I wrote a blog post about the subject of sustainable fashion a couple of weeks ago and never posted it. It felt a bit preachy and to be honest I almost don’t feel qualified to write about it. Maybe because I’ve seen too many professional looking insta pics of animals trapped in a piece of plastic with well written, factual anti-pollution paragraph underneath that the owner probably re-wrote from another source (my mum was right, sometimes it’s all about the presentation!) good ol’ Instagram making people feel not good enough!
But to hell with that. If you feel passionate about something you should put it out there if only for the cathartic benefits so here goes -
I did the aptly named, Cotton Collection in a response to all the talk on the impact the fashion industry is having on the environment. I’m not sure if the consumer is to be blamed for this. For the first time we’re asking people to think before buy, something that they have never had to do before, it’s not an easy habit to change. The blame should be solely on the fashion brands who have been and continue to create clothes with profit as their raison d’etre. Nothing good comes from greed so something or someone has to suffer.
The current fast fashion system isn’t sustainable and is liquidating an industry that has craftsmanship akin to architecture. It should be studied and marveled at but that concept gets lost when cloth is exchanged for likes. For example, Boohoo.com debuts 700 new styles each week*. Just think of the meters of fabric used just for the samples, before anything is sold. It’s truly mind boggling and I’ve just mentioned 1 brand, there are so many brands who are creating thousands of sub-par designs in a panic reaction to give our now instant gratification addicted society what they want.
Each piece of clothing has had a couple of lives behind it. Someone has to think about that zip, that seam, the lining. There is a water source that’s being polluted because the fabric needs to be made and dyed, a field the soil of which is turning to dust because of the pesticides and overuse to grow the cotton. Interesting if not anxiety inducing fact, there is only 60 years of topsoil left. But we can just plant a couple of trees right? Erm, yeah not really as it takes over 500 years to form an inch of the stuff.
I personally feel all this is coming to a boil now. Fast fashion is also unsustainable from a psychological point of view. It’s just too overwhelming with too many choices and this is exactly how I feel when I visit Topshop in Oxford Circus in London, my brain literally screams. Maybe I’m just getting old.
As a designer I feel responsible and slightly guilty and torn about trying to make a living from the industry. I know I’m just a very small brand, what impact am I really making? but as my favorite saying goes, have you have tried sleeping in a room with a mosquito? Small things can make a difference and I am planning to stick to my philosophies about manufacturing and running a fashion business and I will be as transparent as possible.
Everything Hidden Beneath does is handmade. Maybe one day I will have to get things produced in volume but I plan on doing that as ethically and as close to home as possible. The cotton collection is made from UK sourced organic cotton with UK made elastic. Our famous fishnet collection is made out of a man-made fiber sourced from the UK but I only have a couple of meters in the studio at any given time and I limit the wastage of this as much as I can. I want to move away from it but I also need this business to work so it’s staying for now until I find an alternative. All packaging is plastic free.
In conclusion when it was 18 degrees in February I freaked out. I want to do more to save the planet but apart from the obvious I’m not sure what. I’m hoping by reading this people will think before they buy, maybe recycle something at home? There are many resources online that can guide you to living a more eco-friendly life and some of the changes are surprisingly minor. Hopefully if the conversation continues fast fashion will be a thing of the past and people will cherish their clothes (and underwear!) like they used to do. People complain about time moving so fast but that’s only because we live so fast. Just think of how time moves so slowly when you have to wait for something you really want.