Refinery 29 UK
A Month-By-Month Guide To Making Your Wardrobe More Sustainable
Sustainable fashion has come a long way in recent years. It’s no longer radical or left-field to rent, recycle and rewear your clothes. It is, however, still a minefield of misinformation. Enter: Orsola de Castro. Founding Fashion Revolution after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013, sustainability activist de Castro spearheaded a movement that not only recognises and remembers the disaster but helps global audiences to implement the lessons learned into their everyday lives. Her new book, Loved Clothes Last, will guide you through myriad ways to form better habits and make more conscious choices when it comes to your wardrobe. Ahead, she breaks down the calendar year into manageable moments to help you reevaluate your relationship with fashion, from resisting blow-out sales to hosting swap shops and mending what you already own. If sustainable and ethical fashion has felt intimidating in the past, de Castro’s book proves that the eco revolution is for everyone.The following tips are taken from an extract from Fashion Revolution activist Orsola de Castro’s book, Loved Clothes Last: How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes Can Be a Revolutionary Act, available here now.A New Year’s Resolution”When it comes to the January sales, my trick to defy temptation is to turn the beast on its head and use the sales, as opposed to being used by them. That means buying something that I really need; sparingly as opposed to with abandon; and buying better, because the cheaper price affords me better quality, and quality equals longevity. I rigorously, exclusively buy only what I need: I don’t go in for a pair of sneakers and come out with a flowery frock.” Carnival”In many countries, February is carnival month…much like Halloween, [it’s] turned from a festival of creativity to one of mass consumption. Millions of cheap, plastic fancy-dress clothes are bought and discarded after being worn barely once. Endless Frozen costumes, thousands of plastic Pirates of the Caribbean swords and hats, countless Spider-Man outfits – the majority of which are made in utter misery, using miserably bad materials. If you have kids, help them understand the value of playing with clothes as a form of self-expression; let their imaginations run riot and encourage them to create their own unique characters.”Women’s Month”Due to the success and global recognition of International Women’s Day, this month is widely regarded as ‘women’s month’. Feminist and gender issues are inextricably linked with fashion, an industry that thrives on perfection over realism, idealization over diversity, with women’s rights being violated at every step of the value chain, from factory floors to runway shows. Let’s mark March as the month of acceptance, respect and repair, and use our clothes as tools to send out a clear message: We stand united. It can be as simple as joining that quilting group, or giving someone you care about that piece in your wardrobe they’ve always been envious of, or passing on your vintage 1980s and ’90s designer frocks to your daughter.”Fashion Revolution WeekOn 24 April each year we remember the victims of the tragic Rana Plaza collapse, reflect on what has changed in the industry since, and the work that remains to be done. “Who made my clothes?” Ask this question of the brands you have bought from this year. Whether you use your voice on social media or in an email or letter, Fashion Revolution Week is the time to stand up and demand greater industry transparency.”Summer Swap Party “As you go from winter to summer, look at your wardrobe’s functionality. It’s the perfect month for a swap party: you and your friends can arrange ways to refresh your wardrobes, without buying new. Invite over your friends, family, neighbours, colleagues and co-workers, asking everyone to bring three pieces they no longer wear, but have once loved dearly. Hang the clothes and organize them by size and/or colour. Designate a trying-on area, with mirrors and privacy. Everyone should swap three items, and once people have made their choices, those who brought unclaimed items should reclaim them, so as not to leave you with a surplus of unwanted clothes.” Wedding Season”June typically kicks off the summer wedding season, a major trigger for single-use clothing consumption. As the pressure to look good, and to look different every time, takes its toll on your wallet and on the environment, [buying secondhand], renting or sharing with your friends becomes a real solution.”Bikini Body”Bikinis, and swimsuits, are made of synthetic fibres such as nylon and polyester, highly contaminating materials that have disastrously negative effects on all living species, but on marine life in particular. There are way better alternatives out there than your average cheap bikini: you can look for recycled polyester and recycled nylon, or you can buy one or two swimsuits and care for them properly, so that you don’t have to buy new ones, come the next holiday.”Back to School “Back-to-school shopping [is a] tour de force that most parents face every year. The best thing we can do is swap and share, to keep these clothes in circulation. Most schools run second-hand uniform sales, but, if yours doesn’t, hold one yourself! Reach out to the parents across the school years and urge them to donate the uniform their kids have grown out of. Arrange the items by age/size and type, price them cheaply and donate the profits back to the school.”#SecondHandSeptember”Oxfam’s global initiative asks us to embrace second-hand clothing during the month of September: although many of us may already love to thrift, and do this all year round, the campaign is the perfect opportunity to bring your friends into the fold. Even if you’re not the type of person who embraces campaigns, wearing an item of clothing bought at a charity shop and talking a little bit about why you have chosen to wear it on social media or to your friends is hardly the same as declaring a lifetime allegiance to Extinction Rebellion.” Halloween”As a mother to four kids (and grandmother to two) I do have a speciality: the dressing-up box. Anything I no longer want goes in it. I often curate piles of clothing especially for a Halloween dressing-up party: a pile of black (including broken tights, scarves, socks, old T-shirts and ties) is great for a classic witch, and most of my husband’s torn shirts (the ones I haven’t already turned into nighties) and jackets go into the Inspector Gadget pile; sparkly stuff for fairies, and beiges, greens, reds, pinks, lilacs and pale blues for princesses.”Black Friday”The Saturday after Black Friday has been colloquially named ‘Small Business Saturday’ as an alternative to the big-box sales of the cyber weekend. Supporting local is a beautiful action in any manner, but it doesn’t need to be solely about buying new things from local makers or boutiques. Small Business Saturday can also be about supporting local clothing services. Head to your local cobbler and get a pair of shoes resoled, or visit your local tailor for a much-needed alteration.” Christmas Shedding vs Christmas Shopping”My family is known for our excessive gift-giving Christmas extravaganzas. Our secret is Christmas shedding, as opposed to Christmas shopping: we give each other our own things, keeping loved objects in circulation for years and years. [What’s the story behind] a bottle of perfume bought in a department store? [But] imagine my 80-year-old mother gifting her 1960s studded belt to her teenage grandson – you can talk about that for hours and remember it for ever. That’s the poignancy of it all, and why it feels so special.”Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?