Friday, 16 August 2013

August 2013: More Cash Than Dash?

There will come a time in every fashionista’s life where she looks at her wardrobe with absolute terror in her eyes, as a mountain of clothes, an erupted volcano of shoes, and a tangled mess of jewellery relentlessly stare back at her. An absolute rainbow of fashion resides in the wardrobe, every single piece apparently dear to her, too valued to donate to charity or pass down. Through the wardrobe she sees the evolution of her personal style - the neons of her teenage years, the ill-fitting work clothes bought for the internship and the charity shop garments bought on a student budget make up a significant proportion of her life. They tell a story. But how did it get this bad?

The primary issue to address here is that the average consumer over-buys, which, apparently, is perfectly acceptable with regards to the fast-moving world of fashion, because purchasing a certain top without complementary bottoms, accessories, footwear and outerwear simply does not correspond with a fashionista’s ethos. The tag mostly used is that of an ‘impulsive buy’. In the moment, thinking of that one top that was desperately screaming for a vibrantly colourful necklace, the bank balance in your current account sunk into irrelevance, the necklace became yours, and never saw the light of day again. Now it sits, unloved, at the bottom of your jewellery box, along with the Russian Doll bracelet you thought would be ‘kitsch’ and a pair of shark tooth earrings.

The other side of the coin is the trend-led fashionista. Every season, new clothes glitter on the rails of the wardrobe, whilst the previous season’s stock gets pushed back to the dark corners or, worse, folded into drawers. This is a classic error of the consumer, who is easily seduced by striking advertising campaigns, catwalk shows, and trend reports which draw the subtle conclusion that if you do not follow the trend, your significance in the fashion industry will be close to none. But what is often forgotten by the average consumer is that fashion is a creative industry, and therefore, designers, stylists, bloggers and consumers such as yourselves thrive off inspiration to come up with unique and exciting ideas about how to subvert the norm. The mentality behind contemporary fashion is that one has to remain true to their stylistic instincts, but by following trends, what you’re allowing is a certain uniform amongst consumers. Individuality suffers, as does your purse, for having to splurge on the five top trends that each fashion magazine has declared are the ‘must-haves’ for this season. 

Spotting the problem and the accompanying solution early is British fashion pioneer, Vivienne Westwood, whose very philosophy has seen the most controversial subversions of the norm in the history of fashion. Having embraced the ‘Green Revolution’, Westwood’s solution comes in the form of her Ethical Fashion Initiative Bags, made in Nairobi. Using recycled canvas, reused roadside banners, unused leather off-cuts, and recycled brass, the collections include a range of bag styles for men and women, including unisex rucksacks, totes, patchwork drawstring bags and Maasai hand beaded clutches. The products are handmade in one of Nairobi’s biggest slums, thus providing thousands with much needed employment. Not only is Westwood honouring the African culture through the design of these bags, but the emphasis placed on recyclable material in this project should be enough to hit the message home.

The fundamentals lie in the way we see the industry. The accessibility of clothing and the growth of the modern-day high street have lead to the unfortunate consequence of people taking both clothing and money for granted. Recycling is just one of the many steps and opportunities that ethical fashion opens doors to. Even donating to charity, or passing down clothes to younger generations of the family can give someone the happiness you could never have imagined. Learn some easy DIY techniques and beautify your garments so that they match your current tastes. Or, quite simply, find a way to incorporate that cherry-red, velvet charity shop skirt into your everyday wardrobe.

What do you do with your old clothes? Recycle your wardrobe religiously, donate to charity, or hide them in your chest of draws, never to be seen for at least two seasons? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us: @TREND__FASHION

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