Bespoke Textiles has a strong dedication to sustainable fashion and ethical practices, stemming from our Founder, Katie Young Gerald. She has always been passionate about vintage fashion and upcycling what may seem like tired, old garments and this has been embedded into the business. As part of a new monthly series in which we speak to sustainable/ethical bloggers who share our views, we interview slow fashion / cruelty free beauty blogger Emma from Not My First Rodeo about sustainable fashion and how it impacts her life.
What does “sustainable fashion” mean to you?
I started to learn about sustainable fashion through capsule wardrobing. Initially I just started this as a way to get my confidence back after having children and used it simply as a framework for building up a small but good quality new wardrobe from scratch. However, as time went on I started to learn more about the environmental impact of the fast fashion industry and the sustainable fashion movement.
To me sustainability is about realising that the manufacturing of clothing has a substantial impact on the environment. The clothing industry is the second most polluting industry after oil (Source: Forbes). So we need to start treating the clothing that we own with love and care, rather than seeing them as disposable. We also need to hold companies accountable for their supply chains and reject poor working conditions for clothing workers – fast fashion clothes are cheap for a reason, if we’re not paying a fair price then someone else is. Finally, the impact of different fabrics on the environment. For example, synthetic fabrics are non bio-degradable but natural fabrics such as cotton require huge amounts of water to produce. One cotton shirt takes the same amount of water to produce (2700 gallons) as a person drinks in 2.5 years. (Source)
So to me, sustainable fashion is not just about buying from niche ethical/sustainable brands but an overall shift in attitude – we buy less clothes, we wear them for longer and we generally hold them in higher regard.
What is something you wish people knew about sustainable fashion?
The average consumer is buying 60% more clothing in 2014 than in 2000, but keeping each item half as long! (Source) This is a staggering statistic showing just how the disposable clothing culture is getting out of hand.
In terms of fabric, many people don’t realise that a single cotton shirt takes as much water to produce as one person drinks in 2.5 years! (Source) Cotton is also one of the most pesticide hungry crops on the planet so it’s important to go for organic cotton whenever you can.
Man-made fibres are no better. In fact, the carbon footprint of a polyester shirt is double that of cotton (source) and when clothing made of polyester inevitably reaches landfill, it takes decades to breakdown into tiny plastic fibres that then make their way into the ocean and food chain.
Is there someone who inspires you and why?
I’m very inspired by Stella McCartney who’s been pushing the ethical and sustainable fashion agenda for decades, before it started to get the platform it has now. She was quoted as saying “I design clothes that are meant to last. I believe in creating pieces that are not going to get burnt, that are not going to landfills and that are not going to damage the environment. For every piece in every collection, I am always asking what have we done to make this garment more sustainable and what else can we do?”
I admire her for showing that it is possible to stick by your personal principles and break through into high fashion. Even her stores use electricity generated by wind power – she’s a real inspiration.
Have you ever had an issue of ethics arise in the past?
At the moment I’m trying to decide in my own head where I stand on the issue of animal leather vs synthetic. I’ve adopted a plant based diet primarily for environmental reasons but animal welfare is also very important to me. But what is best? Items made from polyurethane that’s produced from fossil fuels and produce toxic by-products; or leather from animals where leather tanning is one of the top 10 pollution problems in the world? It’s certainly something I’m really closely monitoring at the moment and any new innovations (such as Pinatex which is made from Pineapple) are firmly on my radar.
What do you do to help slow fashion?
Whilst I am super interested in sustainable brands, my “thing” when it comes to promoting a slow fashion message is to simply buy less, wear more. That could be through building a small capsule wardrobe or buying more second hand clothes. My fashion blog is not aimed at an already eco conscious market but ordinary women who I’m bringing along with me on the journey to a more conscious lifestyle, one small change at a time. Breaking out of the fast fashion addiction is just the first rung on the ladder.
We would like to thank Emma for sharing her views on sustainable fashion with us. There are some points that we particularly align with and it’s great that Emma shares the same views as us. Sustainability is a core value for us, and our founder, Katie is all about creating timeless classics that last forever and buying special vintage pieces to help slow fashion, coinciding with Emma’s techniques to help slow fashion. We hope you enjoyed the first of our new monthly series!