We buy into trends, styles – why not buy into a political statement? Not exactly a question one may pose when purchasing a new piece of clothing but is it one that is becoming more prevalent within our changing social perceptions. This post was meant to coincide with Fashion Revolution Week and a reflection of going to the ethical fashion event organised by Purest. PR but sadly time escaped me and there was just no way that the post was going to be up by then. It does mean though, that the ideas surrounding the post have been constantly going in and out of my head and I’ve been evaluating how fashion really does enable the spread of ideas.
Listening to Deborah from Deborah Campbell Atelier discuss issues surrounding gender equality it was clear that despite being an ethical fashion brand, it was so much more. Tackling everyday sexism, her future female series takes a look at those challenging the barriers, those that women face everyday, and through that cultivating a community that want to make their changes heard in the world. Similar to brands such as The Blou Shop and Birdsong, it champions female empowerment something that is hugely important within the 21st Century and one that has brought up more discussion in the last few years than ever before, it’s something I have discussed when taking a look at where International Women’s Day is heading towards in the future.
Deborah’s collection makes it clear to me that whilst Topshop and other fast fashion brands don their slogans championing women, it is the women who make them that are far from championed. The contrast between fashion as a vehicle for spreading ideas can differ hugely so whilst fashion can be used as a vehicle for change, we need to asses the way in which it is spread.
It was in an Independent article published for Fashion Revolution Week that five years on from the Rana Plaza disaster are still not being paid the legal minimum age – does that suggest ‘#grlpower’? Future female is so much more than just tackling everyday sexism because there are still so many women that are being subject to what is essentially modern day slavery, something we fail to take into consideration sometimes when we buy t-shirts championing other women. That in wearing these slogans, we say something about ourselves – we are a walking advertisement for the world we want to see. One could suggest that in wearing second-hand fur, whilst we may be making an active statement to not buy fur, the outward view is otherwise, instead we are suggesting to others that fur may be ‘okay’ to buy – they may not know that it was your latest Oxfam purchase. It is similar to that of wearing brands with logos plastered over their garments. In wearing a piece you’re a form of subtle advertising – it’s made me rethink whether I should continue buying logos like my Ralph Lauren jumper or my Gap hoodie, they’re both from a charity shop/Depop yes, but am I not ultimately suggesting people buy into the brand rather than the origins of the garment itself? In complying with these opinions we are perhaps left with a limited view of what fashion should and shouldn’t be but I don’t think so – to a certain extent it does express what you believe in and your values, again putting a political spin to the everyday wear of fashion.
In fact, one of the other brands at the event was Maison De Choup, a brand I have featured a few times on my blog and a brand that continues to push for changes to the mental health industry through clothes that are both ethical and affordable – and spread a great message. After having received a Instagram DM from my friend Libby saying how she’d bought one of their tees after reading and seeing the brand on my blog it shows the power that both the brand and the influence of social media (alas for a positive reason can have). Libby’s post about her top was very sweet and made me smile after a long day at college, just showing that new ideas can spread and fashion can just be one of the mediums that this is through.
But fashion is a product of the society we live in right now and that is so evident with changing materials in order to suit the needs and wants of evolution. There’s the constant thrall of adaptation, most prominently now with the need for eradicating plastic. Recently, I purchased a pair of leggings from Girlfriend Collective, a brand that make their leggings with recycled polyester taken from plastic bottles in from an Island in Taiwan. Not only are we now evaluating why we wear what we wear but what we wear – is it made of a man-made fibre? How? Why not a natural one? Is this material fit for it’s purpose? It’s through brands like Girlfriend Collective that I think these questions are raised. The leggings I bought were part of their earth day collection, the release of the limited edition colour ‘globe‘ 10% of net profits will be donated to the Rainforest Action Network. Through the sales of the leggings and tops, Girlfriend Collective are spreading a hugely influential and important message, tapping into mainstream needs in order to spread awareness of the Rainforest Action Network but also the way in which we should also consider the materials that we buy.
Political undertones or a need for vital change in the way we buy, not just fashion but in all regions of everyday life; fashion is a vehicle for spreading new ideas, spreading awareness, indicating the changes that need to happen within society. Ethical fashion itself can be considered to lead to the spread of ideas and this is aided by other brands that outwardly express the notions that need to be changed. It’s a medium that we all buy into, and one way of getting our views across. Do you use fashion to spread your ideas?
lots of love, eleanor xx