By Rosie Dowsing
When you buy clothes, do you consider how they were made and how they will impact the environment? Well, the UK fashion industry is slowly, but surely, moving towards an ethical and sustainable future, which will make conscientious shopping a lot easier.
In the lead up to London Fashion Week 2018, the British Fashion Council are calling attention to their Positive Fashion initiative. The platform, involving many industry leaders, celebrates sustainability, model health, and local manufacturing and craftsmanship.
The recent rise of veganism has, undoubtedly, changed the way many consumers buy and wear fashion. 2017 saw numerous movements against real fur, such as protests at London Fashion Week and celebrity pleas from the likes of Ricky Gervais and Lucy Watson. While our country is deemed to have some of the best animal welfare standards in the world, the banning of real fur farming in the UK has simply meant that it is cheaper when sourced abroad.
The platform celebrates sustainability, model health, and local manufacturing and craftmanship
Features asked British Designer, Georgia Hardinge, for her thoughts regarding the campaign: “I feel proud to be one of the designers supporting LFW’s Positive Fashion. I think it’s a brilliant initiative.” Georgia Hardinge is a sculptural, cutting-edge clothing label, and winner of the 2017 Fashion Trust Award. “I pride myself on not using animal skins. With such an incredible variety of faux furs and leathers, I don’t see the need to harm animals. I find it amazing that you can now use the likes of pineapple skin to create leather.”
Other designers are also pioneering cruelty-free fashion and raising industry standards. Stella McCartney’s Ethical Fashion Initiative supports manufacturers throughout Africa and is anti-fur and leather, while Gucci recently announced that they will create completely fur-free collections for 2018. Let’s hope this inspires other clothing companies to move towards conscientious design and production.
Positive Fashion encompasses energy consumption, too. At LFW18 this February, Dame Vivienne Westwood and the Mayor of London will join forces with the British Fashion Council to launch the Fashion SWITCH to Green campaign, which calls for all fashion companies to SWITCH offices and stores to a green electricity supplier by 2020. Just imagine the positive impact if the whole industry followed suit. In the UK alone, the fashion industry constitutes 33% of the labour force, which is a hefty portion that could halt climate change if the whole sector went green.
Let’s hope this inspires other companies to move towards conscientious design and production
On a student level, there are many inexpensive ways to shop sustainable and cruelty-free. ASOS, River Island, Topshop and other high-street names offer vegan leather alternatives and approved faux fur. H&M will even give you £5 vouchers for your bags of old clothes, which they will recycle. So, you can still be ‘out with the old’ and ‘in with the new’, without contributing to landfill.
London Fashion Week, like Durham’s very own DUCFS, will always be a display of exquisite industry talent. But this year, the message is positive, ethical and green.
Photographs: Georgia Hardinge, Spring/Summer 2018 Collection