What is Fast Fashion?
The increase in demand for seasonal fashion and cheap affordable clothing in today’s society has seen a significant rise in the industry’s contribution to landfill. More than 15 million tons of used textile waste is generated each year in the United States alone, and the amount has doubled over the last 20 years. As a whole, the textile industry is currently taking up 5% of the world’s entire landfill.
Fast, cheap fashion leaves a trail of destruction from the very early stages of production, including cheap labour and harsh work environments to producing toxic, chemical waste, which directly affects various ecosystems (aquatic, terrestrial and atmospheric).
The global transportation of clothing, the use of heavy industrial machinery and the amount of non degradable synthetic fibre in landfill is a major contributor of releasing greenhouse gasses into the air. Tons of poisonous gasses, pesticides and dyes are released into our seas and rivers every day from these factories, causing irreversible harm to aquatic life.
The purpose of this project was for me to raise awareness on the absolute and utter importance of recycling and upcycling clothes. The fast fashion mentality of buying cheap, disposable clothing needs to change, and it needs to change fast. We need to be more mindful about the fabrics we wear. We should question why we are able to purchase an extremely cheap garment of clothing so easily.
As a first world Western society, we have all but forgotten the value of quality over quantity. We have far too many clothes than we would ever wear or need and we have little respect for their origins or knowledge of their production.
Nearly 100 percent of textiles and clothing are recyclable, and yet worldwide, as consumers we are only recycling about 15% of the fabrics we buy in our lifetime.
- The annual environmental impact of a household’s clothing is equivalent to the water needed to fill 1,000 bathtubs and the carbon emissions from driving an average modern car for 6,000 miles
- If the average life of clothing was extended by just three months, it would reduce their carbon and water footprints, as well as waste generation, by five to 10 percent. The recycling of two million tons of clothing per year equates to taking one million cars from U.S. streets.
With just a dash of mindfulness, we can change the mentality that thrift stores and charity shops are ‘beneath us’, that paying a little more money for a better quality garment that is ethically source and is made with natural fabrics will go a long way. Our world is on the brink of collapse from the effects of climate change and global warming. Is having that latest cute top from Primark (to be worn only once on holiday) worth destroying the chances of our future generations living in a non toxic world where they can breathe clean air and eat food free of micro plastics?
Supporting small businesses is a crucial part of changing the world for the better. We live in a time where big corporations, supermarkets and fashion retailers have monopolised the industry. They have infiltrated our minds, our ways of thinking and our shopping habits. We mindlessly buy cheap, low quality clothes from big, multi million pound corporations, but gasp and hiss at the prices of items in independent shops. I own a small business, and the irony of someone holding a £4 cup of Starbucks coffee and at the same time complaining about the pricing of my handmade items is not lost on me.
After careful research, I got together a team of small business fashion designers, some of whom use natural fabrics and ethically sourced material to design their clothes and some who recycle existing garments and put their own stamp on them, making new clothes out of the old!
Here is a list of everyone involved and how in their own way promote sustainability and slowly change the way we view fashion.
Designer: Diana Neagoe
It was love at first sight when I stumbled upon Diana’s work. Her business journey is extremely beautiful and with a timeless style she delivers elegant, delicate and durable designs that were a pleasure and privilege for me to wear and showcase.
Her business ethos is to reflect on how clothes were made in the olden days, before everything was mass produced. She designs each item of clothing made to measure, tailored to each client. Linen Old Ways designs clothes that are 100% natural, made with Linen (The oldest known fibre in the world) and intended to last a long time. As Diana puts it herself:
‘I believe we can still be beautiful, admired, appreciated, and feel special, while protecting our source of life, the planet and the people that are inhabiting it.’
“Support nature, Nature is keeping us alive;
Choose clothes that you really enjoy, Clothes you love will stay with you longer;
Buy less, You don’t need much;
Go with quality, Quality is sustainable
Wear natural fibres, Natural is healthier;
Choose a timeless pattern, Timeless clothes can be worn anytime, by anyone.”
–Linen Old Ways Motto
Designer: Emajane Pixie Rainbow
Emajane creates the most unique, fun and vibrant designs, by recycling and upcycling items of clothing made from preloved cashmere, denim and vintage woollen skirts, turning them into gorgeous new jumpers, bags and accessories. The Topian Den’s signature look is the applique art, which she creates on all her garments in order to not waste even the smallest piece of fabric. Her love of folklore and whimsical inspired by her scenic surroundings in South Wales, shines through all of her work.
Emajane has been sewing and creating clothes since she was a teenager and her career has gone from strength to strength. Prior to creating The Topian Den, Emajane ran a small business designing Tutus, bustles and pettiskirts. In 2009, she was contacted by Vogue UK to design a tutu for Lady Gaga, which was published in their October edition. She then went on to design tutus for stage dancers in 2011’s Comic Relief, and again contacted by the BBC later on in the year to create even more tutus for Dick & Dom’s Diddy Movies. Emajane’s work is also featured in October 2011 issue of Heat magazine, where Kelly Rowland was seen wearing one of her tutus.
It was an absolute honour for me to model Emajane’s work. Her designs are sturdy, the stitching and art work is flawless and the material she chooses is so soft and kind to the skin. Why blend in with the crowd when you can own such uniquely designed outfits?
Whilst still ensuring that they are comfortable and practical to wear and use with the importance of longevity implemented into each design, ensuring that they are made to last.”
-Emajane Pixie Rainbow
Designer: Stacey Grant-Canham
What drew me to Stacey’s work, as well her all her material being 100% ethically sourced, was the strong feminist message her brand sends. Her clothes sales support some amazing charities such as the Irish Abortion Rights Campain and Abortion Support Network . Stacey is a fashion design lecturer and the mum of two beautiful children. As well as ethical clothing, she designs contemporary teething jewellery that are child safe and not harmful to the environment.
“The thread that flows is one of empowerment and intersectional feminism. We support equality and donate to Abortion Support Network through our Resistance range. In 2018 we created a parent-focused product range donating to Repeal 8. Our YES necklace worn by Roisin Ingle, Marian Keyes, and Ashling Bea raised funds for Together for Yes, Terminations for Medical Reasons and In her shoes:Women of the 8th.
Most of all our range gets people talking about issues. And its this that is our raison d’être.”
-Black & Beech
Designer: Madeleine Ostling
Based in one of Britain’s most enigmatic islands in Scotland, Madeleine’s brand makes the most of their natural surroundings by emphasising on sourcing local, hand sorted fleeces to make elegant designs that transcend the fast paste changes in fashion. The clothes are characterful and the true embodiment of British textile heritage.
“We want each garment to encompass the processes that have gone in to creating it; the time taken to select the right fleeces, to experiment with each dye, fabric and fibre. We embrace the annual shifts in tone and grain that naturally occur in the yarn each year, allowing us to accentuate their uniqueness throughout our collection.”
Designer: Kelly Fannon
Made from organic, sustainable cotton, Kelly’s clothes are fun, comfortable and effortless. Her theme is matching mums and kids t-shirts, ideal for those early mornings when you just want to put on a comfortable top that looks stunning but requires no effort! Kelly hand paints all her designs and her aim is to provide a range that is affordable, but also kind to the environment. Her fabrics are all sustainable and she stands firmly against the use of child labour in clothes production.
“I had this idea about t-shirts for moms and kids for a while. But I was also concerned about the ethics in the fashion industry, the pollution to people and the environment in producing synthetic yarns and fabrics. I researched into organic cotton and into the ethics of who is making our clothes. All the t-shirts I use are made with organic cotton and are from a supplier that ensures the fair treatment of the garment makers.
So I am having fun painting, printing, dyeing t-shirts for women and kids and now for men. All organic and ethically made, these are all designed with love for you, our kids, for ourselves to have fun and wear something different.”
Designer: Jane Mason
I absolutely adore Jane’s outlook on fashion and how she’s combined her artistic creativity and sewing skills to create a completely unique, one of a kind range of clothing made 100% from recycled and upcycled clothing. Her designs are made by using pieces of preloved male and female shirts and t-shirts, creating wearable art.
Jane takes a strong stance against the fashion exploits of our age and by experimenting with various mediums, textures and colours, she introduces us to a whole new way of perceiving fashion, that is fresh, ethical and anti-corporation. To describe Tatty Buys in her own words : ‘Recycled art to wear. Anti-fashion with a conscience.’
‘Throwaway society has created a fashion industry that relies on extreme exploitation. Through recycling i hope to encourage a more ethical approach to the way we cloth ourselves. As i have said I am an artist, I am not a seamstress. I call myself “Tatty Buys” because my clothes can be tatty where my finishing lacks finesse. But all my clothes are unique and made with love and passion.”
Designer: Kristen Kong
Perhaps one of the most fascinating elements of our photoshoot was using Kristen’s phenomenal jewellery. Founded in 2015, Kristen focuses on paper jewellery making. Originally from Hong Kong and with a textiles background, she specialises in reusing found objects and waste materials by breathing new life into them. Kristen combines traditional techniques with innovative designs, creating masterpieces from paper waste! Her aim is to spread awareness on how to waste less, living by her motto ‘Turning trash into treasure’. Kristen believes so firmly that one can make beautiful things out of found objects that she organises workshops regularly to share her skills and techniques with anyone willing to learn!
“All the Paper used for making are all hand painted and folded into small triangles, most of the paper we used are recycled papers. All of our Jewelleries are splash proof, so don’t worry about sweat and rain. Do you Know? One of our wing necklace takes up to 120 pieces of little triangles to create!”
Handmade, Eco-Friendly, Fair Trade Products from Nepal.
Last but not least I wanted to bring this little gem of a market stall to everyone’s attention. Gifts from Himalaya is a family owned business, by a lovely Nepalese couple whose range of scarves and shawls are too stunning to be missed! All their products come from Nepal, made ethically and with sustainable wool. The quality of these products are second to none and the vibrant colours and ornate textures are a true reflection of the Nepalese traditions.
As a more traditional couple, they have yet to promote their stuff online, but that’s what makes their stuff that little bit more precious and old school, having to physically pay them a visit at Greenwich Market, London to experience the textures and colours firsthand!
It’s never too late!
It warms my heart to see more and more people taking steps toward preserving our planet and finding ways to reduce the damage we’ve inflicted on earth so far. No change is easy and nothing happens overnight. But it is the little changes to our lifestyles, being mindful of what we wear or eat, knowing where things come from and how they are made that will pave the way toward a greener future. All the women featured in my blog are individuals like you and me, who have taken it upon themselves to make a change for the better in the world. Their success stories are encouraging and their views inspiring.
In a world of fast fashion, ruled by the multitude of magazines and “style icons” who entice us to buy more clothes than we need to quench a fashion thirst that is infinite, stand out from the crowd by saying no, by changing your mindset and by valuing quality over quantity. It’s not about having more, it’s about appreciating what we already have!
This project would not have been possible, firstly without the extremely touching willingness of all the wonderful designers who helped me far more than I ever expected anyone to assist me with the project, and secondly my wonderful team:
Thanks to my most beautiful and down to earth co-model Nooshin who worked tirelessly all day with a constant smile and a positive energy to boost us all up!
Thanks also to the wonderful ladies at Davenports Hair and Beauty salon, for their efforts!