I love fashion. It’s my hobby and my job. Since I was little, fashion is what I’ve used to define my identity and it’s how I found my place in the world. But just because fashion is such a visual entity, it would be naive of me to take it at face value and, in recent years, my attitude has shifted as
I’ve tried to ditch my bad shopping habits and approach fashion from a more educated, responsible stand point. It’s a steep learning curve, particularly as I continue to try and reconcile my place in the industry and my love of clothes with my desire to lessen my impact on my planet and my fellow inhabitants.
18th April 2016 marks the start of Fashion Revolution Week.
Starting as Fashion Revolution Day, the movement is the response to the 2013 Rana Plaza complex disaster which killed 1,134 people (mostly young women) and injured a further 2,500. Now in its third year, with over 80 countries taking part, Fashion Revolution Day has become Fashion Revolution Week in order to spread the message further and louder than ever before.
Rana Plaza housed five garment factories all of which were manufacturing for the western market, and questions had to be raised about the working conditions of these individuals and the prices people pay for our fast fashion culture.
Fash Rev’s corresponding hashtag, ‘#whomademyclothes’, addresses the disconnect between us, the consumers, and the people growing, weaving and stitching to make our clothes. Giving those workers a face and a name humanises the process and provides a much-needed reminder of the human chain that brings our garments to the shop floor.
Fast fashion is damaging and unsustainable but fashion itself doesn’t have to be.
Beyond the human cost of fast fashion (the forced overtime, the pitiful wages, the dangerous conditions and, of course, the tragedies) lies the environmental cost: the waste, the pollution, the pesticides and the water usage. Fast fashion is damaging and unsustainable but fashion itself doesn’t have to be. If you want to make a change and cultivate a sustainable wardrobe, here’s how to start:
Step 1 : Slow it Down
We now consume 400% more clothing than we did 20 years ago. Every occasion is an excuse for a new outfit, and with high street stores running on a schedule of as many as 52 micro seasons per year, our need for the new is easily satiated; our temptation always piqued.
Make considered purchases. Don’t buy clothes because they’re cheap, buy them because you love them. Buy less and buy better.
Step 2 : Stitch it Up
Don’t throw your clothes away if they develop a hole or they’ve become too big. Basic sewing skills will get you further than you think when it comes to making simple repairs. For more complex alterations or customisations, YouTube and Pinterest are a goldmine for sewing tutorials and, for the needle-phobic, make friends with your local tailor and your clothes can last a life time.
Step 3 : Buy Ethically
Ethical and sustainable labels are on the rise. Support brands who are transparent about their supply chain; who use recycled materials; who make their garments in house; who pay their manufacturers fairly; who use sustainable manufacturing processes. If you’re short on ideas, keep your eye on the Sistrhood blog as we’ll be featuring plenty of sustainable and ethical brands over the coming months.
Step 4 : Buy Second Hand
Whether it’s vintage, a charity shop find, or an eBay treasure, nothing is quite as satisfying as finding the perfect pre-loved piece. If you’re looking for ideas, Fash Rev are providing inspiration with their #haulternative initiative. You’ll look good, spend less, and feel a bit like you’re saving the world.
Step 5 : Swap It
Dig out your unwanted or unworn clothes; grab a friend, or ten, and organise a clothes swap. As the saying goes, one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure, and you’ll be surprised to find that your cast offs are someone else’s fashion gold. If there are any pieces left at the end of the day, donate them to charity.
Sustainable fashion isn’t about sacrificing your style; it’s about embracing fashion that comes without sacrifice, neither human nor environmental. A sustainable wardrobe is a more considered one and, once we escape the trap of trends and instant sartorial gratification, our wardrobes begin to tell a much more personal story.