Can fashion ever be ethical? It’s a big question for a small blog post, and once you start asking questions about ethics you have to ask questions of the questions, with each interrogation spinning into a new interrogation. After all, people make entire academic careers out of that.
When Ceri of Style Eyes Ethical Fashion Blog invited me to submit an ethical outfit to her online competition I started asking myself a lot of questions. Some of the accessories I’m wearing above are handmade: the patchwork tote bag I sewed together with fabric scraps (there’s a clearer image here), plus the handknitted scarf and socks (also seen here). And handmade is ethical, right? But what if the wool came from neglected sheep? And what if the dyes used had a negative environmental impact by getting into the reservoir and poisoning all the children in the village? It’s just a theory, but it could happen.
The coat, and dress beneath it, came from charity shops. And secondhand clothes are ethical, right? But what if the coat – a 1995 Marks & Spencer dusky pink trench – was manufactured by people earning less than a living wage? Today, Marks & Spencer’s ethical policy demonstrates their commitment to workers’ rights, but what about 16 years ago? And is the trade in secondhand clothing really something to be proud of, or a wasteful element of our consumer society? And what if the previous owner was a murderer? Does that make me an accessory?
Returning to my opening question – can fashion be ethical? Probably, depending on your definition of ethics and the resources available to you. Despite my questions, this outfit is as ethical as I can afford to be. Buying secondhand clothing prevents unwanted textiles going to landfill, and gives money to charities. Making clothing and accessories gives me an understanding of the processes involved in garment manufacturing, and therefore a respect for well-made clothes. So, forgive me for the potential smugness, but I think this outfit could be applauded as, yes, ethical.
scarf – knitted by my mother // shades – st ann’s hospice charity shop // pink trench – hope house charity shop // patchwork tote bag – handmade by me // socks – knitted by me // boots – oxfam originals manchester
Just a standard day off outfit. A leisurely cycle into town kind of outfit. A maybe stop off somewhere for a cup of Earl Grey kind of outfit. A going to the Cornerhouse to see the Rashid Rana exhibition kind of outfit (the exhibition is worth a visit for the photomontages and mirrored cubes. Some of the pieces are stomach-churningly graphic but there are clear warnings so you don’t have to look too closely). A standing outside the old fish market (now a car park), squinting into the sun and having my photograph taken kind of outfit.
teal overcoat – sue ryder charity shop // fake wayfarers – st ann’s hospice charity shop // scarf – so old i’ve forgotten // black dress – rspca charity shop // teal tights – falke // flat lace-ups – office
Although we live in an increasingly digital age I still love the printed page. The indepth articles! The glam editorial photoshoots! (Tulisa needs to sit up straight though, or she’s going to fall off that stool.) So I was excited to see my cheeky chops in monthly fash, slap and sauce glossy Company magazine, as part of a feature on young women who volunteer. Over the past six years I’ve volunteered on and off in four different Oxfam shops (not that I like to mention it, but I currently spend about four hours each week in Oxfam Originals), so it’s nice to recieve a little bit of recognition for all the time and skills I’ve donated to the charity. Of course, I do so because willingly and don’t the Queen to invite me round for tea and Victoria Sponge at Buckingham Palace, but it still feels like a warm and fuzzy little thank you. Continue reading “Company magazine”
Another knitting project complete. This time it’s a cushion cover, made using this pattern. Because I used chunky yarn and fat needles it was quick to make, plus it makes my sofa look much brighter. As you might have noticed from my previous knitting project – a hot water bottle cosy – I’m rather fond of cables. If I continue at this rate of production my house will end up looking like this. Continue reading “Cabled cushion cover”
Outfit photos are the bread and butter of personal fashion bloggers, but you’d have to go back to 7 September to see what I’ve been wearing. Gradually, I’ve become move fussy about the quality and quantity of clothing I own, and about the image I’m projecting. A lot of my clothes have been donated to charity shops, and I’m deciding on a simpler and more consistent way of dressing in the future.
This outfit isn’t perfect, but it’s moving towards how I want to look. Although there’s no label inside this light cream blouse I know it’s high quality as it’s silk and has French seams inside. There’s room for two mes inside it, so I’m wearing it backwards. The olive green Cheap Monday jeans were indeed cheap – a fiver from TK Maxx – but fail my quality control. The waistband sits too low on my hip, and the fabric bunches at my knees (or is that due to my skinny legs?).
silk blouse – save the children charity shop // cheap monday jeans via tk maxx // black wedges – dune // socks – marks and spencer // necklace – a gift
Can fashion ever be truly ethical? It’s so transient and wasteful that it feels unlikely. But there are people shouting for positive change, from campaign groups like War On Want to individuals such as vegan fashion blogger jesse.anne.o. Continue reading “Style over substance”
With a pot of PVA glue, a pair of nail scissors and a pile of junk mail, I made this collage of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way album cover. It’s a birthday card for my friend Ben. You’re right – I could have gone to a shop and bought him a card, but that wouldn’t give me an opportuntiy to get my arts ‘n crafts on. And a shop bought card doesn’t give you the same gooey feeling of ‘hey! I made this for you! Because you’re my friend!‘*
Everyday, a few takeaway leaflets are shoved through my front door, and they go straight from the letterbox to the recycling bin. It was only when I saw Sandhi Schimmel Gold’s collages that I realised they had a use.
Ben isn’t a big Lady Gaga fan, but the Born This Way album cover is a bold and recognisable image, plus I knew he would appreciate the gesture of a homemade card.
Happy birthday, Ben!
* I once laboured over a handmade gift for a friend, then presented it to them. Beaming, I told them ‘I made this for you!‘ They examined it. Then said: ‘errrr, why?‘
Say hello my new bike, a 1970s Raleigh Hercules. Like many of my possessions, it’s secondhand. It’s a slightly rusty and gently riding along while enjoying-the-scenery kind of bike, but that suits me. Especially as I’ll be doing a bit of tinkering to smarten it up. Continue reading “New old bike”
My chum Andy took these photos of me. Wasn’t that nice of him? As you can see, he made the beginner’s mistake of taking the photos too well and now I will be hassling him to be my shutterbug. Uh oh, spaghetti O, Andy.
We were in Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter, where we headed for a cheeky drink before an afternoon of volunteering in Oxfam Originals. Actually, maybe we should rename it Trendy Northern Quarter, so that everybody understands it’s full of Trendy Bars, Trendy Shops and Trendy People (like me and Andy).
coat and striped t-shirt – boyfriend’s // peach scarf – oxfam originals // necklace – a gift // skirt – beyond retro // handbag – charity shop // brogues – schuh
Sometimes, when I wear outfits like this or this, that people might not respect my intelligence. As I consider my brain to be my best feature, this concerns me. So here I am, trying to keep things minimal. Minimal can include floral sunglasses and stripey socks, can’t it?
Also, I’m not really posing outside the entrance to a brothel. It’s actually the fire exit from the Co-op (‘The Co-operative’, a large convenience shop/diminutive supermarket, for all you non-UKers).
sunglasses – st ann’s hospice charity shop // pink blouse – age uk charity shop // necklace – inherited from my grandmother // trousers – topman // brogues – old topshop // bag – thomas pink