The Fashion Revolution

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http://fashionrevolution.org/ Hello! So I’ve been super rubbish at this whole blogging thing, my life is currently completely consumed by finishing off my degree (I cannot wait!) so I’ve had to put this on hold. After that’s all done though I am totally going to make this more the shiny great cyberspace place I want it to be in reality but currently only is in my mind… Anyway seeing as Fashion Revolution Day 2015 is tomorrow I wanted to write a few words about what exactly it is, why it is important to me and why it should be to you too. To put it simply, the Fashion Revolution matters to me because I want to be able to go into any given shop and know that behind any garment I pick up there is not the exploitation of another fellow human being, probably risking their life in unsafe working conditions, at the other end. I also rather like our lovely planet (which we’ve done a great job of messing up) and do my best to live sustainably, which highlights another huge part of the fashion industry that needs to change. This culture of fast fashion where we buy clothes, wear them a few times, discard, and repeat. This high-speed demand for clothing puts pressure on people and planet. It is unnecessary and needs to change. I guess that my concern for and awareness of the ethical problems with the fashion industry started with a documentary in geography class (back when I still did that circa 2005) exposing the reality of sweatshop labour behind a lot of our clothing. Fast forward several more years to my A-level Spanish exam my debate topic was something along the lines of “when we get dressed each day we’re responsible for other’s deaths”. Okay, so yea that might seem kind of extreme. Sadly there are elements of truth behind that statement. The 24th April marks the day on which, 2 years ago, 1133 people were killed in the Rana Plaza building collapse. That’s a lot of people. Not to mention the thousands more injured and affected by the disaster. And that was not the first or last case of workers dying in factories where clothing on our high streets is manufactured. The garment industry is completely disconnected; we have no knowledge of the story behind our clothing past wherever it says it was made on the label. We need to be more curious about our clothes; about how they were made, and who made them. We need to put pressure on brands and retailers to strive for transparency and as the consumers we are responsible for holding these companies accountable. The 24th April marks a global day of activism and awareness harnessing the power of fashion to make a change for good. If tomorrow you even just look at the label in whatever you decide to wear and consider that there’s a person somewhere out there who made that for you, it’s a step in the right direction. Even better (and it will literally take you a minute) you can take part by following these super simple steps: I’ll post a list of some great businesses, documentaries, blogs and such to check out soon. For now, I recommend that you have a look at the Fashion Revolution site here and join the Fashion Revolution! 

Birdsong

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It’s a new year and so I guess I should acknowledge the fact that this is the first post of 2015. Happy New Year and all that!

Now that’s out the way let me introduce you (if you’re not already acquainted) to Birdsong. Last autumn a friend told me about it and I’ve been meaning to do a little write up for a while. Birdsong is a great online shop which sells “handmade products by inspirational women’s charities in London”. There are currently three women’s enterprises that Birdsong works with, creating the clothing and accessories for sale on their website.

Sweet Cavanagh is responsible for the beautiful, ethical jewellery on the marketplace. The jewellery is made by women recovering from addictions and eating disorders and all profits from this social enterprise are invested back into the charity Free Me, which the jewellery brand Sweet Cavanagh is a part of. So if you’re looking for some new accessories to jazz up an outfit then have a look at their unique creations here.

The super cosy scarves on Birdsong are made by a group of ladies who meet weekly to knit and natter over a cup of tea (which is pretty damn cute). The knitters meet at The Bradbury, a part of Staywell, which is a day centre that provides the over 50s with a whole host of activities and services from line-dancing to Spanish classes. All profits from these scarves are donated to The Bradbury. So you can wrap up warm AND help the elderly.

The third organisation Birdsong currently works with is Heba. Having been around for 25 years this is a well-established project that provides women from a wide variety of different backgrounds with great opportunities to meet others and gain new skills in a safe, welcoming environment. They also create simply beautiful, chic garments.

(All images from the Birdsong website)

 

Discovering platforms in the fashion industry like Birdsong, and the inspirational projects they work alongside, is encouraging. It’s always nice to be reminded that there are so many other options out there; that not having a clue who made your clothes, and the doubtful ethics behind them, is not the only choice. I will be writing more about such shops and projects in future posts and if you have any good ones to share then please do get in touch!

Sustainable Sequins

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Sequins are great. The way they are made, however, is not so great. Before reading a super interesting article on Sleek Magazine about designer Rahel Guiragossian’s pioneering work with sequins I hadn’t really given much thought to the fabrication of these shiny embellishments. After doing a bit more research, it turns out that vintage sequins from the 30s or so were often made from gelatin, which replaced the frequent use of thin, but still rather weighty, metal disks before then. As expected, today’s sequins are made from plastic materials and a questionable concoction of chemicals. It was actually Guiragossian’s mother’s allergy to sequins that initially provoked her to mistrust the material.

With the ever increasing demand for fast fashion it isn’t at all surprising that the detrimental environmental impact is overlooked. It predominantly is in the fashion industry. Thankfully there are designers, like Rahel Guiragossian, who are changing that. In creating a biodegradable alternative that eliminates the use of dubious chemicals, sequins become totally environmentally, and people, friendly from the initial production stage until the garment is discarded (if necessary). This provides a complete contrast to the hundreds of years that sequins take to decompose in their current form.

As a major fan of sequins, Guiragossian’s development of sustainable sequins is something I will definitely be following closely and hope to see spreading further into the fashion industry! I highly recommend reading the original article Sleek Magazine, where you can also see pictures of Guiragossian’s beautiful, sequin-studded creations: http://www.sleek-mag.com/fashion-2/2014/11/not-so-superfluous-sequins-go-sustainable/

Salon International

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Last weekend I was at Salon International modelling for Vidal Sassoon and the launch of their Nu-Pop AW14 collection. This new collection draws inspiration from the 1960s and combines it with a grungier edge, the concept being an imaginary meeting between Kurt Cobain and Peggy Moffitt. The collection is divided into three main looks: Nu-Op, Nu-Scene, and Nu-Psych.

I was part of the Nu-Scene group styled particularly on the late 60s with Edie Sedgwick as the muse and The Velvet Underground’s ‘Femme Fatale’ as the song for our routine. Hair colours were shades of red, coppery tones and pinks (hence my hair now being a mixture of crimson and cherry red!). The outfits were brightly coloured, inspired by the YSL Mondrian dress, complete with oversized colourful sunglasses.

Nu-Op also drew direct inspiration from the 60s with psychedelic black and white patterns influenced by Op artist Bridget Riley and darker hair colours featuring some beautiful deep blue and purple tones. Finally Nu-Psych brought out the more subversive, grungier side of the collection; dusty pinks and pale purples were the predominant hair shades with the clothing being loose and layered. For their make-up the Nu-Psych models had a colourful, glittery star drawn around one eye which I particularly liked!

Nu-Op outfits

Nu-Op outfits

Nu-Scene shoes

Nu-Scene shoes

It was a busy but fun weekend full of choreography rehearsals, hair prep, make-up, and the shows themselves which go insanely quickly when you’re onstage! If you want to check out the Sassoon photos from Salon International I’ll leave you with the links below to have a browse through.

Salon Live: Backstage Pass; Front Row

Fellowship of British Hairdressing Stage

Brighton

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Super cute Brighton street art.

Super cute Brighton street art.

Hello again! Sorry it’s been so terribly long since my last post, I’ve been meaning to write about my visit to Brighton earlier in the summer but, well, you know how it goes… Anyway, back to the wonderful treasure trove that is Brighton.

Home to Snooper’s Paradise and many exciting shops, Brighton is one of my favourite places. The North Laine area is always bustling, full of lovely cafés and a diverse range of shops where you can find anything from fudge to Moomin paraphernalia (there’s a huge Moominpappa cut out on Kensington Gardens which is hard to miss!). In amongst all this is Snooper’s Paradise, a chaotic antique store full of second hand bric-a-brac, furniture, clothes and more (there’s even a photo booth). I collect old photos and so can very easily spend ages rummaging through boxes deciding which ones to buy! Upstairs is Snooper’s Attic, a vintage and independent artists’ boutique. The Attic is more orderly than its downstairs counterpart, offering a range of higher-end vintage clothing and delightful, quirky accessories.

On this particular trip I got a super 60s shift dress from To Be Worn Again on Sydney Street. With another store on Kensington Gardens, To Be Worn Again offers a great selection of affordably priced vintage clothing and their Kensington Gardens shop is a must if you’re looking for shoes.

To Be Worn Again To Be Worn Again

Also on Sydney Street is Wolf & Gypsy Vintage. The carefully handpicked clothing and effectively minimal presentation make this a beautiful shop to visit, especially great for chic vintage items.

Brighton’s Beyond Retro is slightly hidden away on Vine Street so make sure not to miss it. I have many a great Beyond Retro purchase from their various stores, so definitely worth a browse as these guys know their stuff when it comes to on trend, affordable vintage and retro.

Undoubtedly this is only the first of many posts on Brighton, but for now I’ll leave you with some photos of my snazzy 60s dress!

(P.S. Thanks to my lovely friend El for the great pictures below. She has a delightful blog which you should check out here: http://eleanorloftie.blogspot.com.es/).


Outfit: Dress - To Be Worn Again; Coat - charity shop (1 euro bargain!); Shoes - JuJu Jellies.

Outfit:
Dress – To Be Worn Again; Coat – charity shop (only 50 cents!); shoes – Juju jellies.

Berlin

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The perfect city for wandering, Berlin is full of cafés, bars, and beautiful shops to browse with photo booths dotted around and no shortage of second hand offerings. Even just walking to our nearest station in Friedrichshain, where we stayed, there were plenty of thrift stores and antique shops to browse!

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After visiting the Bauhaus Archiv museum (which I recommend, especially if you can catch the Vassily Kandinksy exhibition they have currently) we came across Garage, a sizeable retro shop where we easily whiled away a good hour or so. With a kilo sale section, this is the place to go for an impressive range of 60s through to 90s clothing and accessories in all patterns imaginable at a reasonable price.

Wandering around Neukölln particular highlights were Aura, which had the most beautiful collection of vintage kimonos I have ever seen, and Sing Blackbird, a vintage boutique and café. Both on Sanderstrasse, these shops were well laid out with a carefully selected array of items and I got myself a lovely little 80s tapestry handbag in Sing Blackbird.

We dedicated our last day in Berlin to shopping in the Prenzlauer Berg/ Mitte area. Made in Berlin had some great garments and my friend got a wonderfully colourful 80s jacket. We also found the most beautiful white dress with embroidered fruits and vegetables on the bodice…I would have totally bought it had it not been, unfortunately, slightly out of my price range! I am definitely going to jazz up some of my clothes with little embroidered fruity delights.

Around the corner from Made in Berlin there was an Urban Outfitters which I can never resist popping in, and I got a new eye ring in their sale (I have a bit of a collection of such jewellery!).

A little further on was Garments, a very high end vintage boutique with beautiful clothing and lots of lovely shoes. There was a particularly eye catching multi-coloured sequin number on display at the front which initially enticed us into the shop.

Aside from vintage, Berlin is full of beautiful boutiques and independent designer shops such as Potipoti which had some fabulous watermelon knitted dresses in the window.

Urban Outfitters ring

With such a wealth of thrift stores, vintage shops, and flea markets to explore I will definitely be returning to Berlin as soon as possible!