On Tuesday, ATTYRE attended a Guardian masterclass on the rise of ethical fashion. Guests from all areas of the industry were there, from students to designers, to retail professionals. It was an important opportunity to delve into the world of sustainable design and connect with like minded people.
Hosted by journalist and TV presenter Lucy Siegle, with a guest appearance from Livia Firth (founder of Eco Age and The Green Carpet Challenge), the evening gave us an insight into how fast
fashion has evolved and at the same time, how consumers are becoming aware of the detriments of our throwaway culture.
Siegle shared some interesting information and statistics about ‘hyper-consumerism’ – from the number of fashion seasons expanding (no longer just spring/summer, autumn/winter), to the typical Zara customer visiting on average 17 times a year.
A particularly interesting fact is that clothing companies spend just 0.6% on labour costs. Imagine if we increased that by just 0.02 % – what a difference it would make to the quality of garment worker’s lives.
Also discussed was the wide range of sustainable labels out there. Siegle demonstrated this by giving us a glimpse into her wardrobe, with rails of ethical pieces from brands such as Patagonia and People Tree. Patagonia actually manufacture their clothing in Bangladesh, although using 100% ethical and transparent production methods. The North Face, another sustainable outerwear brand, is currently developing 1000 eco-friendly materials each year.
Safia Minney, founder of People Tree, saw her first profit from sales only last year, because her main concern is the welfare of the artisans she employs. That fact alone shows that for her, sustainability is truly a way of life, not just a unique selling point.
Another brand that works towards transparency within its supply chain is Marks & Spencer, who have a very good relationship with their suppliers and use recycling initiatives and swishing events to encourage consumers to make enviro-friendly choices.
Livia Firth discussed how she’s bringing sustainable style to the red carpet, with A-listers wearing Green Carpet Challenge designs. One of her fans, Cameron Diaz, wore an upcycled Tom Ford dress.
Ultimately it is up to clothing retailers to make the changes that we are demanding more and more as consumers. But as consumers, it is us who have purchasing power, to bring these issues to the forefront and make more conscious choices in what we buy.
Let’s not be that woman who left her six Primark bags on the floor and walked off, because they were soaked through from the rain (something Lucy Siegle was actually there to witness!). Let’s be the people who can reconnect with fashion by seeing past the labels and trends.