London Fashion Week…..
London Fashion Week 2017 has just finished – a frantic festival of catwalk shows and new designs. But it’s not just about style and glamour, fashion is big business – the UK fashion industry contributed £28billion to the economy last year and supported 880,000 UK jobs (Oxford Economics). It’s popular too – Many people love discovering the new designs and watching the beautiful people strutting their stuff in them.
The Darker Side of Fashion
But amidst the glitz and glamour there is a darker side. For many dedicated followers the seasons call the tune and they ‘flit from shop to shop just like a butterfly’ wearing polkadots one week and stripes the next. The growth of cheap ‘fast fashion’ over the last 30 years has led to us buying about 2 million tonnes of clothes each year in the UK – and discarding around half of that amount. The low prices we pay for our clothing lead directly to low wages and harsh working conditions for makers as well as negative impacts on the environment and our planet’s future.
Change from Within
It’s easy to stand on the outside and criticise so it’s reassuring to know that change is happening from within. In 2006 The Estethical project was set up by ethical designers Anna Orsini, Orsola de Castro and Filippo Ricci to encourage sustainability in design. This has now widened into the British Fashion Council’s initiative ‘Positive Fashion’. This year big names like Dame Vivienne Westwood have been promoting the switch to green energy, the move to more local and ethical manufacturers and the push towards more inclusiveness in the modelling industry.
What Can Ethical Brands do better?
Like it or not, the Fashion Industry works. For those of us creating ethical clothing on the outside, we need to look and learn. How can we attract existing followers of fashion to a more sustainable way of shopping? Well there are a number of approaches – a key one is to encourage them to buy high quality ‘capsule’ items that can form the basis of their wardrobe, such as a white shirt or black trousers, rather than a new outfit for every occasion. Another is to make ethical fashion much more exciting – pairing fantastic design with inspiring stories – the makers, the fabrics and even some of the innovative recycling that goes on ‘Wow my jeans are made from beer bottles!’.
Ethical brands also need to consider using the language and imagery used widely with in the fashion industry – we need to find a way to articulate the value of what we are selling and make customers desperate to buy it!
How Can Fashion Lovers Be More Ethical?
If you love your clothes and are excited by new trends and designs then take a look at some of the ethical brands around. There are some beautiful and innovative designers using fantastic fabrics and telling wonderful stories. Take a look in sustainable fashion directories such as those run by All Ethical, Roberta Lee Style and Ethical Consumer. You can buy direct from curated online shops such as Ethical.Market, Fashion Conscience and Ethical Shop.
The capsule wardrobe idea is a style winner too. Buying basic all-year-round items and then using accessories such as scarves to add individuality is a good way to achieve style without high cost to you or your peace of mind (or the planet). Where Does It Come From? has a great capsule wardrobe range at wheredoesitcomefrom.co.uk.
And if you really must have your fix of regular new outfits why not consider buying pre-loved? There are many shops reselling high-end designer clothes or take a look at Oxfam online – you can even buy clothes previously worn by celebrities. Now that’s really being a dedicated follower of (sustainable) fashion!