Feelgood Fashion at the British Library

Feelgood Fashion at the British Library was a great event. I attended in order to find out a bit more about ethical fashion and was very interested to hear the talk by Safia Minney of People Tree – the facts and figures about the amount of pollution caused by non-organic cotton as well as the suffering involved to workers in the industry were eye-opening. She is an inspiring speaker. It was particularly revealing to hear her talking about the financial commitment she has made to create People Tree: ten years without paying herself a salary, she remortgaged her house countless times and her UK business took seven years to break even…. Jen Ruppert of Revamp (she produces designs made from recycled clothes and fabrics) also spoke interestingly about whether green products were ‘ghettoised’ in green concession or areas in department stores. ‘I don’t want to be with the mainstream products, because I’m not like them’, she said. Essentially, if you have put in the effort and financial commitment involved in making your products eco-friendly, you want to have that recognised. Safia talked about her successful collaboration with Topshop, and said that she felt in order to change the ethical approach of big brands, you have to work with them. Remaining aloof is not the answer.

Ed Gillespie of Futerra, a communications agency and the founder of the intriguingly titled Swishing site where you can swap clothes, was upbeat about the future for ethical fashion: it wasn’t just a trend, he said, because people were shopping for ‘values not value’ and ethical fashion – that makes you feel good about yourself – is here to stay. Hurrah to that!

The fashion show afterwards was very inspiring. I loved the People Tree clothes, which tended towards the ruffled, dark and dramatic – I love that romantic look. Revamp’s creations were a little more ‘edgy’ to my eye, punky styling (slashes in fabric) married with delicate, pastel colours. There was also an exhibition of some gorgeous costume jewellery made with recycled necklaces, sadly my photo did not come out very well…

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