Female friendships (and sustainable fashion) are at the heart of Lauren Bravo’s debut novel
As the author of What Would The Spice Girls Do, How To Break Up With Fast Fashion, and reams of lifestyle magazine articles, Preloved by Lauren Bravo is the writer’s debut novel and TBH, we’re thrilled she’s diversified into fiction.
How To Break Up With Fast Fashion came out in 2020 as an exposé of everything wrong with the high street… It is a must-read if you want to learn about sustainability and fashion industry reform. And while that’s high up our priority list, sometimes we just want to curl up with a chai latte of a novel – an optimistic and engaging (but not too edgy) story that comforts and cossets us.
Enter Preloved… Telling the tale of Gwen, a thirty-something navigating redundancy, painful family relationships, bereavement and friendship that seems to be trickling away… Preloved centres around the charity shop where Gwen volunteers. Gwen has the kind of I know her / I am her reliability, and even though her adventures aren’t glossed over with main character energy (she’s rooting around the donations bags in a North London charity shop), you root for her on every turn of the page. We’re waiting for Preloved to be optioned by Reese Witherspoon or at least adapted into a binge-worthy Netflix series…
While Gwen’s romantic antics and relationships at every level are spliced through with narratives of charity shop life, the golden thread of the book is female friendship.
GLAMOUR caught up with Lauren over Zoom from her home while her two-month-old baby was sleeping to discuss shopping, sustainability and how to navigate grown-up friendships. Lauren explained, “I had been sold this idea (through TV shows like Friends and Girls) that female friendship is only valid if it’s incredibly intense, incredibly close… if you are having baths together, seeing each other naked on a daily basis, holding each other’s skirt when you pee onto a pregnancy test stick… If you’re really lucky, you do have that in your early 20s, but once you get into your 30s, people’s lives start changing.
“You have to prioritise work, family commitments, children, potentially partners, potentially ageing parents (over) friendships, and it becomes much harder. There can be a real disconnect between the friendships we imagined we would have and the friendships that we actually have.” As we watch Gwen clamber over familial relationships, potential romances and sex as well as as best friend who seems impossibly far away, Lauren believes “Preloved is definitely a love story about friendships more than anything else.”
Scattered through Gwen’s story are mini-chapters telling the tales of the treasures that populate the shop. “Society has taught us to be quite materialistic,” muses Lauren. “We value things, but there’s a real romance to objects as well. It’s not always the flashy or expensive thing that you become sentimentally attached to… often it will be a really innocuous item that sparks some kind of memory. In an increasingly isolated world, where often we’re more connected through our devices than through face-to-face contact, objects can actually hold a special place.”