We’ve been doing some research at No More Traffik HQ recently for some upcoming campaigns. One thing we’ve always been interested in is how the fashion industry interacts with issues of fairness and justice.
We came across this movie on Netflix and it blew us away. I feel like I need to re-watch it monthly…there is so much information – and so much motivation – in it. Featuring Livia Firth, Stella McCartney and other key fashion world players who are committed to changing the industry, it’s hard-hitting and hopeful in equal measure.
I learned that 1 in 6 people in the world work in the fashion industry. That the people who are exploited in labour often do not have an alternative. That the industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. That rather than 2 seasons per year, there are now 52…”fast fashion” is what drives this. New items on the shelves every week. Strikingly, we buy for two purposes – to use, and to use up. Cars, houses, coffee machines – to use. Post-its, orange juice, soap – to use up. Clothes have in recent years moved from being items we buy to use, to items we buy to use up. The result is devastating…and that devastation is only obvious when we go looking for it.
But it’s not always easy to know what we should do with such information. We (I) feel powerless. But after years of information and hearing stories and some significant experiences in the past few months, I’ve found something I can do to make a difference.
I’ve made a personal decision to no longer engage in fast fashion.
I will purge. I’ve been having a major clear-out. I’m getting rid of over half of my wardrobe and I will keep re-evaluating what I have and what I need. Minimalism is my goal. My friend Rebekah wrote a great blog post on this art recently which you can check out here. There is such truth in the fact that we are now embarrassed, confused by the choices we have…not least in our wardrobes. By streamlining, I have already found it easier to pick coherent outfits out each morning.
I will buy seasonal pieces that make sense with my wardrobe, and let’s face it – living in Northern Ireland means I don’t have too many seasons to buy for. I will invest in quality pieces I know, as best I can, the origins of. Mel knows a lot about where to shop, and I’ve enjoyed exploring what is out there – this week I’m obsessed with these gorgeous textiles from Basha Boutique.
I will campaign. I will continue to add my voice to the Make Fashion Traffik-Free campaign by asking my favourite retailers who made my clothes.
I will support. I’m bringing some functional items from my clear-out to a charity in Belfast that works with people who are homeless; and I’m selling other pieces online to gather funds for a fast-fashion-alternative project we visited in India last month. You can view the items here (almost all unworn and under a tenner!). Here’s some more about the project:
It was the first visit we made – it was a hot Monday morning, and our van rolled up to a brightly coloured building bursting at the seams with even more colourfully-dressed women with fresh flowers in their hair. They were waiting for our host to arrive and cut the ribbon that was between them and their new tailoring centre. Claps and giggles accompanied the ceremony, and then…they got to work. Lilac, orange, yellow, pink thread carefully installed in ornate sewing machines. Bare bejewelled feet gently pressing down. An orchestra of sewing machines rhythmically creating master pieces. Clothing to be sold to support these women, their families, their communities. Over sweet tea and biscuits, and by the stories told in the fierce determination in sparkling brown eyes and impossibly beautiful smiles, we learned that this tailoring centre was going to be an integral part of change in the community.
THIS is the fashion industry that I want to support. Local people being given choices and opportunities, empowered to support themselves and others, equipped to build a future.