What Ethical Fashion Means To Me By Lady Cherry

Ethical is a big word these days. Some might say a buzz word. Some might say unaffordable since the global economic crisis. Ethical fashion, in particular. But what does ethical fashion actually mean? I can only speak for myself – it’s one of ‘those’ words; like right, wrong, and moral, everyone has an opinion, and every opinion is in all likelihood, slightly different.

As consumers, in the forefront of many minds is the cost. We want it, we want a lot of it, and we want it cheap, if you please. Some of this attitude has been fostered by the fashion industry – new collections, new trends, new ‘must have’ purchases. And some of it has come from the idealogy of the ‘American Dream’ – you can have and do anything, so long as you work for it. Status symbols – having the latest design of Ugg boots, that sort of thing. These are the principles by which many of us have lived their lives, and many still do.

We can choose to inform ourselves about the true cost of our purchases – not just the financial cost to us, but the cost in social and environmental terms, too. It may be cheap to us, but have you ever stopped to wonder who made that cheap skirt? What their lives are like?

Like so many things, ethics is about balance. By purchasing clothing we are able to provide an industry and employment in a developing nation, increasing their skills and wealth, and in turn enabling them to increase their quality of life. I don’t have an issue with this. I do have an issue with people being exploited; being kept prisoner, using children thus depriving them of the ability to get an education, however basic, or not being paid a fair wage. Several well known companies have fallen foul of uppholding their social responsibilities – the likes of Nike, and Gap. Stores that tend to charge more than average for a tee shirt. The problem is that global companies operate in areas where there is no minimum wage, no right to a safe workplace, no working time directive. They can choose to operate in an ethical way, or not. Iit is up to us, the consumers, to police them through our purchasing power. When I buy new, I ask myself what sort of life the person who made it has. If there is a chance their are being exploited, I leave it where it is. That is too high a price for me.

Then there is the environmental cost. Yawn worthy to many, I know. But many of our clothes are made in the middle and far east. It takes on average 2700 litres of water to make one tee shirt, from growing the cotton to it getting on your back. That is 1,350 bottles of coke. To make one top. Think about that for a second. While water is literally growing clothes, 40% of our wardrobes are unworn, and 54% of the African population have no access to a safe drinking water supply. While we wonder whether to buy it in pink, or blue.

So, I inject ethics into fashion through these principles: If something is worn, can I mend it first? If I want something new, can I buy it second hand from a charity or vintage store, or eBay? Can I make it myself? If I buy something new, is it British made ?- I’d quite like to support our own economy as much as I can. If not, what sort of circumstances has it been made in? Is it from a company that operates a fair trade policy? If not, do I really want to pay upwards of thirty quid for a dress than probably cost the company less than a fiver to make, including employee’s wages? And if I don’t need it anymore, can I give it to someone who does need it?

What is ethics, if not a set of principles we chose to live our lives by?

This post was written by Lady Cherry of Vintage Goddess in Training. Lady Cherry is a vintage lovin’ gal who likes to bake, quaff gin, sew, thrift, look glamourous….You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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An Interview With Erica of Recycled Fashion

In the first of a series of interviews with Ethical Fashion Bloggers, I interview Erica of Recycled Fashion about upcycling, blogging and ethical fashion. Erica’s blog features plenty of inspiration in the form of thrifty outfits and DIY projects plus plenty of handy tips, she is also involved in some other really interesting projects relating to sustainable style.

How did you get started blogging?

I started my blog because I wanted to focus some of my time on my two passions; second-hand fashion, and writing.  I read blogs of similar interest, and thought I’d have a crack at starting my own, that was two years ago

How would you describe your style?

Thrifty; only choosing second hand over new

Quirky; it is not uncommon to find out of the ordinary pieces in my wardrobe.

Individual: I try not to be a follower of fashion, and choose instead, to create my own individual style.
 
You are obviously very talented at sewing and recycling clothes, what is it about recycling clothes that you love?

Thank you for such a nice comment.  I like the individuality of designing my own wardrobe pieces to fit my body shape.  We’re not all born the same off-the-rack size, and most of the time, a small size adjustment on a shop purchased garment, will make the world of difference.

From an ethical standpoint, I cannot justify buying new clothing, when there is an abundance of garments already in circulation.  By recycling existing garments, we keep more clothing out of landfill, and in our wardrobes.

What is the refashioning project that you are most proud of?

For a thrifted piece, transformed into something more wearable, I’m quite fond of my butterfly dress refashion.  However, the creation I am most proud of, would be my upholstery patch dress, of which I made some furnishing fabric samples into a patchwork shift dress.
 
Where do you get your inspiration both for recycling projects and for your blogging?

 Most of the time, I am inspired by articles I read on the internet, and on other similar blogs.  Otherwise, fashion I see on the streets, or current fashion topics.
 
I have noticed that ethical and sustainable fashion seems to be quite popular in Australia, how would you describe the ethical fashion scene there?

Ethical and sustainable fashion certainly seems to be on the rise in Australia, we still have a way to go, the ethical fashion scene is small in comparison to some, but we’ve a strong, passionate group of individuals working hard to see a change in the fashion industry.  Being that we have a smaller population that many western countries, individuals involved in the ethical fashion scene tend to know of each other via various networks and word-of-mouth. 

 Which are your favourite eco/ethical/ thrifty blogs and brands?
 Blogs I read frequently >

Refashion Co-op

My Thrifty Closet

Pull Your Socks Up! 

Style Wilderness

Urbandon

C&C 

Not Dead Yet Style

Refashionista

Modest is Pretty

Brands.  I have not purchased new clothing for over two years; however, there are ethical brands which I admire:

Lydra

Siamese Dream Design

Bartinki

JunkyStyling

The Social Studio

 
I see that you have advertising on your blog, how do you go about ensuring that that advertisers/ give away sponsors fit with the values/ethics of your blog?

The majority of my advertising sponsors have worked closely with me prior to their advertisement banners being added to my blog.  If I am approached by potential advertisers that do not have any link to ethical fashion, I generally do not agree to advertise them on my blog.
 
Tell us more about Melbourne Op Shop Tours…

Melbourne Op Shop Tours run sustainable shopping tours across Melbourne.  Tours run through Melbourne’s second-hand wonderlands, on public transport.  Tour groups are kept nice and small to make sure everyone has a chance to pick up some fabulous bargains without having to resort to fighting their fellow op shoppers.   There are currently 6 tour routes, I run Melbourne’s Bayside Tour which appeared on TV here

Tell us more about Recycled Market..

 Last year, I co-founded a new online marketplace dedicated to buying and selling recycled products, Recycled Market. Recycled Market is a unique online venue that encourages buyers and sellers to reduce, reuse, redesign, refashion, rework and recycle as much as possible. A global marketplace focused on showcasing stylish handmade and ethically manufactured pieces made from recycled materials.


 
What tips can you give to anyone who wants to start recycling or upcycling their own clothes?

Get yo’self a sewing machine!  It need not be new, nor anything fancy, but owning a sewing machine will be the best investment if you’re interested in recycled fashion and DIY.

Refashioning tips? Don’t set your goals too high to begin with.  Making a dress from scratch would probably not be a good start, instead, try making a small clutch bag using an online tutorial, a soft toy, or t-shirt refashion, something simple so that you’ll progress with your next sewing attempt.

Many thanks to Erica for sharing her tips and so much with us about herself and her blog. If you would like to be interviewed for Ethical Fashion Bloggers, please get in touch. Also don’t forget to visit the forum and post your links for our DIY/ upcycled round up on Monday. If you are not a member already, you can join here.

With warmest wishes

Ceri X

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January Outfit Challenge – Winter Warmers

This month our outfit challenge was to make an ethical outfit on the theme of winter warmers. With everything going on in January, there are only 2 of us joining in the outfit challenge this month.

Franca of Oranges and Apples wore a pretty eighties vintage dress on Christmas day but managed to keep cosy and warm with a cardigan borrowed from her Mother in Law and woolley socks from her mum.

For my outfit on Style Eyes Ethical Fashion Blog, I also adapted a vintage dress for the cold weather by layering it with a jumper given to me by a friend and a fur jacket from the local Oxfam shop. I also wore my boots from my favourite eco shoe brand Dream in Green.

Next week we will be doing our winter warmers or summer coolers DIY/upcycled roundup for January. If you would like to join in and share some thing that you have upcycled to keep warm for the winter or cool for the summer, you can join here. Please post you links to the relevant thread on the forum by Monday 23rd January. I can’t wait to see what you have made. Our next outfit challenge will be in February on the theme of love and romance for Valentines day.

With warmest wishes

Ceri X

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Happy New Year -Ethical Party Outfits and Christmas DIYs

A really Happy New Year. I hope that you had a fantastic Christmas or holiday.

In December we ran two Christmas themed round ups/ outfit challenges. Unfortunately, for various reasons, there were a number of posts that didn’t get included. Apologies to those who got missed out, I am definitely going to work on streamlining the whole procedure for the new year so that this doesn’t happen again. These posts were far too good to miss so I thought that I would include them in a new year round up.

 

Bella from Citizen Rosebud looks fabulous in this striking vintage outfit.

A really beautiful shirt made by Erica of Recycled Fashion using tropical bird fabric purchased from an RSPCA Opportunity Shop.

ringholder DIY

Jessie of Jessie.Anne.O made this beautiful ring holder for a vegan ladies holiday brunch.

Here is Marcie, Maya and Kia of Care Wear Share in their outfits for a fun Christmas craft party.

As always, I would definitely recommend that you check out the individual blogs for further information and images of outfits and DIYs.

With warmest wishes

Ceri X

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