Beccy Frost

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Show The Love Campaign - The Brands Making Pledges For The Planet

The Climate Coalition is an organisation which was founded in 2005 and represents over 130 organisations including the National Trust and the RSPB. Their positive climate action campaign Show The Love launched ten years later. On the 26th of July I attended the UK's largest ever lobby for the climate and nature, organised by The Climate Coalition. The Time Is Now lobby brought together over 12,000 people from across the UK to lobby their MP's into taking action on the climate crisis. 
The Show The Love Campaign is a positive campaign which encourages individuals and companies alike to make pledges on how they will reduce their Carbon Footprint in order to protect our planet for future generations. The scale of the Climate Crisis can often leave us feeling hopeless and out of control, perhaps feeling as if we don't have any power to change anything. The Show The Love campaign is about making positive and achievable changes within our lives and realising, that whilst our actions may seem small, they very quickly add up and have a big impact once adopted by a lot of people.
Maybe you will make a pledge to reduce your consumption of plastic, to use a re-usable water bottle, to make an effort to walk places rather than take out the car or buy your clothes second hand.

Choosing to support brands which are making a conscious effort to reduce their impact on the planet is another thing that you can do. In the words of sustainable fashion advocate Emma Watson,
"As consumers we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy"

I have contacted some of my favourite brands to find out what changes they plan to make throughout various areas of their company to reduce their carbon footprint.

"This Autumn we launched our crowdfunder to pre-order our latest collection. It is eco-friendly Tencel, and pre-orders mean zero waste! This is how we'll be cutting down our carbon footprint."



"It has always been a priority for Seeker x Retriever to reduce the Earth's carbon footprint. That's why we make our clothes in small batches (less than 20 pieces per item) and use a made to order basis to guarantee that we don't overstock or have any left over fabrics and items that will be wasted in landfill. Our soon to launch recycle program will also be making use of scrap fabrics that we have at the tailors."



"Our designers have worked closely with our factories this season to develop our new Eco Wash collection which uses up to 80% less water than traditional denim production, as well as using GOTS certified organic cotton...our new compostable bags are the perfect alternative to the standard courier bags."



"Currently Kind Socks uses organic cotton, which uses 46% less greenhouse gases than standard cotton...packaging has been the biggest challenge because, being a digital first business, the majority of our sales come from online. That is why we currently use a 100% Compostable Mailer by No Issue..."



5. ReJean 
"ReJean is a Unisex denim brand. We make generic workwear inspired garments using reclaimed fabrics. We consciously do not contribute to the production of new materials by only using reclaimed fabrics! The nature of our production process means that each garment is completely one of a kind. All we require is electricity to power our machinery. Our garments are made to last a lifetime. We also run mending workshops to give our customers the skillset to repair their clothes when necessary."



6. Roake
"From selecting materials that are manufactured with waste-reducing processes in mind, to using a bike and trailer for local deliveries, we're doing everything we can to keep our impact on the planet as low as possible. We work with factories that use tech to reduce waste, develop closed loop systems and create efficient manufacturing processes. We use natural materials to ensure that the post consumer impact is controlled, and explore circular options wherever possible. Our hairpins, for instance, are made from brass, which is a material that can be recycled repetitively, forever. Our orders are sent out in biodegradable packaging, such as potato starch mailers, and we never produce more materials than necessary."



7. Wild Fawn Jewellery 
"We make all of our jewellery here in London which means that there's no Carbon footprint from importing anything from overseas. We use recycled silver and gold here and continue the theme by having a highly organised recycling system here at the studio. Waste is inevitably created in any business but we do our absolute best to be as kind to the environment as possible from buying snacks from our local plastic-free shop to reusing any waste paper for our 'to-make' lists."

These great brands are doing their part and leading the way in providing sustainable alternatives.  Why not show the love this Christmas by supporting brands that are choosing to have a positive impact on our planet?

I would love to hear about your pledge, whether it is personal or for your brand - do get in touch! For other ways that you can get involved visit The Climate Coalition website.

                                   Beccy x

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Monday, 11 November 2019

H&M Has Demanded That We Don't Ditch Fast Fashion - But At What Cost?


At first I wasn't quite sure what to make of the headline that popped up on my phone on the 28th of October. I had to read it twice:

'H&M boss warns of ‘terrible social consequences’ if people ditch fast fashion'

Initially, the first thing that came to mind was that fashion has reached a turning point. Here is the proof that consumers hold the power over the fashion industry. A boss of a fashion business is asking customers not to stop shopping with them, primarily because customers are shopping less as we are realising the environmental impact of our clothes. The fast side of fashion doesn't work together with protecting our environment at all.
I find it incredibly ironic that the boss of a major fast fashion retailer is warning of 'terrible social consequences' as if there haven't been terrible social consequences for the people making clothes for under a living wage. Credit to H&M for planning to go climate positive by 2040, but if 'the climate issue is incredibly important. It’s a huge threat and we all need to take it seriously' as Persson so rightly says, shouldn't it be understandable that we need to consume less in order to protect the planet from climate breakdown? Or do their interests lie elsewhere..? 

I understand that there is some reason behind what they say. Fashion is, of course, an industry which creates jobs for garment workers and dividends for business owners, but it is the garment workers in poorer counties, such as Bangladesh, who will be hit the hardest by the effects of climate change. And, yes, we need to support workers in the fashion industry, but by supporting brands that pay a fair living wage and do their part to reduce the threat of climate change to the places where they live.
Fast Fashion has dried up lakes which were once used for fishing, polluted rivers which were formerly sources of drinking water with toxic chemicals, churned out vast quantities of greenhouse gases and left workers with little-to-nothing to live on. These are terrible social consequences.


The way you shop does have an impact on how businesses like H&M work. They care about your money and what makes you spend it. If ethics and sustainability are high on all of our priority lists, so will it be on theirs. If you are a customer at H&M, challenge them and ask who made your clothes, and how they were made - you have more power than you think.
I look forward to seeing H&M moving towards becoming a more climate positive brand.

                                                                                             Beccy x



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Sunday, 3 November 2019

Interview With Andrew Ferguson, Founder Of Charitable Second Hand Store Re-Fashion


In the last several years there has been a massive shift in our attitudes as consumers, towards second hand, as well as sustainable fashion, although I think some people still have certain negative associations with charity shops and second hand. 

Re-Fashion is a great place for you to be introduced to second hand shopping if you are someone to whom the idea of shifting through a huge assortment of 'someone else's' clothes still puts you off entering charity shops. 
Maybe you just prefer to do your shopping online or have specific brands in mind that you want to buy from.

Whilst I enjoy rummaging through the rails for bargains in charity shops, sites such as Re-Fashion and Depop are a great way to make second hand shopping attractive and accessible to more people using all of the benefits of an online store.
You can shop clothes from high street and designer brands at a fraction of the shop price whilst a percentage of the money from your purchase goes to support charities such as Breast Cancer Care and Make A Wish, giving charities an alternative platform for fundraising if they are unable to open a shop on the high street.
         
                                       1. What led you to start Re-Fashion?

We were already running high-street charity shops for Breast Cancer Care before starting Re-Fashion. Our goal was to make them fantastic places to shop, aligning the experience with great retailers rather than charity shops. We soon realised we could replicate this online and create an even better experience by using e-commerce functionality, like search sort and filters. Some people love rummaging rails but a lot of people like just seeing all the skirts in their size. Online you can do that easily. Once we had the technology and logistics in place we knew we could offer our service to multiple charities and bring them online. We’re particularly keen to offer our platform to organisations that can’t afford to be on the high-street, which by the way is 99% of UK charities! Donating clothes is such a great way to give and it means that they too can now benefit from this action.


       2. How do you think a site like Re-fashion can change perceptions of second-hand clothes?

There’s a generation of customers who view used clothes in a positive light. Sustainable fashion is important part of their purchase decision and they see second-hand almost as a status symbol. But a lot of people don’t and we want to change this mind-set by flipping the negative baggage ‘second-hand fashion’ comes with. We do this by making Re-Fashion feel like their other online destinations they’re used to. These could be anything from ASOS to Net-A-Porter. So we spend a lot of time on photography, design and user experience to make our brand feel premium and trustworthy. We know that once these consumers, who might be sitting on the fence, experience high quality second-hand they never look back.


                                             3. How do you source clothing?

Although we do stock some high-street surplus items nearly all of the clothes are donated. People hear about us through word of mouth or come to the website looking to buy, see that they can donate and so order a bag. We like this as it promotes circular fashion and encourages our customers to recycle as well as consume.


                                  4. Have you always shopped in charity shops?

I used to shop vintage jeans through charity shops when I was a student but I’m pretty tall so it was a challenge. I see such amazing women’s clothes getting sent to Re-Fashion I can’t wait for us to do a mens’ version so I can become a loyal customer :-)


                  5. What is your favourite piece of clothing that you have been sent?                                                                                     Have you had any surprises?

We receive lots of generous donations but one stands out from a woman decluttering her house who gave us 20 full bin liners of the most fabulous on-trend clothes. It ranged from boutique labels to big designer brands and was such a thrill going through each bag wondering what amazing item you would pick out next. Everyone was a humdinger and they’ve nearly all sold out on our site.


                                                     6. Describe your typical working day.

Being a start-up with so many things going on no one day is ever the same. It can flip from defining our Facebook advertising strategy to sorting though a donation bag of clothes ready for listing. We’re a small but growing team and everyone is hands-on which makes the job varied but very rewarding.



Thank you Andrew for answering my questions about Re-Fashion! I am also excited to see the result of your collaboration with Sustainable Streetwear brand Quillattire!

Why not continue to shop your favourite High-Street and designer brands, but more sustainably on Re-Fashion?


                           Beccy x


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Wednesday, 11 September 2019

What Do Mainstream Magazines Have To Say About Sustainability in Fashion?

Last week I brought my first issue of Grazia. What made me take a second glance at the front cover of this magazine were the words 'Circular Fashion'. I was really pleased to see issues of sustainability within the fashion industry discussed in mainstream magazines. I don't want to see sustainability treated as a niche and exclusive part of fashion. It quite simply can't be that way if we have any chance of reducing the impact of the fashion industry on the planet. Media and magazines have a huge role to play, explaining environmental and ethical issues to the public, as well as providing accessible solutions.

By now one of the things that I have come to expect from fashion magazines, are pages stuffed full of items of 'MUST HAVE' clothing and accessories that you simply 'NEED TO BUY NOW'. So, as you can imagine, I was instantly curious to see what Grazia would have to say about taking a slower approach to fashion and shopping.

I appreciate the way Grazia emphasised the attractive side of vintage shopping, focusing on influencers who use platforms such as Instagram to remove the un-glamourous stigma of second-hand. It is also great that they have printed advice on how to 'breath new life into old clothes'. These are all ways in which we can make sustainable changes, without requiring a large budget.

However I do think that Grazia is giving rather mixed messages about their stance on sustainability. Whilst talking of 'trendless' fashion and 'make do and mend' on one page, Grazia has a double page spread titled 'WHAT'S NEW NOW' on another, the caption for one picture of a blouse being 'A woman can never have too many square-necked and smocked blouses'.
I guess that Grazia's standpoint is that it is still ok to buy a Zara top as long as you take care of your clothes (see my post Why Sustainable Fashion Needn't Be Exclusive), but one thing they forget to mention, despite having several pages about donating clothes, is the issue of overconsumption.

I also think that the attention is on currently on sustainability (which it absolutely needs to be) but magazines should also be sharing the stories of the people who make our clothes.
In Grazia, Amy Powney, the creative director of Mother and Pearl, says 'in defence of the public, I think it's brand new information [to many] that fashion has an environmental footprint'. I agree. I also think it is brand new information that all clothes are handmade - something that has only really come onto my conscience in the last several years. I think the majority of people really do care, but walking into a clean high street store isn't the same as walking into a factory and seeing the real conditions that the clothes were made in. We are so disconnected from the processes behind our clothes. We need magazines and the media to be at the forefront of making those links and raising awareness so that the wellbeing of the people who made our clothes will be on our minds when we shop, rather than simply aesthetic appeal.
I am a big fan of The Sustainability Issue which Elle released last September. Whether you are new to sustainable fashion or you know a lot already, you will find it packed full of relevant and interesting advice. It covers sustainability approximately 90% of the issue (10% ads) and it doesn't miss out on promoting sustainable fashion brands as well as skincare.
There are interviews with Stella McCartney, articles by Naomi Klein and a feature on the founders of Fashion Revolution.
I haven't read any Elle magazine's for a while, but I am not sure that all of their issues promoted sustainability in this way - I wish that they did.

These sustainability and circular fashion issues make a statement, vital in raising awareness. What I hope for these fashion magazines is that 'Circular Fashion' and 'Sustainability' aren't simply viewed as trends and buzzwords which pop up in a single issue, but values which underpin everything that they promote. With the amount of pollution and greenhouse gases produced by the fashion industry, we can't afford to see sustainability as simply a trend.
It needs to become a way of life.

UPDATE: Since publishing this post, a letter I wrote to Grazia about their circular issue was published in their Issue 746. I thought I would share the whole of that letter here...

Hello,

I picked up my first Grazia magazine this week (9th September). What caught my eye was the issue’s focus on circular fashion, a term I know but have never seen on the front of a mainstream fashion magazine. I am a fashion design and marketing student and I write an ethical/sustainable fashion blog (www.rebeccafrost.net). It concerns me that sustainable fashion sometimes comes across as exclusive, even though sustainable fashion is as much about our attitude towards what we buy and wear, and how we care for our clothes as to what we buy. It is about only buying clothes that we truly love and not making unnecessary purchases, something that Stacey Dooley emphasised in her article. I hope more magazines encourage their readers to consider and act upon the sustainable and ethical issues surrounding fashion. I also hope all of your issues will be circular fashion issues.

Best wishes,

Rebecca Frost

                                                                                                 Beccy x



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Thursday, 29 August 2019

5 Ways To Get The Most Out of Your Wardrobe (To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint)

If you are someone who does get a lot of wear out of your own wardrobe, it might surprise you to discover that in the UK, as consumers we have around £30 billion worth of clothes which we haven’t worn for a year hanging in our wardrobes

There is pressure developing, mainly amongst people my age, to not be seen wearing an outfit more than once on social media sites such as Instagram. This encourages a consumerist attitude and makes us prioritise buying into short-lived trends rather than clothes which we will want to wear for years to come. We then end up with all these unwanted clothes sitting unworn in our wardrobes.
I have clothes that I bought a few years ago, in which my interest wore out quickly - trend-driven impulse buys.  If I had applied the same ethics which influence my shopping today, I would be wearing these clothes because I still loved them, rather than out of obligation to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Whatever or however much I own, how can I make the most out of my clothes in order to reduce the carbon footprint of my wardrobe? Having bought no brand new clothes in 2018, I have had to work out how I can make best use of what I already own. 


1. Sift through your clothes seasonally.

It is often a surprise for me when I rummage in the box of clothes that I tuck away at the bottom of my wardrobe. Before winter or summer I tend to rearrange my wardrobe slightly. Like most people, I do not have big bulky jumpers accessible when it is 20 degrees outside, or have tops with spaghetti straps hanging up when it is snowing. I sometimes forget what I already have and mistakenly think that I have absolutely nothing that is appropriate.  In fact, I have plenty- I just need to rediscover them.
If I did not check I would probably end up buying things that I do not need. Occasionally I will find something from 2-3 years ago that I have not worn - my taste has changed and I find I can make use out of it again!


2. Don't give up on things that need mending. 

Do you have a pile of clothes that sit waiting to be mended? I have a few things that I can picture now, that if I mended today, I would certainly get more wear out of.  The problem is that most people enjoy searching for something new and then buying while it seems like more effort to reach for a needle and thread.  The climate emergency demands that we rediscover the satisfaction which comes from restoring a loved item rather than casually discarding it.  Fashion Revolution found that 95% of discarded clothing can be recycled or up-cycled.

Visit Love Your Clothes to find out how to care for and mend your clothes so you can get more use out of them.
3. Buy things which you can interchange and wear in different combinations.


Not only is it more interesting to be able to wear things in more ways than one, but you also get your money's worth and it's much better for the planet. According to WRAP.org 'increasing the active life of all clothing by nine months would reduce the annual carbon, water and waste footprints of UK clothing by 20-30%'.

Before you make a purchase, consider whether a piece of clothing has potential to be worn in a number of ways. Try to visualise at least 4 different outfits that could be put together using that piece of clothing, and the clothing that you already own. This is slightly harder to do when it comes to occasion wear, but if you're only going to wear it once why not try a clothing rental service such as Wear The Walk?

I think that knowing your personal style helps here. Bloggers such as Alice Catherine (@alicecatherine) know which palletes of colour and styles suit them best. I have noticed that this means she finds it easy to mix and match. My friend Abi (@abi.bakerr) has a predominantly blue and white wardrobe which means that most of her clothes work well together, and she is able to mix up her outfits every day, which look great! Also have a look at YouTuber and blogger Bethany (@dearlybethany). Her whole Instagram focuses on showcasing how a few pieces of quality clothing can be put together in a multitude of ways. 

'increasing the active life of all clothing by nine months would reduce the annual carbon, water and waste footprints of UK clothing by 20-30%'

4. Getting the most out of your wardrobe can also mean other people getting use out of the clothes you are not wearing. 
Swap or give away!

My sister Lauren is close to me in age and we're lucky that we have a cross-over in the styles that we like, and the types of clothes that we choose. This means that when I riffle through the clothes that I don't get much wear out of, she or my younger sister discover something that they like or in fact suits them better. Tastes change and I'm now wearing a cardigan that Lauren got years ago on a daily basis. Swapping is beneficial to both of us. You could swap with people you know, donate to charity shops or sell on online sites such as ebay or depop, making space for things that you will wear and giving your clothes a second life.  Here is a post about my experience of swapping clothing with my sister.
5. Use accessories to change an outfit.

Over the course of last year when I was only buying second hand clothing, I found that an easy way to make my outfits different was to wear headscarves as well as interesting earrings.
I now select clothes that I know will work well with my headscarfs.
I have bought more headscarves and earrings recently as I've been spending less on clothes. They are actually very easy to find and can be really cheap. Buying something like a headscarf uses up far less material than a piece of clothing, therefore having less environmental impact.
I have found headscarves at flea markets, kilo sales and charity shops. At a vintage kilo sale I felt like they were practically free because they weighed next to nothing! Shops such as LUSH also create headscarves using organic and deadstock fabrics.

I hope that you enjoy rediscovering clothes that you love in your wardrobe!

                                                                                                            Beccy x
 









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Saturday, 20 July 2019

Interview With Designer Jogaile Zairyte About Her Award-winning Sustainable Collection, 'Makoto'


I came across Jogaile's collection 'Makoto' on Instagram, where it popped up in a photoshoot for Fashion Graduate Week's 'Talent of Tomorrow' campaign. 
Jogaile created these uniquely coloured fabrics for her collection with natural dyes, such as avocado stones and indigo. She used an efficient, zero-waste pattern cutting technique, which comprises of rectangular, square and triangle patterns, inspired by traditional Japanese kimonos and samurai armours. The collection is beautifully finished off with intricate Sashiko stitching, but also has a fun and playful side, with padded sections and plenty of embroidered texture. 

I love the positivity emitted from this collection, as well as the intricate hand processes which Jogaile has used to create the clothes, celebrating hand-crafted processes and slow fashion and thereby contrasting with the frenetic speed of fast fashion.

In April, Jogaile's collection won the Batsford Prize for Fashion 2019.


1. What is the creative process and inspiration behind your latest collection?

My collection, “Makoto”, was inspired by the Japanese samurai and their beliefs, and how they cherished nature and natural organic materials by utilising different handicraft techniques and natural hand-dyeing processes.



2. What is your favourite part of producing a collection?

Creating for me equates to happiness. I enjoy every part of making a collection, from the initial research to the final stitch. It is amazing how much you learn during each design process, and I love seeing how every collection ends up being so different from the one before. It really is an invaluable experience.





3. How and when did you become aware of the impacts of fast fashion on the planet?

Ever since I was a teenager, I have sought to combat the environmental problems that are plaguing the world. However, at that time, I didn’t know that the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world, although I have always preferred shopping in second hand shops or vintage shops because the clothes there are more unique and interesting. I found out the hard truth about the fashion industry during my first year at the University of Portsmouth when I was volunteering for a “Fashion Revolution” campaign. After watching the documentary 'The True Cost', my mind and approach to fashion drastically changed, and since then I have never looked back, I just keep on moving forward on the sustainable path, striving to make a difference in the industry and for our world.



4. Has your knowledge of how the fashion industry works changed the way you shop for clothes personally?

Yes, yes, yes!!! I don’t buy clothes from fast fashion companies anymore, I always look for small businesses that make sustainable clothing, or just make the clothes myself!! I also go to events such as clothes swaps, where I take my unwanted clothes and swap them for something new! Very exciting! Of course, I love mending my clothes or reconstructing them if I have a spare minute. Loving your clothes is important and we need to stop buying clothes that will be thrown away after one use, instead, we need to invest in quality and sustainable clothing which will last!

5. What do you aspire to do in the future?

I want to work in the sustainable fashion industry and to share all my knowledge with the people around me and inspire to do better, as every little step counts!


6. How have you designed your collection to be sustainable?

To make my collection, I used all natural and organic materials, I hand-dyed all of them using natural dyes such as avocado stones, turmeric, etc. I also incorporated a zero waste technique into my designs.  



7. How would you describe your collection in three words?

Colourful, unique, fun!

Thank you Jogaile!

You can keep up with Jogaile's projects and beautiful designs on her instagram @joza_eco

             Beccy x


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Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Why Sustainable Fashion Needn't Be Exclusive


Recently I have been thinking about how sustainability can sometimes appear to be something which is only accessible to a small number of people, and in some ways, many beautiful sustainable brands are out of reach to many of us.  Nevertheless,  I don't see sustainability as something which is exclusive.  In 2019, it is possible to list an increasing number of sustainable brands which are affordable, although perhaps not appealing to everyone's taste just yet.  So can we consider sustainable fashion accessible to everyone?

I originally came up with a list of the options I believe would result in our wardrobes having the lowest environmental impact:

1. wearing what you already own;
2. borrowing/swapping clothes;
3. buying second hand;
4. buying from brands which create their clothes sustainably.

However, I started to reconsider this list when I took into consideration the meaning of 'Sustainability'. Sustainability is about ensuring we don't use up resources. It's about consuming less and making things last so that they can be reused and not thrown away in the future.  Therefore, I would say that buying things which are quality, you actually love and you know you will continue to wear for a long time, should be on that list too.

Having a sustainable wardrobe isn’t just about where we shop, but how we consume and care for our clothes. On the whole, high street clothes are cheaper to make, cheaper to buy and don't last as long. But I can think of quite a few people who have bought something - jeans from Topshop for example - and they wear them all the time. Some people re-dye their clothes when they become faded and mend them when they tear to avoid them being thrown out.

A huge percentage of the environmental impact of our clothing actually comes from how we care for our clothes. The average household uses 9,100 litres of water per year to wash clothing. This is the equivalent to the recommended daily water intake for more than 4,500 people! There is also energy consumption in caring for our clothes, not to mention micro-plastic pollution. Imagine how much water could be saved if we wore something twice, or more, if it doesn't actually need a wash. 
These is definitely a sustainability issue that can be tackled by everyone.

Someone was telling me the other day about some clothes they where really excited to have bought. They told me where the clothes were from and instantly felt guilty. They said that they were sorry it wasn't an ethical brand. 
What I should have said is that, as much as it really does make a difference what brands you support, (and without using this as a reason to justify consumerism) it's about mindset and how you approach buying things that counts. It's also about buying things intending to make them last for a long time instead of knowing we will only wear it a few times and then abandon it. 

We need to know that we really love what we buy, enough to care about making it last.


Beccy x
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Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Interview with Nan, Co-founder of ethical brand Seeker x Retreiver


Seeker x Retriever is a beautiful protest against the exploitive and consumerist attitude of fast fashion, ethically making their clothes to last and be loved. All of their seasonless clothing is hand-crafted in Thailand, where all of the production processes are overseen by their artisans, starting with the hand-weaving and natural dyeing of their cloth. They use only natural dyes from seasonal plants that are native to the area. Their grey colour comes from the leaves of the local Takian tree while their mango colour comes from actual mango leaves!
I also love how their artisans are free to determine the price of their own creations.  

1. What inspired you to start Seeker x Retriever and what lead you to become so passionate about sustainable/ethical fashion?

Fashion has always been a personal passion of mine, even when I was working in media. We originally launched Seeker x Retriever as a vintage clothing store, but then I got the idea to create our own line using handwoven cotton when I travelled to the North of Thailand, where my mother is from. Around the same time I was getting frustrated about how fast trends are changing and wondered why it was so difficult to find classic pieces made ethically. So Seeker x Retriever as a brand was born.



2. What inspired your latest collection, Kakadu? 

The other half of Seeker x Retriever is from Australia and I've always been inspired by the colours of nature and outdoor living, so Kakadu National Park inspired the story behind this collection. We wanted to bring a sense of natural wonder and a care-free feel to the narrative of this collection.

                                         3. Who are the makers behind Seeker x Retriever? 

All of our products are collaborative efforts between us and local artisans. We aim to make Seeker x Retriever a love-story where handmade products are the main characters. Currently we're working with artisan groups in the North and North Eastern regions of Thailand. We only work with home tailors, based in Bangkok, who set their own working times and their own prices. We never do bulk-discounted products, which is what's popular here in South East Asia where brands order large quantities to make production cheaper.



Aunty Nid, who is 58, never thought that making clothes was for her until she was taught how to sew by a local tailor around where she lives in Bangkok.
She saw having her own business as a way to live a more balanced life by getting to work on her own schedule. She loves coconut ice-cream and when she’s not working, she enjoys watching her favourite shows on TV with her husband.
We work with Aunty Nid on a commission basis, where she gets to name her own price and time to make each item. There is never a “bulk production discount” when it comes to her wage. Thank you again Aunty Nid for sharing your skills and growing with us.

4. You describe your clothes as ‘seasonless’ and ‘classic’. How can fashion adapt to become an industry which places value on versatility and longevity instead of trends?

Having previously working in fashion media, I think the industry should take greater responsibility to promote sustainability because these publications are often the starting point when people want to buy something. We need more honest media who promote smaller brands instead of just taking money from the big guns. Instead of writing about "what's new to buy," they should focus more on the stories of the makers.




      5. How have the clothes at Seeker x Retriever been designed and produced in a sustainable way? 

Our pieces are only made with handwoven cotton by artisans. We produce items in small quantities (30 meters = around 8 pieces) to guarantee that there will be no waste. We also use a lot of seasonal dye materials so certain colours are not available at a certain time of the year. 
This year, we will be introducing our recycling initiative where if a customer has worn a certain piece of ours for a certain period of time, they can return it in exchange for discounts on other products. We will then recycle their pre-loved items into one-of-a-kind pieces, whether fashion or homeware.

You can learn more about our process here: https://www.seekerxretriever.com/blogs/seekers-journal/inside-seeker-x-retrievers-production-process



6. Why is it important to know who the people who make our clothes are?

Every product carries a story of its makers. It's important to have this mindset and people need to practise consuming consciously because clothing isn't supposed to be this cheap. It's hard to look past the flashy and beautiful clothes in store and imagine that the person who made this has earned less than 5% of what it's sold for. 

                               7. How would you describe Seeker x Retriever in three words? 


                                                                   Honest, conscious and creative.


Thank you Nan! I love that you emphasise the importance of having an understanding of who makes our clothes and what goes in to making one garment. I definitely feel like this makes me more aware of the value of my clothes, and the lives of the people who make them.


  Beccy x

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Friday, 28 June 2019

Greenwashing - 5 Ways You Might Be Deceived Into Thinking a Brand is Ethical or Sustainable

Fast fashion brands are increasingly engaging in marketing campaigns designed to make them appear wholesome or ethical to the consumer - thereby discouraging us from questioning their practices. It frustrates me when brands try to hide their questionable production methods behind a gloss of advertising which entice well-intentioned customers.

'Greenwashing' is a term which has been used since the 1980's but I'm seeing it more and more from high street retailers as they try to appeal to the growing demand for ethical and sustainable clothes, whilst keeping up their profits. Some brands do not want to miss out but neither do they want to change radically - not yet anyway. Greenwashing is a cheaper way to convince customers that they care and are doing something.

I have fallen for many of these ploys before, so I hope these points remind you to check a brand out before presuming it is ethical and sustainable...


1.  'Feminist' t-shirt slogans are not proof that the brand exercises gender equality

There have been a myriad of news stories in the last few months, about brands selling t-shirts with feminist slogans emblazoned across the front, whilst paying their workers a pittance.

In 2017/18 I remember that pretty much every high-street shop had a version of the Dior 'We should all be feminists' t-shirt. There were five major brands, all of whom were found to be using sweatshops and/or child labour. All brands that used the feminist message to empower their shoppers, but not their workers.

I recently read an article claiming that the iconic 'This Is What A Feminist Looks Like' campaign t-shirts, designed by Elle magazine and sold by Whistles (with the proceedings going to the Fawcett Society) were made in a Mauritian sweatshop, by women being paid 62p per hour
. Whistles have since stated that they have extensive evidence that the factory wasn't in fact a sweatshop. They released that workers where in fact payed above the government-mandated minimum wage. I still feel uneasy that the workers were payed under a pound per hour to produce £45 t-shirts. 


2. Charity campaigns don't always mean that a brand pays their workers well

One case was where Comic Relief's  '#wannabeaspicegirl' t-shirts (sold to raise money for their 'Gender Justice' campaign) were discovered to have been made in a factory that paid its predominantly female workforce the equivalent to 35p per hour, whilst they were also subjected to verbal abuse. It's a particularly sad irony considering the campaign was focused around 'Girl Power'.


3. A brand's 'conscious' collection isn't proof of eco-friendly practices throughout their supply chain

Fast Fashion retailers such as Zara and H&M have recently introduced their own sustainable collections. Zara for example has brought out "Join Life," a collection of clothing that is "made with materials, such as organic cotton, recycled wool, and Tencel, which reduce our environmental impact." I first want to say that this is a step in the right direction and I would always recommend that we should chose from their 'eco' collections over the rest of their stock. Hopefully the popularity of these collections over their other collections will be an insensitive for things to change throughout the whole business. 

However, these brands are amongst those who have been called out for Greenwashing. Their environmental collections account for only a tiny percentage of their overall products, and whilst these 'conscious' collections are placed at the front of the store for us all to see, millions of clothes are still being churned out at the same rate. 
Clothing made using harmful practices and materials, made by people being payed far below the living wage.

The Green Hub run by sustainability activist Kira Simpson, recently challenged Boohoo's recycled range in an instagram post, questioning "will your recycled range be made under fair and safe working conditions? How's the quality of your fabric, will it last beyond a dozen washes? What about microfibre shedding? What do you plan to do with all the unsold stock?...Start by fixing your supply chains. Make better quality clothing...". 

Despite recently introduced a recycling scheme, H&M, as a fast fashion brand, actively encourage the constant rapid consumption of cheap clothes. Isn't placing recycling bins at the end of aisles distracting from the real issue of overproduction?
On www.wellmadeclothes.com it says, "fast fashion business models are inherently unsustainable and increasing recycling efforts doesn’t simply undo the damage caused by creating too many garments in the first place". Or as Greenpeace have posted on social media 'If your bathtub was overflowing, you wouldn't immediately reach for a mop — you'd first turn off the tap'.

Can a business with a Fast Fashion model ever truly be sustainable? Let me know what you think!



4. Brands with minimalistic, natural photoshoots aren't always eco friendly

Take Primark for example. I walk past a Primark shop everyday and the photos in the windows are extremely similar to lookbooks of sustainable brands that I know. Beautiful clean beaches, natural light and plants. I guess what's wrong with all that? They are beautiful photoshoots after all. 
Or is it a marketing ploy? It's like when on food packaging we see the words 'natural' and 'fresh' , perhaps with a leafy background - we associate it with being good for us and the environment. It distracts us from the ingredients list on the back which reveal that only a small % of the ingredients are actually natural. Ingredients can be 'fresh' and still grown using harsh chemicals.

Whether intentional or not on Primark's part, it is clever marketing to encourage us to subconsciously associate it with sustainablity which we all need to watch out for.

This can also be seen in H&M's 'Conscious Collection' campaign where the brands has, in the last few days, been called out by the The Norwegian Consumer Authority (CA). H&M's "portrayal of its collection’s sustainability credentials breaches Norwegian marketing laws and alleges that the brand uses symbols, statements and colour to mislead buyers." Have a look at the articles here and here on this news.

5. Clothes always aren't more likely to be ethical or sustainable if they are expensive

I thought this for a while. If a dress is £200 rather than £20 then surely the workers must be getting a bigger slice of the profits? But this isn't always the case. Brands such as Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana and Chanel actually are among some of the least transparent when it comes to revealing information about how workers in their supply chain are treated. According to Fashion Revolution's Fashion Transparency Index, brands such as Gucci and Burberry are 'making some notable efforts on social and environmental issues, but could be doing much more'. 
Chanel and Prada followed further behind providing 'Little to no evidence that the company has more than a Code of Conduct in place. The company is making little effort towards being transparent about their supply chain practices.
Despite not mass producing their clothes on the same scale as high street retailers, these brands still have issues with sustainablility and need the same scrutiny that high street brands receive.
I mentioned Zara and H&M earlier. Being the largest of high street brands they probably receive the most scrutiny, which is probably why they have been making more efforts than some smaller shops to show their sustainable efforts. High end brands need this kind of pressure from consumers too.

I really recommend using the 'Good On You' app. It's a really quick and easy way to check the environmental, ethical and 'animal' standards of your favourite brands and discover new sustainable alternatives. The information is collected independently of the brands so it cuts through any deceptive advertising to tell you the truth. I hope that this helps.

                                                                                                    Beccy x


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