by Amisha Ghadiali, Associate Direcor, Ethical Fashion Forum
Pop-Ups; the latest trend to sweep our streets. Restaurants, bars, clubs and shops that appear in unexpected locations only to disappear just as you find out about them. It’s a perfect concept for our hype-heavy society. It means that the owners of these businesses can take risks, appearing in dangerous locations or with a strange theme or twist. They don’t need to be perfect, so don’t need as much investment which makes them perfect for this financial climate. They open knowing that they won’t be the hottest new thing for long, and accepting that soon we will be craving something different.
The Fashion industry is using this latest craze as a way to bring to life what they have to offer.
When you are out looking for Ethical Fashion on the high street, you will notice that it is pretty hard to find. This is because most ethical fashion brands are small businesses, with extra costs given that they are in many cases buying more expensive fabrics and paying more for production then their competitors.
As a result the internet has become the best place to do your ethical fashion shopping. With most brands having their own online shop, and boutiques such as Ascension it is easy to find great ethical fashion online.
Recently there has been a surge of pop-up boutiques dedicated to showcasing ethical fashion, and allowing the consumer to actually feel and try on some of the items that they have been coveting through the web.
I met with four women who together have put their unique spin on the pop-up shop and used it as a way to get people talking about ethical fashion. Journalist Lucy Siegle, Designer Orsola de Castro, Ethical Fashion Expert Jocelyn Whipple and Film Producer Livia Firth. After many meetings discussing how to make ethical and sustainable fashion accessible and affordable, they hit on the idea of “12 Degrees of Ethical Fashion.” Set in Eco-Age, Chiswick, the shop Livia owns with her husband Colin Firth, they set about showcasing 12 different types of ethical fashion for only a month each. Over the year they take us through amazing ethical collections covering everything from beach wear to menswear to party dresses.
This way they could create a buzz around each different theme with a special event inviting people to come for drinks or a professional fitting, and support a range of different designers in the process. The events can be anything from a masterclass in getting the right fit in organic denim to an expert workshop on how to extend the lifespan of your favourite clothes.
This great initiative really demonstrates what sustainable fashion is all about, and allows people to be introduced slowly to the terminology, designers and issues that the label covers. It forces you to think about what you are buying and why.
“Nowadays unfortunately it has become so consumeristic and silly: the high street shops bombard you with constantly new pieces, incredibly low prices, and you become like a drug addict,” observes Livia, “You don’t buy something because you need it or because you actually and truly love it, but just because “it’s there and it’s cheap and I might as well
add it to my wardrobe just in case”!”
This gets to the heart of 12 degrees, it is about offering women a solution to this problem. Just buy one or two really nice things that you can wear anywhere and forever. It’s about making us think more about where our clothes come from, who made them, how did they get here? Ethical Fashion is all about the story behind the piece. From the drawing board, to the cotton farm, to the shop.
On the timing of 12 Degrees, Lucy said “Why now? We were frankly worried about where a global downturn leaves a fledgling independent ethical fashion design brand. There are three schools of thought come recession: everyone will flee to Primark et al, consumers will buy nothing (unlikely given rates of fashion consumption) and consumers will want trans-seasonal pieces that will last made from good quality fibres that they can treasure and keep.”
Don’t miss out. Visit http://www.eco-age.com/fashion to find out more about the events still to come.