Joining the Ethical Fashion Collective

image

I follow the blogs of Mel Wiggins and The Owl and the Accordion written by Victoria, both are great blogs and have interesting, thoughtful pieces along with show casing various ethical brands and top tips for eBay shopping. Last week I read about an idea that they had come up with together (don’t you love it when you find out your favourite bloggers are friends!), the Ethical Fashion Collective and it immediately intrigued me. Basically it is an idea to save some space online to show off and share information about ethical fashion – this includes vintage/second hand/articles/small brands/big brands – you name it! The idea is to do this on the 1st Friday of each month, and I love it! While I have my own reservations about the phrase ‘ethical fashion’ and prefer ‘ethical style’ I see no need to prescribe that to others and I’m excited to join in. Continue reading “Joining the Ethical Fashion Collective”

A Little Update and A Few Links

During the middle of last week I flew off to Iceland with some friends to see as much as we could of this incredible island in a couple of days. I didn’t get to see any Northern Lights but I did manage to tick a few things off my bucket list 🙂 Namely – seeing geysirs in real life, swimming in the Blue Lagoon and of course riding an Icelandic pony in Iceland. Some pictures from the holiday and a full review of my riding will be coming although I might wait until after we have pooled our pictures so I ensure you get to see the very best of Iceland. I loved it, I would move there if I could. Continue reading “A Little Update and A Few Links”

Planning and Possible Ponies

Image from Wikipedia
Icelandic Ponies – Image from Wikipedia

I like January! I might be biased as my birthday is towards the end of it but I still like it. Everyone seems to start the new year positively, or as positively as they can and I find my inbox and phone beep with people wanting to make plans.

This year my January has felt very much about planning. I had my first lovely invite on the 4th when some friends invited me to go to Iceland with them, we are only going for a couple of nights in February but I can’t wait. I decided to seize the initiative and pinned my mum down to a couple of dates to start our first sewing project, a dark green skirt. You will probably see the photos first on my Instagram but I do plan to blog about learning this skill, or starting to learn this skill.We had our first session a week past Sunday and while we were only pattern cutting I have already learnt a fair bit and had a laugh doing it. I have started poring over the sewing books I was given to look for the next project – I might be being over ambitious! 🙂 Continue reading “Planning and Possible Ponies”

A New Year and Some Old Challenges

A Challenge for Every Month didn’t really happen last year. I think I achieved 6 out of 12 (see below for the gory details), a 50% success rate! I am one of those people who tends to look at everything slightly negatively (just mainly when it comes to myself, not the world 🙂 ) and analyse things endlessly. I think reflection is a wonderful thing but endless analysis of your life can tire you out and can sometimes lead to inertia. To help me quite that frame of mind I am going with a 50% success rate and looking to achieve the remaining 6 this year. I think last year at times I found it difficult to devote time to some of the challenges I really wanted to get my teeth into so I procrastinated on them. Also there is the inevitable fact that sometimes after spending all day online in my day job sometimes I really don’t want to look at a computer screen when I get home. To counter that I am going to do more writing of my posts in notebooks prior to writing online, I have always done that especially for horse riding posts as I can often do that immediately after my experiences. Also who out there doesn’t love using a notebook?? I am also excited to keep up with some of the challenges I did complete last year. For example the mending and the months of not buying, plus the alterations of items that I no longer wear. Continue reading “A New Year and Some Old Challenges”

The August Break 2014

This year I am taking part in the August Break. I did it last year, although I joined a little late. I was inspired to join from Franca of Oranges And Apples last year and enjoyed it so much I was keen to sign up again

So what is the August Break? Well it is arranged by Susannah Conway who beautiful blog has lots of stunning pictures on it. It is a community affair with people signing up to take a picture each day throughout August and if you are stuck for inspiration you can use the ideas given for each day – I quite like using them anyway. I will be posting on my Instagram account using the #augustbreak2014, there is a Filckr group as well and of course you can use your blog. I will do the cardinal blogging sin of reposting some of my favourite pictures from Instagram here once a week.

List of prompts for August Break

Last year I loved seeing all the beautiful pictures posted from around the world so I would recommend taking a look or perhaps signing up yourself, she has a blogroll of those involved at:http://www.susannahconway.com/the-august-break-2014/

Hope you like the pictures! Oh and obviously there are likely to be some horse-y inspired ones 🙂

Human Friendly Fashion

HFFB logo

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!

Wheels and whips

Saturday was an interesting one. I set out with my friend for a 60 mile cycle out from Edinburgh to the Falkirk Wheel and back. Now to me 60 miles is a lot, a lot a lot. The furthest I have ever cycled prior to this being the 24 miles to and from the stables last Sunday after which I fell asleep on my living room floor. Still, we had promised to do this route since our attempt in August failed and as Saturday dawned with gorgeous blue skies and sunshine we couldn’t have picked a better day!
image

The route from Edinburgh to the Falkirk Wheel follows the tow path along the canal and is pretty flat for the whole route, but that doesn’t mean boring. The scenery was beautiful and it was relatively quiet although when we approached one of the towns along the route it did get a little busier. After the punctures fiasco of last time this time we were fine and seemed to making quite good time, we stopped in Linlithgow for five minutes and realised that our calculations on distance had been slightly off! Looking at the distance we had come (26.5 miles) and the distance still to go to the wheel (11.5 miles) something didn’t add up to the 60 miles. We both felt fine though and as we had set out to cycle to the Falkirk Wheel we decided to cycle on wards and when we arrived back in Linlithgow we could hop on a train then.
image

There is a horrible tunnel for about half a mile on this route, I had randomly had a check on the internet about this route and it had recommended lights and thank god it had! My night vision is close to non-existent and I find tunnels very disorientating so I was pleased to arrive out the other side into the sunshine in one piece and without having taken an unexpected bath! When we arrived at the Falkirk Wheel it was great, a busy place with families and tourists enjoying the autumn sunshine, it was lovely.
image

After some average food – I wouldn’t write home about it but it gave me energy – we then enjoyed an ice cream slider in the sunshine. That was awesome and a real plus side to cycling rather than running (not often allowed to stop and eat ice cream).

On the cycle back we stopped for a little longer on Scotland’s highest aqueduct to enjoy the view.
image
Back in Linlithgow I was feeling ok so we decided to cycle the whole return journey but whew at the 60 odd mile mark my right arm started to really seize up, it wasn’t a problem just more of a niggle that meant we had to slow a bit and I kept stretching it while on the bike. Once back in Edinburgh I couldn’t help cheering as we cycled through the city centre we did every so often just shout out ’75 miles’ at startled shoppers but I was soo chuffed. I loved it, definitely going to do more cycling – it was just great fun. Even once I am back running I want to continue to cycle.

So a quick riding update as well. Since clearly cycling 75 miles wasn’t enough for me in one weekend I also had my normal horse riding lesson on Sunday. I felt surprisingly good  –  Monday I was a wreck but that’s different – and I was given Td. I love Td, I always forget how much I enjoy riding him but he makes me smile, he makes me work but makes me smile. He was in a sluggish mood as I took him out his stable, he just kept giving me a look implying that I was terrible for taking him to the mounting block.

This week there was an interesting addition to the lesson, the lunge whip that my instructor was holding in the middle of the school. This was mainly to get MJ to move but it had a similar effect on all the horses all of whom were a bit slow mainly down to the heat. It has been pretty cold then suddenly back up to the mid-teens. Td’s reaction was very funny, while all the others simply trotted faster Td decided we should canter and set off down the school. I had him under control but it was very funny as he kept half an eye on the instructor at all times and during the canter exercises kept skipping to the side to avoid being even in the same half of the school. Due to my injuries of late a lot of focus was on me getting myself sitting straight and back in the saddle. I have really tight hips at the minute but hoping that this will improve as it is making me bounce more in the canter than I am used to. Once I got the correct seat with Td we were flying in the canter, he is so eager to please and will always try – although when I think about it I think we have unexpectedly cantered every time I ride Td. It was a really fun lesson although we didn’t work on anything in particular I really enjoyed the combination of sunshine and Td!

An older picture but a good one! Smile Td!
An older picture but a good one! Smile Td!

A couple of pieces of riding news I am upping my riding to twice a week, which should be interesting. I am hoping for a clear improvement and have my first regular private lesson today. The other piece of news is that there is a winter dressage league being started, which is similar to the dressage evenings I blogged about before but will happen once a month throughout the winter meaning we can hopefully track improvement and work on various things. I chose Td to do the first one on, a harder prospect than Am but still a good one.

Well today looks like it might be a wet lesson as the sky is darkening out there! Wish me luck that the rain stays off!