Sustainable and ethical fashion has become something of a trend of late, so it’s more important than ever that we recognise that the move towards a cleaner, greener, fairer and more caring fashion industry is more than a passing fad, but is instead a much needed industry overhaul that we as consumers must continually push for. Our culture has come to view clothing as being so utterly disposable that it can be easy to look past the labour, time, energy and resources that go into each and every piece we spend our hard earned dollars on. Just to put things into perspective, a garment is worn on average four times before being disposed of (shocking, right?), and it takes 2720 litres of water to make a simple t-shirt, which is how much water an individual would drink over a three-year period. On top of all this, the problems that exist within the fashion industry are very much a feminist issue due to 85% of garment workers being women. The majority of these women aren’t receiving a living wage, often experience sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions, denial of trade union rights, forced overtime, exhaustion and little to no possibility of advancing in the industry – a mere 1 in 20 factory supervisors are women.
Thankfully, there are organisations like Fashion Revolution, a not for profit organisation that holds an annual Fashion Revolution Week (FRW) from the 24th – 30th of April each year with the aim of bringing everyone in the fashion value chain together to help raise awareness of the true cost of that $8.00 Zara t-shirt and $20.00 pair of H&M jeans. FRW centres around the #whomademyclothes campaign which takes place on the 24th April, the same date as the infamous Rana Plaza factory collapse where 1138 garment workers were killed and many more injured, lending a serious weight to the campaign. By bringing a variety of organisations and individuals together, FRW demands greater transparency in the fashion supply chain and celebrates all those already working towards a more sustainable fashion future. One of the ways you can get involved and take a stand against disposable fashion during FRW is by writing a love letter to an item of clothing you’ll never get rid of, so what better way to celebrate this very important week than by asking a selection of our favourite stylish ladies to tell us about that special item they’ll never on-sell, throw out, donate or give away. Read all about the ultimate items in each of their wardrobes below and if you’re feeling inspired, why not pen your own love letter to your holy grail clothing item and head to the FRW website to check out what else you can participate in during this week.
Amber Prado Richardson – Model
“One item of clothing that I could never throw away of would have to be my vintage oversized Issey Miyake coat. I purchased it online from a Japanese consignment store two years ago, unsure of exactly what it was going to be like and whether I was going to even like it, but as soon as it arrived I knew I was in love. Some of the best purchases are impulse purchases in my opinion! In saying that though, you gotta be careful.
The reason this coat will stay with me forever is not only because it pairs perfectly with endless looks, but it makes me feel like a boss ass bitch. I dunno how to explain it but when I walk it flows like I have some kinda cape and it’s dramatic as hell, but it also makes me feel protected and safe because it’s like a big blanket. Pretty much all the qualities you need in a coat, so why would I ever get rid of it?”
Clare Press – Writer
“I love flamboyant clothes, but I’m also an impassioned sustainability advocate. Sometimes there’s tension between those two things. Many sustainably-minded folk are minimalists, which makes sense. If you believe in consuming less, it’s logical to your aesthetic. But I’m not a white linen shirt type of person; I’m a maximalist. Of course I don’t want my spangly, shiny, frivolous gear to fuck up the planet. How to square that? Vintage is the obvious answer since it uses no virgin resources. Much of my vintage wardrobe is very old, garments from the 1930s through the 1980s that are on their umpteenth life.
Here I am in one of my most precious numbers – it’s an emerald green corset with what looks like half a dead parrot on one shoulder, jazzed up with sequined palm trees and diamantes. It’s by the late Aussie designer Christopher Essex and used to be a dress.
I came across it right before my first book came out in 2011 in one of those antiques places with heaps of different stalls. I was like, whoa!! My husband said, ‘If it fits you I’ll buy it for you.’ I climbed into it…like a glove! I wore it to my launch and had a wonderful, champagne-drenched night in it. This year, I had it cut down into a bustier by my clever mate Leo Salinas, who made it magically bigger (I’m not as skinny as I was six years ago) and added a peplum. I wore it with these 1960s deadstock crystal earrings I found in Stockholm to a friend’s lavish birthday shenanigans, and danced all night.
Landfill fashion is my great bugbear. The idea of buying clothes to throw them away drives me bananas, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Clothes hold memories of the times you wore them. I always wish clothes could talk.”
Clare Press is the author of Wardrobe Crisis and the presenter of the Fashion Revolution podcast Who Made My Clothes?, which has just launched on iTunes.
Sigrid McCarthy – Editor in Chief of Intent Journal and Media and Communications Coordinator at Ethical Clothing Australia
“This coat was my grandmother’s from the 80s or 90s. I can’t imagine her ever wearing it, but it fits me perfectly. The shoulder pads insist that I stand up straight, instilling a sense of confidence and providing armour for the day ahead. While statement shoulder pads are arguably outdated, I think the coat is an absolute knockout and I wouldn’t dream of removing them.”
Mercy Sang – Model and Editor In Chief of People of Colour Collective
“I would definitely say I’m a hoarder, I somehow end up finding some sort of sentimental attachment to almost everything I own. My most favourite item that I currently own at the moment that I could never think nor dream of getting rid of is my Louis Vuitton bandeau that was gifted to me from a very special person. ”
Charlotte Agnew – Stylist and fashion director at Catalogue Magazine and Well Made Clothes