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Scottish Design Exchange Anniversary

Today marks my 1st anniversary of working for The Scottish Design Exchange (SDX), and so much has happened in that year, I thought it deserved a blog post. For those that don’t know, SDX is a collective of over 120 artists and designers, from contemporary jewellery to fine art and everything in between, all living and working in Scotland. 

We’re a not-for profit enterprise that opened in August 2015 as a retail space that benefits independent brands by giving them 100% of the profit, and showing customers a huge variety of unique products, knowing exactly where are coming from. 

I joined as an intern to help open the fashion department, and now manage over 25 designers Glasgow, Edinburgh, and beyond as well as running all the social media activities for the company.


I’m so excited for what is to come in 2017 for The Scottish Design Exchange. From a brand new textiles department supporting up and coming designers and manufacturers of fabrics for fashion and interiors, and tonnes of ongoing charity and community projects, to potentially expanding to more stores within the city and eventually nationwide, we have the potential to really make a difference this year.
My favourite moments from the past year working at SDX have definitely been the events I’ve organised to help celebrate our projects. Back in February we launched the #SDXLoft fashion space with a huge party in our Leith store, and since then we’ve hosted blogger and press events, music nights, style tutorials, social media workshops and monthly meet-the-makers days. I love meeting customers, whether loyal regulars or completely new to our concept, who have been so supportive and enthusiastic.

Another highlight has definitely been seeing many of the emerging and entrepreneurial creatives gain confidence after getting the opportunity to be part of a supportive like minded community, and really succeed in their business. Mark Vice, Sally Fisher and Alexander Jackson certainly stand out, as well as labels Made In Leith, Birds of Prayers, Objectified, Yellow Bubble and Hidden Stag. I feel such a sense of pride for my designers and constantly seek out more opportunities to get their names and products out there. Scotland is full to brim with creative talent that is not being recognised for its full potential, and that needs to change; we hope that The Scottish Design Exchange can push that change.


For more information, and to stay updated on the latest comings and goings at SDX, visit our website, or follow us on Instagram @sdxfashion and @sdxedinburgh.

Ruth @ Urbanity xxx


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Vegan December Challenge

So I’ve been vegetarian for years, but last year I went vegan for around 6 months. Why didn’t it last? 


On one hand, and most obviously to those around me, it was my eating disorder. For me, bulimia was directly caused by prolonged malnutrition from anorexia. In the most basic terms, excluding any psychological factors, I had starved my body and therefore it wanted me to store food ready for the next famine, so when I did finally give in to my cravings and eat properly, I wanted to eat anything and everything, as quickly as possible. 

Therefore, when I embarked on a vegan diet, arguably a restrictive way of eating relative to a traditional western diet, it triggered those same instincts as those early days of recovery. In short, it led to a huge relapse into bulimia. 

Controversial though it seems, and perhaps lacking in self-compassion as my therapist might suggest,  that is still not a valid excuse. Although of course I needed to take it slow and reel it back in at the time, it doesn’t mean my morals are gone forever. Now more confident and certainly more clued up after nearly a year’s worth of research, i want to take on the challenge again, and review it at the end of December to see how its working alongside, rather than against, my recovery.




One of the biggest things for me was cheese. I never even ate much of the stuff before I made the change to vegan (clearly anorexia is not closely linked with a love of cheese!), but as soon as I made the switch to exclude dairy products, there was nothing I craved more than a big fat block of cheddar, melty mozzarella on pizza, crispy grilled halloumi or fresh feta in a greek salad.  I’ve heard countless people, myself included, arguing that “I could go vegan, but I’d miss cheese too much!” This is partly because (as a lot of research suggests) processed cheeses like those mentioned contain chemicals that cause real addiction, and like with cocaine, withdrawal symptoms are real too.


Why is dairy unethical?

1. Humans are the only creatures on earth that drink milk in adulthood, and the only ones to drink the milk of another creature. Not your mum, not your milk. Simple as that.

2. Calves of dairy cows are cruelly ripped away from their mother at birth. Dairy cows are forced to mechanically breastfeed with natural hormone cycles.

4. Many dairy cows and chickens are factory-farmed with very low quality of life and zero time outdoors. They actually develop real mental illnesses and huge behavioural problems.
5. Male chicks are quite literally ground up and killed in their masses as they are of no use to the industry.

And what about health and the environment?

I won’t go into it of course as this is not a food blog nor a science blog, but what I will say is that there is very little evidence that a plant-based diet isn’t the best, easiest and cheapest way to achieve optimum health for the majority of the population, as well as hugely reduced levels of toxic emissions leading to climate change.



For all the Netflix junkies out there, here is a list of some eye-opening documentaries that hammer home this theory. If straight-up horrifying slaughterhouse footage (if you’re more iron-stomached I urge you to watch Earthlings) ain’t your thing, check these out:

Food Choices

Hungry for Change

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (1 & 2)

Food Matters

Food Inc.

Vegucated

Forks over Knives

Fed Up

Cowspiracy (my personal favourite)

I’ll leave you with this: “When consuming animals is no longer a necessity, it becomes a choice.” 

In today’s world abundant with food choices, with most of us living in a westernised society where is is not necessary for survival to hunt for meat and fish, the only thing keeping us from questioning the status quo is our own choices. Not willpower, not fad diets, not being a hippy, but making informed choices on whether we still want to consume the way we do despite all the evidence that it goes against our morals. And admitting that we, as humans, no longer have the birth right to dismiss all other sentient beings as being on this earth to please our tastebuds.


Ruth @ Urbanity xxx
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Herald Fashion Awards

So, although you all probably know already because I won’t shut up about it on social media, I thought I’d do a blog post about the Herald Fashion Awards too, cause you know, Fashion Blogger of the Year baby! I’m still in total shock that I was nominated yet alone the winner of such a prestigious award, considering the bloody amazing competition! It was a genuinely fantastic night and I still cannot wipe the smile off my face. Read on to see who all the wonderful winners were in the different online fashion categories, all based right here in Scotland.


The Best Use of Online Marketing was awarded to Instrmnt, a Glasgow watchmaker creating timeless quality timepieces. Aimee Kent won Best Sustainable Online Business, for her ethically produced surface pattern design and textile products.



Nu Blvck, my absolute favourite sustainable Scottish fashion brand run by the inspirational Becca and Andrew, were awarded the Best Online Newcomer award; their success in just a few short months is incredible, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future.


Trakke, an accessories brand for the outdoor adventurer, were multi-award winners, going home with both Online Accessory Retailer of the Year, and Best Fashion Twitterati. Edinburgh knitwear brand Yellow Bubble, now available at The Scottish Design Exchange was awarded Scottish Fashion Graduate of the Year.

It was great to meet the team from kidswear brand Shapes of Things, who walked away with the prestigious Peoples’s Choice Award, while Edinburgh tweed establishment Walker Slater won Scottish Online Retailer of the Year and bespoke headwear designer Maggie Mowbray Millinery were awarded Luxury Online Boutique of the Year.

And finally, as strange as it sounds to say this, I was absolutely astounded to receive the Blogger of the Year for Scotland award sponsored by Therapie Clinic!

Look out for a post coming soon all about my beautiful bespoke dress from Birds of Prayers!
Ruth @ Urbanity xxx
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Creative Brew Interview

Here is an interview I did with Creative Brew, a new website based in Glasgow showcasing the work of local creatives, innovators and entrepreneurs.

“For fashion blogger Ruth MacGilp, following your creative passions is crucial. Ever since she was a young girl, Ruth has channeled her love of fashion into everything she does.
From choosing to study fashion textiles at university and setting up her own fashion blog, to playing a crucial role in the Edinburgh-based Scottish Design Exchange, Ruth has utilised every opportunity to carve out a career in the industry she adores.
Here, Ruth discusses her professional career so far, her zeal for fashion blogging and how the innovative Edinburgh-based Scottish Design Exchange has offered her a myriad of exciting opportunities.

Introduce yourself

I grew up in Birmingham and have lived in Edinburgh since 2013. I’m a fashion and lifestyle blogger over at http://www.urbanity-blog.com and I work for The Scottish Design Exchange.
Creative Brew Interview: Ruth MacGilp - Urbanity Fashion Blogger

What are you studying at the moment?

Currently I’m studying a BA in Fashion Communication with Heriot Watt University, at the School of Textiles and Design in Galashiels.

Have you always had a love of fashion? 

Since I was very young I’ve loved dressing up. For me, fashion is fantasy, it’s all about experimenting with visual identity.
My Grandma was a dressmaker and taught me to sew, and in my teens I became addicted to reading glossy magazines and blogs. Biographies of legendary fashion designers and subscriptions to Vogue were always on my Christmas list!

You’re a fashion blogger yourself, so do you have any tips for those writers just starting out?

Urbanity has been running for a year and a half now, and its been pretty much non-stop. I would advise any new bloggers that if you want to be successful, you truly have to put the hours in.
Other than a few bits of advice, like do a coding course, go to networking events and post regularly on social media, the rest is up to you.
A personal blog is a totally unique entity; choose a niche, stick to your guns and focus on producing quality content.

What do you enjoy about blogging?

I use my blog as a portfolio of sorts. It’s a visual documentation of many different parts of my life and my career. It’s a platform for me to promote what I’m truly passionate about, like supporting local fashion brands and encouraging mental health recovery.

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What bloggers have you got your eye on at the moment?

In Edinburgh there is a plethora of amazing bloggers and it’s a really supportive creative community.
At the moment I’m following Wardrobe ConversationsLittle ThingsThe Edinbugand Love From Lou Lou.

Tell us about the Scottish Design Exchange?

The Scottish Design Exchange is a not-for-profit design collective that supports artists and makers living in Scotland. It was founded by Lynzi Leroy last summer and has gone from strength to strength. Our flagship store in Leith is home to over 100 local creatives.

Creative Brew Interview: Ruth MacGilp - Urbanity Fashion Blogger

How did you get involved with the Scottish Design Exchange and what makes it so important to the contemporary design scene?

At the start of the year Lynzi hired me to set up the new fashion department at SDX, which opened in February. Now I manage around 30 fashion and accessories designers and take care of the company’s social media.
The Scottish Design Exchange is unique because unlike most boutiques and galleries, we charge zero commission to allow independent fashion designers- who often have a hard time gaining support after graduating from art schools- to keep 100% of their profits.
The Scottish Design Exchange offers designers specialist help with branding and marketing, with potential moves into micro manufacturing in the future.
The vision for SDX is to foster a thriving fashion industry right here in Scotland without the need to rely on imports and exports. It aims to establish a strong circular economy that encourages creativity first and foremost.

What opportunities has the Scottish Design Exchange opened up for you and what can it offer other creatives?

From great networking opportunities and endless blogging inspiration, to being awarded real responsibilities for fair pay (so rare at a young age!), the skills, experience and friendships gained from my work are immeasurable.
For local creatives, we provide a welcoming community and aim to show the public that shopping local is much better for the economy and the environment than high street fast fashion and mass produced design products

Creative Brew Interview: Ruth MacGilp - Urbanity Fashion Blogger
 

What have been your highlights of working at the Scottish Design Exchange so far?

One of my favourite parts of the job is organising events. The launch party for SDX Loft, our fashion department, was a really proud moment for me. Since then we’ve hosted blogger events, social media workshops, art exhibitions, regular meet-the-makers days and styling events.

What advice would you give to those looking to break into the fashion industry?

Put your self doubt aside and aim high. See rejection as an opportunity for feedback. Don’t let your age, appearance, experience or education set you back or put you back; you’re worthy of success.
Postscript: We’d like to congratulate Ruth on becoming a finalist for the Blogger of the Year category of The Herald Scotland’s Scottish Fashion Awards. We’ll be rooting for you! Don’t forget to check out Ruth’s work on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Creative Brew Interview: Ruth MacGilp - Urbanity Fashion Blogger
By Jonny McIntosh of Creative Brew. Head to their website to get involved!

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Thigh Gaps

Strange title for a blog post, I know, but lately I’ve been reflecting on the illustrious thigh gap. A small gap between the thighs, pre-determined by the width of your hips and exaggerated by extreme weight loss, somehow comes to gather a meaning reflective of self-worth. In the anorexic community, having a thigh gap is a trophy of achievement, somehow launching you into a higher tier of being, respected by the mentally ill, and pushed into a new category of the ultimate anorexic. How strange, you might say. But after years of double checking my legs in every mirror, standing with my toes together, pushing my knees apart so much they couldn’t sit straight, I began to equate losing my thigh gap to losing my identity, my status and my beauty. When my thighs touched, I was nothing. 



Looking back, clearly its a ridiculous motion, and yet it still feels weird as I walk down the street, heightened sensitivity to my own body parts, a strangely unpleasant sensation. However, there is that sense of a new kind of achievement; of beating my demons, of embracing curves and flesh and health. Of no longer feeling every bone and atrophied muscle, and quoting the circumference of my thighs to how worthy i was of happiness. And that is a bloody miracle.


I will end this ramble with a stunning sketch by Mirrin Hegharty, which to me shows the extremes of body dysmorphia that came part and parcel with my eating disorder. Within seconds I could see both bodies in the mirror, both with infinite meanings to a twisted anorexic brain. I also think this drawing shows the complexity of our society, in that we have warped views of a healthy body, that actually doesn’t take health into account at all, only aesthetics, and this leads to millions of people pushing their bodies to the extreme.

 “Listen to me. Your body is not a temple. Temples can be destroyed and desecrated. Your body is a forest – thick canopies of maple trees and sweet scented wild flowers sprouting in the underwood. You will grow back, over and over, no matter how badly you have been devastated. “


– Beau Christopher Taplin

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