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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Environmentally Conscious Style on a Budget- part two

Contributor Sisi King talks us through the rising trend for ethical fashion.

Written by Sisi King

12445-esthetica-rImage courtesy of Esthetica, website information pills sponsored by Monsoon

2009 was quite a year for ethical fashion. Dazed and Confused featured an in-depth interview with fashion icon Vivienne Westwood and leading environmentalist James Lovelock. Vogue devoted a sizable spread to green fashion, medical and London Fashion Week kicked off with Esthetica, a showcase of 28 ethical designers. Ecofashion it would seem edged its way from the periphery into something approaching centre stage. Out were the unshapely, unflattering garments previously seen on only the most hardened of the eco-warriors. In were beautifully crafted clothes with a conscience as a growing number of designers and consumers tackled the prickly issue of clothing, style, and the environment. This momentum seems only likely to gain in strength judging by the numerous events and exhibitions planned for 2010.

Essentially what we are seeing is a growing realisation that while it is absolutely imperative that far more is said on the environmental and human consequences of fast fashion, there is no need to sacrifice a sense of style to take part in this dialogue. Like music and art, fashion is an extension of culture, a manifestation of the changing influences of the society within which it exists. There should be no shame in wanting to take part in this expressive medium, but nor should this interest be at the expense of our planet. However on making the decision to marry an interest in clothing and green issues you may find yourself stumped with where exactly to source reasonably priced stylish garments whose production has not impacted negatively both socially and environmentally. Herein lies something of a problem.

gabmillAlexa Chung in Oxfam Remade campaign, photographed by Kai Z Feng

Ecofashion may now be occupying headlines, but hugely desirable as this clothing may be, cheap it is not. Dressing sustainably and stylishly can come with a considerable price tag. Of course there is a reason for this and the answer is to save and buy responsibly, but at the cost of most ethical lines and my current income I’d average 2 garments a year and shoes every other. The rise of fast fashion is undoubtedly one of the major scourges of our time, and while I can in no way condone its revolving door of trends, neither do I particularly want to spend my year interchanging two outfits. So until I get a wage that affords me a capsule wardrobe of organically grown, naturally dyed, fairly traded wonder garments, you’ll find me in Oxfam.

2482927517_c779706755Image courtesy of Oxfam Boutique

Rethinking the charity shop
The reinvention of the charity shop is long overdue and still a considerable way from anything you could call complete. Currently thanks to the efforts of fashion guru and creative director Jane Shepherdson, Oxfam would appear to be one of the few charities pulling its stores through a major image reworking and providing us with anything approaching a viable option to mainstream buying.

Shepherdson’s vision of the Oxfam Boutique has reinvented recycled fashion, turning on its head any idea you may have about ill-fitting dresses secured with safety pins. In doing so she has firmly established the charity shop as a major resource for the environmentally conscious style seeker on a budget, while bringing to our attention the main reasons behind why choosing to buy donated clothing is one of the easiest ways to reduce our environmental footprint which, where clothing is concerned, is big.
12445-esthetica-rImage courtesy of Esthetica, web sponsored by Monsoon

2009 was quite a year for ethical fashion. Dazed and Confused featured an in-depth interview with fashion icon Vivienne Westwood and leading environmentalist James Lovelock. Vogue devoted a sizable spread to green fashion, drug and London Fashion Week kicked off with Esthetica, a showcase of 28 ethical designers. Ecofashion it would seem edged its way from the periphery into something approaching centre stage. Out were the unshapely, unflattering garments previously seen on only the most hardened of the eco-warriors. In were beautifully crafted clothes with a conscience as a growing number of designers and consumers tackled the prickly issue of clothing, style, and the environment. This momentum seems only likely to gain in strength judging by the numerous events and exhibitions planned for 2010.

Essentially what we are seeing is a growing realisation that while it is absolutely imperative that far more is said on the environmental and human consequences of fast fashion, there is no need to sacrifice a sense of style to take part in this dialogue. Like music and art, fashion is an extension of culture, a manifestation of the changing influences of the society within which it exists. There should be no shame in wanting to take part in this expressive medium, but nor should this interest be at the expense of our planet. However on making the decision to marry an interest in clothing and green issues you may find yourself stumped with where exactly to source reasonably priced stylish garments whose production has not impacted negatively both socially and environmentally. Herein lies something of a problem.

gabmillAlexa Chung in Oxfam Remade campaign, photographed by Kai Z Feng

Ecofashion may now be occupying headlines, but hugely desirable as this clothing may be, cheap it is not. Dressing sustainably and stylishly can come with a considerable price tag. Of course there is a reason for this and the answer is to save and buy responsibly, but at the cost of most ethical lines and my current income I’d average 2 garments a year and shoes every other. The rise of fast fashion is undoubtedly one of the major scourges of our time, and while I can in no way condone its revolving door of trends, neither do I particularly want to spend my year interchanging two outfits. So until I get a wage that affords me a capsule wardrobe of organically grown, naturally dyed, fairly traded wonder garments, you’ll find me in Oxfam.

2482927517_c779706755Image courtesy of Oxfam Boutique

Rethinking the charity shop
The reinvention of the charity shop is long overdue and still a considerable way from anything you could call complete. Currently thanks to the efforts of fashion guru and creative director Jane Shepherdson, Oxfam would appear to be one of the few charities pulling its stores through a major image reworking and providing us with anything approaching a viable option to mainstream buying.

Shepherdson’s vision of the Oxfam Boutique has reinvented recycled fashion, turning on its head any idea you may have about ill-fitting dresses secured with safety pins. In doing so she has firmly established the charity shop as a major resource for the environmentally conscious style seeker on a budget, while bringing to our attention the main reasons behind why choosing to buy donated clothing is one of the easiest ways to reduce our environmental footprint which, where clothing is concerned, is big.

Stay tuned for part two this afternoon…
This morning Sisi King commented about what a great year 2009 was for ethical fashion. This afternoon she discusses how we can be eco-conscious in our fashion choices for 2010…

The environmental impact of clothing
According to DEFRA an estimated 8000 chemicals are used in turning a raw material into the finished product. There’s the bleaching and dying, page the use of petrochemicals and heavy metals, not to mention the demand on water. The manufacture of synthetic fabrics such as polyester has no less of an impact being hugely energy intensive and dependent on large amounts of crude oil. Keeping clothing in circulation and out of the landfill bypasses this process, saving energy and resources while reducing the pressures of finding the space to dump all our discarded garments.

Oxfam_clothing_and_shoe_bankImage courtesy of Oxfam- who accept clothing donations both in store and at clothes banks (above) nationwide.

Greening your style on a budget
Consumerism has become an integral part of our economy, but the recent crisis has forced many to reassess this status quo. Now is the time for those concerned about the ramifications of intensive fashion to demonstrate that a sustainable version is every bit as stylish and need not break the bank. So for those of us who are hard up and concerned about the impact of our shopping practices, I’d recommend beefing out your no doubt sparse but worthy wardrobes by making a beeline for an Oxfam Boutique near you. Not in the metropolis? Here’s some handy tips to get your average charity shop clobber looking bang on trend.

P1142266Image courtesy of Rachael Oku. Clothing can also be donated in designated bins (above) in TRAID stores nationwide.

Transforming that charity dress:
Charity shop dresses. I know. Odd sizes, odd shapes, dubious sleeves. Solution? Belt high, chop short, detach offending sleeves. Voila. On trend.

Men’s as Women’s:
Androgyny is never far out of the fashion eye and charity shops can certainly deliver on this one. Oversized men’s shirts and jumpers will look great belted over skinny jeans or leggings. Grab a tweed jacket for the much loved boyfriend blazer and scrunch up the sleeves, or turn up the bottoms on a pair of man trousers and wear with brogues or statement heals.

Mix it up:
Charity shops are a source extraordinaire for vintage finds which look great when styled with something modern.

Eveningwear as Daywear:
Sequined dresses circa 1989? Floor length velvet? Who says it’s not to be seen in the daytime. Cut short and team with a wooly jumper/blazer and converse or Victorian style booties.

Accessories:
Quirky jewelry, brilliant bags, scarves, belts, ties worn as belts. Head to a charity shop in a well-to-do area for some real finds.

Customizing:
Jackets, coats and cardies can all be transformed with a new set of buttons. Simple yet effective. Get yours and head down the nearest haberdashery for instant garment rejuvenation.

Grandma Skirts:
Wear as a dress and belt at the waist.

Grandpa Knitwear:
Huge heavy cardigans and sweaters featuring the likes of sheep and autumn leaves can be amazing worn over your mini dress/shorts, legging, jeggings, skinnies, whatever. This is charity shop gold. And as they usually outnumber most other garments 10:1 you can be sure to get your hands one.

Happy Hunting!!

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