Human Friendly Fashion

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So today is the day, blog action day and I decided to sign up to Ms Wanda’s human-friendly fashion blog challenge. I had been hoping to write about ethical sportswear but unfortunately most of the companies I have emailed haven’t responded yet, that gets to be another post then. So this is my blog post about the importance of human friendly fashion, I hope you enjoy it.

The Rana Plaza tragedy back in April of this year gave a horrific worldwide platform to something that has been happening for years. It brutally showed the true reason why fashion has been able to become so fast and so cheap for some. It displayed the cost of the new style of consumerism which is the lives of others and that where lives are not lost there is a world of terrible working conditions, little pay and no job security.

I suppose I fail to understand why we want our fashion to do this the lives of others.

Now I won’t pretend that I am perfect in my shopping habits, I am not yet satisfied with my wardrobe’s ethics but I have changed how I shop. From the slowing down of my fashion purchases to the focusing of how what I spend my money affects others. I am part of a sustainability challenge this year which has shone a spotlight on my own shopping habits and I have been trying to use my ‘coupons’ on items from ethical and local companies, trying to feel more of a connection to the items I am buying. After all someone made these items and considering my attempts at sewing I am very grateful that they do!

It comes down in the end to what we think a skilled worker creating a garment is worth. The more investigating that I do the more firmly I believe that somehow we have got our fashion focus wrong. Why are we buying so many new items that are never worn? Why are the ‘must-have’ tags that rile me everywhere I turn? Why ‘must’ we have it? And more telling why next week is it a different item we ‘must-have’? Behind all of these items is a person working to give us these items, we should have more respect for that.

I believe that when people talk of the ‘democratisation of fashion’ – that you can get a piece of fashion from the high street or supermarket incredibly similar to trends on the catwalks within weeks if not days of a show – they tend to forget about the production of a piece. When did we become so disconnected to the items we wear to help express ourselves? The democratisation of fashion only stretches so far it appears.

On a positive note though if you do want to enjoy fashion differently there has never been a better time. Between ethical companies and a flourishing second-hand/vintage sector you now have choices unavailable even a few years ago. I want to mention just a couple of ethical brands that I personally enjoy shopping with!

People Tree

Based in the UK and with strong links to Japan is People Tree. A stalwart of fair trade fashion and of my wardrobe it is a company trying to turn our fashion model on its head while producing pieces that are stylish and covetable.

This dress is one of the dresses I get most compliments on! Beautiful.
This dress is one of the dresses I get most compliments on! Beautiful.

Emma Nissim

Another much smaller company I stumbled across while visiting one of my best mate’s in London. Tucked away in Greenwich there is a shop for Emma Nissim, initially I thought it was just lovely screen prints but delve a little deeper and you realise that the clothes are made ethically and printed in London. One of my favourite jerseys this one!

Emma Nissim - Queen Francis Jumper, brilliant fun ethical item.
Emma Nissim – Queen Francis Jumper, brilliant fun ethical item.

Traid Remade

I wanted to mention Traid Remade as well, I have posted this picture of their leggings before for the Wartime Wardrobe Challenge but wanted to mention them again as they were not only lovely to deal with but make all their clothes from discarded fabric and I love that ethos.

Leggings
Traid Remade Leggings – beautiful trash (well kind of trash)

Rapanui

Finally in my list of companies in today’s post is Rapanui. I cam across this company purely by chance and now I adore them. They are a relatively young company but with great sustainable policies, they have just launched a recycling initiative where you can send them your old Rapanui tshirts to be recycled. That is fantastic in my opinion, it is like full circle fashion – a company that does great pieces and advocates not buying everything then when you are done send it back to be recycled. I like this fashion model.

Rapanui t-shirts are suitable for everything!
Rapanui t-shirts are suitable for everything!

This isn’t even an exhaustive list of the companies I think do great pieces and help push the ethical clothing agenda, there are so many out there. So my challenge to others, before you buy your items from your usual stores why not try to find an ethical alternative? It isn’t difficult and often you can end up with a more unique item you will treasure even more.

Slow down fashion consumption (allowing for longer turn around times in factories), pay a little more (and ensure that the money goes to the involved people making the garment) and source from companies who are doing their bit. I prefer to shop away from the high street most of the time but there are bigger brands doing their bit to improve workers rights. (Lucy Siegle at the Guardian has done a great recent set of articles looking at some of the major brands whose clothing is produced in Bangladesh, have a read – interesting stuff).

In the end I think we have to all wonder if the item of clothing is worth what we are doing to others in order to have it that fast and at that price? Human friendly fashion folks, it is the way forward!

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4 thoughts on “Human Friendly Fashion”

  1. Great post Steph. You should definitely write one later about sports brands. Chances are they won’t bother to reply to you (don’t take it personally they don’t reply to me either). The fact they don’t bother speaks volumes in my opinion. They don’t seem to care that consumers want their questions answered. But we need to keep on writing to them until they’re forced to reply.

    Anyway, enough of the rant. Keep up the great work! And if you get the chance check out Golf Refugees who are also Human Friendly Fashion Bloggers (find them on the website) as they write about ethical sportswear

    1. Great rant! I like a good rant. I am particularly disappointed about not getting responses as one of the companies was Howies and as I couldn’t find anything about labour practices on their website I thought I would drop them an email. I will await the response with interest.
      Thanks for the tip, I am off to find Golf Refugees now. Great idea with the Human Friendly Fashion, a brilliant way to start a global conversation. Love it!

  2. I love that you, like many people, are modifying shopping habits. I hope the memory of the shocking events in Bangladesh do stay in people’s mind and drip feed change slowly. Fashion does seem bonkers at the moment doesn’t: the speed, the quality (or lack of) & the complete disregard for the fact that real people make the garments many treat so flippantly.

    Like you I have been hunting out ‘kinder’ options and there really are plenty of options out there. Some are more affordable than others but often when compared to a high street equivalent the difference is not as dramatic. I have not yet found satisfactory high impact sports brand, although I have read good things about Howies. On the yoga front, I have been quizzing the ladies at FROM Clothing & Earth Kind Originals on the eco/ethical aspects of their wares and they have been very responsive. On the daywear side, I quite like Nancy Dee’s dresses. And when my shape stabilises I think I shall invest in a woollen dress from Llynfi Textiles. I particularly like that these ladies will adapt their standard cut to your measurements for a small surcharge. And whilst their clothes aren’t cheap, they are on a par with a Jigsaw or Hobbs suit garment plus you get transparency from fleece through to seamstress…

    1. Thanks for your comment, I have been interested in ethical and sustainable fashion for a few years now and started modifying my shopping habits accordingly but have always struggled with certain areas of my wardrobe, mainly the sportswear. That’s why I am doing a bit of research into the sportswear side of it as the clothing that works for yoga doesn’t work for me when I am mountain biking, road cycling or running – it might work for horse riding though. Howies are one of the companies who haven’t responded to me yet but I remain hopeful and plan to ask them again.
      I haven’t really looked at Nancy Dee but will have to go and check out their clothing along with Llynfi Textiles, I love the made to measure garments and will happily pay more for them. It is always nice to get recommendations of new brands to scope out.
      Interestingly from this Human Friendly Fashion blog action I have found a new blog called Fashion Me Fairly which is excellent and is all about the blogger changing her fashion habits following the events in Bangladesh – fascinating stuff.

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