Words: Ruth Logan
Okay, so fashion isn’t exactly the environment’s best friend. They’re about as pally as Anna Wintour and Kim Kardashian. And their relationship is as confusing and thought-provoking as the question, “Why is Kayne West claiming to be a designer?”
I’ve always been torn between the rights and wrongs of fashion ethics and sustainability. Yet I didn’t even know what sustainability in fashion actually was until a couple of months back.
So, sustainability. I’m guessing you either don’t know what it is or are uninterested. But trust me, once you get into it it’s incredibly interesting and never boring. For example, new fabrics are being discovered, including one made out of used coffee beans. I admit it’s not going to be selling in your nearest Zara any time soon, and I can’t assure you that you won’t smell of coffee every time you wear it, but it’s these new inventions that blow normal, throwaway fashion off the catwalk.
There is no one definition which explains everything that sustainability is. However, here are some simple facts which point to the problems sustainability can solve.
• Fashion is the third biggest industry in the world.
• The fashion industry is the industry which most threatens the world’s environment.
• The average British woman throws away £10,000 worth of clothes in a lifetime.
• The average piece of clothing in the UK is held in a wardrobe for 3 years 5 months. It is actively worn for 44 days.
Today, more than ever before, we as consumers purchase cheap and low quality garments and textiles. Why? We have little disposable income…..and we WANT. And YOU CAN HAVE…… but think swap shops, charity shops, vintage shops. Think in a different way! When my flatmate moved out, she cleared out her wardrobe….and I walked away with 4 new blouses, 2 new jumpers and 2 new dresses. Cost? Nothing. Last time I cleared out my wardrobe , I sold 6 items on eBay (profit £46) and gave 11 items to my flatmate.
Now. Let me make myself clear. I don’t JUST wear second-hand. I do buy items from the high street. But I limit myself to key items I NEED, and not just want – for example, my winter boots (yes, in Aberdeen I need a good pair!) You cannot expect to find everything you need in second-hand shops. Trust me on this one. But, with the money left over from some thrifty wardrobe choices, you can eat out more in restaurants, drink Absolut vodka instead of your local supermarket’s own brand, or save up for a weekend away.
When you do buy from the high street wear the item as much as possible, and once you’re finished with it, give it to a friend, charity shop… anywhere but the bin. As soon as the environment starts to plummet, the fashion industry will be hit with an almighty Glasgow kiss and Anna Wintour will be working in her local Poundland. Please let’s all save Anna Wintour together.