Change needs to come

                                                                                                                      {Stylist magazine fashion feature. Oct 2019}

As a month of fashion weeks came to an end, at the beginning of October, for the first time in a long time I felt a little empty. I have always enjoyed New York, London, Milan and Paris’ extravagant showcasing of the future fashion trends. Much enjoyment is derived from working out what I’ll adopt into my wardrobe for the following season. I especially love seeing the street style peacocking of show goers entering the spotlight.

This year, however, it felt like no one involved got the memo. The memo that was sent out, quite some time ago now, was that the fashion industry is ‘pretty bad’ for the environment. So bad in fact it’s up there with cows….and we all know how unpopular cows are at the moment. Watching the relentless stream of catwalk shows, come directly into my phone, felt ignorant. Ignorant to the fact that everyone else appears to be on board with the problems facing the environment except the fashion industry. We’ve all been on board for some time now. The messages came through loud and clear and we’re all attempting to do our bit.

We’re VERY aware plastic straws are now a big no no. Viral footage has shown they’re going to end up the nostrils of a poor turtle.

We’re also aware of how we must recycle, cut down on single use plastic, reduce our air travel, put more plants in our bedrooms {very on trend at the moment}. We, the average Joes and Joannas of the world, know the lasting damage of our carbon footprints. Why doesn’t the fashion industry? Why are we still rolling out the red carpet, multiple times a year, for a month long party of 5-7 minute shows? Firstly the production involved in these shows alone cost an insane amount of money. But most importantly the continuation of supplying these clothes to the public ‘contribute to 10% of the global greenhouse gasses due to it’s long supply chains and energy intensive production’

According to the UN climate change organisation the fashion industry consumes more energy than the aviation and shipping industry combined. I mean that’s hardcore. That would give me nightmares. In the case of former Suno designer, Erin Beatty, it did ~

In 2016, everything changed. I was out of a job, 8 months pregnant with my second child, and deeply concerned for my country’s future. Something had shifted and I no longer believed in the way I knew how to work: designing, making and selling clothes. I knew there had to be a better way. Rentrayage {her new upcycling clothing label} is my effort to create something new, without the waste and heavy footprint that haunts me.

While a handful are attempting to change their ways ~ becoming more sustainable, promoting buying less and of a better quality ~ the majority seem to still be turning a blind eye to the memo. The blindness appeared especially prevalent on Monday 23rd September. As Gucci and Dolce & Gabanna sent their brand clad models down the catwalk Greta Thunberg gave her emotional speech at the UN climate change summit. Regardless of what you think about her speech {anyone want to discuss?} the message was loud and clear. ‘Time is running out. Pull your fingers out and stop spouting empty promises.’ Words to that effect.

CEO of luxury monolith LVMH, Bernard Arnault’s, response to Thunberg’s speech was disappointing. He said she was “indulging in an absolute catastrophism about the evolution of the world.” He also added “If we don’t want to go backwards, we still need growth.” An inevitable response coming from the second richest man in the world.

Does change ever come from the top though? Looking to those who have the furtherest to fall, for the drastic change we so desperately need, is like looking to the British Government to make a decision. {BURN!} The loudest voices over the past few years have come from the ground up. From the everyday people shouting passionately above everyone else. They’ve come from one girl who was shot in the head. One girl who survived when her classmates were gunned down. And one girl who decided to strike from school. From these young people large movements towards better education, freedom of speech, gun control laws and environmental activism have arisen.

In the early teens {Do we call 2010-2013 that yet?} the way the public consumed fashion week started to change. Much to the utter annoyance of the more established members of the fashion industry bloggers were beginning to take up the front rows of the catwalk shows. They would photograph every part of the show then run home and upload a blog post to thousands of their followers. No longer was there a days wait to find out what the upcoming trends were going to be. As technology advanced these bloggers and social media stars would live stream the shows to their now millions of followers. The mainstream media was being cut out of the equation and we had all the information we needed immediately.

If a bunch of self taught writers and photographers can so drastically change the way we consume an industry maybe we need to look to them? To start at the bottom when attempting to change the damage we’re so rapidly doing to our environment? Or maybe we can start here. With a monthly newsletter that’s sent out to 60 people…

 

Let’s take our inspiration from the catwalks and then go source what we want in a less harmful way. We need to buy less. That’s a given. Let’s ask ourselves whether we really need an item. Then, if it is a necessity, can it be borrowed, bought second hand or upcycled? Is the cheapest option available to us the best option? The environment is one issue being discussed here. Slave labour and human rights also need to come into play when thinking about buying fast fashion. Let’s start investing in quality over quantity and let’s carry on the conversation with a friend. We can be the change we want to see in the world.

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