2012-05-28

Sustainable Style Advise

Wanting to read something substantial about an interest of mine, fashion, prompted me to buy this book: "To die for - is fashion wearing out the world?" by Lucy Siegle, a journalist specializing in sustainable and fair fashion and writing mainly for the Observer.

See that hanger on the cover? That´s the only image in this book. It´s not even in the book, it´s an almost-illustrated cover. Which is, frankly, a relief. Fashion "journalism" is so often all about the image, the clothes, the pictures of it on models and celebrities and the words jotted down next to them are full of laughable clich├ęs, the result of sloppy thinking.

While I read, I get other images in my mind´s eye, from other articles I have read over the years. You see, what Siegle is writing about isn´t exactly news. Anyone paying the least attention to what goes on in the world knows what it looks like at what used to be the Aral Sea, knows the faces of the women and children left by the desperate Indian cotton farmers having committed suicide by drinking of the pesticides, faced with bankruptcy and no hope for the future. I have seen the children working the sweatshop floors and the bodies of the women perished in a factory fire because they had been locked in by the supervisors.

What Siegle does is paint the entire picture, connect all the dots, and lead the trace back to our own closets. It´s not pretty. And I´m not even a "fast fashion fashionista" - I´m way too old for that. I actually do a lot of things that Lucy Siegle proposes one do to create "a perfect wardrobe" - suggestions that have nothing to do with style and fashion, but everything to do with economic fairness and ecologic sustainability. I buy second hand. I make some of my own clothes, I mend, I re-design, update, downgrade and upgrade. Still, I feel bad and like I could and should do much, much more.

A few years ago I subscribed to a magazine that was promoting eco fashion and eco consumption. Being an enthusiastic knitter, I wrote them for a more in-depth article about yarn and textile materials. The answer I got was that "we did this two issues ago". I had to go back to that issue and found something that I had taken for an advertisement! I don´t consider a modest compilation of manufacturer´s pitch lines serious journalism, and after some more reading and consideration realized that the entire magazine was basically just advertising in disguise. Eco may be fine, but paying for ads isn´t very sustainable, is it? At least make some effort to give me some proper information. Like Lucy Siegle does.

I wish there was more of this in mainstream fashion mags.

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