For the past 6 months I have been wandering down the path of discovering the theory and reality of a capsule wardrobe. Its not easy when you’re a self confessed shopaholic! I’ve been learning to focus more on the quality versus quantity of my clothing. I adore fashion and consequently this will always ensure I have eyes bigger than my Visa limit!
Recently, however – following a movie night with Netflix watching the documentary film True Cost and following the Instagram account of Livia Firth (creative director of Eco-age and Colin’s Mrs!) – I have arrived face-on at a cross roads that I had never thought would be my thing. Never did I envision myself exploring the terms Fast or Slow fashion. Before this Shiraz fuelled movie night, I would have associated these terms with the speed of my shopping abilities on a Black Friday. I tell myself it’s a ‘talent’!
My previous conceptions of Eco-fashion would be to throw on some felt dolly shoes and drape myself top to toe in hemp! Not really a look that works for me!! But I’m now starting to become aware of the bigger picture of the sustainable world of clothing and fashion and I’m telling you now, it’s not a hemp haven!
Before I look #fastfashion straight in the eye, I thought I would ask myself some questions.
Do I love fashion? YES
Do I think fashion encourages creativity, individuality and expression? YES
Do I think it adds fuel to the fire of our culture? YES
Do I consider myself a follower and admirer of fashion? YES
Do I think fashion engages and connects people with similar tastes and attitudes? YES
Do I drink too much Red wine on a Friday night? Erm……possibly………YES!
So why is there so much buzz at the moment regarding the term ‘fast fashion’?
The issues of fair trade and fair wages within the fashion industry are not new. I recall during a stint working for the Gap in 2001, there was much public outrage and opinion at a BBC Panorama program about poor working conditions and wages for workers in Indian factories making Gap garments. The Gap Head office responded promptly and began to look at their contracts with certain factories. I recall they were proposing to send a select group of concerned employees to visit these factories to gain a front line perspective on the situation. Unfortunately, I left the company before I had a chance to submit my nomination to join the trip.
Then back in April, 2013, there was the devastating collapse of the Savar Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This incident is considered the deadliest garment factory accident in history. It claimed the lives of 1,129 people. Around 2,515 injured people were rescued from the building alive. This became a situation the world could no longer turn a blind eye to.
Today, It’s buzzing around Instagram, Twitter feeds and other social media. The movie ‘True Cost’ really put the spanner into the works as it forced us to see the reality of fast fashion and the people who truly pay the cost for making our cheap cotton t-shirt that is the same price as a bloody Cheese and pickle sandwich. It’s a must see film for anyone. When I watched it the first time on a Netflix night in bed, I literally uttered the words “mother f**** this is going to shake things up a bit”! Back in September at the S/S’16 London Fashion week, Livia Firth went full force and showcased designers with a green approach to fashion and promote sustainability within the fashion world and the green carpet challenge.
All in all, it’s a wake up call for myself and fellow intrigued fast fashion followers.
What is #fastfashion?
The crazy disposable fast fashion movement is constantly creating the sparkly gold brand new “wants and wishes” of the fashion industry. It continually bombards us with what is the current trend, who is wearing the latest trend and what style tribe they are in. These trends flip over quicker than a kid on a trampoline after they’ve eaten their body weight in Halloween candy. I believe fast fashion is that never-ending thirst for something new. You wear it once then chuck it as it “was worth the $15 from H&M for a night out”. When the supply and demand chain reaction kicks in, there becomes greater pressure for factories to compete for clothing production contracts then lo and behold an Indian factory is turning over T-shirts for the big guns of the high street for the price of a ham and cheese sandwich. It’s just wrong on every level.
Lucy Siegel, British journalist who writes about ethical and green living and author of ‘To die for: Is fashion wearing out the world?’ says it best “fast fashion isn’t free, some one, somewhere is paying”
Why is fast fashion sat on the naughty chair?
These are many reasons why fast fashion is sat on the naughty chair, and really, why it should never bloody get off until it learns to behave a little better. This quote from Livia Firth courtesy of Eco-Age nails it on the head
“the fashion cycle has become mental. Too many shows, too many collections, too many looks, style, pressure. the result? Designers creativity is compromised, journalists are running on empty and we the famous consumers are bombarded day and night with the latest thing we must have if we want to be cool”.
A much-needed pause for thought comes from Ralph Lauren “fashion is not necessarily about labels. It’s not about brands. It’s about something else that comes from within you”
Fast fashion facts
I had no idea and was completely shocked to read some facts on the effects fashion has on our planet. Did you know this???:
- The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world , second only to oil and mining.
- The amount of slave labour that is used in the fashion industry in production is second again to mining and food production.
- Fashion is the second largest consumer of water in the world
- It takes around 2600 gallons of water to make a pair of jeans
- It takes 2720 litres of waters to make a T.shirt. That’s how much we normally drink over a 3 year period. Wtf?!
How do we slow the f*** down (with fashion)?
There are simple steps that we can adopt today to help step towards the slow fashion movement and change our modern-day disposable attitudes.
Buy less – how many black sweaters do we really need? Can you wear them all at once?! Are you Joey in that hilariois Friends episode where he wears all of Chandlers clothing?! I think not. This is why I wrote the blog post ‘capsule tricks: the staple, they style and the statement.
Buy better – I’m becoming older and wiser. I’m past the days of not caring if my top or jeans rip whilst out on the town with the beers. It’s not fair to scare people on a Friday night!!
Keep things longer – Quick ‘one trick pony items’ are fabulous for their five-minute fixes but it’s style that lasts longer in the wardrobe.
Look after your clothing – adhere to washing instructions and
make your mother proud help them stay with you. Every year I clean my Winter UGG boots and it helps them to celebrate another winter birthday. This year they will be 8 years old!! It’s bad enough having to spend money on winter boots to get you through -35 degree days. I definitely can’t be arsed to do this on a regular basis. I’m much happier buying metallic glittery boots instead!
Be purposeful with clothing – will you wear it? Does it fit in your lifestyle, wardrobe & outfit possibilities? Do you really need this item? Do you have something similar already?
Be inspired with the clothing you own – There is nothing like shopping your own wardrobe. This is why I have my seasonal wardrobe items listed on my iPhone notebook. As crazy as it sounds, it helps me reign in a few purchases as I stand in the fitting room about to buy another silk blouse that resembles the one I already have hanging at home. Play around with the pieces you already have and change the outfit possibilities up a little with accessories and layering.
Just call me Swampy!
I admit that I have never particularly seen myself under the light of an eco warrior. Neither do I plan to move to the forest and change my name to Swampy once my dreadlocks have grown in! But when I chatted to a friend the other day we came to the realisation that if you become aware of information and decide to ignore and turn a blind eye, then that’s when a problem begins. A problem the world doesn’t need right now. A world that my lovely boys will inherit.
How can you start to become a conscious shopper in this world of fast fashion?:
- Think before you buy. Truly, just sit, slow down and think. We own way too bloody much.
- Ask yourself, who made my clothes?
- Ask yourself, will you wear it for a season, a year, a decade or just once? Can you commit to wearing it at least 30 times?
- Does it have any special value to me? Is it from a brand I love and respect?
- Does it fit in your style capsule wardrobe? Is it truly you?
***** FASHION LOVERS ALERT *****FASHION LOVERS ALERT******FASHION LOVERS ALERT
Praying there is not an end to the Zara delivery boxes??
Lovely Livia dishes out a cool, damp cloth to my fashion fevered brow. Before I hyperventilate into a brown paper bag with ‘no high street shopping’ written on it, I come across a ‘medicinal’ interview. There are simple steps that we can adopt today to help step towards the slow fashion movement and change our modern-day disposable attitudes. Livia Firth recently did a brilliant interview with Deborah Brett for Wardrobe Icons, online magazine. This interview instantly calmed my nerves like a swift glass of Scotch!! I’m not going to lie that True Cost did waft the smelling salts under my nose. But my beloved Zara delivery boxes are very close to my heart. So, lovely Livia, no more H&M or Zara??
She claims “You simply can’t boycott companies because there are entire countries dependant on that retailer. There are the women that work in Bangladesh for example who would lose their jobs, so you can’t undo the damage that has been done, by telling people where to shop. I think you undo the damage by sending the message that we should be buying less, by purchasing properly and more thoughtfully”.
My Concluding thoughts
I’ve learnt that I am on the right path by establishing a capsule wardrobe. The capsule wardrobe that suits me, not the Pinterest version featuring the perfect trench and black stilettos that equate to a monthly mortgage repayment. I am looking to own pieces that I truly love and that are ME! Bring on the leopard print boots, bring on the skinny jeans, bring on the timeless black sweater and the
ridiculous fabulous bowler hat. This capsule wardrobe is not only better for me in the sense of dressing & spending. But hopefully with a few right choices it will help towards adding another pebble to the road of sustainable fashion and the path to mindful purchases. Little steps taken together can help create change.
Wearing some of my wardrobe staples that I adore and believe I will own until they fall apart. Fingers crossed these pieces will be well taken care of so they last for a good few years to come.
Bowler hat- Jaxons (1 year old)
All Saints Belvedere leather biker jacket (5 years old)
J.Crew Tipi black merino knit sweater (3 years old)
Topshop black knee rip Jamie jeans (new)
Isabel Marant for H&M fringed silk scarf (2 years old)
Kate Spade black Cecil bag (new)
Zara leopard print ankle boots (last Summer)
Wise words to end on………