Everlasting chic never goes out of season.
Last week I headed back to the Shire to finish (what Instagram tells me) I started 57 weeks ago. Having found a 1940’s Christian Dior style swing coat pattern online, I had my heart set on a tailoring masterpiece. I’m proud to announce it’s now complete and I am smitten.
It may have taken 3 hours in MacCulloch and Wallis haberdashery, £250 worth of fabulous, soft, pillar box red double layered wool, divine, flowing black paisley silk AND over 50 hours of work, but it is SO worth it.
But you’re thinking, how does this relate to sustainability? I’ll tell you, I will wear this coat for the rest of my life (it’s even got so much fabric I could be pregnant with twins and still hide it and it’s classic 1940’s style means it will always be ‘in’).
It is true that in this instance I do not know where my fabrics were woven, by whom and how much they cost to buy compared to how much they were sold to me for, but what I do know is that the garment they form is not a fast-fashion item. I am the manufacturer of this item. And I know exactly what went in to making it.
One of the greatest things about making your own clothes is firstly, you know that the formation of the garment itself is not having a negative impact on people or the environment. Secondly, you’re probably not going to throw it away any time soon.
Ethical fashion is on the up, there are numerous high street retailers and fashion houses looking more closely at their supply chains to ensure they are ethical and sustainable. Yet many do not provide the consumers with more information than a snippet on a webpage or a paragraph or two in an annual sustainability report.
So I’m proposing two ways for you to start modelling ethical apparel:
- Get creative: start sewing
There are hundreds of free patterns floating around the internet these days, if you’re new to sewing then start simple with box-tops, shift dresses or t-shirts, if you’re more advanced then give pencil skirts or straight-leg trousers a go. The best news? You don’t have to buy hemp to make them sustainably. I’m a dedicated member of the Ethical Fashion Forum who have a long list of qualified ethical fabric suppliers, sometimes these suppliers are a little more expensive than the polyester viscose synthetics you can get on Goldhawk Road, but the quality is fabulous and you can get a lot out of a sample metre.
My top 3 UK suppliers are:
- Raystitch: This is my favourite ethical supplier, with high-quality organic and ethical fabrics AND all the necessary tools you need for creating you don’t really need to look anywhere else…
- Cloth House: Cloth House isn’t a strictly ethical store, but they are known for working very closely with their international suppliers, ensuring their business is sustainable and traditional skills are celebrated.
- Offset Warehouse: you might have heard of this one, here you can shop for the eco- version of pretty much any fabric you like from jersey to corduroy.
2. Shop wisely: know where to go
If the concept of making your own clothing is a little overwhelming then you could take a shortcut back to the high street. Brands like H&M and Topshop are starting to create ethical and sustainable collections that make up a small but important percentage of their seasonal collections. Here’s what to look for:
- H&M: Concious collection
- Topshop: Reclaim collection
- ASOS: Africa collection
- Monsoon: all items are created and sold against a strong code of conduct on worker’s rights
- New Balance: one of the best shoe retailers for supply chain assurance
- Jigsaw: strong sourcing principles and a minimum waste policy (see their “for life not landfill” campaigns).
- Uniqlo: Power of Clothing initiative, information distributed to stores to educate consumers and staff.
So there we have it, take your pick or mix and match. Whether your’re a shopaholic or a creative champion, start strutting the streets sustainably!