A Fashion Revolution Week Roundup – Conscious Clothes, Compassionate Fashion, and Circular Business Models For The Future of An Industry.Kate Stuart
Kate Stuart is a practicing artist, writer and craftswoman based in the North East of England. She specializes in up-cycling, zero waste living, quilting and painting with acrylics on canvas. She owns The Phoenix Green Store, which she hopes will become Newcastle upon Tyne’s first zero waste store. She is covering Fashion Revolution Week for No Serial Number Magazine, between 23rd – 29th April 2018.
My foundation course, all those very many years ago post A-Levels and pre-degree, was Art and Design, and had a fashion module. I can tell you with honesty that I hated every single minute of it. I simply didn’t understand how making clothes out of cheap, synthetic fabric, to be worn once or twice and then discarded for the next big thing in fashion, was OK. And not just OK, but expected. What about the waste, the landfill – more importantly what about the people whose energy and time was put into making that t-shirt, or that pair of jeans? I found it so difficult then, more than 25 years ago, to articulate a notion that was so completely alien to everyone around me from students to lecturers. It just didn’t sit well with me, and so I did not pursue it, following my heart into Fine Art and Education instead. In all the years since, I have never been a “follower” of fashion, choosing instead to wear clothes which feel good – mostly second hand or handmade, and which reflect something of who I am to the world.
But fashion, it seems, was not done with me. This week I’ve be covering Fashion Revolution Week for No Serial Number Magazine, with a series of blog posts and content to share on social media platforms – something I never, ever thought I would be doing, had you asked me 20 odd years ago. And I totally get now why my conscious was pricked by fast fashion, and why supporting an overhaul, a real revolution of the fashion industry sits so much more comfortably with me. I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve read SO MUCH, really heard the collective voice of all those who have been advocating for better practice in fashion, and my goodness, it feels great to be on the right side of a revolution.
Fashion Revolution Week 2018 really has been so busy – we have been sharing the best content on our social media platforms, as well as publishing a brand new blog post every day in support of this important work to engage everyone who buys clothes in asking for transparency, joining the fight against modern slavery and working with brands to bring conscious, compassionate and circular business models into the fashion industry.
Across the world, thousands of others have been spreading the word about slow fashion, ethical clothes and transparency by hosting events, seminars, up-cycling workshops and fairs. Asking people to consider those who make their clothes, and the landscapes and animal populations that are impacted by fast fashion – these events are designed not to shame brands or their consumers into change, but to encourage and inspire all connected to fashion to look for different, kinder ways of producing a commodity we all need.
Saturday saw the Ethical Brands for Fashion Revolution event in London, where Heather Webb of Ethical Consumer Magazine discussed the work of Stitched Up, a trio of women running a not-for-profit enterprise, that offers space and time for people to learn how to repair and up-cycle clothing, discover sustainable clothing options, and get involved in ethical fabric sales, clothes swops and sewing workshops. Based in Manchester, they are paving the way for others to follow – perhaps by 2019 there will be similar opportunities in every city in the UK.
Today sees the inaugural Creative Ethical Living Fair, at the Exchange, North Shields. Gathering the best of the North Easts ethical businesses, there will be guest speakers, including Sue Reed, of The Woolly Pedlar, who will highlight the need for effectively managing and redistributing/upcycling unwanted textiles within the framework of the fast fashion vs slow fashion argument. Also in attendance will be Trendlistr, curating vintage fashion, as well as Camden Clothing Alterations, ready to help you repair the clothes you love. It is the first time such an event has been organised on such a scale in the North East and there is much anticipation that it will become a regular affair in a part of the country that is raising the stakes in eco living.
I also have learnt this week about the negative and damaging impacts on both people and planet from the shoe making industry, and discovered Po-Zu shoes, who aim to reduce this by offering consumers ethical shoes, made with natural materials, stitched components and without the synthetic, harmful glues that feature so heavily in so many other brands of footwear. I rarely buy new shoes, but even so, hadn’t really considered the impact my choices could make on the people who sit in sweat shops, under pressure to perform, for very little pay. I’ll be making more informed choices from now on.
I have learnt too, that as consumers, we really do have the power to demand change and that brands have the power to create change and that actually, it’s already happening. Demanding compassion in the treatment of textile workers, choosing clothes created through joined up, circular business models, and really getting conscious about the journey our garments have been on and what happens to them when they are no longer the latest fashion all connect to the collective push towards a kinder, more sustainable future in the fashion industry. It’s been a good week, and we’ve been in great company. Here’s to another year of revolution!
If you missed the other posts in our special Fashion Revolution Week blogpost spectacular, read them here:
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