An Interview with Linda Vydra

Posted by Jill Chivers in Interviews and Profiles

Linda Vydra is a woman of many talents.  A designer, a clothes swapper, and currently a woman completely her own year without clothes shopping as part of the free fashion challenge.  Linda dropped by our blog recently and answered a few questions under gentle interrogation.

What motivated you to do a year without clothes shopping? I thought it would be a great way to meet like-minded people. I also thought it would be really easy, and I wanted to be a part of educating people about the importance of the shopping choices they make.

You are nearly finished your own year without clothes shopping.  Tell us about the journey so far. I’m not a big shopper, so I thought the challenge would be pretty easy.  I started in November last year and at the time I didn’t realise that I would be going to New York in a months time. So it became challenging fairly quickly!

Why New York? I was fortunate enough to be a finalist for a global competition for my business Lydra. It was an exciting opportunity to compete in the US against other small businesses. I decided that whilst in the US it would be a waste not to visit New York. It was a very different trip for me – I avoided the shops and spent a lot more time seeing the sights and experiencing the city. I meet a group of girlfriends and they spent most of their time shopping, so it was definitely a challenge. 

Did you also visit Struggle Town, during your year? After New York, I found the challenge pretty smooth sailing for a while. The next struggle was when winter came round and I didn’t have any warm boots. We have cold winters in Melbourne and I was really struggling. I had to wear runners to keep my feet warm, which also limited what I could wear and I always looked as though I was about to go for a jog. Luckily enough, I was running a clothing swap for The Clothing Exchange (my part time job) and a pair of winter boots fell out of the leftover garments bags. I was so excited, I tried them on straight away and they fit like a glove. I also had few jumpers (sweaters) and was lucky to have a friend who donated me one she no longer wore.

But that wasn’t all, was it?  No.  The next challenge was garments starting to show signs of wear and tear. I didn’t start with a huge wardrobe and having clothes literally fall apart didn’t help. Things were starting to show signs of extreme wear, so I was stitching them back together. Even the winter boots that I found were splitting at the back. Times were beginning to be tough.

How did you stick with your challenge during the tough times? I never thought seriously about giving up but there was definitely moments of weakness where I forgot that I was doing the challenge or I was just so over not having the basics. I was keen to buy a pair of winter boots and was getting a bit desperate and I was just so lucky a pair fell into my hands. I went camping in Queensland and didn’t pack enough warm socks. I was shopping in the supermarket and had a pair of brand new socks in my hand about to purchase them and then I realised it was a clothing item and I wasn’t able to buy it. So I had to wear my boyfriends socks much to his frustration. He has complained a lot about me borrowing his clothes in the last 12 months. I’m wearing his socks right now actually.  

What advice would you give others who are currently slaying their own shopping dragon? I would recommend looking deep into your wardrobe and pulling out what you have. You’d be surprised how many outfits we have, that we no longer wear.

About:  Linda is the designer behind Lydra,  an accessories label that makes handbags and clutches from interior remnants and upcycled leather jackets sewn by a lovely group of retired ladies.

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