Who’s been bad or good? The 2018 ethical fashion report has just been released!

When fast fashion industry’s manufacturing practices are likened to trafficking and modern slavery, it feels like it’s time for a change, don’t you think?

Tearfund, a development organisation, is trying to do just that. Its second annual Ethical Fashion Guide (in collaboration with Baptist World Australia) – hot off the press – rates fashion brands that retail in New Zealand/Australia according to transparency and labour rights. In other words, do these brands know that during the making of their garments, workers got a living wage, children weren’t employed, no one was forced into labour, plus a few other criteria.

What I really like about this report, is that it holds brands to account, and reveals to us, the consumer, which labels are the most and least ethical. It’s not just about the grade – Tearfund works with brands to help them trace and improve their supply chain to make real change. 

I took the opportunity to talk to Tearfund Ethical Fashion Report Project Manager Claire Hart about the organisation’s work in combating exploitation in fashion, and how the New Zealand fashion industry is faring in this space.

This is what she had to say….

Ethical Fashion Guide Project Manager Claire Hart

“When fashion brands hide where their clothes are made, consumers lack the necessary information to know who made the piece of clothing they are buying and in what conditions.

As Claire says, customers want to know now, more than ever, about the origin and production of the products they purchase, clothing included.

“I know I do on a personal level,” she says.

One brand that has fully traced and published its supplier list is Kiwi company Common Good/Liminal Apparel.

Claire applauds them, but says this is not the norm. “Kiwi labels, especially, are not very good at being transparent in this way.

“The good news is that a number of New Zealand brands have made progress tracing deeper into their supply chains and are checking what’s happening at the facilities they locate.  Brands are then able to resolve issues which leads to improved conditions for workers.”

 

Screen Shot 2018-04-Ando International garment factory (Better Work Vietnam) at 9.10.42 PM“We usually find that brands that are proud of their ethical credentials are keen to participate,” she says.

“Others that know they can do better, seek our support and guidance to become socially and ethically more responsible.

“The more we push for transparency through our work and the publication of the guide, the more businesses acknowledge they have a responsibility, and the more they feel pressure to change.

“At the end of the day, we want to see fashion be a change for good, and provide a stable, safe and fair income for millions of people,” says Claire.

“What’s amazing about this project is that by changing the model, the industry as a whole, we can make a difference to thousands of workers at a time.”

Reports like The Ethical Fashion report, and off the back of that, our NZ-specific Tearfund Ethical Fashion Guide Aotearoa, and the work Claire and her team do, not only amplify consumer pressure, but they play an important role in changing the way fashion businesses take responsibility for how our clothes are made.

Check out the stats to see where and how businesses are getting better.

How it works

Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 8.58.22 PMDeveloped in conjunction with Baptist Aid Australia, 114 companies representing 407 brands that trade in the Australasian region have been considered.

The report grades labels from A to F, best to worst, looking at worker empowerment – ie does a company pay a living wage; supplier auditing – ie conducting worker interviews; knowing suppliers – do they truly know all the companies contracted and sub-contracted to produce their garments; and what policies they have in place that govern human rights. Company’s labour ethics are assessed at three critical stages of the supply chain – raw materials, inputs production and final stage production.

More than 13,000 Kiwis downloaded last year’s report.

I should also note that there are many amazing sustainable brands that can trace from crop to customer – like our very own ReCreate, but the report targets mainly ‘shopping mall’ , well-known brands. 

A few interesting stats
  • Of the 114 companies assessed, 18 received an A and above grade.
  • Last year only three Kiwi brands achieved an A and above result, but this year the number totals five, including Kowtow, Freeset, Common Good/ Liminal Apparel, Kathmandu and Ice Breaker.
  • Each year new brands are selected for inclusion in the report. Sometimes though, brands choose not to participate in this process.  When this happens, the report reflects a grade based on information that is publicly available.
  • In 2018, six more New Zealand labels have been added to the report including Barkers, Ruby, Postie, K&K, T&T and Trelise Cooper. Those last three were the lowest graded New Zealand brands, all of which did not participate in the research.
  • The percentage of companies publishing full direct supplier lists has increased from 26% to 34% in the last year alone for the full Australasian report. Since 2013, when the first report was released, one third of companies assessed are publishing supplier lists. Looks like consumer and watchdog pressure works!! 
  • Tracing of raw materials and worker empowerment still remains the most significant challenges for fashion, it seems. Just 7% of companies know where all their raw materials, such as cotton, come from. And the median grade for Worker Empowerment is D–.
  • Increasingly, the world’s population is clothed by workers in the Asia-Pacific. Across the region, in low and middle-income countries, 43 million people work in factories to produce garments, textiles, and footwear.
  • By far the majority are women between 18 and 35, earning a wage so low that they, and their families, are trapped in poverty. They often suffer physical, sexual and mental abuse, unsafe factories (read further about Rana Plaza), overtime with little to no security of consistent work and income.
  • The average monthly income of a Bangladeshi garment worker, for example, is $60.
  • Child labour, particularly in the production of raw materials like cotton, remains prevalent in fashion supply chains. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates 18 million victims may exist. Among the large cotton producing nations, Australia is one of only a few exceptions to this trend (and they’re just over the ditch! Woohooo!!)
Five years on from Rana

Rana plaza by Rijans

The 2018 report comes five years after The Rana Plaza tragedy,  when a Bangladeshi garment making factory collapsed, killing more than 1100 workers as they were making clothes for well-known Western fashion brands. These garment factory workers endured 12 to 14 hour days without breaks in unsafe buildings. Shocking as the images were – including the one featured in this blog – as they were broadcast to the world, these sorts of conditions persist.

The future

I was very excited to hear that the report will look at the environmental impact of fashion.

Says Claire: “We acknowledge that the fashion industry has a huge environmental impact.  We will be asking brands to report on the use of sustainable fibres, water, waste waste and chemical use and management, greenhouse gas emissions and end of life for garments.”

I, for one, am excited about that. 

(Stats provided by Ethical Fashion Guide, Fashion Revolution and other researched sources)

A few goodies on my Autumn list…

Ah autumn, you are a temperamental season. Hot, cold, warm breeze, rain and snow, sunny afternoons.

I love spring for those very same reasons, but somehow autumn doesn’t give me the same pleasure. Perhaps it’s the falling leaves, the darkening evenings, the thought of winter? Having said that winter in Queenstown is superb!!!!

What I do love about autumn is the opportunity to layer up, and embrace earthy colours, and warm hues.

So, I thought I would share the pretty sustainable things I’ve stumbled upon on my search for a couple of new autumn additions to my ethical wardrobe. Now to decide on which ones I can’t live without, because space is limited in my capsule wardrobe! Hey, it’s all part of the fun.

My top FIVE autumn would-like-to-haves, from New Zealand and Australia for autumn, are…

ONE: TOP & TURTLE NECKS

I always thought yellow wasn’t my colour, but this butterscotch cotton top from Kiwi ethical pioneers Kowtow is lovely – truly autumnal.

I just discovered a new Aussie brand, called Kuwaii. As far as I can tell, they are ethical. They say so on the website, but sometimes you have to dig deeper. So far, so good (phew!!). I like this light pink turtle neck made of Australian and NZ merino to wear under summer dresses and jumpsuits. If you’re looking for a Kiwi version, Dunedin brand Silkliving is awesome, as is this cream polo neck.

TWO: Slip DRESSES & A JUMPSUIT!

I can’t get away from them. But as well as being trendy there are many sustainable brands creating beautiful cami/slip/apron dresses.

The slip is an all year-round one-piece item. That has to be good. All you need to do is pop a turtle neck underneath or a long cardi over the top and you are Autumnised!!

Look at the eyelet jumpsuit from Bare Bones in 100% GOTS certified organic hand woven cotton, Ovna Ovich’s beautiful bell dress in olive. Both are New Zealand sustainable fashion brands, as is Children of Promise, here with the creamy dreamy three days slip gown. From Australia, Bon The Label’s Cotton Sundress black is pretty too.

THREE: THE SCARF

A scarf never goes out of fashion. Why? Because of its versatility. A scarf can be pulled in on colder days or draped loosely as it warms up.

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Trade Aid (the one pictured here is lovely, don’t you think?) and Eternal Creation have some warm cosy ones, as does my local op shop – in fact my last two scarves have both been pre-loved.

But I should also mention ReCreate has a lovely handwoven scarf, made from 100% natural handwoven cotton and dyed with organic, plant-based dye.

Their items are ethically created in Cambodia under excellent working conditions, providing fair employment and life-changing training opportunities. Nice one!

FOUR: A BACKPACK

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That’s the thing about Autumn. It can be crisp and fresh one minute, warm and balmy the next.

You’ll need to carry layers! Duffle & Co, a young Kiwi brand, have a beautiful collection of B-Corp Certified, fairly-paid, hand-crafted duffle and tote bags, backpacks, satchels, sleeves and handbags.

They also support KiwiHarvest to help feed families in need and Million Metres, who plant trees to restore our waterways. That’s pretty special, I reckon. The Arbuckle backpack looks big enough! 

Finish it off with A HAT

screen-shot-2018-04-09-at-9-28-52-pm1.pngI discovered Pachacuti panamas a couple of years ago, and love their style and finish. How silly of me not to get a fedora when I was in the UK recently.

Look at this classic fedora.


So, am I ready for Autumn?

Close – now to just decide! And probably by the time I am, it’ll be winter, as it’s not far off here in NZ.

But that’s the great thing about A: autumn clothing – it works for winter too, and B: dressing yourself with a slow fashion model using sustainable brands – these will all last through to multiple autumns in terms of style and substance. Are you?

 

 

Zero waste – less anyway…

I’ve always been the one that walks around switching taps off when people leave them running unnecessarily while brushing, washing, etc. I have always been the one to re-use the leftovers, save the containers, and fix my clothes. In fact, that desire to minimise waste is probably the reason I became environmentally aware, not the other way around.

I recently watched some of The Third Industrial Revolution by American economic and social theorist, writer and activist, Jeremy Rifkin  (WATCH IT!), and it reminded me that we all have a small bit to play.

For me, some of the ways I try to be kind to the earth is by not eating red meat, reducing first & then recycling what I buy (we need to get that model right!), and seeking out sustainable fashion brands that minimise or avoid environmental pollution. Choosing less plastic and toxic contents in beauty products also helps.

As women are surely the greatest consumers of beauty products, we can make a huge difference here.

My goal is to slowly convert my entire bathroom drawer into waste-free, toxin-free, non animal-tested products. I am so proud of my achievements so far, and loving waste-free beauty.

I’m discerning though. It has to still work, so the process is slow but steady.

These are my favourite waste-free products I’m currently loving (and probably will for life!):

  • 100% organic, Virgin Coconut Oil from Niugini Organics (this is the best coconut oil there is as far as I’m concerned!). Used as a 1: moisturizer, 2: light sunscreen, 3: make-up remover, 4: dry shaving balm and 5: hair mask (yes all those things) stored in a re-usable glass and metal jar (not sure about the rubber, though, come to think of it). Hubby uses it to clean his teeth – oil pulling – 6!. I cannot RAVE ABOUT THIS MORE! It is anti-microbial, natural, cheap, multi-purpose, non-toxic, comes in a massive jar and is good for everything and all ages! ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Body soap from Kiwi brand Eco Store (have used these soaps for years, and they’re lovely)
  • Bars of shampoo, conditioner, deodorant bar and facial scrub (the blocks that looks like chocolate) from Kiwi brand Ethique (I LOVE THESE GUYS!!!!! – it’s even palm-oil free) ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Oh Natural, which stocks Ethique and the bamboo toothbrushes from Grin and Go Bamboo.
  • A Merkur stainless steel razor (just like the dads used in the good old days – oh and hipsters now use), which will last me for years. The disposable blades are steel and can be recycled. They come in paper!!!
  • Diva Cup (life-changing!!!) from the local pharmacy.

These products are all biodegradable, come wrapped in paper and are non-toxic. All bought online, these days I rarely enter the cosmetic aisle, and I save loads, especially on menstrual products and razors. Eco Beauty Editor is great for recommendations and reviews, and Oh Natural for shopping!

By buying these products, I save landfill from approx 6 bottles of shampoo and conditioner each, 6 bottles of hand and body soap, 2 bottles of face scrub, 4 plastic toothbrushes, 12 plastic razors and hundreds of wrappers per year, and avoid toxins going in to our waterways. I also easily save $100/year.

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Got any great products you can recommend?

Still a way to go, but life changes need to be sustainable too, right!?

Read on for which products are next on the waste-free target…

Eventually, I’ll switch my toothpaste (It’s natural already but in a tube) to bicarbonate of soda, and activated charcoal. I have a charcoal one from Zoo that I choose because the plastic container is the perfect size for lunch snacks for my son, or to decant coconut oil into for travelling.

Once my multiple body moisturisers are finished (somehow I always end up with loads), I’ll get an Ethique bar, plus I use the coconut oil. It’ll be hard to give up on the Weleda Skin food though. I have a natural, paraben-free, rosehip oil face serum in glass with a plastic lid and a Body Shop Vit C serum one in plastic.

As to make-up. This will be a longer mission. I love my Body Shop products (long-time fan because I love and support their anti-animal testing pioneering history), and my Arbonne mascara (vegan, natural and not tested on animals). But they are plastic, and I’d prefer to support locally made.

Six items in 2018, and why I’m not doing it

This time last year, I was freaking out about undertaking the six items challenge – wearing only six items of clothing for six weeks. This year it starts again tomorrow, Valentines Day as well as the first day of Lent.

Lent, as you may know, is a period of fasting and penance for some Christians and Catholics, so what better time to have a fashion fast than at this time, whether you’re religious or not. You won’t be the only one. There are plenty of people around the world taking on the #sixitemschallenge.

I’m not one of them though, and the reason is threefold;

  1. I took the challenge last year, and feel like I really gained some deep and meaningful epiphanies – for me it really demonstrated the minimalist mantra of less is more. And really that is what the challenge is about. Yes, you can fundraise for Labour Behind the Label, the organisation that runs the challenge, but on a personal level it is all about pushing yourself, and learning about yourself and your consumption.
  2. I know I can do the challenge, so that means it’s not really a challenge anymore, is it?!
  3. All the people I was able to share my challenge experience with are still the same colleagues, acquaintances and friends (and family obviously) so I don’t get to have that same fresh impact as before.

Although I think it’s too late to officially be part of the challenge, you are never to late to have a fashion detox as part of a journey toward less fast fashion in your life, or maybe for you it’s about less stuff, or mindful consumption, or all of the above.

If you want to be inspired or just get some useful tips for your own fashion fast, check out my latest article published in Eco Warrior Princess.

EWP

Inspired and scared by Japan

We recently returned from a mammoth 6-week holiday.

We knocked off family reunions and reconnecting in the Netherlands and the UK, and added Singapore and Japan to the mix on either end for ‘fun’.

As this is a blog about sustainable fashion, I won’t go into too much detail about the actual travel. Suffice to say it was exhausting, exhilarating, eye-opening, entertaining and epic. Our son turned two on the trip and with it came challenging new defiant behaviours. Thankfully, he loved the trains, planes, lift buttons and city lights as we went.

When it comes to sustainability, I found I really had to leave my values at the departure gate. Living out of a suitcase for a month and a half with a two year old and a teenager really knocks the wind out of any eco sails. The priority is feeding, getting places, and often working on the spur of the moment. I decided taking my Keep Cup and Reusable nappies was just asking for too much!!! Although I took my tupperware, beeswax wraps, reusable bags and soap bars there was a lot of convenience single use plastic and take-away paraphernalia being bought.

So yes, I was not very eco while I travelled. And it struck me just how un-eco the world really is on an every day basis.  Singapore and Tokyo really shocked us. WOW!!! Single use plastic everywhere. I understand that these places cater toward convenience, small kitchens that are barely used, and life (especially in Singapore) dining and socialising on the street. But fruit cut into pieces and individually wrapped!! Dine-in margarine iwth it’s own attached plastic knife! Really!?

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Even when dining in, plastic cutlery and butter was provided. The butter comes with a wee knife. So unnecessary!

In Tokyo, all the cafes sold dine-in coffee in disposable cups. I wondered, was there simply no space to keep ceramic mugs for all the millions of people that visited that cafe? While Japanese are hot on recycling with separated out rubbish bins everywhere, I have to wonder about the priority. Surely, the best way to keep on top of rubbish is to minimise it, not recycle what is thrown away. What about bringing your own bag? I didn’t see a single reusable shopping bag in Japan.

We found it a little terrifying that the government of a country like Japan, with its 127 million people, doesn’t promote reducing as much as recycling. No wonder the oceans are littered with islands of plastic.

Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 5.37.23 PM

Just a spot of Sunday shopping in popular Harajuku, Tokyo, with millions of Japanese

But, I suppose, that all of that requires a huge cultural change for millions of people. People work so much and so hard that office towers  with 40+ levels contain supermarkets, dentists, gyms and restaurants so workers need not venture far during work hours (which seem to be 9am to 7 or 8pm). It’s all about convenience and eating on the go.

On a positive note, I just love Tokyo fashion. Tokyoites dress so well in a style that I admire – unpretentious, well-tailored, classic and Parisian-inspired with beautiful fabrics with subtle pops of colour. I was blown away by the uniformity of that style, and general exceptional presentation by the millions of commuters we encountered. I’m not saying body size and shape diversity and personal taste aren’t important and to be celebrated, but seeing thousands of well-presented, perfectly made-up people is pleasing too in an aesthetic way. Here are a few examples (I got more confident to ask people to pose just as we left!). Seeing traditional dress was also cool. The gentleman with jandals was listening to music through his iphone – I just loved the effortless mix of old and new.

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11 gifts for the ultimate ethical Kiwi Christmas list

A little while ago, Claire the Ethical Fashion Project Manager from Tearfund and I, pulled together the ultimate sustainable fashion summer list, as well as one for Christmas. Here is the combined list, with some great summer items from local Kiwi ethical brands, as well as ideas rather than brands for a Christmas focused less on consumption and more on sharing and caring.

It’s not too late for online orders either!!

  1. Give a Gift for Life. I especially love this, Donating a life-changing gift on someone else’s behalf with Tearfund. You get a card to give them, letting them know the difference they’ve made in the life of someone in need.  You can give so many different things including a goat, drinking water, training or a veggie patch. Surely that’s a lot better than another pair of socks in the drawer. Nothing could be more in the spirit of Christmas than a gift that actually gives.
  2. But if you do want to give them something they can wear immediately, how about a little white t-shirt from a Little Yellow Bird. Sturdy, soft and long organic cotton shirts are from $35 or $45. It’s not only white tees but stripes and colours too.
  3. Or a lovely summer dress from ReCreate. Also organic cotton, but not only that, Debs and Erica from ReCreate set up a sewing centre in Cambodia providing employment and training to locals many of whom were living in slums before. Their clothes really encapsulate that laid back Kiwi feel. By the way they do meanswear too!

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4. But you know, it’s not only about easily wrapped gifts. Gift your skills. There are endless possibilities in this category—resole your spouse’s favourite shoes, craft lovely new covers for your mum’s sofa cushions, weed your neighbour’s garden, bake cupcakes for your niece, or baby sit on New Year’s eve for your friend. You can even design the gift voucher on www.canva.com.

5. Buy pre-loved. Hunting for that perfect gift, whether it’s a funky retro salad bowl, or a designer label jacket, also shows you really care enough to take the time. The Walk in Wardrobe in Queenstown central is my favourite.

6. Maybe you’ve had no luck going pre-loved, then check out WE-AR for beautiful, light, yoga-inspired garments.

7. The beeswax food wrap. This one might seem a bit left field, but I can’t overstate the life-changing wonder of beeswax food wraps. No more cling film (which I personally hate because of how much of it ends up in landfill). These reusable waxy wraps keep everything tightly closed, and colourfully wrapped.

8. Make a book for memories. Nowadays, there are lots of companies that allow you to curate your own photo book and publish it hard copy. Kroma books are the local version of Chatbooks, but it looks like Milk Photo Books and Artifact Uprising use recycled, acid-free paper making them a more sustainable option.

9. Share or buy an experience. Organise an experience for your loved one—a ziptrek, a dinner out or a movie voucher.

10. Allbirds are the gift that they’ll never stop wearing. Just ask my me!! These are merino-made runners that tick a lot of boxes, including comfort (truly), style, ethics and sustainable values.
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11. This one is for the kids. The bestest most comfortablest tee for 4-12 year olds from OKI For All. My personal favourite, and one that I am begging Kerith the founder and designer to make adult versions of, is the Akiko Kawakami illustrated story of OKI tee featured above.

With those ideas, you are set and ready to go.

 

Kiwis at Eco Fashion Week Australia

This Thursday, November 23rd, Australia hosts the biggest eco fashion week in the region.

The inaugural Eco Fashion Week Australia is to be held in Perth until the 27th, and while the event name suggests an Aussie-focus, organiser Zuhal Kuvan-Mills has invited  designers, artists, activists,  media and businesses from around the world.

Our very own Senorita AweSUMO from just “down the road” in Dunedin, is showing an 11-piece collection made of items with an incredible story.

Designer Fiona Clements has upcycled and regenerated tent canvas and everyday waste items collected from the streets to create something that is a strong statement, not just in the sharp silhouette of the pieces, but about our throw away culture. Screen Shot 2017-11-19 at 4.19.19 PM

In an interview with Fiona about her collection and the show for the Otago Daily Times, she said how disheartening it was to see how much rubbish people dropped on the ground. With incredible insight and innovation she has paired throw away single-use street waste with fabric donated by the Otago Museum. The green tent substrate was from an exhibition about Otago Nurses in WWI (an exhibition developed in collaboration with  Otago Polytechnic bachelor of design  students).

She also used hemp and organic cotton fabric in the collection.

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At a sneak peak pre-runway show in Dunedin

Runway shows like Senorita AweSUMO’s will present the best in organic, handmade, local, “re/up-cycled”, fair-trade, ethical fashion and textiles. Not only fashion, but the aim of the fashion week is to raise awareness  of environmentally-conscious “slow fashion” in the region, highlighting innovation, avant-garde design and education.

I take my hat off to Fiona, as well as Zuhal, who has shown collections from her Green Embassy haute couture eco brand around the world at several eco shows. These two pioneers are part of a growing consciousness and global conversation about the origins and ethics of our clothes, about being innovative in designing waste-free or regenerating for design, and about simply being mindful about what we wear and what we waste.

And by the way, Zuhal, who I also had the privilege of talking to, has high praise for Fiona, and the work she is doing both in her Vogel Street sewing room, as well as on the Kiwi and global stage.

For my part, I am very proud of what we do in New Zealand, and I wish Fiona and the other New Zealand designer, Heke Designs from Waiheke Island, best of luck with their shows later this week. Kia Kaha.

First and second

I‘ve been thinking about pre-loved clothing a lot lately, especially since hosting and helping arrange the recent Walk in Wardrobe fashion show at the Sustainable Queenstown annual eco fair.

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The lovely Eco Fair Fashion Show models (with me in the middle)

I remain a strong advocate for buying sustainably-produced clothing from credible and transparent brands, but second-hand clothing is moving up in my esteem.

Here’s why…

It’s great that in recent years so many sustainable brands have launched. You can now buy something that is ethical, on trend and at a different price point almost every weekend. But I wonder what that means for our exhausted planet? It feels a little like fast fashion.

With all these ethical and sustainable brands popping up, I am thinking that we need to take it back to the principles behind sustainable fashion – creating something that sustains rather than destroys resources for future generations to enjoy. I’m not saying certified organic cotton and a fair trade wage system is destructive. No. But second hand clothing really targets the consuming resources part of the equation. It is a great way to reduce consumption by recycling and re-using, and lessening the landfill fabric waste that is just as bad as the waste created at production. It also gives us a lot of choice, style wise. I also feel that if an item has made it through a couple of washes and still looks good on the shelf then it should last long too. From a wallet perspective that’s a deal – greater guarantee, less the price.

A fellow blogger and vintage and pre-loved store owner, Leah Wise, from Stylewise, also made a good point in a previous blog regarding big fast fashion brands cashing in on re-purchases. With my media and marketing background I feel they get double the brand awareness when items are worn again. But, as she said, the second hand market is its own economy. Besides, if someone asks who we are wearing, we get the opportunity to say we have deliberately bought second hand to lessen our carbon footprint. Leah also pointed out that re-using acknowledges the work that has gone into making these garments and that resonated with me too. After all, the #whomademyclothes campaign asks us to question manufacture, so why shouldn’t we also show our appreciation. That is our love for fashion – appreciating beauty and style.

Perhaps the ultimate solution then is supporting a second hand sustainable-brands market, and with all these brands emerging that becomes a real option. Jess from Muka Kids has run a system like this for years where you can trade your sustainable ethical brands via a Facebook marketplace. It is particularly popular for kids clothing.

So then the question is what if I find a great sustainable brand on ebay and it has to be shipped from the US to New Zealand? Crikey. I’ll have to delve down that question another time! At the end of the day there are many factors that guide our purchase decisions and that’s the most important thing – being mindful. I’d like to add to that – not only mindful but joyful and proud of trying rather than being guilty for not ticking all the boxes.

Featured photo credit – Walk in Wardrobe.

 

Spring and change are in the air

I love Spring. It is absolutely my favourite time of the year.

There’s sun, but not too much of it. Beautiful blossoms start to flourish, scenting the air and bringing colour to the grey. And yet, I still get to play in the snow, and wear my jacket and scarf some days. Perfection.

But it’s also time for new beginnings. For me that is significant. This month, I am opening a new chapter and starting up a new business. Well, it’s a creative platform of sorts, where people with a need for branding, PR, communications etc can come to The Cre8tive Group – that’s what it’ll be called we think – and have access to a whole bunch of incredible freelancers who will collaborate together for each client, and draw on different strengths for each ‘commission’. It’ll be a springboard to broaden my scope and specialise in sustainable businesses. That’s the exciting part.

But in the meanwhile, something very very important has to happen. It’s probably not as important as paying bills, but it sure does feel like it today.

My new Spring Capsule Wardrobe.

 

 

As ever, only 30 items. So I am pulling out the black and grey and bringing in dots, pink, blue and white. Patterns, lightness, shortness and shoes that don’t go above the ankle. The feel of grass on my feet,  the sun on my face. I love Spring. Did I say that already?

And as always, I’ll leave a couple of empty hangers to purchase something new for spring that will last me all the way through to the end of next Spring (at least!). Look out Pinterest, here comes a new pinboard.

In winter I got a ‘new’ pre-loved denim shirt in exchange for one I could no longer mend, a pre-loved cowl neck cashmere sweater, a new pair of ankle boots from Kate Sylvester and a couple of items from WE-AR, a Kiwi brand that is fast becoming a favourite. I had 7 slots left after compiling my winter Capsule wardrobe, so I did OK there (Still catching up from a severe lack of clothing post pregnancy and nursing wear).

What’s your Spring Wardrobe looking like? Or perhaps you’re gearing up for Autumn (also a lovely time of the year). What do you have your eye on? Either way, have fun curating your new wardrobe.

Buyerarchy of needs, and why I disagree with it…

Back by popular demand…

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to present a little bit of my knowledge and passion to a packed audience of more than 200 wonderful women at Queenstown’s Inaugural Women’s Summit, organised by Sustainable Queenstown.

In my Pecha Kucha about sustainable and ethical fashion, there was a diagram that seemed to resonate with audience members, and so I thought I might revisit it in my blog. Here it is – Sarah Lazarovic’s nifty pyramid – the buyerarchy of needs, based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

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Cool, isn’t it?

Lazarovic is an illustrator, writer, irony-recogniser, call-it-what-it-is type, and general awesome creative. She also lives minimally, and for a year instead of buying what she wanted she painted what she wanted, and then published the visual essays. I admire that.

But I disagree with Sarah. In the pyramid in my head the first three are fine, but then I stop. When we buy pre-loved clothing that hasn’t been ethically made, we might consume less and re-use more, but at the same time we are supporting a fast fashion industry that pollutes, employs children, doesn’t pay fair wages, and so on and so forth (see a blog about that here). By buying a second-hand label that rates poorly for ethics and environmental sustainability, we’re supporting them and their branding. We might lower our own carbon footprint, but not the global footprint.

In my pyramid, I prioritise buying and supporting sustainable and ethical fashion labels. If you can buy these second-hand we’ve got a Yahtzee!

I don’t have the tools to create something fancy… So here is my rudimentary diagram descending from best to least. In all honesty though I operate at purple/no.1, 2 and no.5 and at a push no.6 the yellow block – 100 wears.

My fashion consumption pyramid

Love what you have first!!

To me, it’s absolutely important that ethical and sustainable brands, labels, marketplaces feature strongly in your consumption pyramid. It’s a more global humanitarian approach and sends a clear message that ethical and sustainable comes first, even over fast fashion seconds – yes, that’s right, we don’t even want your fast fashion seconds!! Boom!

Thanks for the inspiration, Sarah.

And thanks to Sustainable Queenstown for the opportunity to share.