Magazine, i-D, DAZED and even on BBC Radio 4. Most recently though, I was the face of Earth Day for Instagram's official flagship account, where I discussed sustainable fashion to over 200 million followers.
You began your blog at an incredibly young age - how has your perception towards fashion and the blogging community as a whole shifted in that time?
Obviously, since starting to focus on bigger issues and raising awareness for causes I believe in, my perception has changed a fair amount. Unfortunately, I don't see the blogging community as something particularly inspiring anymore, unless you're a blogger who is using their platform for good. I just don't think there is any excuse to not talk about things and to get conversations going. Of course, not everybody is going to do that but to me, it seems like a waste of an audience and a voice.
In terms of fashion, again, my perception has definitely changed. I used to love fashion in every shape and form but now I only really love fashion if it's caring for the environment and the people behind it. I still love fashion in a style sense. I still enjoy being creative with my clothes and my wardrobe and embracing who I am but I don't feel inspired by the general mass of samey-ness and inconsiderate production. Again, I don't see there is an excuse for it anymore and that's what spurs me on.
What sparked your interest in sustainable fashion?
In 2013, a garment factory in Bangladesh called the Rana Plaza, collapsed and killed over 1,000 people. The factory was home to brands like Primark, Mango and Matalan and the disaster was completely preventable. After the collapse, I watched the documentary The True Cost which delved into the crisis deeply. It's a tough watch but it's one which I think should be essential viewing for all. If you have Netflix, you have access to it. It completely changed my mindset and I knew I couldn't just sit back and carry on the way I was going both with my blog and just in general.
What issues do you perceive in mainstream fashion as it stands, in what ways are such problems perpetrated?
For me, of course, the biggest issues are related to ethics and sustainability. Most garment workers are exploited, underpaid, abused and harassed and are working in unsafe conditions; and most fashion brands are producing clothing which is toxic to the environment and exploits natural resources. I think deep down, all of us know this yet most people don't fully understand what it means.
I think we all try and make excuses too or try and give reasons as to why it's okay. "Oh, well, we can't afford to do better" or, "Garment workers are grateful they even have jobs". I saw somebody making this great point recently (I apologise I can't give credit) - would you be grateful if you worked overtime unpaid, in a loud, baking hot factory which could possibly have very poor safety standards, where your boss sexually harasses (or possibly abuses) you on a regular basis, where you go home and are struggling to pay rent, feed your children and cover basic living costs that any human being has the right to?
You wouldn't, would you? And the thing is, there is evidence that they aren't because garment workers attempt to form unions and fight back but there's a lot riding against them. And it's all for what? For us to be able to walk into our local Primark or order from a brand online and buy clothes that we probably don't need, which we will most likely throw into landfill or never wear because we already have enough in our wardrobes to begin with.
I'm usually fairly positive with my interview answers but it's the sad the truth! If we want to make a change, we all have to face it. Don't worry - I promise my blog is a lot more uplifting, haha.
In your recent Haulternative post, you have made reference to my one true love- Depop. What's been your favourite unexpected find whilst second-hand shopping?
The red heeled boots I bought from Depop, as you said, were pretty unexpected! I had no idea Depop had so much choice so it was a great first experience of using the app. To be honest, though, most second-hand finds are unexpected because you never know what you'll find. You can't browse a catalogue or a site beforehand so you go in with no expectations. That's what makes it fun, for me! It's like finding treasure.
Throughout your time spent as a blogger you've experienced much success, with mainstream media outlets excited by your prospects as a journalist. What has been the most rewarding experience/opportunity stemming from your blog?
This is going to sound corny and I'm going to partly repeat myself but it's honestly been using my platform to inspire others to make a change! I could be featured in a magazine about a cool outfit I once wore but I don't think it would ever live up to knowing that I'm making a positive impact. I could produce content that would earn me more money, get me more exposure and work with more brands but I would rather know that I'm using what I have as a tool.
What's been your biggest issue in continuing to blog over such an extended period of time, and how have you been able to overcome such obstacles?
Well, this is poignant! I feel as if I'm facing an obstacle currently where I'm saying more than I'm doing. As much as I do love using my platform and running my blog, I think there's only so much you can say about how to shop sustainably or what documentaries people should watch etc. I know I need to do more, I'm just not sure how to go about it and that's definitely a challenge, especially when I have been doing this for so long. I definitely don't want to leave it behind but I'm not sure where to take it next... anyone have any suggestions?!
If you could suggest a single change that each person could make in their choices as consumers, for maximum impact, what would it be?
Shop less before you shop better. That's a golden rule. Once you start to understand what you do and don't need to buy it becomes a lot easier across the board. Not only will you become a more considered consumer but you'll also be saving money which you can put towards those better purchases, where you can support ethical brands and people doing good. Or you know, just shop second-hand. Let's reclaim charity shops! Who says they're for old people?! I've been shopping in them since I can remember.
Tolly is an 18 year old blogger, with a focus on ethical and sustainable fashion; her work can be found online at tollydollyposhfashion.com