Subscription vs. Rentals

Victoria Prew, Co-Founder and CEO of HURR has said that renting clothes will eventually replace fast fashion. HURR launched this year and allows users to rent and lend their clothes, making it environmentally and economically beneficial. Renting clothes is still in its infancy in the UK, but it is slowly becoming more popular. However, there is another way of consumption that is attempting to drown out this sustainable way of shopping.

What is a clothing subscription?

A clothing subscription is a service that allows you to have clothes sent to you (usually monthly). You then pay for what you want to keep and send the rest back. It’s similar to personal shopping but the styling is done through an online profile. It’s convenient and takes place in the comfort of your own home, so its popularity is no surprise.

Why are subscriptions bad for the environment?

This way of consuming is nothing more than giving in to fast fashion. Yes, it is a convenient way of consuming, but it promotes fashion as easily disposable. In an industry where the estimated worth of clothes that end up in landfill is £140million each year, it isn’t clever to have a service that allows you to easily dispose of clothes you don’t want. Not only does the issue lie with the fast fashion industry itself, but also the logistics of the service. Shipping to individual homes and shipping back to the company is incredibly bad for the environment. Transportation of goods contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and WHO (World Health Organisation) have stated that it’s the ‘fastest-growing contributor to climate emissions.’

I was sent an article by The Sun promoting a new pyjama subscription that sends a ‘care package’ every month to your front door. Their excuse is ‘JOMO’ (joy of missing out) It’s one thing to look after yourself, but surely you don’t need a new pair of PJs every month in order to do that. I am all for self-care, but it is no longer self-care when what you’re doing is investing in something so damaging for the environment. How about watching a movie, reading a book, or listening to a podcast? Instead of being sent new clothing each month, wear PJs you already own, grab a hot drink and make use of what you already have in your wardrobe.

Are rentals any better than subscription boxes?

Shipping clothes does contribute to global climate emissions, so at first, I did question whether rentals were more sustainable than subscriptions. But, fashion’s biggest issue is overproduction and overconsumption. Renting clothes promotes sharing your wardrobe and making the most of your clothes. Renting allows clothes to have a longer lifespan, so they don’t end up on landfill. ELLE discussed the pros and cons of renting services but it is a step forward to a more sustainable industry. Renting is certainly more sustainable than subscription boxes, but as ELLE points out, it isn’t inherently sustainable. However, in a world that is relying so heavily on fossil fuels, it is virtually impossible for each individual to be 100% sustainable. Reducing your carbon footprint and using services which are more eco-friendly is far better than using traditional methods. Adopting small changes makes a bigger difference than you may know, and if everyone makes these small changes, it will have a greater effect.

Is it possible to make rentals even more sustainable?

The simple answer is yes. I have recently written an article for a magazine (I’ll post on my Instagram when it’s published) and came across MUD Jeans. They have an extremely innovative system that allows you to rent but with fewer transportation emissions. MUD Jeans allows you to rent a pair of jeans and these jeans can be kept until you no longer want them/they’ve worn out/don’t fit. The consumer sends the jeans back and MUD recycles them and makes a new pair of jeans. Yes, there are still some emissions from the shipping out and return shipping, but it is far less than subscription or regular renting services. They promote a circular way of consuming so the journey from production to consumption is as sustainable as can be.

Renting is clearly more sustainable than subscription services, but perhaps making the most of the wardrobe you already have and donating/buying second-hand is a more sustainable option. But for that special occasion, renting may be your best bet!

S x

Boycotting Black Friday

Black Friday has become increasingly popular in the UK in recent years. In 2016, the total spending on online retail stores was £1.23bn. Surprisingly, it seems that this year fewer Brits will take part in Black Friday, but there are still up to £5billion being spent during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

It is tempting to spend your money on Black Friday sales, but are the deals just a big scam? The Consumer Group found that there were ‘few genuine deals,’ and most ‘deals’ are cheaper in the six months before and the six months after Black Friday. It may be obvious, but brands simply want people to consume more over this period for their own financial gain. The spike in sales not only hurts your bank account, but it is detrimental to the environment. Instead of consuming more, we need to think about whether we actually need anything or we’re just being pulled into the ‘sales.’

In a time where consumers buy twice as many clothes and wear them for half as long, Black Friday is just another excuse to impulse buy and consume things you don’t even need. Brands are becoming more aware that fewer people want to participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but there are few brands that are actually being transparent about what Black Friday really stands for.

Monki announced on Instagram that they wouldn’t be taking part in Black Friday:

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Boycotting Black Friday is a massive move for brands. They’re losing out on amazing sales but they’re using their platform to show their stance within the industry, proving that brands can educate their consumers by making positive change.

TALA is another brand that is boycotting Black Friday. But, TALA is closed for business, encouraging their consumers to think about Black Friday and what effect it has on our already dwindling environment.

View this post on Instagram

BLACK FRIDAY ANNOUNCEMENT and it isn’t what you think…  Hear us out. As a sustainable start-up, we invest our money in amazing high quality products and paying our staff fairly through every level of our supply chain. Instead of a sale this week (we know, we think we’re crazy too), we’ll be focusing on key issues from the fast fashion industry and the impact of Black Friday to help us all shop more sustainably and make better shopping choices. This is a huge risk, with no immediate reward. We KNOW people want to shop discounted goods on Black Friday and it has the potential to be our biggest season in terms of sales, but something needs to be done. We’re willing to take the hit to make you think twice and hope that you can support our fellow sustainable brands this Black Friday! The fast fashion industry’s business model has a sole purpose of persuading you to buy more. It’s time to get voting with your money. We want to show you and the BIG brands that you don’t need to compromise – you CAN have amazing products that don’t cost the earth and avoid adding to the problems caused by fast fashion and multiplied by Black Friday. If a company can discount all their products by 30% upwards, there’s a reason. If they can still make money with huge discounts, there’s someone (or millions of people), sacrificing their quality of life so you can add another dress to the pile. We will be closed for business on Black Friday, and encourage you to really think about what your money is supporting. We will be sharing tips on how to shop smarter whilst still getting what you need and fellow sustainable brands you can support! Our staff will be getting the day to catch up on sleep and have some well-deserved TLC. So to kick off, we’ll leave you with a few things to think about when browsing the sales this week… A third of people think that Black Friday encourages them to buy things they don’t need 🤦🏼‍♀ @hellohubbub In 2018, Black Friday saw record spending with nearly £5 billion worth of online sales alone 💰  4% of global waste – that’s nearly 84 million tonnes – is generated by the fashion industry (this is the equivalent of 6 million big bens!) ⚖ #SLOWDOWNFASTFASHION

A post shared by TALA® (@wearetala) on

In their post, TALA not only highlights the effect that fast fashion has on the environment but the unfair treatment of workers: ‘There’s someone (or millions of people), sacrificing their quality of life so you can add another dress to the pile.’ 

It’s time to show fast fashion brands that we aren’t passive, but active consumers. We can see through their deals and understand that they aren’t really beneficial for us. Seeing brands like Monki and TALA boycotting Black Friday shows us that we should think before we buy this Black Friday.

S x

 

 

The ‘Made in China’ debate

There has been a big debate on Twitter about luxury fashion brands and where they make their products. The tweet below appeared on my timeline, so I decided to do a bit of research to see whether the claim was actually true.

https://twitter.com/ghostlycouture/status/1187196429187649537

A lot of brands do indeed have factories in China because of its low cost of operation. Some companies manufacture entirely in China or partly. I want to firstly unpick the tweet before I go into what I found.

Chanel released videos showing the creation of their infamous bags. In the video, these bags were handmade by seamstresses. This video went viral with people praising it for its meticulous process; however, there was backlash due to the accusations that they are in fact manufactured in China and attach handles in France to disguise their actual origin.

There are claims that the bags are, in fact, handmade because they are haute couture. Chanel is, of course, haute couture, but with the demand being so high, it is highly unlikely that each Chanel bag is made like the video shows. The Haute Couture stores in France may have seamstresses, but on a global scale, this is unlikely. Chanel is not fast fashion, so they do not produce as many products as other brands, but they are still mass-produced.

When I did my research to find out whether Chanel did actually manufacture in China, I couldn’t find any articles. What I did find were articles refuting this claim and suggesting that Chanel is produced in France. However, if this tweet is true, then they are legally allowed to state that they manufacture in France. The replies to the tweets were interesting. There were a lot of people admitting that they already knew this but provided no information to support this claim. Another tweet provided an article about Prada’s connection to China but nothing on Chanel’s.

It is known that other luxury brands have done exactly what this tweet claims. Balenciaga’s Triple S trainers originally had a ‘Made in Italy’ label, but this was changed to a ‘Made in China’ label after they were exposed for manufacturing there. There has been uproar about luxury brands producing in China because, despite the low cost of operation, they’re still sold at the same price. Consumers believe that because of the low cost during production, the products should be cheaper.

Now, back to Chanel. This tweet made a large claim but my research didn’t seem to turn up anything about the accusation. Instead, I came across other luxury brands that manufacture in China. I’m not saying this tweet is false because it is plausible that due to the demand, Chanel does mass-produce elsewhere; however, I think with an accusation such as this, there needs to be evidence to support this claim. Seeing as other luxury brands have come under fire for doing this, it may be true that Chanel are doing the same. There are also loopholes regarding factories and workers, and many brands use external factory companies so as to not directly associate themselves with that part of the production – refer to my Primark post. Twitter is certainly a hub for news and debate, but you shouldn’t necessarily believe what you read.

I think it is very important that we consider where our clothes are coming from, not only on a sustainable level but on an ethical level too. Who is making our clothes and are they being treated fairly?

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/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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