VOGUE Forces for Change

Today I received the September Issue of VOGUE, guest-edited by Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex. Over the past week or so, there has been a lot of talk about this guest-edit and what it will entail. Before I even get to the magazine itself, I received the magazine in a new packaging that is eco-friendly and made from 100% compostable materials.

So, let’s get to the magazine itself. The cover itself is stunning, with panels of inspiring women who are today’s ‘Forces for Change.’ On the cover, you will see the likes of Greta Thunberg, Jameela Jamil, and Gemma Chan among other inspiring women. But, you will also see yourself – a reflective panel showing that YOU can be a force for change in today’s society. Before I even opened the magazine, I was confronted with a thoughtful, thought-provoking, and beautiful cover.

What I’ve noticed over the past few months in each issue, is the ever-increasing discussion about ethical and sustainable fashion. In the editor and guest-editor letters, you can see the thought and process behind this issue, from Edward and Meghan’s first coffee to Meghan’s interview with Michelle Obama. Ellie Pithers writes an interesting edit about labels that are producing environmentally-conscious clothing. She includes this particular quote by Amy Powney:

‘Sustainability is about asking questions. The necessary information is out there – you just need to unearth it.’

Sustainability is about following the process and discovering innovative ways to make the production conscious of the environment so that it is not at risk. Pither makes it clear that no label can claim to be 100% sustainable, but making changes is a big step forward.

Edward and Meghan have created a magical issue full of talented individuals and brands that are taking steps toward sustainability. This new issue is daring, innovative and is indeed a force for change.

S x

Influencers and Fast Fashion

Fashion influencers are changing the way the industry operates. Social media has become the main way to influence and promote products, but it is constantly evolving and brands have to keep up with the ever-changing strategies.

Social media has become the main way for Fast Fashion brands to promote their products, and this is because of its large audience but also the convenience – consumers can easily use social media to browse as well as buy.  With online promotion comes the rise of Fashion Influencer Marketing. This strategy uses celebrities and popular accounts to promote their products. This not only engages with a wider audience but uses influencer-follower engagement to promote and sell their products.

This is a successful promotion technique but it can be dangerous in promoting products that are detrimental to the environment, to thousands of people. Fast Fashion and its effect on the environment is being discussed more; however, this isn’t stopping its popularity. Influencers need to be more careful in which brands they choose to promote, and perhaps use their platform to tell their followers about the dangers of Fast Fashion, as well as promoting sustainability.

As more and more brands are including more sustainable products, the fight against Fast Fashion is getting stronger. But, there is still a numb side to social media in which some influencers do not understand or know the effects of what they promote. Lucy Siegle’s article for The Guardian provides an interesting insight into how influencers can be educated about Fast Fashion and their consumption of such products, therefore combatting Fast Fashion instead of promoting it.

It will be a tough battle to win and it seems as though the brands aren’t going to stop any time soon. In February, Kim Kardashian uploaded this photo to Twitter, condemning Fast fashion brands that rip off designs and sell them cheaply:

Yes, most people can’t afford these products but it is to the detriment of the environment that these products are being remade and sold on Fast fashion sites. Not only does this technique rip off designers, but it destroys the environment in the process. We need more sustainable processes, more sustainable products, and we need to stop this trend of fast throwaway fashion.

I believe social media users and influencers need to be aware of what products are being promoted to them and whether these products are made sustainably. Fast Fashion brands will not stop on their own accord, so it is up to users and influencers to combat them. Buy less, promote sustainability, and think about what the clothes you are thinking of buying have done to the environment.

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Let’s talk about Hemp

Hemp is one of the fastest growing plants and its uses include building materials, weed control, and even biofuels. But, what is the history of hemp and why is it so useful in the fashion industry?

Hemp was first spun into usable fibre over 10,000 years ago. It has been used for centuries because of its versatility. Pure hemp fabric is similar to linen so can be used to make a variety of clothing and accessories. The cultivation of hemp has been traced back to 5th Millennium BC and was used in pottery. The Chinese then used hemp in clothes and even to create the first paper. Due to the prohibition and the rise of the cotton industry, hemp became less popular. However, in today’s climate, hemp is making a comeback.

Not only is hemp incredibly versatile, but it is also recyclable, renewable, and reusable. It uses one third the amount of water that cotton uses but produces over two times the amount of fibre. It also needs no pesticides or herbicides, making it extremely sustainable. At ‘Thought‘ they pride themselves in their use of hemp. It takes a very short time to get from plant to fabric and can be made softer when blended with other fabrics. Not only is the production environmentally friendly, but the fabric dries very quickly, so there is no need to tumble dry it. There are more and more brands using hemp and other sustainable fabrics. We are heading in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

Hemp was once the most used fabric in the fashion industry, but because of the creation of other fabrics, it was used less and less. But because of today’s climate, we need to use hemp more. Mainstream fashion brands have to get on board and incorporate hemp into their clothing to make an impact.

S x

 

Brand Watch: Adidas

‘This is the turning point for plastic. To minimise waste and multiply the lives of our materials, we are moving towards circular systems of recycling and regeneration. One thing can become the next. The end can be the beginning.’ – Adidas.

Adidas’ ‘Futurecraft Loop’ trainer has been the talk of Twitter over the past few days. Their promotional video has gone viral across social media, but this isn’t the first time that Adidas has been eco-conscious in their creation of new pieces.

In 2015, the executive of ADIDAS, Eric Liedtke, decided to create a collection made from recycled plastic. Adidas Parley was a collaboration with Parley for the Oceans, an organisation battling against the environmental threats our oceans face. This line sparked a project by the company, eliminating new plastic and using recycled and sustainable materials in their products, with Liedtke stating that he wishes to ‘end the concept of waste entirely.’ This is the kind of talk we need to hear and the steps we need to take in order to make a change. The fashion industry is responsible for 20% of global water waste, according to Edge Fashion Intelligence, with consumers throwing away 70 pounds each when it can be recycled. Consumers need to be made aware that their clothes can be recycled, and Adidas’ process of recycling the shoes themselves is genius. They have thought about every detail, even having the sole and upper fused together rather than glued. There’s more information about the shoe on their website, click here.

2015 was the hottest year on record, with droughts and heatwaves threatening not only our eco-system but us as well. Each year has only got hotter, and the effects have become clearer and more alarming. The innovation and creativity of Adidas’ 2015 campaign triggered them to change their production, creating a chain of sustainable and environmentally friendly products. Their fight to create a world with zero plastic waste is a fight we all need to be a part of. Adidas has taken the first step in a very long journey, but the creation of the ‘Futurecraft Loop’ is one that changes the fashion game.

I don’t only want to highlight the issues the fashion industry must fight against, but also put a spotlight on those that are taking steps to a more sustainable future. The promotional video with Willow Smith is another step to really engage with more than just their consumers but highlight to everyone that there are ways to consume fashion and be guilt-free. Like Willow says in the video, we have to open our eyes to the endless possibilities, creating a cycle that isn’t harmful to our planet. We have the power to do it, so let’s do it now.

‘The Future is about giving back.’

S x

The Revolution Towards Recycled Fashion

On the 5th February, Royal Holloway’s Fashion Society hosted ‘The Revolution Towards Recycled Fashion’ event. It was a huge success and something I am proud I was a part of. We wanted to do an event like this for a while, so to see it happen and be as successful as it was, was really exciting. The event included a catwalk and pop-up shop, so the audience had the opportunity to buy the clothes that were showcased in the catwalk. Any clothes that were not bought were donated to charity shops.

We started to collect donations from students and after the collection days, we had gathered A LOT of clothes to work with. We had our models, make-up artists, and hairstylists, but all we needed now were the outfits. We wanted our models to feel comfortable in what they were wearing, so we laid out the donated clothes and let their imagination put together the outfits. This creative process was a highlight for me, seeing these clothes given a new lease of life because of a group of young, imaginative students. To create a more sophisticated show, we chose to imitate the Vogue SS19 Trends. This made the creative process more challenging, but we succeeded in creating outfits that fitted these trends. I am so proud of everyone who took part in the whole process and I had so much fun promoting the event and modelling.

Thank you to the society’s we collaborated with and everyone who took part that made this event possible. I’m so glad all the work paid off and can’t wait to see what the Society gets up to after I graduate.

RHUL Fashion Society Instagram: @rhul_fashion

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How to be more sustainable

I think it is safe to say that we have all been in a situation where ‘retail therapy’ seems to be the only solution. Succumbing to sales and buying new clothes definitely makes you feel better…..but only for the short-term. It’s time to remove our rose-tinted lenses and be more sustainable.

‘Outfit repeating’. It’s a phrase we have all heard and probably all used, but what is so bad about it? I’ve certainly bought dresses for events in fear that people would realise if I re-wore an outfit. But, do people actually care? The simple answer is no. A recent study found that ‘33% of women – regardless of age – consider an outfit to be “old” after wearing it fewer than three times.’ This demand for new outfits for every occasion keeps fast fashion companies going. But, we must think about the bigger picture when shopping. Instead of adding to the stigma of the dreaded ‘outfit repeating,’ we should simply re-wear clothes, but style them differently. It is a simple change and does not feed into the fast fashion industry which ultimately destroys our environment.  

Fashion trends are fast changing and they have been since the 19th-century. But with a better understanding of its effect on the environment, the industry needs to rethink trends. Monthly magazines show new and upcoming trends, but as quickly as trends come, they go. In my opinion, fashion is about expressing yourself as an individual, and you don’t have to keep up with these trends in order to achieve that. Express yourself with the clothes you have and be innovative. Upcycle your old clothes…there are plenty of YouTube channels that show you how to create ‘trendy’ pieces from the clothes you already own. I think that showing off clothes you have upcycled yourself is way cooler than constantly buying clothes to keep up with 5-minute trends.

Re-styling and upcycling are a couple of ways you can help be more sustainable. After accumulating a wardrobe that is way too big for one person, I had a clear out. I donated the clothes I no longer wear to charity shops and vintage stores as well as clothes donation boxes. Having a clear out doesn’t only make your space tidier, it also helps relieve stress and take some weight off. Push past the nostalgia and declutter your wardrobe and your mind!

Charity and vintage stores are becoming more mainstream and you can find some gems in there that people will definitely be jealous of. The Charity Retail Association has written 10 reasons why charity retail is the way forward. Not only does it promote re-use and recycling, but it also reduces landfill and in turn reduces CO2, making it environmentally friendly. Sustainable and cheap, what more could you want?

I’ve taken some steps to be more sustainable, but I still fall victim to sales. It’s a small step but if we all try to be more sustainable, we can make a bigger change. I’m hopeful for the industry as it looks like more steps are being taken to make fashion less ‘eco-unfriendly.’

S x

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-psychology-dress/201202/your-closets-your-clutter-and-your-cognitions-1

https://wellmadeclothes.com/articles/OutfitRepeatingFearsKeepingFastFashionAlive/

Is vegan fashion the way forward?

Love your clothes and make them last longer’

– Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney’s recent collaboration with Adidas shook the fashion world and opened up a new conversation about the future of fashion – is it vegan? McCartney collaborated with Adidas to create vegan Stan Smiths, made from recycled polyester, a substitute for leather. The detailing on the trainers is stunning, and the incentive to buy them is increased when you know that the materials used prevented plastics from going to landfill.

The industry is ever-changing, and rapidly progressing, with new vegan materials being created to replace wool, cotton, and linen. These substitutes aren’t only cruelty-free but they are sustainable for the environment and don’t use pesticides and chemicals that are detrimental to our environment.

What shocked me is the possibilities of vegan fashion. Wood, seaweed, and even hemp are being used as replacements for unsustainable materials – and these materials are all reusable and recyclable.

Stella McCartney’s ethos is sustainability and she’s now one of the world’s leading designers for vegetarian and vegan fashion. She began in 2001 as the first vegetarian luxury brand and has continued to launch innovative products and collaborate with companies working with advanced materials. Her most recent partnership with Bolt Threads uses ‘green chemistry’ to create a manufacturing process that is clean for the environment.

With the recent warning that we only have 12 years to reduce our emissions by half, vegan materials may be taking a spotlight in the fashion world.

S x

Why is Fast Fashion so bad for the environment?

‘Fashion is made from nature. Nature provides the source for each garment that we choose to wear as our second skin. Fashion is made from nature and is dependent on it. Land, water, air and people form fashion’s supply chain, from growing to manufacturing, transportation and delivery into our hands and our everyday lives.’

When you buy a t-shirt or a pair of jeans from Topshop or ASOS, you never really think about how they got there. I had no clue about how materials were collected and what goes into actually achieving the end product.

The V&A’s exhibition ‘Fashioned from Nature’ displays the harsh reality of fast fashion, from the 1600’s to the 21st-Century. Fashion is constantly searching for something new and enticing, and society’s boastfulness led to a sinister craze in the 1800’s. Insects and birds became a popular trend, with dresses decorated with beetle wings and hats with stuffed birds extravagantly displayed on them. The exhibition proposed that these crazes were ‘good example[s] of the desire to improve on nature.’ This is an interesting idea, and as an English student nature is portrayed as omnipotent, and sometimes even hostile and tumultuous. To suggest that society wished to improve on something so intricate shows the selfishness of fashion and its use in showing wealth.

Fast forward to this century, and fashion has had a detrimental impact on the environment.  Water is vital in fashion production, and I was shocked about how much water is used to make a single pair of jeans.

‘An average of 8,183 litres of water is needed to grow enough cotton to create one pair of jeans.’

Not only is water used for growing cotton, but it is used in the dyeing process which leads to chemicals infecting the water supplies. These statistics are not helped by the fact that westerners are buying more clothes and keeping them for half the time.

The time for change is now, and the climate change conversation needs to address fast fashion’s impact on the planet. Sustainable clothing and political fashion are just two small steps to making a difference. Larger companies, like H&M and M&S are collaborating with smaller companies to become more resourceful and sustainable.

The V&A’s exhibition highlighted the journey of one t-shirt, showing that the ‘Made In’ labels hide the complexity of the journey to the end product. Martine Jarlgaard launched a collection that provides traceable products using a ‘smart label.’ This technology allows customers to see whether their clothes are as green as they believe, and also understand the long process involved in making their clothes.

Image result for sustainable fashion stella mccartney

Landfill edition: Stella McCartney’s sustainable fashion campaign

Sustainable fashion is becoming a more prominent conversation in mainstream media. Stacey Dooley’s new documentary ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’ presents the issues and how sustainable fashion is the way forward.

S x

Source: Ehrman, E. Fashioned from Nature, (London; V&A Publishing; 2018)

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