Fashion versus Style
I haven’t always cared about sustainable style. Since I was 10 years old I’ve been planning out my looks with meticulous precision. I remember what I wore to my tenth birthday and hey; a lot of thought went into it (a sparkly sleeveless turtleneck with a skirt and leather knee high boots, in case you were wondering). I used to pour over the pages of fashion magazines, devouring the latest designer offerings and working out how I would be able to recreate a trend with what I have access to. Then I would hit the high street and go-go-go with the fast fashion purchases. In London TOPSHOP is like mecca to teenagers. By the time I got to university Zara was every young woman’s second home. The Spanish chain is well known for their almost identical designer copies. I remember well the reproduction of the Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer ‘12 floral detailing that would’ve held it’s own in a game of ‘Spot The Difference’.
And thus ensued many years of borderline excessive fashion consumption. I love experimenting with different style and by the time I embarked on my career in the fashion industry everyone would comment on the adventurousness of my personal style. But it takes a lot of individual items to be dubbed a style chameleon.
It wasn’t until more recently that we’ve collectively been having bigger conversations about fast fashion. We are asking questions about the type of conditions our clothes are manufactured in, what happens after we dispose of them and issues surrounding copyright.
Maybe it was being so immersed in the industry, or maybe it was a natural evolution of my maturing and learning that caused me to have a shift and consider my conscience as a consumer.
Being a Conscious Consumer
Today, as an artist, I have a greater appreciation for what goes into the creative process. Endorsing stores like Zara who have been the recipient of multiple copyright lawsuits is not something that sits well with me. Don’t get me wrong, I have clothes from the high street still but I endeavour to spend my money on emerging brands, local designs and unique and original creations. I find local boutiques and even Instagram are great ways to discover new labels, designers and customisations.
There are bigger and better known brands and designers that care about the environment and sustainability too. Stella McCartney is my absolute favourite. McCartney achieves seriously wonderful design while maintaining her sustainable and vegan ethics. EDUN, created by Bono and his wife, activist Ali Hewson, promotes trade in Africa. Incidentally I bought a pair of EDUN jeans in 2005, or rather my mum did for my birthday, and still wear them today! Kit X is an Australian brand that excels in the sustainable luxury fashion market also. There are many that don’t compromise ethics while achieving excellent design.
Reuse & Recycle
Aside from starting to care where my clothes come from I also strive to reuse and recycle pieces. I shop predominantly from markets, which I love because I find items with more character than I could find on the high street without a doubt! My favourite markets for second hand and vintage pieces are Glebe, Crown St (first Saturday of the month) and Newtown. For new artisan and locally made pieces hit Bondi and Paddington and for food look out for what’s on at Carriageworks, I go to Taylor Square farmer’s market or Marickville. Also, as a vegan, I only buy leather second hand because I consider how I spend my dollars to be a consumer’s vote. I do not want to fuel the economy to encourage further leather production and so abstain from buying any new leather.
Visiting affluent areas and seeking out the op-shops (charity shops, for my English friends) is a sure way to find some expensive goods for less. In London I would get the best cashmere jumpers at the Cancer Research store in Wimbledon village. This June when I was back in London I found a FENDI silk neck scarf for £16 [$26] (SCORE!). And years ago when I was an intern I saw a Burberry trench coat in the same charity shop for £200 [$325] (which was the most amazing deal ever) but I was literally earning £200/month so had to miss out on the bargain-of-the-century but still, point proven!!
And finally the loveliest method of reusing and recycling is re-homing from your friend’s wardrobe to your own, and visa versa. My best friend has a totally different style to me, so there might be something she’s bored of and I can re-imagine in my own unique way. It feels new to me, the item hasn’t gone to waste and sharing is caring!
Having packed up my worldly possessions, or at least tried to, and moved overseas I have had to give away an enormous quantity of clothes. I gave some to friends but predominantly donated them to charity and I’m talking ten plus boxes and as many bin bags full. This taught me a valuable lesson in how ridiculous the quantity of items I owned was. I travelled for 6 months with just a backpack full of clothes. I worked and re-worked those items. I hear people who live minimalist lives proclaim how happy they are with less. I think considered consumption is paramount but I will always be someone who loves to experiment and express my various different aesthetic interests through my clothes and to really have fun with it I need a selection.
My final remark on how I make my purchases is that I absolutely do not adhere to trends anymore. As I near the end of my twenty-seventh year on earth I know what I like, what I don’t like and how I feel in clothes. I am confident enough to stick with my own vibe. I don’t read fashion magazines either, people on the street are my muses and girls with their own thing going on all the style inspiration I need.
On The Style Fix I will be showcasing the personal style of real women which focuses on sustainability without compromising on their individuality and level of freshness.
My whole look here is second hand!
The dress was a sample being thrown out
The sunnies & watch were re-gifted from a friend
My sneakers were my lil bros but too small for him so now they’re MINE 🙂