Monday 18 April 2016

Fashion Revolution Week

Viva la (Fashion) Revolution!

Today kicks off Fashion Revolution Week - a campaign created to commemorate the fatal Rana Plaza disaster that occurred 24 April 2013. It took the lives of over 1,100 clothing factory workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and injured more than 2,500. Many of the injured still await compensation for their horrific injuries.

In my work as a researcher and writer, I get to meet many fashion innovators who are changing the way supply chains and fabrics are created, and I know we are on our way to true Fashion Revolution. But there is still a huge need to encourage existing brands to hasten their transition toward traceable supply chains, fair work conditions for all labourers, and cleaner environmental practices.

This is where you come in . . .

The fine folks at Fashion Revolution are asking us to have the loudest and most visible conversation about where our clothes come from, the conditions under which they are made and the impact they have on our planet.
So this week, take a photo of yourself wearing your clothes inside out (and maybe backwards!), and post it to social media tagging the brand you are wearing and using the hashtag #whomademyclothes.

Here's my #insideout photo for the day - my beloved cowl neck sleeveless cable knit jumper. It's the perfect thing to wear in these 'in between seasons' and I bought it from Country Road because I've heard through the grapevine that they are committed to transitioning to an ethical supply chain, but I want to know more.

All the cool kids are doing it: surf legend Kelly Slater (and his business partner at Outerknown
and fashion icons Akira Isogawa, Stella McCartney,  and Kit Willow.

What will you turn inside out this week? Tag me on Instagram and I'll make sure to re-post - let's make this the biggest Revolution the fashion industry has seen!

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Here are some of my outtakes - a million thanks to my hubby and photog extraordinaire for helping me get the perfect pic - oh the life of a blogger!

Friday 8 April 2016

fashion and the sharing economy : part two

A few weeks ago I wrote about the benefits of sharing clothes - we get to wear beautiful things, we extend the useful life of garments, it's a win-win for the planet and fashion lovers.

I was given the opportunity to trial the dress rental service from GlamCorner, including renting a dress and ordering a back-up in case my preferred dress didn't fit. I was thrilled to get to wear something 'new' to the opening night of Swan Lake, and poured over the pages of dresses to find the perfect one (or two, as it were).

I love the Opera House!

If you're thinking this dress looks a little different to what I posted before, you'd be right. This is neither of the two dresses I had initially selected. And because I always want to be honest with you, my readers, about the ups and downs of living a sustainable lifestyle, I need to fill you in on what happened.

I love the idea of designer dress rental and have successfully rented in the past. But in all honestly, GlamCorner has some wrinkles to iron out in order to make this a smoother process.

Long story short, the dresses I had carefully selected weeks ago did not get returned to GlamCorner in time for for my event. According to GC, the Easter long weekend and rural location of the customer(s) who had the dresses before me led to delays. In order to make things right GC offered to send me three dresses via their same day delivery service and I chose the above (lovely) dress by Grace & Hart.

I did enjoy wearing this dress - both for the beautiful style, including unique geometric lace detail, and the allure of wearing something new - but I'd be lying if I said it was exactly what I'd envisioned or that I was happy with the overall experience.

Here you can see the great detailing of the lace overlay, and I loved
the slit sleeves as well.

Of course I understand accidents happen, and any sharing-economy business relies upon all the sharers returning items on schedule and all systems working flawlessly. However, Easter comes every year and can be easily accounted for in scheduling. Furthermore, I'm not sure GC would have let me know what was happening had I not contacted them the day my dresses were due to arrive (two days before the event) to ensure everything was on track.

Like many of you, my days are filled with many competing commitments and I was frustrated to have to spend more time looking through the website to find dresses suitable for the event, my body type and my personal style, after I'd already dedicated time to do this a few weeks past.  GC offered to pull dresses for me when I expressed my frustration, but fashion is an extremely personal experience for me, so I managed to squeeze in a quick 30 minute search to make sure I selected dresses that were 'me'.  Because I was searching dresses that were available immediately, the selection was smaller than before - good news for my schedule squeeze, but many of the brands I would have chosen were unavailable.

I've been joking this week with friends that this was a 'First World Problem', but on reflection, it's really not that trivial.

Markets and economies must shift if we're to manage the climate crisis and other global issues concerning the environment, poverty and inequality. I greatly value businesses working in the sharing economy, like GlamCorner, and other creative and disruptive business models, because it's only through trial and error and being brave enough to launch a new type of business that the necessary broader changes will occur.

So, was it a perfect experience? No.

Did GlamCorner try it's best to make the situation right? Yes.

Will I rent dresses in the future? Absolutely. Even from GlamCorner.

And at the end of the day, I still got to wear a beautiful dress to the opening night of Swan Lake at the Opera House.

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Have you had similar experiences with sharing economy or otherwise 'disruptive' businesses? I'd love to hear about it.

Also, thanks a million to my ballet date and 'photographer' on the night, my dear friend Erica. xx

Friday 1 April 2016

sustainable shopping in the 21st century

I recently wrote a blog post for the Sydney Environment Institute about two of the best online platforms for finding sustainable fashion brands - the Good On You shopping app and the Project JUST website.

Here's a sneak peek, and a link to the full article - enjoy! And happy (sustainable fashion) shopping!

A new look from Kowtow - sustainable fashion gurus.

Demand for sustainably produced clothing is on the rise as more people become aware of fashion’s impact on the planet and the people who make our clothes. And the question on the lips of these conscious fashion consumers is, “So what brands can I buy?”

It’s a valid question, of course, but given the complexity of the fashion supply chain and the multiple steps from raw materials to finished garments, it can be hard to provide a straightforward answer.
On the one hand, it is easier than ever to buy sustainable fashion. There are a number of sustainable fashion labels creating clothing with care of the planet and its inhabitants built into their business plans from day one. There are also many well-established fashion labels adjusting their practices to lighten their environmental footprint and ensure safe and fair working conditions for garment labourers.

On the other hand, information about these labels can be hard to find, and even harder to decipher for the average fashion shopper. At this time there is no widely accepted certification system that ‘approves’ brands as being completely environmentally and socially sustainable, though there are systems for approving ethical labour, Fairtrade practices and organic cotton, among others. In addition, many brands privilege one ethical characteristic over the other – for example, focusing on environmental standards by switching to organic cotton and toxin-free dyes or prioritising labour conditions by committing to paying a living wage to overseas garment workers. This is particularly true for large brands transitioning to sustainable practices.

In this complex and ever-changing fashion industry, the answer to “So, what brands can I buy?” often boils down to the shopper’s personal values.

Thanks to improved technologies (and some dedicated sustainable fashion advocates) there are now multiple online tools to help the conscious fashion consumer decide what brands to buy.

Keep reading the full article on the SEI website.