Over the past years the fashion crowd has awakened to the problems, such as human trafficking and environmental issues caused by fashion. The biannual ‘Fashion Month’ is already in its full swing, and as today is the first day of the SS17 London Fashion Week, it’s a good reason to look into the ethical side of the fashion industry.
London Fashion Week, a multi million pound fashion event, returns to the UK biannually to showcase collections from over 80 designers. The global fashion industry is worth nearly three trillion dollars and in the UK, worth £26billion, providing thousands of jobs in the UK alone and millions worldwide.
The fashion system has changed over the years. We are living in the era of materialism where social media and the growing world of online shopping are boosting this phenomenon.
“Fashion nowadays is linked with social media. People don’t want to be photographed in the same clothing, so this leads them to always shop for a new dress or a pair of trousers. This kind of consumerism is tied up with a real social problem,” says journalist and activist Tansy Hoskins*.
As people are now spending more money on clothes than ever before, increasing demand has put high street brands facing a question; how can we produce more garments quicker? The answer is lower quality and cheaper production. This is called fast fashion.
Fast fashion has made fashion industry the second most polluting industry in the world after oil, and has broken many human rights as the collapse of Rana Plaza, the eight-store garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2013 showed. So what is the alternative?
“Sustainable, slow fashion is a challenge to the mainstream fashion industry which treats both people and the planet as disposable. Sustainable fashion is trying to show that you can have beautiful clothes without punishing the world around us as well as the people who work in the garment factories. It’s fashion that has been made with one eye in the bigger picture and strong attempt that we are not wearing clothes produced through cruelty and pollution,” Hoskins explains.
Sustainable fashion has in the past been linked to the hippie culture. Sure one day it was all about the “hemp tents”, but over the years this stigma has gradually disappeared with chic sustainable designers one of them being Britain’s very own Stella McCartney, proving that you can be ethical and stylish at the same time. She nowadays showcases her collections at Paris Fashion Week, but there are many more sustainable fashion designers in Britain that are changing the way we dress.
A Royal College of Art graduate creates innovative collections for both women and men. He became known for his re-appropriation of military fabrics and in particular for his recognizable outerwear that he created from de-commissioned parachutes.
Christopher’s revolutionary designs have brought sustainable fashion to the mainstream audience, showing that luxury can be mixed with integrity.
Christopher showcased his SS 2017 collection at the beginning of January during London Men’s Fashion Week, showing sporty silhouettes – bombers jackets, parkas and pilot suits with a touch of feminine feel.
Katie Jones Knit
Katie Jones graduated from Central Saint Martins with a MA in Fashion Knitwear. She worked with many high-profile designers such as John Galliano and Diane von Furstenberg, before launching her eponymous label for AW 2014 with the British Fashion Council’s Estethica Emerging Talents. In 2016 she won Selfridges Bright New Things Bursary Award, an initiative championing sustainability.
Her vision is to make beautiful pieces from scratch and addressing consciously issues of over-consumerism and landfill. The brand’s collections are wearable, artisanal and big in colour and texture. Materials she uses are sourced from designer surplus, factory seconds, textile waste and British made products.
Her colourful collections are available at Selfridges.
French Faustine Steinmetz started her fashion studies at Atelier Chardon Savard in Paris before moving to London to complete her MA in Central Staint Martins. She worked for designers Jeremy Scott and Henrik Vibskov before setting up her own label in early 2013. All of her designs are made in consonance with her belief in craftsmanship over trend.
Her AW 2017 collection presentation is held on 18 February 2017.
Diana Auria founded AURIA in 2013. The swimwear brands sustainable side and craftmanship is balanced with playful style, designed for a modern woman. Designs are developed in England from recycled fabrics made from discarded fishing nets and other waste.
Her swimsuits have been featured in Vogue, Elle and Garcia and worn by superstars such as Rihanna, Daisy Lowe and Eliza Doolittle. AURIA’s designs are available online.
*Interview with Tansy Hoskins is from an article by Sara Laitinen published here.
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