FASHION REVOLUTION WEEK: DAY 5
The noticeably high cost of sustainable clothing has come up in conversation more than a few times since I started my Fashion Revolution challenge this week. It's true that items that are sourced and manufactured ethically are often more expensive than their high-street counterparts. That being said, this is slowly changing with the launch of collections such as H&M Conscious Collection, Mango Committed and the continued growth of ethically committed brands like People Tree — more of which I'll be sharing later this week. Personally, my wardrobe is a true mixture of high and lower-end pieces. There are unusual, one-of-a-kind designs, kooky vintage bits, classic items that I've invested in, basics that I know will truly get worn until they wear out and high-street trendy items that refresh my wardrobe for the season.
"Sometimes a more expensive item is worth the investment if it's something you know you will treasure and wear forever."
As I get older and my relationship with fashion progresses, I am trying to retrain myself to go by the "do I love it and does it love me" mantra. A bit Marie Kondo: how much joy does it bring and do I really need it? I can't tell you how many times I've bought a jumper, t-shirt or dress that's so "me," only to realise a year later when unpacking the back of a drawer that I have something similar — hence why I recognised it as being "so me" in the first place... I LOVE a bargain, but this can get me in trouble — whether it's £9.99 from the high-street or from a 50% off designer sale, I can end up with items that I thought were such a good deal but are completely surplus as I failed to notice that they wrinkled round the armpits, fit funny on the bum or irritated my neck and consequently never wear them. So now I ask myself if it really works for me whatever the price tag (within reason of course!) and then wear it time and time again. Sometimes a more expensive item is worth the investment if it's something you know you will treasure and wear forever.
Likewise, I'm a true believer that whether an item was bought for £2 from a carboot sale or for £200 on Net-a-Porter, you should look after your clothes. Thankfully, there are now plenty of great brands and services which have been designed around caring for your clothes in the most eco-friendly way possible. I've included some of my favourite tips and tricks below:
1. Eco-friendly washing machines. If a new washing machine is on the cards, then consider an eco-friendly model. It might not be the cheapest option, but it will save you money in the long run, as well as being more environmentally friendly. It's also so important for when you are washing only a few items, as more modern models are designed to use less water for smaller loads, rather than the same amount they would use for a large load. They also come packed with other features such as fast wash, eco-bubble and hand wash or delicates wash, which is a God-send. See below...
2. Hand washing. I only really send items to the dry-cleaner if they are embellished or made from a material such as leather or very delicate silk. Everything else either goes into the machine on the hand-washing setting or I wash it by hand in the sink. If you do need to send an item to the dry cleaners, I recommend Johnson Cleaners, who have over 190 branches across the UK. They use a product called GreenEarth® which delivers first-class cleaning results whilst being 100% non-toxic to the environment. Most other dry cleaners use Percholorethylene, a petrochemical-based chemical solvent which is potentially hazardous to the environment and can also fade colours, melt sequins and embellishments, and change the shape of your garments. If you must dry-clean a garment using a conventional dry cleaning company do be sure to air the garment sufficiently (out of the plastic wrapping — an additional strain on the environment) so that you are not wearing or inhaling the less-than-ideal chemical fumes from the cleaning process.
3. Air dry. In summer (or on warm/dry winter days), dry things outside or on a rack — don't use the dryer! If you hang things properly, you also won't have to iron and, when the weather is hot, they'll dry in a matter of minutes. On a less hot day, it takes longer and can also absorb the cooking smells, but Mother Earth and your electricity bills will thank you.
4. Wear things more than once. Unless you've been sweating in the gym, it's a really hot day or what you're wearing has collected dirt another way, wear clothes more than once before cleaning them. Items like jumpers, jackets and even jeans, which don't sit directly on your skin, rarely need washing when they've only been worn the one time. A trick popular with people who don't want to change the shape of their beloved jeans by washing them is to pop them into the freezer for a day or two to kill off any bacteria and eliminate any smells.
5. Eco-friendly washing detergent. If you're up for it, there are great recipes onlinefor making your own laundry detergent, but if you're short on time and prefer the efficiency of buying, I really rate Ecover, a competitively priced and widely available brand. Ecover uses clean, biodegradable, plant-derived ingredients that won’t add phosphates to the world’s waterways. The brand steers away from dirty fossil fuel-based substances, whilst still ensuring clothing gets a heavy-duty clean. The Gentle Label's lavender laundry liquid is also lovely, albeit a bit more expensive; the ultra-concentrated liquid cleans and freshens laundry without the use of harsh chemicals, and unless your clothes are filthy with grime, a little goes a long way. Check out soap nuts too — these last for ages and are so cost effective. When it comes to fabric softeners, you don't need much, and for the sake of your own health, those intense "just washed" aromas from freshly laundered clothes? If they aren't essential oils, then you're inhaling synthetic smells AKA chemicals. Think about it...
6. Darn it. Yes that's right. I'm sure by now many of you are already thinking I can't live without a dryer and I don't have time to handwash and now you think I'm going to get out a needle and thread? So many good quality clothes end up on the scrap heap because they are torn or frayed. Yes ,it's annoying and a lesson learnt when poor quality garments or those incorrectly washed end up looking worse for wear early on in their short life, but it's a shame to reject an item for further use because we didn't catch a snag int time and it escalates to a full rip or gaping hole. Sitting down for an evening or for an hour on the weekend might sound like someone's idea of "as if," but try it. You might like it and even find it incredibly satisfying. Just like cooking your own food, it allows you to connect in a new way to what you choose to put in your body or surround yourself with and it gives clothing a new lease of life in no time at all. While basic sewing might not seem like a necessary skill, it's a great one to have in your locker, just like being able to start a fire or tie a knot.
"My aim is to challenge people's perceptions of ethical fashion and show them it's not just resort wear."
And now, onto Fashion Revolution Week day five. For some, it's dress-down Friday, but, in true Jasmine Hemsley style, I've swung the opposite way and got suited and booted. I don't often wear suits, but I've never had more compliments — and I received even more positive feedback when I told people it was sustainable. As I've spoken about before, my aim is to challenge people's perceptions of ethical fashion and show them it's not just resort wear, but you can dress for the office, for the gym and for your holiday in sustainable pieces. This suit is cool, lightweight with an amazing print. This looks just as good with a pair of sneakers as it does with heels so, for "dress-up Friday," I've added these Beyond Skin block heels just to make clear I mean business!
Bozena Jankowska is an award-winning sustainable womenswear label inspired by environmental and social issues, producing limited edition capsule collections. Bozena is committed to reducing the label’s environmental footprint by incorporating sustainable fabrics into collections and has made it their long-term mission to incorporate ever more innovative and sustainable fabrics into their future collections. The brand is continuously searching and talking to textile mills who can supply them with environmentally friendly and sustainable alternatives to conventional fabrics.
KNOW THE ORIGIN
Know The Origin is run by Charlotte, who was studying at London College of Fashion at the time Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Bangladesh. She spent her dissertation year not in books, but in supply chains around Bangladesh and India, meeting survivors of factory collapses, ethical producers and charities, trying to understand how she had no idea where her clothes came from or the levels of injustices involved. Charlotte launched Know The Origin in 2016. The brand is dedicated to working with with incredible purpose-led producers in India that operate under Fairtrade and Organic principles, to create value and respect for people who in the industry are often pushed to the margins. Its producers are passionate about the environment and eradicating poverty through their businesses, ensuring people are being treated with respect, paid fairly and have the support they need for their families.
Founded in 2001, Beyond Skin is the first British, independent, luxury vegan footwear brand dedicated to designing cruelty-free luxury shoes for fashionable yet ethically conscious women. Beyond Skin was created in response to the challenging predicament of combining both style and fashion with an ethically conscious lifestyle. All of the brand's collections are produced in Spain with fabrics and components sourced from both Spain and Italy.
The Khokho atelier is located on Malandela's Farm in Malkerns, Swaziland and is home to a dedicated group of leather smiths who transform woven panels into beautiful handbags. Local production is deeply engrained in the Khokho brand ethos, so each leather smith is trained by Italian master craftsman Carlo Bisceglia in the art of patternmaking, cutting and construction, so as to keep development native to Swaziland. Each Khokho handbag is handcrafted from carefully woven Lutindzi grass and locally sourced, vegetable tanned leathers and suedes. Hardware details are thoughtfully constructed in the finest brass and hand-carved cow horn. All waste by-products are reinvented so as to create a well-balanced environment, and to minimise Khokho's ecological footprint.
Established by Paola Masperi, Mayamiko The Label is an ethical and sustainable womenswear and lifestyle brand, producing pieces lovingly made in Malawi by a team of tailors, pattern cutters and seamstresses, as well as artisans in Sri Lanka who made the tassel earrings pictured. Mayamiko also aims to help the most disadvantaged people in Malawi by nurturing their creative talents and turning them in to sustainable activities that could be transferable to trade practices, lifting them out of poverty and towards a better future.