My pledge to be ASAP – as sustainable as possible
When I started writing this blog seven years ago, it was as a way of sharing information. At the time, the fashion industry and press were catering almost exclusively for women who wanted – or felt the need – to wear heels. Which I didn’t. But as a fashion journalist, I was able to discover brands making great flat shoes for women, and this was a platform to tell other like-minded people about it. Fast forward to 2019, and the fashion industry may have woken up to our comfort needs, but we still have a long way to go in other areas.
I’ve now been a fashion journalist for 12 years, but I’ve spent the last few months working almost exclusively with sustainable fashion projects; writing features and content for brands and online platforms including Common Objective and #TOGETHERBAND. I’ve learnt an extraordinary amount of terrifying information about the way our clothes are produced, and I’ve had an awakening.
People Tree V&A print TENCEL ® Lyocell trousers, £115 (peopletree.co.uk); Grenson ‘Ethel’ leather sandals (3 years old); #TOGETHERBAND recycled ocean plastic friendship bracelet representing Responsible Consumption and Production, £35 for two (togetherband.org)
The fashion industry is by its very nature unsustainable, forever pushing the new and fuelling the need for more. I already knew this, but I guess I’d not faced it front on until now. Because as a fashion journalist, I have to hold my hands up and admit to being part of the problem. I have been guilty of using dangerous phrases such as “must haves!” and “need to know trends!”. I’ve been part of the machine that makes people feel irrelevant if they’re not wearing something new. So from now on, I want to take responsibility and try to be part of the solution instead.
En Brogue will still offer the same kind of articles as it does now, with styling tips and some carefully curated shopping advice. But the styling tips will involve pictures of me in my existing wardrobe – I’m buying nothing new for at least a year, and I am no longer accepting gifts from brands – and the shopping will only feature labels that have ethical and environmental practices that fit with my beliefs (I’m going to be using the Good On You app religiously!).
There are a few unavoidable caveats. Unfortunately, there are clothes in my wardrobe from shops that I will no longer be supporting with my cash or with shopping links, but I’m not going to deny that I own them, nor am I going to throw them away; that would just be dishonest and add to the clothing waste problem. But I will talk about the reasons I’m not shopping at those particular places anymore, as well as asking those brands questions about their practices, and also update you if they improve the way they do things. I also own a fair amount of stuff in fabrics that aren’t sustainable; I wouldn’t buy them now I’m equipped with more knowledge about their impact.
Atterley 100% polyester dress (about 6 years old; polyester is not a sustainable fabric); Shoe The Bear leather, cork and EVA sandals (2 years old); Wicker Wings wicker and leather bag (had since December and have used countless times already). TOP IMAGE: Boden linen jumpsuit (one of my last gifts! Linen is a natural biodegradable fabric); Zara Viscos T-shirt (2 years old, Viscose is not sustainable); Payukan polyurethane sandals (not biodegradable but built to last and the brand donates to sea turtle conservation projects)
I’m also really keen to champion the good guys, so if you see me working with brands or featuring new season stuff, it’s on the understanding that a) I have vetted them beforehand and b) if I’m wearing them, I’ve asked to borrow the clothes to shoot, and will then return them. I still want to have the confidence to talk to you about comfort and quality, so it’s important for me to try out and feel the clothes and shoes on your behalf. But there’s absolutely no need for me to buy or keep them.
I’m definitely not perfect and I’m learning as I go. And I’m not here to preach or judge. It’s up to you how much you are able to do in your own way, and, to quote a large supermarket chain, every little helps. It really does! But this is the way I have personally chosen go forward. I am lucky enough to have a platform and an engaged group of followers, and I want to use that opportunity responsibly.
My career is probably going to take a hit, but I think in our current climate emergency, it’s worth taking a stand for what I believe in. Otherwise, I don’t really believe in it do I….
I’d love to hear what your thoughts about sustainability in fashion and hear about your own journeys. Leave comments below!