The fashion industry accounts for about 10% of global carbon emissions, and nearly 20% of wastewater. And while the environmental impact of flying is now well known, fashion sucks up more energy than both aviation and shipping combined. We were lucky to have Olesya Lane of 7 Crafts Boutique and Meg Pirie of Stiwdio Cylch with us in June 2020, talking about circular fashion and get some tips on up-cycling what’s in your wardrobe.
Circular Fashion originated in 2014, the aim of which focuses on fashion products being designed with the aim of higher longevity, biodegradability and recyclability and better ethical practices.
The second stage of circular fashion is making sure your clothes last as long as they can, through good care and repair when needed you can make your clothes last far longer and give them a new life.
Olesya believes there should not be any place for cheap plastic garments in our wardrobe so they can be easily thrown away without any thought. She encourages others to go for 200 days without buying any new clothing. Let’s start this challenge during this event and encourage our family and friends to join in!
Meg, values a circular fashion system and feels we all need to realise that the current linear fashion system is a broken one. ‘Existing fashion should be seen as a valuable resource and our philosophy is to keep fashion in circulation through swapping, sharing, mending and on-selling’
Whilst it could be assumed that fast fashion and the lower price tags that come with it is the more affordable option, this is far from the truth. Buying lower quality clothing often results in a shorter lifespan of the item and results in multiple purchases in comparison to investing in one quality item of clothing. Oleysa goes on to explain that by reducing our clothing consumption it is possible to save anywhere between £500 and £1000 annually.
Fashion is one of the many ways you may choose to express yourself. So why follow the crowd? Rather than keeping up with the eternally changing trends, why not develop your own style. Oleysa and Meg demonstrated unique and exciting ways to upcycle the items already in our wardrobe, through embroidery, patchwork and more. Who wouldn’t want a one of a kind statement piece?
It may appear as though upcycling could be an expensive or timely activity, however, through simple changes, such as adding buttons or cutting your old jeans into a new pair of shorts, it could be complete in a matter of minutes. Buttons and sewing materials can often be found in charity shops as well! No need to buy new. All the hours and money wasted on scrolling through websites and browsing the shops looking for new clothes Vs a few minutes. This new free time could be put to better use, like reading a book or taking a walk in nature.
What else can you do?
Before rushing into buying a new item, why not check the brand ethics? Nowadays there are so many ethical clothing brands to choose from. One is Nudie Jeans. Nudie only ships carbon neutrally and offers free repairs for life alongside a discount on a new pair when the old one is handed in.
As mentioned, higher price tags may correspond to more ethical production and longer lifespan, but this isn’t always the case. Meg explains the concept of linear fashion which involves the 3-step process: raw materials, produce garments and then disposal. This not only applies to cheap fast fashion but also to designer fashion pieces. We saw, not long ago, Burberry came under fire for contributing to pre-consumer waste by destroying £30m of clothing before it was even released to the public! https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-44968561
Or take the plunge and don’t shop at all for 200 days! It can be a liberating experience.
Shop at Charity Shops
Why not give a pre-loved item of clothing a new life? Most clothes in charity shops have plenty of wear left in them and by buying through charities, the money spent is also going to a good cause.
Arranging annual clothes swaps with friends and family is a great way to refresh your wardrobe, as well as an excuse for a fun evening. Another option is wardrobe sharing with your flat/house members.
The increased use of online marketplaces such as depop and ebay allow the sale and purchase of second hand clothing. This is a great way to ‘swap’ items in and out of your closet without increasing its size. You could also earn some money at the same time.
Capsule wardrobes are becoming increasingly popular as the Covid-19 lockdown has made us realise how few clothes we actually need. This concept involves owning only a few items of clothing that can be worn a combination of ways to create completely new looks.
As mentioned, Meg and Oleysa provided examples of numerous ways to upcycle our clothing, rather than sending it for recycling.
You could take part in an online or in person sewing course to improve your skills.