When I first started working on 'veganising' my wardrobe, I must admit I paid little attention to ethics other than animal-free materials. I was beyond happy to find out I could keep shopping my favourite high-street styles while staying vegan. Primark is full of faux leather shoes - brilliant. Zara's polyester blouses? Amazing. I kept whizzing through shop after shop, filling up my carrier bags, not giving a second thought to where my clothes came from - and who made them.
People would comment on this blog asking me to think twice about what I was buying, since I was a person who claimed to pay attention to ethics. I defended myself by saying that I couldn't afford to shop ethical fashion. I still can't stand the reasoning behind 'it's better to buy one good pair of shoes than five pairs of cheap shoes' - who can afford to buy FIVE pairs of any shoes? I would buy one H&M sweater a season for £20 and make it last five years. Which I still do, but to an extent.
What flipped on the switch in my mind was watching this documentary, that shed light on what really goes on in factories in developing countries, where a lot of fashion is made. Note that I say fashion, not fast fashion. I'm a bit tired of all the criticism towards low-cost fashion - not because it's guilt-free (far from it!) but because often so-called 'luxury' is just as bad. The only difference is that you pay £2000 for a Lanvin polyester dress and £20 for a H&M one. Add to this the fact that H&M is the biggest user of organic cotton in the world and you see that each case is unique. Fashion has many crimes to answer for, low-cost or luxury.
As a result of binge-watching the aforementioned Norwegian documentary, I cut down drastically on my shopping. The only thing I have bought in all of 2015 is this Victory dress from OUTSIDER Fashion.
The Victory dress is crafted from Tencel, a sustainable fabric regenerated from wood cellulose. One of the most environmentally friendly fabrics, Tencel is biodegradable and extremely wearable.
OUTSIDER produces 50% of their styles in the UK and the rest in India and Macedonia, in factories that they visit regularly in person. The brand contributes to the development of economic growth in these countries and sources their organic cotton in India, minimising transport costs and carbon emissions. Find out more here.
My bag is from BAREL Ethical Luxury and my shoes are from Sisley and are over eight years old. The fireplace is handmade by my husband - one of his side projects is hand-crafting eco fireplaces (get in touch with me for more info).
This is something I love about OUTSIDER: I agree that, in order to create a new era of sustainability, we need to make sure that ethical fashion...just looks like fashion. After all, the most important thing we can do to inspire change is, IMHO, to provide an attractive alternative.
See OUTSIDER's interview with me here.
Top three photos by David Camilli, last photo by me.