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Exclusive: How Strictly's Katya Jones transformed her home into an eco-conscious design haven

The Ballroom professional revealed what really goes on with fashion waste behind the scenes of Strictly's wardrobe department

Katya Jones attends the "BBC Earth Experience" launch at the Daikin Centre on March 29, 2023 in London, England.© Getty
Georgia Brown
Senior Lifestyle & Fashion Writer
April 21, 2024
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On screen, Katya Jones is one of Strictly Come Dancing's most-loved ballroom professionals, having joined the BBC show in 2016 and taking the winning Glitterball with Joe McFadden just one year later. 

Away from the cameras, however, the Russian dancer lives a much slower life, having sworn off buying fast fashion in 2019 and keeping up her earth-conscious practices ever since. 

"I started discovering the effects the fashion industry has on the environment and climate change, and I just couldn't believe what I was learning," the self-professed Environmental Activist revealed. 

Nigel Harman and Katya Jones dancing the Salsa© Guy Levy
Katya Jones dazzled audiences with Nigel Harman in the previous season of Strictly

It's not just fashion that has changed in Katya's life, however. The professional dancer's pledge to the planet extends to her home, too, with Katya sourcing antiques, pre-loved furniture and upcycled pieces to decorate her stunning London property. 

In an exclusive interview with HELLO!, Katya momentarily hangs up her ballroom shoes to reveal exactly how she's perfected living sustainably, how she sources pre-loved furniture, and what really goes on with waste behind the scenes of Strictly's wardrobe department. 

What motivated you to start living a slower, more sustainable life at home?

Once you expose yourself to the world of sustainability, you start looking at integrating it into every aspect of your life. I undertook a challenge a few years ago not to buy any new clothes. I kept it up for around 18 months without buying a single thing. 

In the end, it didn't matter how long I went on for because my mindset had already shifted. My shopping became more mindful. I now rarely buy anything new, it's all about secondhand shopping, charity shopping, Vinted, and Depop. 

Katya has embraced an earth-conscious lifestyle for years
Katya has embraced an earth-conscious lifestyle for years

I repurpose lots of old items, too. I make tights into headbands for example, I customise jackets, and I wear many of my grandmother's and mum's dresses and find great joy in putting my own spin on them. 

When I moved home, I was stunned by the amount of really good quality furniture I found on the internet. I sourced beautiful antique pieces, furniture that was great value for money and even things people were giving away for free.

What is your most loved piece of pre-loved furniture and why?

Without a doubt, my absolute favourite piece at home is my upcycled plant stand. I rescued a children’s stool from a tip on one of my morning runs and turned it into a plant stand! 

Katya's upcycled plant stand sit proudly in her eco home
Katya's upcycled plant stand sit proudly in her eco home

I love telling the story behind it when people compliment it in my house. It’s got character and personality. 

Where are your favourite places to source sustainable home décor?

You can’t beat a charity shop! One person’s trash is someone else’s treasure. It’s all about the right timing. Every now and then you stumble upon exactly what you were searching for, and it feels like a win! 

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Another winner is Gumtree. I can spend hours scrolling on it. If you really put time and effort into it, you can fully decorate your house only using second-hand furniture and decor. 

You can find so many quality items for bargain prices and even some that are totally free within a short radius of your home. It is a lot of fun and every time you nail a bargain, it makes you feel like you’ve won a lottery! What is the thing you dislike the most about fast furniture?

Katya first started embracing sustainable fashion before she started implementing eco practices at home
Katya first started embracing sustainable fashion before she started implementing eco practices at home

I can totally understand why fast furniture is so in demand. It’s convenient, it’s affordable and the choice of styles and designs is unlimited. When people rent and move homes regularly, their lifestyle doesn’t always allow them to invest in expensive furniture that will last a lifetime. 

If I could change anything about that 'throwaway' mindset, I'd wish people would value fast furniture more. So often people buy furniture with no intent on keeping it, so we often see it left on the streets and not disposed of properly. 

Sustainable fashion is something you're hugely passionate about. How is fashion waste handled at Strictly?

The Strictly wardrobe department are magicians. No one would ever know that our Remembrance Day outfits were once a Halloween frock, or that a beautiful Ballroom gown can be turned into a Salsa dress within a matter of hours. 

Nigel Harman and Katya Jones© Guy Levy
The Strictly Come Dancing costumes are often recycled several times

Many of our costumes are also used for tours and even travel around the world for the versions of Strictly in other countries. One of the highlights of the year is the 'Strictly Wardrobe Sale' that happens at the end of the season for the production team. 

This is where more casual items are sold to the crew and given a chance at a new life.

You can even find trousers and T-shirts with a 'Nikita' or 'Giovanni' name label on them, for example, as well as shirts that still have underwear attached to them. Sometimes even Claudia Winkleman's suits can make an appearance!

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