I have been meaning to write about fashions ugly twin for a while now, but have struggled to find the right angle as I want it to be interesting and inspiring without the preaching part. People should want to make a genuine difference and not feel like they have to.
Sustainable/ethical fashion is very close to my heart and yet it is still a subject I struggle with continuously and to be honest I don’t feel that the answers are as black and white as some people would like us to believe. The life and history of a garment is a complex story same as with each and every one of us, many twists and turns with no idea of what the future will bring and no choice of where and how it all starts. Not all fibers and fabrics are equal….yet!
What amazes me that still in our day and age we have no idea about the ingredient list of most of our pieces in our wardrobe, sort of like the nutritional information on our food packaging or as Lucy Siegle, author of ‘To die for – is fashion wearing out the world’ calls them, Truth Labels. I mean at least this way we can read it and then still make our own slightly more informed choice whether we still want to buy it or not.
Everyone also has different tolerance levels and opinions of what they would and would not wear and that’s cool. Stella McCartney for example does not use any leather in her collections as it is something she feels passionate about, I on the other hand eat meat and think its is ok to wear leather as it is a part of the animal that should also be used. I prefer my meat and leather coming from a happy animal though that has been treated with respect and love until it was time to go, sort of like free-range meat but leather. Sorry a slightly morbid and unglamorous analogy there and of course not everyone will agree but as I said before, us humans feel differently about these things and we are entitled to our own opinions.
So here is mine, well mostly anyways….
And it is with this where the dirty business of making our clothes (fashion) starts, the growing or making of the fabrics themselves starting with our favorite natural yarn- Cotton. It is one of the dirties crops polluting our delicate ecosystems, often involving child labour and the exploitation of farmers from those fields who are amongst the poorest in their society. This is why the Fairtrade and Organic labels are so important as they support the people and the environment (double tick!) although I believe these practices should be the norm not the exception. Then you have the man-made synthetics such as Polyester which assisted the retailers in the explosion of mass-produced garments. It is made from crude oils, has carcinogenic components, it is not biodegradable and will therefore stay on our landfills for over 200 years. Recycled polyester would be a better choice for our environment using less crude oils and for ourselves too.
So which one is the lesser evil in this case, the “natural” one that destroys the environment and its people growing it or the synthetic one which does not need fields to grow but pollutes the air and water in other ways..I really don’t know and I guess if we can have the best versions of both that would be ideal.
Once we have the fabrication the garment is produced in factories world wide where again further exploitation of people and environment takes place. The use of toxic dyes and their impact on workers and our environment, they are literally dyeing for fashion. The middle man is the one who takes the orders from the retailers and passes them on to the factories and workers to go into production. The retailers actually often do not know (and probably don’t want to know) what goes on from this point to whom the money goes to and as we know that most likely it is not the people that should be getting paid properly for their work. The retailers themselves just care about the price and want it to be done and delivered yesterday. So again this is where we should be implementing fair trade laws and again it should be a norm and not an exception .
This is just the start of the rabbit hole we can keep going further down (and we will just a little further) into the production of other fabrics, garment workers that are set up to fail through old machinery, animal treatment or rather the lack of for their beautiful fur and the list just goes on. But as I already said I do not want to be preaching a sermon here to you, just gently opening my mind and heart to this and maybe even yours. It is not all doom and gloom either, fast fashion keeps the fashion industry on its toes to create signature looks, keep coming up with innovative ideas, aestetics and concepts, which ends up breathing life into our high street stores and lets us be more creative in our dressing without making expensive mistakes, although personally I prefer charity store shopping for this (so much fun!!!)…. Although at the same time we need to be mindful of our own actions and how they impact our world.
So I hope you have enjoyed part 1 of fashions ugly twin, I decided to split the post as it was a little lengthy and I thought it might be a bit easier on the heart . You will find my inspirations at the end of part 2 and again thank you for your patience whilst it took me some time writing this post. Hope you find it inspiring and thought provoking of course I am very interested to hear your opinions!!