Lori Smith takes us backstage at burlesque to show us the ethical side of the glamourous show girls.
You might think that burlesque, with all its showgirl glitz and glamour, is a place where you wouldn’t find much in the way of ethical fashion. You’d be wrong. Not only are burlesque performers’ costumes carefully constructed – with no thought to fast fashion – but they’re also reused and revamped more times than you could possibly imagine.
To add a bit of sparkle to your day, here are five things that burlesque performers can do to make sure their impact on the planet is far less than their impact on the stage. I’m sure many performers are already well acquainted with these hints already, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate. Whether you’re a performance newbie or an enthusiastic audience member, these tips show just how sustainable burlesque can be.
Buy and sell costumes second-hand
Many newcomers to the burlesque stage turn to sites like eBay in order to hunt for the garments and props required for their next act. What they might not realise is that very few performers can afford custom made costumes and so many keep coming back to second hand sellers, even once they’re more established. Performers often sell items they no longer need, so you can pick up pre-loved items and extend their stage life.
As every costume is designed to be taken apart, and many items will get thrown around the stage, the chances of something breaking or tearing are higher than usual. With some basic sewing skills – try somewhere like The Make Lounge for courses – many garments can be easily repaired to extend their life and avoid the need for new purchases.
As above, some sewing skills will work wonders but you don’t need to do it yourself. Places like burlesque boutique Burlique can add sparkle and trim to a much loved dress so that it becomes a stage costume. Perfect for the showgirl who’s short on time! They’ll even buy old costumes from you, if you have something which just can’t be altered to fit. Worried about where your feathers and sparkle have come from? Try using a vintage boa or sequins from an old dress to obtain your trim.
Support small businesses
Many people who sell corsets and other burlesque accessories are making everything by hand in small quantities. By buying from them you are supporting a business with ethical working practices, which is far better than getting your costume pieces made cheaply on the other side of the world. That’s not all, you can also buy gorgeous ethical lingerie and even pasties made out of upcycled fabrics from lovely folk like Holloway-Smith Noir !
Look after your costumes
If you take great care of your costumes then the world will thank you for it. Not only can you use them again and again, but they will also be in great condition if you want to sell them. Looking after what you wear on stage means fewer repairs are needed and there will be a better chance of finding a new owner when the time comes.
You can read more from Lori on her blog Rarely Wears Lipstick
Photo: Rubyyy Jones by Jon Topper