“There are other ways of bringing clothes into your wardrobe that are better, getting the newness but without the consumption,“ says Philippa Rudd, founder of pre-loved designer womenswear business Matisa Market.
As shoppers become aware of the hidden costs of fast fashion, buying secondhand is shaking off its fusty image.
Now, many of us are trying to shop more sustainably and mindfully.
It’s something that Philippa has been doing for decades. In her 20s, London’s Portobello Market was a favourite haunt for finding pre-loved jeans and cashmere sweaters.
She worked for two of the biggest fashion houses in the world, Gucci and Gianni Versace, which gave her a deep appreciation of the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into designer garments.
And for almost 20 years she lived in Portugal where, alongside her day job (she was honorary consul for the British Embassy out there), she ran a wardrobe service for clients, sourcing items for them, de-cluttering their wardrobes and selling their unwanted pieces on eBay.
When Philippa returned to the UK and her home county of Suffolk, she had the idea of launching a business selling beautifully curated, pre-loved designer clothing and accessories.
Phillipa opened a boutique in Woodbridge, which she ran for a year before taking Matisa Market online and onto Instagram.
And earlier this month, she opened a new showroom at Brightwell Barns.
As well as giving her a bright new space in which to display her clothes, the move will help her to fully launch the next phase of her business – designer clothing rental.
Philippa is buzzing about the move and the potential that the new premises has.
Now there is plenty of space for clients to try items on, and behind the scenes there’s a photography studio where they can shoot items to be listed online and Philippa can do her popular Instagram Lives where she guides followers through the rails to show them the latest arrivals in store.
She is going to hold pop-up events with other Suffolk businesses which share her ethos, starting on December 3 with artist Hanna Buck, who is known for her colourful paintings and candles and will be launching Christmas baubles.
Plus, there’s easy access to the A12, plenty of parking and there’s a café and other businesses for customers to visit.
The expanded space also means that Philippa can start to grow the rental side of the business, which she soft launched earlier this year.
“With everything going on in the world, particularly with the economic climate, I think people are being more considered,” she says.
“I’m certainly being more considered about what I’m going to choose to bring into my home, my life, my wardrobe, and that’s not a bad thing.”
Her rental collection focuses on occasionwear and elevated daywear and includes dresses by Valentino, Saloni, Hayley Menzies, Gucci and Chloe and blazers by Balmain and Vilshenko in sizes ranging from 10 to 16.
It’s a brilliant alternative to spending a serious amount of money on a piece which might only be worn a couple of times. And renting is also a chance to wear a designer item which might usually be out of your price range.
“I’ve got a Valentino maxi dress that has been worn by four or five different clients ranging in height from 5ft 4in to 5ft 8in and from a size 10 to 14,” she says.
“And I’ve got some bookings already for the Christmas period – I’ve got a wonderful midnight blue velvet Saloni dress with crystal bows on it. And I’ve got a Michael Kors beaded sequinned dress that has done a couple of balls this summer. It’s such a feelgood piece – it’s wild, clients just light up when they try it on,” says Philippa.
She says that one of the best things about what she does is helping clients to find their own style.
“People want to be more mindful about how they shop now, with sustainability driving this, and just loving their clothes more rather than feeling like they haven’t got a thing to wear. It’s about helping them to decide what is their style, what do they love, and supporting them through that.
“It’s really inspiring for me because I see people coming in and they love the clothes, they get excited, it gives them exposure to brands that perhaps they didn’t know about before or they’re brands that were perhaps out of their price point,” she continues.
“It also gives them a chance to be a little bit more adventurous because if it was its original price tag they would probably think no.“
Many of us have costly clothing mistakes languishing unworn in our wardrobes, but, says Philippa, they can be avoided.
“I say to someone, if you don’t love it in here, you won’t love it any more at home. You don’t want to buy something that sits in the back of the wardrobe.
“I’ve done that in the past – bought something thinking that will be good when I’m tanned, so I’m already thinking I’ve got to fake tan before I can wear it. Or the worst thing, which is definitely long gone now, if I lose a bit of weight. If there are all these components that I’ve got to factor in before I can wear something, then it’s not the piece for me.
“I should put something on and feel instantly comfortable in it. I want clothes that I can move in, that I feel comfortable in. It should be doing the work for me – not me having to do the work to wear the piece.”
Philippa buys pieces from clients in Suffolk and Norfolk, and her friend, London-based Tracy Millard, can also collect from clients in the capital. She also works with Sara Dable, her best friend since they met at Amberfield School aged 11.
And they have got to know their customers’ tastes and the labels that they love.
“We’ve got a good feeling now for what works and what clients are looking for,” she says.
“I think because of being based in rural Suffolk, with the weather, I do find that knitwear is definitely a favourite,” says Philippa.
“Clients love colourful cashmere and brands like Wyse London and Jumper 1,2,3,4. Isabel Marant is also very popular as are Essentiel Antwerp, Ganni and Rixo.”
If you’re new to shopping pre-loved, it does involve a change of mindset, says Philippa – focus on the cut of the garment rather than the size on the label.
“Sizing is so arbitrary and while some brands are really good with their sizing, some are really not kind,” she says.
“When people come in, and on my Instagram Lives, I like to try and give guidance, because sometimes I think that people dismiss clothes because they think that it will be too big or too small for them.
“With pre-loved you have to look at each piece with a different set of eyes than you would shopping conventionally – look at how it’s cut, where the darts are, the amount of give in the fabric.
“It’s a more pleasurable way of shopping because you’re really looking at each piece and what it’s made from, and sometimes there’s a story behind it.
“Re-creating that emotional attachment to clothes, wearing them on repeat and loving your clothes, that’s what it should be about,” she continues.
“I get messages from clients to say thank you and that Matisa is their happy place – and that’s such a feelgood factor for me. When you see someone light up when they come out of the fitting room – it’s just lovely – they’re smiling and look radiant.
“Clothing is important because it’s how you present yourself to the world and how you feel – it’s like your armour. If you feel good that’s half the battle done. That’s what it is for me, helping women on their way,” says Philippa.
Matisa Market is at Unit 3, Brightwell Barns. Winter opening hours are 11am-3pm, Tuesday-Friday and 10am-4pm on Saturdays. See Matisa Market online at matisamarket.com or follow on Instagram @matisamarket