Fashion Revolution Week – and Responsible Shopping.

How can we make socially resonsible clothing choices…?

As many of you will be aware, the last week in April was Fashion Revolution Week, a global campaign calling for more transparency in fashion supply chains. 

Fashion Revolution was set up by designers Cary Somers and Orsola de Castro, in direct response to the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex in Bangladesh on 24th April 2013.  The collapse killed 1,134 people and injured 2,500 others and highlighted to the world the low wages and dangerous working conditions suffered by garment workers in India.

Clothing supply chains are complex and can involve many countries and many phases of textile production.  The Rana Plaza collapse made headline news, but for every ‘newsworthy’ story there are hundreds of other stories of poverty and abuse of workers within the fashion and clothing industry.  And unacceptable working conditions and ‘slave labour’ exist, not just in the developing world but in parts of Europe too.

 

FASHION-REVOLUTION-WEEK-2016

The team behind Fashion Revolution Week organised many activites worldwide including hosting ‘open studios’  inviting people into the workshops of Stella McCartney, Vivenne Westwood, Eileen Fisher, Veja and others who are happy to submit their processes to public scrutiny.

Their aim is a Three-Fold Change –

a. Change the Model, ie the way clothing is produced and consumed.

b. Change the Material – chemicals used in growing, dyeing and cleaning fabric are polluting rivers worldwide; tonnes of clothing is being taken to landfill every year; and through increasing mass production we are in danger of losing artisanal craftsmanship and human skills. In addition, according to the Carbon Trust clothing accounts for around 3% of the global production of CO2 emissions.

c. Change the Mindset of the consumer.

Fashion Revolution’s campaign #whomademyclothes, is one way of encouraging a change in mindset.  The campaign has been trending on social media for some time now and in 2017, over 100,000 people asked brands this question. Putting a name and a face to the production of clothing is helping to humanise this fundamental part of the supply chain.

This year, Fashion Revolution has also launched its Manifesto in parliament – a 10-point plan for a cleaner, safer fashion industry.  It calls for success in the fashion industry to be measured by more than just profits.  See further: www.fashionrevolution.org/manifesto

So What Can We Do?  How Can we make socially responsible clothing choices?

Well, for a start it really doesn’t make any difference how much you pay for your clothes.  Most fashion brands from high street chains to luxury brands employ the same factories.

An intelligent choice will aim to reduce the demand for clothing made by people in unacceptable working conditions.

In re-thinking our shopping habits, it might help to consider the following:-

1. learn as much as you can about your favourite brand.  It is increasingly easy to access information about the production of clothing for well-known brands, whether through the press or through social media and online searches. Nonprofit organizations, some clothing lines, and the general public are all calling for increased transparency in production.  See for example Fair Wear Foundation. and Labour Behind The Label.

2. Look for ‘fairtrade’ ranges.  I know, this term used to apply only to food and drink. But more and more clothing brands are introducing ethically produced lines to their collections. There are many examples now on the high street, including Mango Committed, and Zara Join Life. And take a look at, for example, the EthicalCollection online – a great range of sustainably produced clothes and accessories.

3. consider buying from companies that are involved in rehabilitation of workers and employment of disadvantaged local population. Although these items often cost more than mass produced clothes and accessories, in my opinion it is definitely money well-spent!

4. look at your own shopping habits…. reduce, reuse, recycle; avoid fast-fashion as much as possible; and ‘Wear your Wardrobe’.

My own project – the Re-Worked Wardrobe – is my small, initial contribution to this fashion revolution. I aim to wear the clothes I have, and re-work and re-style everything as much as possible.  Having studied corporate waste management and practised environmental law for several years, I began the the Project focusing on the lifecycle of clothing, and thinking about recycling and waste. However, as the project evolves, increasingly I am thinking about where and how clothing is produced.

I am trying to follow the ‘Buy Less Shop Wisely’ mantra, only buying things I love and that I will really wear, and moving as far away as possible from the concept of Fast Fashion.  The more we love and appreciate the clotbing we buy, the more we will care for it and the longer our Wardrobes will last.

The Re-Worked Wardrobe, Month Six

It’s now five months since I pledged not to buy any new clothes for a year. How’s that going, you may well ask?…..

It’s time to catch up, recap, take stock of the Wardrobe and of life in general…

Yes, I know I should possibly have done this in January… but January seemed to pass for me in a blur of cashmere hat and scarf, a thick overcoat, a daily renewed intention to be more Mindful and the odd glass of red wine or two to ease through from Monday to Sunday.

It’s now almost five months since I pledged not to buy any clothes/shoes for a year.

img_6336

How’s that going, you may ask? Well, it’s harder than I thought. And in a spirit of absolute honesty I have strayed slightly from the path….but not far enough to constitute a whole change of direction?!

Firstly, I bought a little Chanel style jacket from the Ann Taylor outlet store on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, in December. What a fantastic holiday we had, and what a great place Fulton Street is to shop! Outlet stores, discount stores, a great range of products and everything further discounted for Christmas. All with a cool, edgy Brooklyn vibe. It was heaven.

 

img_0070

img_7568

 

The Ann Taylor brand itself is involved with various charitable causes and is a partner of the St Jude Thanks and Giving Campaign (see Anncares.com). I wore the jacket all over Christmas, with everything from ripped jeans to a black leather and suede knee-length skirt.

Whilst in Brooklyn, I also did a little Duane Reade pharmacy sweep (obligatory for those US cosmetics that come with the same number on the ticket as in the UK, but a little $ sign instead of the usual £)!

That afternoon was rounded off with a fat slice of homemade cheesecake from Juniors – I cannot recommend it highly enough, if you happen to be in downtown Brooklyn anytime soon.

img_0064

The second purchase was made upon my return, when I succumbed to a beautiful silk jacket in the Zara sale. Black and florals, round neck, bracelet sleeves – it looks just as good with smart black trousers and heels as it does with jeans, a white T-shirt and Stan Smiths. (Yes, I’m seeing a theme here, too, but like the Ann Taylor – I’ve worn it a lot!)

img_0067

And finally, I spent my ‘Christmas cheque’ (thanks Mum) on a beautiful, mustard yellow saddle bag from Coach – a joy to purchase in the Fifth Avenue Store, (and an excuse to escape from the cold and snow outside, and the hundreds of people queueing for the Rockefeller Centre skating rink)!…The bag looks great with black and grey now, and with my camel leather coat. And will look just as good in the summer with shades of yellow, orange and white.

So – to (sort of) compensate for making a couple of cheeky purchases, I did take two tops, a pair of trousers and a dress to the charity shop in January.

And I gave away a parka (bought for my oldest son and scarcely worn), to a homeless man at the tube station the other night. I literally put it on him so that it wouldn’t get stolen. To say ‘his need was greater than mine’ would be the understatement of the century.

And that’s where I’m at, February 2018. Limited purchasing, and trying to think more about sustainability and maintaining the clothes I have. My long coat is currently at the tailors because the hem has come down; and I’m in the process of shortening a well -worn pair of flared trousers, to wear with flat shoes and boots, (once the mud has dried out on my school run-route across the Common).

However, I’m still very conscious of upcoming trends and I want to keep my look ‘current’. The new collections are starting to drop in the shops on an almost daily basis, and it’s so exciting to see all the new colours and shapes.

As February rushes towards March, and thoughts turn to warmer days – what would I like to buy? Or recommend that you consider, if you want to update your wardrobe?

Colour, definitely. I love yellow (see previous blog post) and have my eye on the beautiful yellow Casting Pants by Kowtow  (available from The Keep Boutique in Brixton). They are made from 100% ethical organic cotton, at an accredited factory in India.

In Theory

I’m also really hankering after orange. Maybe Baum Und Pferdgarten’s flared Nandini trousers or beautiful Agnetha dress. Orange and navy, or orange and royal blue look great together – see the german designer Steffen Schraut for some great colour combinations.

Agnetha dress

The Hilda Trousers in orange bhandani silk from the Ethical Collection London are beautiful and can be dressed up or down.  The Ethical Collection curates sustainable clothes and jewellery from designers around the world.

Cos has some great new pieces in orange and in green. Both colours look great with navy or camel basics.

COS image 7 of Draped cotton cardigan in Green
Draped cotton cardigan, Cos

And if you don’t feel that colourful yet, there’s always denim. In any form and any shade – although I would probably avoid anything really dark, now that the days are getting longer and we’re all desperate for a little bit of ‘spring’ (literally and metaphorically!).  Nudie Jeans has a great range of jeans in 100% organic cotton.

I know it’s still cold out there – but you can slip a pair of sheer tights under your jeans for now (the silkier the better – obvs!). Or I like to wear a pair of knee high thermal socks underneath. That way, the only really chilly bit is between your knee and the bottom of your coat?!

Last weekend, I ditched the black and grey I’ve been swaddled in for some considerable time, and road tested the ‘winter whites’. I have a pair of Current Elliott white jeans that I wear season after season, various white t shirts and a beautiful cream, cashmere, v neck cardigan that I’ve hardly worn. It came from Other Stories and I think the mistake I made was keeping it for ‘best’? (Not wanting to have to dry clean it too often). I was warm, comfortable and felt somewhat uplifted!

Ralph Lauren Fall 2014 Collection Wool Harrison Jodhpur
lookandlovewithlolo.blogspot.co.uk

Try all white with a camel coat or animal print rather than black, (although really anything works). Mango Committed organic white cotton jeans look great and are currently only £29.99 in the sale.

Happy Weekend xx