Slow Fashion by Mina Bach
“We stand for slow fashion, respect for clothes and those who created them, and the return to individuality” heralds the SIX Magazine website, and I’m sold. Sign me up. The launch of SIX excites me as much as Alina’s infectious enthusiasm for creating change in the fashion industry. Read on and be inspired…
Firstly, can you tell me little about yourself? Who are you what floats your boat?
I am your average 25-year old, who decided against any kind of social life and instead willingly works without weekends and breaks. I get high knowing I am doing my own thing, paving my own way and working towards a great cause though, and that’s worth missing out on that Bali holiday…
Who is your hero?
I have to say if there is one person who I look up to it’s my mum. She’s a titan, the strongest person I’ve ever met. She also has a great intuition. If I am half the person she is I already did well.
What ethical issues are you most passionate about and why?
I feel most strongly about child labour in developing countries. Poverty, exploitation, not having an opportunity to go to school. I am planning to take time out next year, and help one of the charities hands on – I would love to work with children. Someone once said that in a hundred years no one will care how much money you earned, but the world may be different because you were important in a life of a child. I concur.
What are your ethical pet peeves? I have a thing about over-filled kettles…
Electricity left in every room when no one is in the house. It’s one of those moments when you realise you ARE in fact your mother.
Leaving the lights on illustration by Gunilla Hagstrom
Favourite item in your wardrobe?
Camilla Wellton’s Cepheid dress. It was a gift from the designer herself. I am a very lucky girl. I hope I can travel to Sweden this summer to meet Camilla in person.
Northener or southener?
Northerner. I’ve got Scandinavian blood in me, so North will always have a magic hold on me.
Ketchup or brown sauce?
Mmmm…. garlic mayo with potato wedges!!
Ok, now we’ve covered the most important issues (!) lets move on to the magazine. Please could you Introduce SIX to us in 2 sentences?
SIX brings design and style to the forefront of the slow fashion revolution, aiming to stimulate the industry and excite the readers about S&E* fashion (*Sustainable & Ethical). SIX aspires to connect the dots globally, and bring all of the ethical brands and designers under one title to form a powerful force capable of creating change in the fashion industry.
Sustainable & Ethical illustration by Gunilla Hagstrom
What is its raison d’etre?
SIX came around when, after doing some extensive research, it struck me that there isn’t a publication in the UK trying to involve and interest people who aren’t directly involved, or are unaware of, the ethical fashion scene*. No one is packaging information in the ‘fashion format’ aimed at the fashion magazine readers. If a company takes a take a step in the right direction, but is not fully ethical and sustainable, it often gets vicious criticism, which in turn, discourages many brands to even mention that they are in fact doing a great job supporting local business or ethically sourcing their fabrics etc. There is also still a big stigma hanging over ethical fashion. Most consumers still associate hemp t-shirts and bad design with the term ‘ethical fashion’. SIX is here to showcase and celebrate those who are doing an amazing job combining cutting-edge design with strong ethical and sustainable credentials. SIX is here to inspire, to lead and to encourage.
*Of course Amelia’s Magazine does in fact cover lots of amazing ethical fashion labels, but granted we cover lots of other stuff too and don’t exclusively focus on fashion
Why should people read it?
The consumer mood is changing, and this change has been happening for a while now. The value system was shaken up by the recession, and as a result people realised they needed much more then a moment’s satisfaction. Instead of buying the same amounts of goods from cheaper retailers, a lot switched to buying less but at a higher price – choosing to pay for quality, for durability, for the knowledge of where the product came from, who made it and what it is made of. Ethical fashion is one of the markets that’s undergoing a fundamental change in how consumers buy and how companies produce. SIX gives its readers a full picture from across the world, of the designers and brands who share their values and points of view.
Camilla Wellton’s Cepheid dress Illustration by Sam Parr
Who should read it?
Girls who pick up Vogue on the newsstand, but who would choose a fairtrade coffee, and a recycled notepad. Fashion is self-expression and style comes first, but now with the additional dimension of ethics. We are what we wear takes on a bigger meaning. SIX readers are not necessarily activists, but they are aware, and they feel the passionate about making the change happen.
We’ve covered the ‘why’ and the ‘who’, now the ‘when’. When and why did you launch Six?
The idea of SIX came around last February. I was working for a small fashion brand at the time, a company I adored working for, and I still follow its progress. But I was at a cross- road and feeling like something had to change. It felt like the moment had come. And then I bumped into a guy in a bar. The guy’s name was Joe Oliver. And he asked if I’d be interested to come to a fashion show with him. Seeing it was London Fashion Week at the time, and I’ve never been at a fashion show before I jumped at a chance. The show Ada Zanditon. I was reading the press release about Ada’s collection and the story behind her work while waiting for the lights to go out and models to come on, and something started to happen. I was still in the dark but I was pretty sure my fingers were feeling a switch on the wall. I got to meet Ada at her after party that night, as well as a bunch of people from the ethical fashion scene, and it all suddenly started to make sense. I knew i was in the right place, at the right time, and there was a capacity for me to do something meaningful, to support a great cause. I still had no idea how I could get involved, but slowly SIX started to shape in my mind, and by the beginning of March I knew I was on the right track and started working towards making it happen. Joe was the catalyst of SIX, no doubt. But I was also extremely lucky to have had as much support and help as I did from the people I met on my journey. SIX supported Ada’s show this February and officially launched on 24th March this year, and I feel elevated. The response has been incredible, and I can’t wait to make it bigger and better.
Respect those who make our clothes. Illustration by Mina Bach
Launching a Magazine is no small feat, how have you found it? What have been the best and worst moments?
The last 6 months in the run up to the lunch were the toughest ever. I’ve had great highs and great lows, I’ve tested myself to the point of my emotional and physical limit, and I have to say that nothing compares to the emotional rollercoaster. Not even the physical drain, which you can overcome. Overcoming emotional drain was the worst and toughest challenge I faced. Best moment… the feedback I am receiving. There is a lot of positive and excited voices, and it’s incredible.
Moving on to wider ethical fashion issues now, do you think that awareness of ethical fashion is rising? If so why?
Compared to when I started SIX 12 months ago, today the ethical fashion message has become much louder and the number of people aware of and passionate about the message has tripled. The mass media has definitely picked up on it too- it’s curious to see that the likes of Stylist, Grazia and even Vogue make sure to include at least one ethical brand, designer or product in each of their issues. And it’s the influential public figures like Livia Firth who help to spread the message and make it heard, and who are really helping to make a difference.
Growing awareness of Ethical Fashion. Illustration by Gunilla Hagstrom
What do you think needs to happen to embed ethical practices in mainstream shops?
A revolution no less. Mainstream shops survive due to the huge numbers of garments sold. Thousands of the same top or dress are produced, and to be able to monitor their factories they will need to switch to a multitude of small manufacturers and drastically cut the amount being produced. Which can’t happen because they have to cover their overheads and still make a profit. Moving the whole manufacturing process from a large overseas manufacturer whose activities you can’t physically control is tricky for a small brand, let alone high-street giants. The only way they can truly make a difference is to invest in high-tech fabrics and raw materials that require no land and little water to produce, and don’t damage the environment in the process. Utilising local businesses and supporting communities in developing countries by having a particular detail or accessory made with local artisan talent – in return supporting them with medical care, providing their kids with a place at school, and paying fair wages – that would already be a huge step towards a healthier industry that large mainstream brands can do.
And the one hundred million dollar question; How do you get the man (and woman) on the street to care? Although awareness of ethical fashion is rising, still thousands of people shop away without giving ethics a second thought, does this matter?
In all matters, be it ethical fashion or fast fashion, fashion comes first. And for people to care, and we are talking about those who love fashion because they are the ones we are targeting, we need to package it in the format that appeals to them. Preaching doesn’t work, putting environmental and ethical credential first and telling consumers to pay attention often has a reverse effect. What we truly need to get them to care is a choice of stunning ethical designs, and more influential public figures to promote the idea. In a cool fashionable way of course.
A return to Individuality. Illustration by Mina Bach
In order to create change, Is it purely about citizen action? What role can industry play? And how does slow fashion fit in?
Industry is responsible for the blue rivers in China (denim dye factories), purple men in India (leather dye baths), thousands of murdered animals (fur coats), 20,000 cotton pesticide related deaths a year (your plain white t), and thousands living in poverty and being exploited in third world countries. When you really look at it, and read on it, it becomes completely unclear how only a handful of people really seem to care. It’s a question of pulling together – industry needs to see that consumers are truly involved and care about ethical issues (i.e. will not spend money on unethically produced garments), and consumers have to be aware of what ethical fashion really means – to them and to the society. It’s a circle.
At a recent ethical fashion event journalist Lucy Siegle said that if you want to shop ethically, you cant be afraid of complexity. How would you respond to this?
The sad truth is that it’s still a real challenge to be a 100% ethical consumer. You have to search high and low for the products that you like and that are ethical and sustainable. Food and beauty situation has dramatically improved in recent year – everything else is still a Fort Boyard, and we are all on a hunt for that golden key. So Lucy is right – we are pioneers, and we don’t have it easy, but we are part of a movement that is seeking to change it.
Thank you Alina! Read SIX Magazine here.
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