Image: Yasmin Le Bon wearing Katharine Hamnett's 'protest and survive' slogan t-shirt at Fashion Aid in 1985. Image source.
April 24th is a somber day for fashion. On this day in 2013, 1,134 people were killed
and more than 2,500 injured when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Dhaka,Bangladesh. What is even more tragic about this is the fact that the disaster could have easily been prevented. In fact, as a result of this collapse, 41 people were actually charged with murder — which is no small burden to bear. According to the BBC, “they are accused of ignoring warnings not to allow workers into the building the day before it collapsed.” So why do we need a Fashion Revolution then? Because this is just one of the many injustices experienced throughout the modern garment industry.
“I saw that the Rana Plaza disaster could act as a catalyst, with the heightened awareness around ethical fashion providing a window to bring about real change,” says Fashion Revolution founder and ethical fashion pioneer, Cary Somers. “Fashion Revolution Week represents an exciting opportunity to reconnect fashion lovers with the people who made their clothes”. But it is also an opportunity to open up greater conversation about the issues involved with mass production, fast fashion processes and the imbalanced distribution of wages and opportunity for many workers throughout the garment industry. This is what Well Made Clothes is all about — spreading awareness and encouraging positive change, without the burden of guilt. Just beautiful clothing, made well.
All of the designers you see on Well Made Clothes are committed, as the Fashion Revolution initiative is, to turning fashion into a force for good. Certainly, it is a long journey of transformation for the industry as a whole, but one well worth the hard work. While some of our brands are amazing and already check multiple Well Made Clothes values, others are just starting out on their ethical journey. Which is absolutely something to celebrate, because change doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. Likewise for us as consumers, conscious shopping is an ongoing process. It might begin with a few smarter choices, like ensuring that your wardrobe reflects your personal ethics, or turning your garments inside out and asking the brands #whomademyclothes. Ultimately, if we can all make a difference in our own wardrobes, we will be on the way to a safer, cleaner and more progressive fashion industry overall.
Fashion Revolution Week (April 18-24) marks the anniversary of a terrible disaster in the fashion industry, but it also represents an opportunity for positive change. It is a reminder of the myriad issues that often go unseen within this sector and also of the fact that, as consumers, we can use our voice and our power of choice to transform this industry into a force for good. Well Made Clothes hopes to be a part of the Fashion Revolution, too, by keeping you up to date with information about exciting new technological developments, tips for how you can get the most out of your wardrobe and, most of all, by connecting you with the brands that are trying to make a difference.
This year, our very own Celeste Tesoriero joins the likes of Stella McCartney and Kit Willow as an official Fashion Revolution supporter. “I believe the success of the Fashion Revolution initiative is its power of simplicity,” she says. “Often the subject of sustainability in fashion is too daunting for the consumer to digest as they feel they need to acquire a vast amount of information before formulating an opinion or taking action. Fashion Revolution breaks down this barrier, forging ahead and garnering an impressively large international following and therefore a movement that can create real change. I am excited to be one of the designers getting behind them and being part of the movement in 2016”.
Certainly, some things have changed since Rana Plaza. For example, almost 75% of factories identified as exporting clothing from Bangladesh have now undergone building fire and safety assessments. And,according to The Guardian, 35 factories have since been closed for failing to comply with structural integrity standards. But it is still not enough. We need to see more discussion, more awareness and more action. Transparency is the first step to transforming the fashion industry and it can begin with the simplest of questions: who made my clothes? If you are aware of your clothing’s starting point, then you can make more informed shopping choices on the whole. So, with that in mind, we will be bringing you the stories of all our designers on Well Made Clothes, so that you can learn some more about the lifecycle of your garments. At the end of the day, it pays to know where your clothes came from.
Thank you to 'Well Made Clothes' for this article, Click Here
Why Reflecting Your Personal Values In Your Shopping Habits Is Important
Image: Vivienne Westwood photographed by Juergen Teller for her Ethical Fashion Africa collection. Image source.
Shopping is personal. Each person has a different way they prefer to shop — online, in-store, window-shopping before buying — and, of course, our personal tastes are all highly individual, too. In other words, there is really no one size fits all approach when it comes to shopping. But nor is there a one size fits all approach when it comes to our personal ethics and, by extension, shopping to reflect those ethics. For most of us, certain concerns tend to take priority over others. Which doesn’t mean that these other issues are any less important, just that sometimes we need to pick our battles.
It is for this reason that we’ve decided to structure Well Made Clothes the way we have. Our Values system is designed to help you navigate the various different issues contributing to clothing that’s more ethical than the fast fashion churned out at an alarming rate of 52 micro seasons per year. The reality is, though, that what is ‘ethical’ to one person, won’t necessarily mean exactly the same to the next. Because, just as we all have different needs when it comes to bra size, we all have different concerns when it comes to ethical shopping too.
Being an ethical shopper is a constant work in progress. Because new technologies and methodologies are being developed all the time; helping to streamline the processes. This is actually really exciting, because it means that, not only are your personal efforts improving, but so are the industry’s. This is not about being perfect, then, or even better/worse than anyone else — it’s about learning as you go and always striving to improve where possible.
This is the kind of mentality that we also try to inspire in our brands. To exist on the Well Made Clothes website, each brand has to check one of our values. And while some brands are amazing and already check multiple, others are only at the very start of their ethical journey. Which is incredibly inspiring, because it heralds the fact that times, they are a changing.
When we developed Well Made Clothes, the last thing we wanted was for it to be about judgement or guilt-tripping. Instead, it is a resource to inform people about where our garments have come from and how we can all be more conscious shoppers. Perhaps you have already got this totally down — which is awesome and, in that case, good on you. We hope that you can find some beautiful pieces here to add to your collection. But if you’re just starting out, or want to further improve the sustainability of your wardrobe, then we’re really excited to share that journey with you too. And a big part of this process is going to be about curating your ethics.
Whether consciously or unconsciously, we all curate our wardrobes. That is, we select what’s going to go in them and we care for (or not so much) those garments thereafter. By being really mindful of how many new pieces we are buying, what percentage of quality fibres (and therefore lasting power) they contain, and how we then wash those pieces, we can radically reduce the environmental footprint of our wardrobe. But just as important as curating our wardrobes is also curating our ethics. The reality is that it is very difficult to be a perfectly ethical shopper in today’s climate — something that we desperately hope will change in future years. Not only are mass production, energy consumption, fair wages and particular toxic dyes all major concerns, but there are also constant issues involved with maintaining transparency amidst increasingly complex supply chains.
So rather than focusing on perfection, we all need to first focus on what matters to us most. If that’s the environment, for example, then our Sustainable value is a fantastic place to start. An avid animal-lover? Then the Vegan value offers a number of beautiful, animal-friendly pieces. Of course, the ideal situation would be that we could all balance each of these concerns equally in our wardrobes and right throughout our lives. But a much more realistic approach — we are trying to change the world here, after all — is to start small and build from there. Pick one, or maybe a few values that really speak to you; learn everything you can about them and then become the resident expert on, say Local fashion, amongst your friends. Introduce these principles into your wardrobe not just with what you buy, but also how you recycle the clothing you no longer need, for example. And then, when you feel like you’ve really got this covered, it’s time to master your next value.
Because, at the end of the day, what we need to focus on here is the bigger picture. And even the smallest wardrobe changes can make a difference. No one said that it would be easy — or that anyone had to be perfect — but trust us, it is well worth it. And, ultimately, you’ll find yourself in possession of a well-curated wardrobe that also supports your personal ethics. Nothing could be more fashionable than that.
Thank you to 'Well Made Clothes' for this article, Click Here.
Fast Fashion Makes Us Feel Better About Being Broke, But It Shouldn’t
Image: movie still taken from The Devil Wears Prada. Image source.
Why do we tend to spend more money than we can afford? It’s a condition that’s emblematic of our culture of mass consumerism and one that’s also intrinsic to the idea of ‘retail therapy’. But is buying more stuff all the time actually therapeutic; does itmake us feel any better about our bank balances? Perhaps in the short term, yes — and, even then, it’s only because we’ve been conditioned to feel that way. But, either way, it’s a very temporary, Band-Aid sort of solution that seems to wear off all too quickly. In other words, it’s a stopgap to make us feel better about not having more money than we do. And then it’s onto the next purchase and so on — a cycle that, in many ways, keeps fast fashion companies in business. Because, according to Smart Asset, “with fast fashion, clothing brands have rejected the seasonal model of dressing in favor of a near-constant stream of new designs.”
As The Wall Street Journal points out, conspicuous consumption — or lavish purchasing designed to enhance one’s status — has actually existed for centuries. For example, Frank Trentmann’s book Empire of Things asserts that “one Chinese observer in the 1570s complained about the ‘young dandies’ who thought ‘silk gauze isn’t good enough and lust for Suzhou embroideries’ seeking the ‘look of the moment.’” But while the focus then was on quality, the focus now is on newness. Once, it was about seeking the very best fabrics or products, as a way to solidify one’s status and personal identity. But today, ‘newness’ tends to be the currency in which we deal. The problem with this is that it doesn’t actually make us any less broke; actually it does just the opposite. And to quote the words of Sophia Amoruso, “money looks better in the bank than on your feet”. So why do we remain so addicted to the idea of retail therapy then; to the fast fashion mentality of mass consumption?
In her New York Times book review of 1996 bestseller The Millionaire Next Door, Juliet B Schor writes about “the overspent American”. She contrasts the spending habits of these individuals with those that have excessive personal wealth. “In contrast to the popular perception of millionaire lifestyles, this book reveals that most millionaires live frugal lives — buying used cars, purchasing their suits at JC Penney, and shopping for bargains,” Schor writes. “These very wealthy people feel no need to let the world know they can afford to live much better than their neighbors. Millions of other Americans, on the other hand, have a different relationship with spending. What they acquire and own is tightly bound to their personal identity.” In particular, Schor is talking here about driving a certain kind of car or ordering the ‘right’ bottle of wine as a way to “create and support a particular image of themselves to present to the world.” Today, though, it is not quite so straightforward to appear ‘fashionable’ as it once. Because fast fashion companies churn out new trends for us to covet in lighting time, therefore we find ourselves in a perpetual state of want. And if we wish to keep up with these new ‘trends’ — fast fashion constructs as they may be — then weekly shopping sprees are the way to do it.
But is there really anything fashionable about following brand new trends every week, or is it time that we re-evaluate our definition of style? In the wise words of Coco Chanel, “fashion changes, style endures”. But in the context of mass production and consequent consumption, we seem to have mistaken trendiness for the art of being fashionable. Because we tend to believe now that having a new top or dress to wear out for drinks with friends will make us feel better, even though it mightn’t be the best use of our hard-earned money. That’s where tricky fast fashion can really come in handy, because it has so successfully made people believe that clothing can and should be cheap. Therefore, it feels ‘normal’ and achievable to have that new item to show off every weekend. But what it is actually doing is contributing to a vicious cycle of social and environmental devastation. Not only that, but costing you a pretty penny in the process. When you consider that a quality t-shirt might retail for around $70 but actually last you for years to come, while its $30 predominantly-polyester counterpart is less likely built with longevity in mind, those new weekly purchases suddenly don’t seem so cheap.
So how do we combat this issue then? Well we can start by buying less and seeking quality wherever possible. While buying new stuff all the time might makes us feel as if we’re not broke, it is deceptive at best and counterproductive to actually not being broke at worst. This isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, in the sense that driving particular cars has given people a sense of self worth for years. But the fervent need for newness is a more recent phenomenon and one that’s suspiciously convenient for the continued success of fast fashion companies. Overall, it’s important to remember here that we don’t have anything to prove to anyone. And, ultimately, the buzz created by a brand new outfit is bound to wear off pretty quickly anyway — so it’s a very temporary solution when you think about it. With that in mind, I’d argue that saving those pennies spent each week on fast fashion clothing is a much more effective way to feel better about being broke. Because not only will you have more money in the bank (aka actually not be broke), but the excitement of purchasing new items of quality, well made clothing will also be far greater once you do get there.
Andreja Pejic Is a Game Changer On and Off the Runway by J Okwodo
Every so often a model comes along who completely changes the game. When Andreja Pejic broke out on the international fashion scene back in 2010, she immediately challenged the industry’s perceptions of beauty with a look that was subtly androgynous (she resembled Karolina Kurkova) and captivating (at the time, she had not yet transitioned). An instant favorite of boundary-breaking designers like Jean Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs, Pejic quickly became a fixture on the runways for both genders long before crossover success was the norm. Able to add a touch of elegance to any project, Pejic is at her best when sporting the most opulent wares—a fact image-makers love to embrace. When shooting with Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, Craig McDean or Steven Klein, Pejic is frequently counted on to bring elegance and endlessly chic sensibility.
More than simply looking great on a runway or posing for big-name photographers, Pejic opened the door for transgender models in the highest echelons of fashion. While she began her career doing menswear shows, Pejic’s candor regarding her gender-confirmation surgery sparked a conversation about inclusiveness on the catwalk. Though it’s only been six years, the strides made by Pejic and trailblazers like Lea T, Ines Rau, and Hari Nef have ushered in a new era within the modeling industry, one where the boundaries of sexuality and gender are no longer obstacles to success.
THE 7 BIGGEST SINS IN RACING FASHION by CANDICE JACKSON
Some fashion rules were made to be broken. You know the ones: fringe is only for music festivals; tall girls shouldn’t wear heels; activewear is only for the gym.
We break those rules every week but there’s a time and a place for everything. The races? Not it. You’ll look like a racing fool if you slip up here and no one wants to look tacky trackside. EVER.
To help out our Style sisters, we’ve rounded up the seven deadly sins of racing fashion that you should avoid at all costs.
1. THOU SHALT NOT CONFUSE RACY WITH RACEWEAR
Brynne Ecclestone definitely didn’t get this memo. Image: Pinterest
Leave the crop tops and short skirts for the beach or the clubs; those things should never get within 100 feet of the track. If you feel like you’re showing too much skin, you’re probably right. Avoid overly busty outfits, sheer material or dresses with large cut-outs.
2. THOU SHALT NOT GO BAREFOOT
If your shoes end up anywhere besides on your OWN feet, you’ve done something wrong. When choosing a pair of gorgeous heels, you also need to consider comfort and durability. There’s nothing worse than finding out three hours in that they’re the shoes from hell and you’d rather go barefoot than walk in them for a second longer. If you suffer through this on a regular basis, it’s time to opt for wedges or thick block heels. Consider wearing stockings to pad your heels as well, but make sure they’re definitely ladder-free.
3. THOU SHALT NOT MAKE MILLINERY AN AFTERTHOUGHT
Millinery is one of the most important aspects of racing fashion, so you should NEVER leave it until the last minute:pick your hat or fascinator first and then build your outfit from there. It’s Murphy’s Law: if you have the perfect outfit in place and “just have to grab a fascinator” to complete the look, you’ll never find one that works.
4. THOU SHALT NOT GO OVERBOARD ON BEAUTY
Forget the horses; fashion is the thing on show at races, and you should never let your beauty choices outshine your fashion ones. Avoid caking on makeup and instead go for a minimal look that won’t melt in the sun. Speaking of melting, if you want a spray tan then do it well in advance because a streaky fake tan is no one’s friend.
5. THOU SHALT NOT PERFORM A BALANCING ACT
You’ll likely be working the room, the canapé table and the bar, all while trying to Instagram that cute photo of you and your posse, hold your bag and keep up an impeccable façade. Even if you’re the master of multi-tasking, you’re asking for trouble. Secure a table nearby or opt for a clutch that can be thrown over the shoulder with a delicate strap. No one has time to deal with stains from red wine or goat cheese and baby beet canapé with balsamic glaze and micro herbs. Trust us, it’s a whole lot less fancy when it’s ruining your dress.
6. THOU SHALT NOT WEAR YOUR MILLINERY INCORRECTLY
Finding your special headpiece is one thing, but if you’re not wearing it correctly it’s just as much a faux par as not wearing one at all. If you have a sloping headpiece, traditionally it’s supposed to tilt to the right, so you can kiss to the left. Materials such as felt should only be used during winter seasons. If you’re going to the hairdresser to get your up-do or wavy curls, you should get them to craft the hair around the millinery for a cohesive look.
7. THOU SHALT NOT IGNORE RACE DAY ETIQUETTE
Race day etiquette is pretty strict across the board, so it’s important to know the rules and stick to them. The most common ones are to keep hemlines below the knee, cover your shoulders with thick straps (not spaghetti straps or off-the-shoulder options) and absolutely do NOT bare your midriff. But each race day has its own additional set of rules, from colour guides to pattern or design elements. You can read more about the rules for local race days coming up here.
This is not written by Racing Fashion or Affiliates, Click Here