Fur in the Fashion Industry

Fur is a big topic in the industry and has been for a long time, but I wanted to look into the history of fur within the industry and what brands are still using it in their products.

History of Fur

Fur is the earliest form of clothing, worn by early homo sapiens and neanderthals. It’s very durable and is still worn in cold climates and cold desert nights. For example, indigenous people and societies still use fur because of its availability and its insulation properties.

Fur became popular in the fashion industry as early as the 11th-century. Across Europe, it became a sign of wealth and status. It was worn for decorative purposes rather than for practical reasons. I found it particularly interesting that in the 1300s, laws were put in place stating which social classes were allowed to wear which types of fur!

During the Victorian era, fur began to rise in popularity. During my Dissertation research, I came across lots of pictures and information about how the fashion industry used an incredible amount of fur and feathers. The 1870s saw the introduction of fur farms. This shift from wild to farmed animals shows just how popular fur was at this time – statistics show that 80% of fur was farmed compared to 20% that was wild. The animals that were farmed for fur were mink, chinchilla, fox, dog, cat, and rabbit. During the later 1800s, synthetic textiles and dyes were invented so the popularity of fur began to fall. Repetitive designs and cheaper textiles meant that fur fell out of fashion.

Fur farms in the UK and the EU

At its peak, there were 5000 fur farms in the EU. ‘The EU accounts for around 63% of global mink production and 70% of fox production,’ but some EU countries have banned or put in strict regulations to prevent the use and production of fur farms. My research did find that despite a fall in demand in the late 1900s, sales have increased because of new ways of working with fur and more disposable incomes. This may seem shocking because of the anti-fur campaigns and legislations that are present, but there are a lot of countries worldwide that still have operating fur farms.

The global fur industry is impossible to write about in one post, so I’m going to talk about the UK in particular. The UK has 2 acts that stop fur farming – the Fur Farming Prohibition Act 2000 and the Fur Farming Prohibition Act Scotland 2002. Before these acts were put in place, there were daily protests and fur farms were closed on the grounds of public morality. Mark Glover, the Director of the Respect for Animals Campaign said ‘To keep animals in such conditions in the name of fashion is totally unacceptable in a civilised society.’ But what exactly happens in fur farms?

Behind closed doors

I don’t want to go into too much detail here but I’m going to leave a link to the Fur Free Alliance page that gives more details about what happens on these farms.

The animals that are bred and killed for fur are kept in battery cages and killed inhumanely. There have been reports done that show the animals on these farms have abnormal behavioural problems and are put under an unimaginable amount of physical and mental stress. People have suggested more humane methods of killing for fur, but anti-fur campaigners object to this as there is no ‘humane’ way to kill an animal for the sake of fashion. They also object to faux fur as it still promotes fur as a fashion accessory.

https://www.furfreealliance.com/fur-farming/

Sustainability and alternatives

Interestingly, there is large debate about whether fur is cruel or eco-friendly. Pro-fur campaigners argue that fur is natural and sustainable, helping control wild animal population. However, it is clear that the majority of fur comes from farming and not wild trapping. Fur farming, despite being unethical, is argued to be sustainable because of its use of by-products to create more energy. The production of faux fur needs 20x the amount of energy that fur farms need, as well as chemicals and a longer production process.

But, anti-fur organisations presented evidence that the fur industry is in fact very damaging to the environment. The process can produce atmospheric pollution and the chemicals used to preserve pelts and prevent moulding or decomposition can be highly toxic. These toxins pollute rivers and damage ecosystems, and have a damaging effect on those that live near the factories – research has shown that those who live near tanneries are more likely to develop cancer.

Which brands still use fur?

The Humane Society has a page that gives a list of brands that are fur-free and those that aren’t: here’s the link.

I wanted to touch upon one brand in particular that has always been surrounded in controversy because of their use of fur – Canada Goose.

Canada Goose uses down and coyote fur for their coats as they believe it provides the best insulation for cold climates. On their site, one word keeps popping up – ‘ethical.’ They argue that the way they source their down and fur is ethical and they do not kill in an inhumane way. You are free to take that as you will, but I personally don’t believe that trapping and killing for a coat is very ethical.

Canada Goose has released statements to prove that they do not use barbaric ways to capture coyotes, but their statements can be dissected very easily and can be seen as very misinforming. They argue that they do not use traditional leg traps; however, these types of traps are still legal in Canada. Interestingly, they then go on to say that the animals caught in leg traps ‘wait quietly’ until the trapper arrives. They say that these methods are no longer used, but provide no evidence of their current methods of trapping.

Their claims have been expertly dissected by The Fur-Bearers here.

My thoughts

If you strip back to the simplest way of looking at fur in the industry, it seems intriguing. – wearing a naturally occurring material that will last for decades. However, you cannot ignore the details. Fur is not needed in an industry that is producing more sustainable materials. Yes, it is naturally occurring but that is no argument when that naturally occurring material is from a living animal. The argument that it is sustainable isn’t tangible to me; the chemicals that are used on the furs are certainly not eco-friendly. The fashion industry is so creative and innovative, so I believe that it definitely has the ability to create other methods to produce materials that replicate fur but not at the expense of the animals. I have to agree with Mark Glover’s comments; it’s not acceptable for the industry to use such conditions, and personally, I am surprised that the industry is even connecting itself to such a horrifying prospect.

It is a huge debate and it’s still ongoing, but it’s promising to see that more designers are coming forward with an anti-fur statement. In 2018, 86% of brands didn’t feature fur in their SS18 collections. Designers like Versace, Gucci, Tom Ford, and Michael Kors came forward to condemn the use of fur in the industry. Donatella Versace put it simply: ‘Fur? I’m out of that…I don’t want to kill animals to make fashion. It doesn’t feel right.’

I completely agree with the use of fur by indigenous groups etc. but I don’t think there is a need for it in the modern fashion industry. I believe the industry is clever enough to look for alternatives or eventually stray away from fur and faux fur completely. At the London College of Fashion, Rob Phillips introduced anti-fur modules, challenging his students to think innovatively about alternatives. Faux fur is not a sustainable solution, but as the industry progresses, eco-friendly alternatives will present themselves.

S x

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fur_clothing

Fur Farming Europe

The Early History of Fur in Fashion

https://theecologist.org/2012/apr/10/cruel-or-eco-friendly-fur-ultimate-sustainable-material

Victoria Magrath, The New Fashion Rules. (London, Harper Collins Publishers; 2018).

Vivienne’s political fashion

In August 2018, I took a trip to the V&A for their ‘Fashioned From Nature’ exhibition. I initially went for Dissertation research as it showcased Victorian Fashion, but the exhibition also included how the industry is damaging the environment as well as how the industry is creating sustainable alternatives. But, my favourite part of the exhibition had to be Vivienne Westwood’s political fashion.

Vivienne is a designer known for her avant-garde fashion. She is against consumerism and uses her fashion to fight against climate change and global warming. Her ‘activism is rooted in practicality,’ and her runway shows are not merely a showcasing of clothes, but a political message. Vivienne grew up during the war and had to live with rationing, making her a ‘naturally frugal and unwasteful person.’ She uses her power as a designer to highlight the damaging nature of the industry and redefined the fashion world with her activism.

Vivienne

Fashioned From Nature Exhibition August 2018

Vivienne’s designs present a clear message. It isn’t really about the clothes, but the message they portray. I remember watching the AW19 show at LFW and being in awe. It was so unlike any show I had watched before. Each model spoke about the current political and social climate, showing just how important it is to Vivienne that she uses her platform to speak on such issues. The show highlighted so many topics, like Brexit, the #MeToo movement, and of course, sustainability and consumption. One model said ‘Fashion is all about styling, buy less, choose well, make it last.’ Vivienne didn’t stop there. She announced that she was aiming to raise £100million to save the rainforest! I’ll link the full show below because you don’t want to miss it.

I’ve always been intrigued by Vivienne and her political fashion. I can’t wait to see what collections we see in the future.

S x

Sources:

https://www.vogue.co.uk/article/vivienne-westwood-london-fashion-week-2019-political-talking-points

Linda Watson, Vogue on Vivienne Westwood, (London: Conde Nast Publication LTD, 2013).

Are trends a thing of the past?

When we talk about clothes, we might describe them as ‘trendy’ or ‘in trend.’ Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about why we have them. Trends have been around since clothes have existed, and they are constantly changing. I wrote my Dissertation about Fashion in Victorian Literature, and it became clear that trends have been around for a long time. In the 19th-Century, women’s magazines and novels told readers what clothes were being worn by middle and upper-class women. Today, we see trends everywhere. They are hard to escape, so we are all sucked into the desire or need to keep up with these trends. Like fashion, people also evolve. We are influenced by popular culture and advertisements and have a desire to fit into society. Fear of isolation or ‘not fitting in’ means we succumb to trends and evolve alongside them.

In simple terms, trends mean consumerism. The constant changing of styles means we consume more, believing that it will contribute to our social status. However, following trends means spending money and contributing to the fashion industry. Therefore, the industry has a profit to create more styles and new trends, leading us to spend more money. It is a cycle that is in constant motion. This cycle leads to a lot of waste and unused clothing because we are constantly consuming.

Advertisement has changed since the digital era began, and this means that trends are speeding up. The industry has strayed from the traditional bi-annual trends and we are seeing more frequent changes. It seems like there are new trends every week and it is a lot to keep up with.

So, should trends be a thing of the past?

It is true that trends promote fast-fashion, but I don’t think they should be stopped. Instead, I think we should use the power of trends to promote slow-fashion and ‘forever’ clothes. VEJA is famous for having no advertisement, and they create shoes that will be worn in decades to come. They don’t follow trends but use initiative to create products that will never ‘go out of fashion.’ In terms of popular culture, I can already see more of a shift. Yes, there are celebs that promote trends daily, but I can see more influencers promoting sustainable brands and straying from fast-fashion promotion.

In today’s climate, fighting against trends and promoting clothes that will be ‘fashionable’ for decades to come is more beneficial. As conversations about fast-fashion get bigger, slow-fashion and outfit-repeating may become a trend that sticks.

S x

Sources:

https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/intelligence/fashion-trends-still-exist

Primark: ‘affordability equals frivolity’

I’ve been reading Victoria Magrath’s ‘The New Fashion Rules,’ a book about how the fashion world has transformed in today’s digital era. After reading a chapter about fast fashion brands and why their cheap clothes produce a lot of waste, I scrolled through Twitter and came across a tweet praising Primark for their new sustainable clothing lines. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of Primark due to their previous scandals surrounding labour rights and working conditions, but I wanted to read more about what this international fast-fashion brand was doing to be more sustainable.

Primark are a major high-street brand that is surviving the rise of online shopping. Magrath puts it simply: ‘affordability often equals frivolity.’ Consumers that shop at Primark and the like will often impulse buy, wear the clothes a handful of times, and then throw it away. This contributes to the staggering amount of clothes that go unused or end up in landfill: ‘The value of unused clothing in wardrobes has been estimated at around £30 billion. It is also estimated £140 million worth of clothing goes to landfill each year.’

Now, Primark has taken some steps to appear more sustainable. The keyword – ‘appear.’

What steps do they take to be more sustainable?

Primark are a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and have initiatives in place that try to tackle their impact on the environment. However, their initiatives are very vague, with no reduction targets. They have a huge carbon footprint and the lack of transparency is not good enough. Despite being apart of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, they continue to use non-sustainable materials and produce staggering quantities of clothes that go unsold and wasted. Their sustainable lines make little impact when they are sold amongst clothes that are so damaging to the environment. I have previously discussed my opinion of fast-fashion brands that create sustainable lines, and I sincerely believe that it is ultimately a publicity stunt. I have also talked about how hard it is to be a 100% sustainable business; however, Primark is one of the biggest international brands but they’re very vague on their initiatives, leading me to believe that they’re not taking any major steps to be more eco-friendly. Their FAQ page quickly revealed that despite these initiatives, they are not fairtrade and do not source materials directly (non-sustainable).

Who makes the clothes?

Since becoming more involved with sustainability, I have thought more and more about where clothes come from. I think it is really important to think before you buy – think about the journey of the item and who made them. In previous years, Primark has come under scrutiny for the working conditions overseas. On the Primark website, they provide an FAQ page about their factory workers. Reading through, it is clear that they have expertly worded their answers to avoid any scandal. One question reads ‘How do you make sure that factory workers in your supply chain are paid a fair wage?’ This question, along with 5 other questions all had the same sentence: ‘we do not own the factories.’ This effectively means, they cannot ensure that labour rights, working condition standards, living wage standards are met. In short, they are passing off any responsibility for the squalid conditions and less-than-living wage that their workers receive. Despite saying on the page that they are a part of the Ethical Trading Initiative, their code of conduct does not ensure that the workers are getting the living wage.

Does Primark use animal products in their clothes?

Primark don’t use fur in their products; however, they do use leather and wool. In my Allbirds post, I spoke about their wool products, praising them for their transparency of where their wool is sourced and the production of it. It is not surprising that Primark provide no information about where their leather and wool is sourced, and it is also interesting that they have an FAQ question only specifically mentioning mohair – what about the leather and wool you do use?

So what does this all mean?

Ultimately, Primark need to be transparent. Instead of simply stating that you are a part of multiple initiatives, what do these involve and what steps are you personally taking to make a change? The vagueness surrounding these initiatives lead me to assume that they don’t really care. I’m not surprised that they don’t really care because money is the only thing on their mind. It wouldn’t take much to be more transparent, so I think it is safe to assume that these initiatives are a (failed) attempt to appear more eco-friendly.

It would be easy to see their sustainable line and praise them for it and go on with your day, but in reality, they are a fast-fashion brand. They are battling with the digital era, and the high-street is failing. Releasing sustainable lines is a very clever tactic to appear ‘with the times,’ but if you do a bit of digging, it isn’t all it seems. In today’s society, we are constantly surrounded by signs and signals that are subconsciously fed to us. I believe we have become a passive society, accepting things as they appear. But it is time to wake up and think. Don’t believe everything you see.

S x

Sources:

How Ethical Is Primark?

http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/clothing-waste-prevention

Magrath, V. The New Fashion Rules, (London: Harper Collins, 2018)

 

BRAND WATCH: ALLBIRDS

In October 2018, Allbirds opened its first London store in Covent Garden. I first saw them on Instagram and decided to do some more research on the ‘world’s most comfortable shoe.’

Allbirds sell shoes, socks, and other accessories. But, what caught my attention was their wool runner shoe. This shoe was the first style sold by Allbirds, so I thought I’d focus in on this particular shoe.

At first glance, the wool runner does not look like your conventional shoe. You can see it is made from wool, but its style is athletic but casual. The shoe also has no logo, which I like as it adds to the sleekness of the design. Even on appearance, they look very comfortable and after reading reviews, they seem to live up to their claim.

Image result for allbirds wool runners

I read more about where their wool is from and how it is produced as well as the benefits for the consumer. The wool comes from New Zealand Merino sheep, known for being super soft and breathable. On the website, it says that:

In New Zealand, sheep outnumber humans about six to one. Thanks to their wool, our process uses 60% less energy than materials used in typical synthetic shoes.

The wool from these sheep is put through a mill and made super fine – each strand is 20% the diameter of a human hair! Its laces are made from recycled plastic bottles, whilst the insoles are made from castor bean oil. But Allbirds doesn’t stop there; its packaging is made from 90% recycled cardboard. I love the attention to detail in each step, from production to consumption.

Now, onto why this shoe is beneficial for the consumer. Not only does investing in this shoe mean that you lower your carbon footprint (I’m sold already), but the wool is super breathable so you can even wear them sockless without the fear of odour! The wool is also temperature-regulating, so it’ll keep you cool in summer and warm in winter. There are so many benefits to this shoe so, in my opinion, the price is worth it. The only downside I came across whilst researching was that they can attract dirt easily (wool often does), but every review that mentioned this also said that they were super easy to wipe and wash!

I’ve said it before, but I really admire brands that have sustainability at its heart. I think utilising resources that mother nature has given us, and use them to their full potential shows how incredible nature actually is. Wool has so many exceptional qualities that make it a super sustainable material. There is debate surrounding wool in regards to ethicality; however, my research on Allbirds wool runners has shown that their sheep are cared for and I think that it is proven by the amazing wool that they produce.

Allbirds have loads of other styles of shoe made from other materials, so please check them out. Have a good Thursday everyone, and I’ll be back soon with another Brand Watch!

S x

https://www.allbirds.com/

Striking, Stopshop, & (not) shopping

After my time at the Sustainable Fashion Event, I decided to spend the next day with my best friend looking around Brick Lane (shoutout to Kathy for housing me for the evening). I’d been to Brick Lane before, but never really to thrift shop. On Friday (20th), it was the first day of the Global Climate Strike, so on our way to Brick Lane, we decided to pop by and see what was going on.

Climate Strike

I anticipated that Westminster would be busy, so it was no surprise that when we arrived at the Tube station, it was rammed. As soon as we stepped off the Tube, we saw signs and schoolkids striking, and it immediately put a smile on my face. I’ve seen quite a few people online saying that these kids should be in school. but it seems obvious as to why they aren’t. They’re striking because it depends on their future. What is a few days off school when our whole ecosystem is failing? I was also happy to see schools at the strike, sending a clear message to the government and those in power that schools are supporting their students. We decided to sit down outside of Parliament and just watch the world go by. We saw so many amazing signs and were really happy to see so many people coming together. But, it was bittersweet. Sat next to us was a child with her family and she was holding a sign. As soon as we saw the sign, it hit us. We’re striking for our future. If change doesn’t happen now, then we won’t be around for long. Seeing that child and her sign was very poignant and we asked for a photo – they agreed. I also saw a sign protesting fast fashion and had to take a photo for this post.

It’s hard to stay hopeful in times like these, but seeing so many people coming together was really really nice. Some say that ignorance is bliss, and reading about the statistics is chilling, but there’s no time to be ignorant. We have to educate ourselves and others and make enough noise so those in power listen.

Brick Lane 4Brick Lane 8

Brick Lane Vintage Market

I’m proud to say I stuck to my vow of not shopping this month, but I have to admit that I was so tempted. There will definitely be plenty more trips to Brick Lane and more thrift shops closer to home once this month ends. I contemplated writing this post when I didn’t actually buy anything, but I wanted to talk about what I saw on my trip. I’ve spoken a little about thrifting before and how there should be a stigma around buying ‘second-hand.’ I think it’s becoming more popular to shop on sites like depop and find treasures in charity and vintage stores. I found a few gems on my trip that I wanted to talk about.

On one stall, I saw old Ralph Lauren shirts that had been made into pinafore dresses. I saw (and loved) the basketball jerseys that had been made into co-ords. My all-time favourite thrift shop items are the button-down shirts that have been cropped and elasticated at the bottom. The classic tartan trousers are one of my favourites along with the embroidered and painted denim and leather jackets.

These clothes aren’t only given a new lease of life but they’ve been upcycled into unique pieces. It was so cool to see so many amazing pieces but it was soo hard to not buy anything. With one more week left of no shopping, I am counting down the days until I can start thrifting. But, as I add to my wardrobe, I need to do a cleanse. I’m going to be starting a depop this week and I want to start upcycling my clothes. I was never the best at textiles at school, but it’s a little challenge to myself I guess.

I got a few photos throughout the day that I thought I’d share:

 

 

This was such a good day and even though I didn’t buy anything, I thought I’d share it with you all 🙂 Hope you enjoyed and hopefully there will be more posts about my future finds at thrift stores.

S x

Kathy’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kathyluckhurst/?hl=en

My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shaelei_/?hl=en

BRAND WATCH: VEJA

Over the past few months, I have been hearing more and more about Veja. My friends love the brand and I’ve even had a request to write a post about them. So I went onto their website and did some research. Before I start, I want to say that Veja is one of the most transparent brands I have come across. They provide every little bit of information about how their shoes are made and they’re ongoing search to be as sustainable as they can be. There’s so much info on their website so I’m not going to go into every detail but I’ll focus on what I found most interesting!

The main thing I took from my research was that they take their time. Their shoes take 5-7x longer to design and make because they take every step to be as sustainable as possible. Veja produced the first post-petroleum running shoe, which took 4 years to create. The time Veja take makes them an extremely innovative brand, creating shoes that are firsts for the industry.

Veja Official Site

V-10 Vegan White sneakers (Petale, White, Emeraude Black)

After browsing on their website, I really like the style of the V-10’s. The different colour logos on the upper is cool and I like the heel. They would be super easy to style and look really comfy and they’re 100% vegan! The panels are made from corn-starch waste (C.W.L) and vegan suede. The rubber insoles come from wild rubber which they sourced from the Amazon Rainforest – they purchased wild rubber which, in turn, preserves part of the Rainforest.

One thing that stood out to me from looking at their project on the website, is their fight for fairtrade. They purchase their cotton and rubber directly from producers and not through big companies. This means that the producers have a higher income and have the safety of knowing that they are working closely with a brand that has fairtrade at its heart. The contracts between Veja and the producers mean that they know how much money they will get before they even plant a seed (!)

I have mentioned before that being a 100% sustainable business is very difficult and can cost a lot of money. Veja has come across these obstacles and they are very clear about what changes they have made within their production. In the chapter ‘Limits,’ they talk about what changes they have made throughout their process. For example, they began using natural dyes made from plants, but the quality of colour wasn’t up to scratch. They begun using conventional dyes after 2013, but they ensure that they meet European REACH standards. (REACH stands for ‘Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. It is a regulation that discusses the production and use of chemicals as well as the impacts on humans and the environment). Another obstacle they came across was the use of leather. From 2008 to 2015, Veja used vegetable-tanned leather; however, this meant increased costs and lower quality. Following REACH standards, 90% of Veja products aren’t vegetable-tanned. But, they do not contain Chrome VI. (This chemical is a big topic when it comes to the leather industry, and from my quick research, there is a myriad of health and environmental issues caused by this chemical). Despite this shift, they are still actively seeking a more environmentally-friendly alternative. C.W.L is the corn-starch waste alternative to leather that Veja use in some of their shoes, but it isn’t viable in the present day to produce this on a bigger scale.

There was a lot of chapters on the different materials they source and the people they work with the make their products fairtrade. But, one chapter, in particular, caught my attention. They introduced it with an interesting statistic that ‘70% of the cost of a normal big sneaker brand is related to the advertising.’ It probably shouldn’t come as much of a shock to me that this much money is spent on ads but at first it did. Veja, unlike any other brand I’ve come across, have eliminated marketing costs by not advertising (ambassadors, billboards, adverts). This meant the 70% of money usually spent on ads is spent on the creation of their products, researching more innovative alternatives, ensuring fairtrade products, and making sure that they have excellent working conditions. The elimination of advertising costs also means that, despite taking 5-7x longer to produce, the shoes are sold at the same price as other big shoe brands!

I really respect how clear Veja is by having all of their information regarding production on their website. They are constantly seeking more viable and eco-friendly alternatives, but as previously said, it is very expensive for businesses to be 100% sustainable. We have to give credit to brands that are actively seeking alternatives whilst being transparent on their products that aren’t currently 100% sustainable. They end their ‘Limits’ chapter by mentioning Overconsumption, and I think it’s a good note to end on:

While we’re proud of our sneakers and the way we make them, other questions beg to be answered. Do we really need to buy so many pairs of shoes? We’re aware our product is fashionable but is it necessary to fetishize them in such a way? To always own the latest style?

S x

https://project.veja-store.com/en/intro/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sustainable Fashion Event: My Thoughts

Since I’ve graduated, I’ve had a lot more free time. A lot of this time is spent applying for jobs and internships or writing posts. I wanted to find out more about the industry and listen to people that are working toward a more eco-friendly future.

On Thursday, I headed into London for Jenny Garcia and Poppy Delbridge’s Sustainable Fashion Event at Push PR London. Jenny is Ex-Head of Buying at Topshop and is now a Brand and Wardrobe Consultant, Mentor, and Stylist. Poppy is a Personal Coach, Mentor, and Founder of Slay Retreats. It was inspiring listening to a group of incredible women who are each doing their bit to ensure a more sustainable future for the fashion industry. During the event, there was the opportunity to buy second-hand or ‘preloved’ clothes, but I had to avoid temptation and keep to my vow of not shopping during September.

I made a few notes during the event about what was discussed (which was a lot), and it was interesting to hear opinions from not only the panel but attendees about what the industry can do to make a change. I’m going to talk about a few of the topics from the talk and my thoughts about them, so I apologise if this post is a continuous stream of thought.

As some of you may know, Zara has vowed to be 100% sustainable by 2025. When I first heard, I was very impressed and excited to hear more about it. But on reflection, I may have been a little naive. After listening to the panel, I had to question whether this announcement was a sincere attempt at changing the industry, or if it was merely a PR stunt. The announcement got a lot of press which makes me wonder whether, in 2025, they will have stuck to their promise. I guess we will have to wait and see.

During the panel discussion, someone asked: ‘why don’t big high-street brands listen when it comes to sustainability?’ Put simply, it isn’t in their best interest. When that question was posed, all I could see in my head was one word: money. Big companies need to make money and becoming sustainable when you are a hugely popular and established brand is extremely hard. Brands like H&M and Primark have released clothing lines that are produced with sustainable sources, but it seems very hypocritical. Yes, having sustainably sourced clothing is great, but when they are amongst hundreds and thousands of other non-sustainable products, it seems pretty meaningless. However, it is a huge risk for brands to change their production and become 100% sustainable. A lot of brands might not survive this societal shift into a more sustainable way of living, which is very scary. But, in today’s climate, risks need to be taken. We need to break conventionality because it is worth the risk.

I have previously spoken about denim in my posts because it is an extremely unsustainable fabric. I was pleased to hear that Levis has researched and found ways to produce sustainable denim and cotton. The information that they have discovered from these investigations has been shared with the rest of the denim industry. Therefore, other companies don’t need to spend money on their own investigations but can immediately start considering new ways to be more sustainable. More brands need to take a leaf out of Levi’s book. This all takes time, and as much as I love complaining about the industry for being so unsustainable, it needs time to reconsider and be more innovative.

A big topic of conversation during the panel discussion was the power of entertainment, and how it can be used to promote a more sustainable way of consuming. Poppy previously worked for Warner Bros. and this topic reminded her of a conversation she had. Throughout the Friends series, smoking was shown to be disgusting, with all the Friends telling Chandler off every time he began smoking again. This subtle and repetitive storyline fed a message to viewers about smoking, and people actually stopped smoking because of Friends. This led to a discussion about whether entertainment is the route to go down in order to promote preloved shopping and sustainable consumption. It is an interesting point that is evident when it comes to the opposite – the promotion of fast fashion.

I love ITV’s Love Island, but I am about to criticise it (sorry not sorry). This year the show was sponsored by I Saw it First, a Manchester-based brand. Every episode you can see the Islanders wearing a new bikini every day and a new outfit every evening. There are constant adverts promoting the show, but more importantly, the clothes the islanders were wearing. With one click of a button, you could shop the exact outfits that your favourite islander wore. Huge billboards across the UK advertised the fast-fashion brand in collaboration with Love Island, showing that you can easily keep up with the current poolside and evening trends. When I’ve watched Love Island, it has always sat uncomfortably with me that the show is so heavily connected with fast-fashion brands. You won’t see the islanders wear the same outfit twice and your Instagram feed quickly becomes crowded with the newest outfits on I Saw it First. The show is watched by millions and its promotion of fast-fashion is so disheartening. Even post-Love Island, so many contestants will sign brand deals and become ambassadors for fast-fashion brands and be paid up to £1million to promote them. In today’s climate, this level of brand awareness is dangerous. I truly believe that influencers and reality TV stars should use their platform to promote sustainable living, preloved shopping, and outfit repeating! I am fed up of seeing gifted and paid partnerships with fast fashion brands. Yes, I understand that this is a way to promote your online brand but I think it is way more beneficial to promote more independent brands that pride themselves on sustainability. It would also surely be more admirable? I have recently done an Instagram cleanse and unfollowed influencers that constantly promote fast-fashion brands. But, I’m already converted to shopping more sustainably. People that follow influencers and previous Love Island contestants may be younger and more impressionable. I certainly used to be; at Uni, I really thought that I needed a new outfit for every event that I attended. In reality, does anyone remember what I’ve worn for the past 3 years? Nope.

Before I go on a huge rant, I’m going to move on. The day after the event was the Global Climate Strike, and we began talking about which generations are the most impressionable. At first, we talked about whether schools needed to have focus days or talks about sustainable fashion and plastic-free living, but we realised that schools already have way too much on their plate. Also, it turns out kids are the ones educating older generations. Not only do young teens shop on sites like Depop, but they’re already taught about living eco-friendly at school. I went to the Global Climate Strike in London the next day (another post coming about that) and have to say that there were so many children and young teens marching and protesting. So, I don’t think it’s kids that need to be targeted here. They are the most impressionable, but they already know that their future is at risk and they must fight for it.

I previously touched upon my very unsustainable way of living at University. As soon as that first loan drops, the world (of online shopping) is your oyster. I bought new outfits for each event and SU night, unaware that I was contributing to a very unsustainable industry. I reflected on my time at University and realised that University students are probably the group to talk to when it comes to this topic. Perhaps there could be flyers or online posts on move-in days about how to deal with that first big loan drop, and how to put it to good use. I wish someone had told me to think about what I was buying and where it really came from. Now I’ve graduated, I have outfits that I will never wear again, but with my fresh outlook, I’m in the process of making a Depop account and selling them on (hopefully to Uni students who will then sell them on or re-wear them)!

When I first heard about the strikes and protests, I thought ‘is that really going to work?’ But this event taught me to make noise. Staying silent will have no effect, so the more noise you make, the more people will hear. And the more people that hear, the more people will listen.

I’m planning on attending more events like these and writing more posts about them! Thanks for taking time out of your day to read my thoughts, I really appreciate it.

Thank you to Jenny, Poppy, and Push PR. I really recommend attending events like these if you want to learn more about sustainable fashion!

S x

Jenny’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jennysuegarcia/?hl=en

Poppy’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/poppydelbridge/?hl=en

Push PR London’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pushprlondon/?hl=en

My London Fashion Week with Fashion Scout

This is going to be a long one so prepare yourself.

A week ago, I tweeted that I really wanted to go to London Fashion Week, but as a recent graduate that is currently unemployed, the prospect of going was very slim. As much as I wanted to go, I couldn’t really justify forking out over £100 to go. Later that evening, I got a message inviting me to Fashion Scout’s LFW event with Toni & Guy. Not only would I get the opportunity to see couture designers, but I would be given a hair treatment by Toni & Guy beforehand. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Harriet for inviting me, it was an incredible experience and I am very blessed that she thought to ask me. (I’ll tag her Instagram and Blog at the end of this post).

As I said in a previous post, I’m not shopping for the month of September. So, I decided to root through my wardrobe for something Fashion Week appropriate. I came across a Jaded LDN suit I had worn to a University Boat party and knew that it would be perfect. I paired the blazer and trousers with a black crop top and AJ Voyage boots. I wanted to be as comfortable as possible, so heels weren’t an option for me. When I bought this suit, I contemplated sending it back because I thought ‘when am I ever going to wear this again?’ But, I thought that one day I would regret not having such a stunning piece in my closet, and vowed to wear it at every opportunity I got.

On the second day, I woke up with an idea for an outfit. I was planning on wearing a floral pink dress with my AJ Voyage boots. It was just my luck that the dress was super short. I wasn’t prepared to get my bum out at LFW, so I put it in my donations pile and searched for more options. I was back to square one and tried on another 3 outfits with no success. I think another closet cleanse is in need, and I guarantee there will be a big pile that will go to charity shops and to companies that will recycle and re-use the fabrics. I finally settled on an Urban Outfitter jumpsuit that was at the bottom of my drawer. It never crossed my mind to wear it to LFW, but with my boots, it was actually perfect. The jumpsuit was a good combination of smart and casual and was also super comfy. I love the pattern on the fabric, so I am thinking of making it into a co-ord rather than a jumpsuit. But with no experience with textiles and design, I’m going to have to do major research before I make the first cut. If I’m successful, I will definitely write a post about how I did it (unlikely – I’ll probably send it to a seamstress because I have no idea where to start). I found the jumpsuit online but unfortunately, it’s no longer available.

Outfit Repeating isn’t bad, it shows that not only can you style outfits in a number of ways, but you care about the environment and give your clothes the life that it should have.

Now onto the important bit – the designers.

Simon Mo

Graduating with a BA in Womenswear from Central Saint Martins in 2012, Simon Mo is a unique designer that is inspired by nature and eco-friendly fashion. He is an environmentalist and is against the use of real fur for fashion. His SS20 show was bright and colourful, with the models having a fun, crimped hairstyle with neon coloured hairbands. Some wore light-up glasses which added to this bright theme. The glittery make-up with the starry clothing and the pyjamas with slippers was the perfect depiction of ‘The End of the Night.’

The event on Sunday was ‘Seven Continents of Fashion.’ This celebrated designers from across the globe, coming together to present their couture womenswear clothes.

In Couture by Kiwi

This Turkish brand showcased their ‘Velvet’ collection at this year’s LFW. It celebrated feminine women with a collection of evening gowns that we absolutely stunning. The detail and talent that went into designing and creating this collection was inspiring. The dresses certainly left an impression – I can’t stop thinking about them!

By Thaher

Thaher Baqer is from Kuwait, and he presented his ‘Private Collection’ this year. It is inspired by the 1920’s and again, celebrates luxury womenswear. Like In Couture, Baqer focussed on femininity and the beauty of the female body.

Kartikeya

This Indian brand is named after the Hindu God of War. The clothes presented were classic Indian styles and patterns but with a touch of modernity. Fashion Scout describes this debut collection as ‘heavily inspired by its founder’s dabble in theatre and film.’

Nila Baharuddin

Making her debut at London Fashion Week AW19, Nila Baharuddin is an international designer and visual merchandiser. Her SS20 collection is a sustainable eco-positive collection called ‘Issues.’ Like the other designers, this collection empowers and celebrates women. She represents different cultures, with modesty of Muslim clothing as well as Indonesian design elements. It shows the variety of femininity in a sustainable way, which was incredible to see.

The whole weekend was amazing, and it was so exciting to see designers that have created collections with sustainability in mind. I hope you enjoyed this post, I definitely enjoyed writing it! Here’s to the first of many more Fashion Weeks!

S x

References and Links:

https://fashionscout.co.uk/ss20-schedule

https://www.instagram.com/hxrrietday/?hl=en

http://harrietday.com/

Suit Jacket: https://jadedldn.com/products/sequin-stripe-velvet-suit-jacket?

Suit Trousers: https://jadedldn.com/products/sequin-stripe-velvet-wide-leg-trousers?

Black Boots: https://ajvoyage.co.uk/products/take-it-chunky-platform-lace-up-ankle-boots-black-croc?

 

Brand Watch: TENCEL

This Brand Watch post is a little different. Instead of a clothing brand, I’m going to be talking about a brand that produces Lyocell and modal fibres that are made into fabrics for clothes. I can hear you asking what on earth is lyocell and modal? Well, I had the same question and I’ll hopefully dissect my research and translate it into layman’s terms. (Tencel is another name for Lyocell but is also the brand name for the company Lenzing).

What is Lyocell?

Lyocell is a manufactured fibre. It is similar to cotton and linen and can have a similar texture to leather, suede, and even silk.  Tencel produces their Lyocell fibres from sustainably sourced wood. The process of making Lyocell is more expensive than cotton but is more eco-friendly. The process involves using a substance that dissolves cellulose which is found in all plant cells. The product of this dissolving can then be made into man-made fibres. This process is also used to make paper. These fibres can then be combined with other textiles. Tencel says that ‘Lyocell fibres lead to their great strength, efficient moisture absorption and gentleness to skin.’

What is Modal?

Modal is a type of rayon (a versatile fibre). Modal is produced by spinning cellulose that had previously restored back into its original state. It is mainly made from beech trees. Like Lyocell, it can be mixed with other fibres (cotton/spandex). Modal is a stronger fibre – it can be tumble dried and machine washed without creating bobbles or snags. Tencel produces Modal fibres to ‘improve [the] softness and comfort of the fabrics.’

Are these fibres more sustainable?

The simple answer is yes. I went onto Tencel’s website to see how these fibres are more sustainable. The production of these fibres is integrated into the natural cycle. If you want to find out more about the process then I’ll leave a link here.

These fibres are made into so many different items of clothing. Not only are the fibres eco-friendly, but the fabrics they are made into last longer and have beneficial properties to the consumer.

I hope you enjoyed this slightly different post!

S x

Sources:

https://www.lenzing.com/products/tencel-tm/

https://www.tencel.com/

https://www.undershirts.co.uk/blogs/research/viscose-vs-modal-vs-lyocell

https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-wash-modal-clothes-2145794

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