How Cruel is My Wardrobe? (OOTD #5)

Hello my lovelies!

Another quickie. Yesterday I went to a BBQ at my friend’s house, and my clothing of choice was a big-old purple maxi dress in a marvellous tie-dye print – perfect for splooging blobs of mustard-based hot dog sauce on. And splooge I did.

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Dress: This was an old ebay find, for around £12 I think. I just love the fact that it’s the softest, billowiest jersey material, features lace-up back details, AND it pretty much matches my duvet covers. I don’t know why I’ve never worn it before as it has a marvellous LA-in-the-70s vibe about it. What I’ve taken from this in terms of streamlining for a cruelty-free approach to my wardrobe, is something I mentioned before about FEELING UP YOUR CLOTHES. Touching them gives me such a better idea of whether I will wear them again, or whether to pass them on to somebody else. Take it, feel it, pass it on. (I think that may be a History Boys’ quote, but out of context.)

As such! Today I have amassed another charity bag/rag bag/ebay pile to pass on to others, of clothes that I blatantly do not wear anymore. If there is anything about them I do not like, such as the fit, material, or length, it’s out the door. That doesn’t mean it is to be replaced by something else, but rather, it brings the comfortable and better-fitting clothes to the forefront of your wardrobe, to be looked after, and worn to your heart’s content.

Peace & love & whimsical tie-dyed hippy dreams,

Rosie

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A Thoughtful Outfit

Hello my lovelies!

In the spirit of a sunless level of baking heat in the UK, I was searching through my wardrobe the other day and looking for fabrics that are more forgiving in terms of breathability. Loose-fitting being a priority. Other than a very baggy t-shirt I wear for bed, I found I was struggling. I saw this as an opportunity to purge several items of summer clothing that basically did not make me feel good, or fit me particularly well – straight into a charity bag – and I bought a couple of items from Thought (formerly Braintree), to hopefully help me through this trapped-under-cloud level of heat. Here in the North it is sometimes referred to as “claggy” weather.

Thought advertise themselves as “Contemporary Sustainable Style”, and there is a huge focus on minimising their impact on the environment, whilst making long-lasting, key pieces and basics for your wardrobe. Here we have a Maxi Skirt in “Steel”, and a striped singlet vest top in “Cloud” – I actually thought Cloud pertained to white, so I did end up buying the wrong colour…but in the end I rather liked this one, and decided to keep it. They were both in the sale, which is perhaps an odd and seemingly backwards concept for an environmentally ethical clothing company, but it does provide them with a vital boost in their sales which will benefit their supply chain as a whole. The skirt, made largely of “breathable bamboo”, is rather floaty and has a slit at the side, with a very forgiving waistband.

The top, made of “helpful hemp”, is a tad larger than my usual size, but that definitely works for my criteria of assistance in the heat. This makes sense, as the company itself originates with a desire for comfortable clothing on Australian beaches. I feel very comfortable in these, and have already mentally paired-up a number of outfits I can derive from my current wardrobe to wear with them. I really love the focus on longevity, which is a perfect counterweight to the contemporary trend for fast fashion. Each item’s tag bears the slogan: “WEAR ME, LOVE ME, MEND ME, PASS ME ON.” There are even tips on their website for looking after your clothes, which I think is a neglected art at the moment…I am entirely clueless in this arena!

One slight criticism however, is the additional contents of the order. The outer packaging is made of recycled materials and you are encouraged to care for it again, however inside was my order return form, tissue paper, a promotion for organic wine, and this rather unnecessary leaflet – inside was almost blank, barring a thanks for ordering – surely this could have just been printed on the outside packaging? Anyway, small gripes, small gripes!

I encourage everyone to have a wee rummage in the sales of more ethical sources such as Thought, People Tree, Nancy Dee, and the Ethical Supermarket, if you are in need of key pieces to boost your wardrobe. The basics are really the items that you want to last a while, and these sources encourage the use of sustainable materials, good quality manufacturing and perhaps the want to look after your clothes more, having spent a bit extra on them.

Until the next blog!

Rosie

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How Cruel is My Wardrobe? (OOTD #4)

Hello my lovelies!

Another quickie today, as I’m a bit rained under with assignments. This morning I read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, which compelled me to have a sort out of my ramshackled wardrobe. The act of unshackling the rams felt like light, easy work, but with an immediate reward. I have sentimental attachments to quite a few items of clothing, but I do love the idea of thanking them for the good times I’ve had in them, and then passing them onto a charity shop in the hope that someone else will do the same. The method which Kondo advocates involves being touchy-feely with the items you are sorting through – I do have to agree that in holding them I have a stronger sense of whether I want to keep them or not, it’s like a tangible choice instead of an airy one. Within half an hour I had established a pretty chunky pile of to-be-gones, and I am 100% cool with their departure. If only so I can bloody well find things.

(Pre-sorting wardrobe is visible behind me – said outfit is from a few days ago.)

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Cardigan & Trainers: Primark. I discussed Primark in my previous post.

Dress: Tesco. Okay, this dress. I recall buying it a few summers ago for around £12, and I loved its comfiness so much that I bought the same dress in another pattern – how uneclectic of me. Sometimes it’s just hard to say no to an elasticated waistband and adjustable straps. Regarding Tesco’s ethics, there are obviously repercussions for the world in supporting a GIANTLY MASSIVE wondermarket machine as a source of clothing. There are however, acknowledgments of improvement which we should be encouraging, such as swiftly signing the Bangladesh Accord in 2013, focusing on improving and maintaining the health and safety of factory workers. As far as the environment is concerned, there are active goals being set, according to their website. “We have pledged to help achieve zero net deforestation by 2020, starting with the four global drivers for deforestation that are relevant for our business: palm oil, cattle products, soy and timber. For each commodity we are mapping our supply chains to understand our exposure, and putting in place sustainable procurement policies. For example, 93% of the total palm oil used in all our own-brand UK products comes from a certified sustainable source, which we define as being a Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)-certified ‘segregated’ supply chain, or a ‘mass balance’ system where ‘segregated’ is not available. This includes palm oil used as an ingredient in food products, such as biscuits, and in health and beauty products, such as shampoo. In terms of our own-brand food products only, as much as 99% is from a sustainable source.” You can read a Guardian interview with them below, which was published 6 months after the Rana Plaza disaster.

Tesco: How Ethical Are Your Clothes?

ALTERNATIVE FOR SUMMER DRESS:

Passionlilie Denim Blue Sleeveless Shift Dress

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(Passionlilie have a beautiful collection of clothing. Their dresses are made with 100% Indian cotton, fair trade and ethically produced. This one is definitely on my wishlist.)

Until the next blog!

Rosie

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How Cruel is My Wardrobe? (OOTD #3)

Hello my lovelies!

After a lot of deep breathing recently and feeling stressed for absolutely no reason, today is my day to give ‘sorting things out’ a solid go. I’ve decided that these little OOTD posts serve a small purpose in this manifesto of calmness, as on a very basic level they encourage me to get up and get dressed, consciously non-dressing-gowny or pyjama-based dressed. They encourage me to think, daily, about my impact on the planet, both environmentally and socially. I’ve taken to appreciating each stepping stone for its own worth, instead of jumping in the river entirely as the other side feels so impossibly far away. This stepping stone is assessing how I can adapt my habits to improve the lives of others, even if it feels like such a tiny effort. I truly hate it when people criticise small efforts on the basis of potential hypocrisy – if you’re going to do this then why in hell are you not going further? Abandoning the precept already. Yes, the aim is to keep going, but what is the point in discouraging others from making the necessary steps?

*Back to the actual blog post*

Today is a fresher Summer day in England, far from stiflingly hot but still pleasantly warm and fretlessly damp. Regardless, this morning I decided I needed an outfit with ventilation, as I am a moist human.

IMG_3364IMG_3373(I am also a clumsy human, as the white bra I am wearing is hazardously splattered with an ink stain from a pen leak many moons ago. )

Top: Primark. I was actively looking for a very back-to-basics t-shirt and discovered this for I think about £3. Admittedly I was lured in by the cost. They’ve apparently a 14.3% share of the UK clothing market, and at these prices, I am not surprised. They were also the first UK retailer to have signed the Accord on Fire & Building Safety in Bangladesh, post-Rana Plaza disaster, and they offered a large amount of compensation for those affected. Admittedly, they do have fiercely well-prepared responses to any attacks on their ethics (see below). But I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that yes, their clothes are very affordable, but they’re also not very long-lasting. The Primark-based portion of my wardrobe seems to be the one that is the holiest, bobbliest, and most likely to be replaced. This can be said for a lot of other retailers, but this is how I’ve always felt about Primark in particular. So I am knowingly buying clothes that I know will not have a decent lifespan, I think this definitely needs reassessment.

In terms of attitudes to their factory workers’ welfare, Primark have definitely addressed some awful aspects of their supply chain, which is admirable, but being adamant to continue supplying via Bangladesh without adjusting the pricing structure calls into question the lives of the factory owners and workers themselves. How are they coping with the pressure of cutting costs wherever possible? What are the physical conditions like? What are they being paid? How is this gigantic fast-fashion enterprise affecting Bangladesh’s eco system? At least the signing of the health and safety agreement and development of trade unions are steps in the right direction. I am tempted to boycott the process entirely, though this is problematic. On the one hand I am reducing the frequency at which I purchase disposable fashions, which the environment will welcome. On the other, it is the behind-the-scenes process that I think needs more urgency for change. These workers still need their living, it is simply improving this living that we need to focus on. How exactly? I am not entirely sure, but I will endeavour to make this my mission. Fairly trading companies still need our support, so I think it’s a matter of finding a balance of sourcing whilst still applying pressure on the companies that need work, to match that level of care. Let’s make it cool to care!!

How Primark Balances Ethics and Ultra-Low Prices

Skirt: New Look (via eBay). Floaty and goes with everything, you cannot go wrong. I will not apologise for my exposed belly, I like my belly and like to take it on outings and picnics from time to time. In my previous post I gave a link to New Look’s ethics.

Shoes: I stand bare-footed in my own front yard with a baby on my hip ‘cos I’m a REDNECK WOMAN I AIN’T NO HIGH-CLASS BROAD.

ALTERNATIVE TO CROPPED T-SHIRT (This one even has flamingos on it omg):

Flamingo Print Cropped T-Shirt

 

Until the next blog!

Rosie

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How Cruel is my Wardrobe? (OOTD #2)

Hello my lovelies,

Back for another round of dissecting my wardrobe in terms of its ethical/not-so-ethical origins. For context: June 18th 2017 was a gloriously sunny day in England, and I spent it with loved ones, cooking, sipping Bucks Fizz, and reading. The reason I look sweaty, is because I was sweaty. But the good kind of sweat, more acceptable because it’s warm AF.

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T-shirt: TK Maxx. I had some gift vouchers for TK Maxx for Christmas and decided to buy myself some “gym gear”. I got some trainers, a sports bra (which I’m wearing here and later had to strip down to), and this t-shirt which I love. It’s so breathable and doesn’t show sweat patches with glaring obviousness. None of these items have seen a lot of gym action let’s be honest, but wearing sports materials in the Summer is PERFECT because they are designed to let you sweat comfortably! With regards to TK Maxx’s ethical standards, there are a few well-publicised points that work in its favour: 1) They are well-known to associate with the work of Comic Relief, and raise a fortune selling merchandise each year for Red Nose Day. 2) They offer a scheme called “Give Up Clothes For Good” for Cancer Research UK (Kids & Teens) in which they ask you to bring in a bag of unwanted clothes to sell in charity shops or to be recycled. Supporting a specific cause may encourage people to be more generous than their usual straight-to-charity-shop donations, and it does put a decent spin on recycling. 3) Since 2008 they’ve held up community projects in war-torn regions of Uganda, teaming up with Save the Children to build schools and provide educational resources, and working to promote fairly traded products such as coffee and crafts. Numerous other charity partnerships are also on the go, and TK Maxx also have a decent environmental policy – actively working to reduce their carbon footprint. With regards to fair trade specifically, they state: “Our buyers are always looking to source more organic and Fairtrade cotton clothing for our stores”. So there are evidently many baby steps towards a more ethical future for this store. Details below.

TK Maxx – Our Responsibilities

Skirt: Clements Ribeiro  (via eBay). This was around £3 on auction, and I really love it. High-waisted skirts will always be winners in my books, and the material is so light and delicate. From my hasty Googling as I’ve never heard of this company before, they seem to be a London-based fashion house specialising in bold prints. The skirt itself states “Made in China”. They appear to have an upcycling campaign, which is good news, and focuses on the idea of a vintage “capsule” wardrobe – which in itself, encourages minimising your purchases of low-quality ‘impulse buys’. However, there is little information on the website regarding their garment workforce.

Sandals: New Look. Are they Greek-inspired? Roman? Saxon? Regardless they are extremely comfortable, and seem to go with everything I wear (I own two pairs of sandals at the present moment.) Surprisingly for a giant high street retailer, New Look genuinely seem to have put a lot of effort into caring for their workers at each point in the supply chain. “We put workers’ needs at the centre of our ethical sourcing strategy. Despite doing our best to protect workers in our value chain, we know that many people employed in the garment industry face poor working conditions that affect their safety, health and quality of living.” Their website also gives links to their ethical trade reports, and the ins-and-outs of how they are able to maintain these relationships with suppliers. What I really like about them is their focus on transparency – trust with a retailer is established through their openness and availability of information on their trade, which is so important. At heart this is still a movement of fast fashion which we should not be encouraging, however it is still possible to act as a buyer of key pieces which you intend to last a long time – this is what I am trying to do at the moment.

New Look – Transparency

Sunglasses: Boots. I bought these for £5 a couple of summers ago, and I adore them. Boots themselves have a lot of information available on their website which I respect – traceability is again given a solid priority here – with a focus on environmental sustainability. As a consumer I also feel that it is easy to source products from Boots that do not test on animals, and offer organic ingredient bases. I am still a tad wary of shopping here based on reviews of workplace experience that I have personally heard – but that may be all hear’say. I try to source as many affordable beauty products as I can from Lush, who are incredibly open about the workers behind the products.

Boots – Corporate Responsibility

ALTERNATIVE SOURCE FOR SUNGLASSES:

Crossed UK – Ethical, Handmade, Eco-Friendly Sunglasses

Rosie

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How Cruel is My Wardrobe? (OOTD #1)

 

Hello my lovelies!

As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve decided to start a little series called:

How Cruel is My Wardrobe?

It is nothing groundbreaking, just a little twist on the classic Outfit of the Day saga. What I aim to do is to assess the sources of my clothes, and how I can aim to improve and streamline my patterns of fashion-buying. I should say off the cuff (ha) that I am by no means a person who is immensely dedicated to style. I generally wear dresses, because they are very easy to just throw on, with my usual backpack (I own two and that’s about it in the bag department), and some kind of leggings and plimsolls combination. What I aim for is comfort, and I certainly don’t feel compelled to keep up with trends. I do however, enjoy buying clothes every now and then, as it feels like some serious me-time, and I enjoy finding pretty patterns. A six year old could probably put ensembles together with more class and regard for the weather conditions, nevertheless it does make me happy. So let’s start with today’s offering. All I can offer is a wiggly mirror and dubious light, but you get the idea.

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Dress: (From a charity shop) – Branded as “Anmol”. I can’t say I’ve heard of this brand before, or find much information on it, but I am happy with sourcing it from a charity shop, especially for such a good price.

Sandals: (Azalea – from eBay) – Ebay is a tricky one. Gigantically profiteering corporation…but if you navigate your way through the multitude of shops, you can find yourself a second-hand bargain whilst supporting someone who needs a bit of extra cash. Azalea appear to be a US company with no information regarding ethical standards whatsoever on their website. I’m not condemning them, this is just what I’ve found.

Belt: (Peacocks – from another dress) – Owned by the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, Peacocks is rather famed for its low prices and constant changing of fashion seasons. However the website actually offers quite a bit of information on its ethical standards and code of conduct. Peacocks’ Ethical Trading

“We work with suppliers all over the world. Some of these countries do not have the legal and cultural framework which mean there are ethical issues which we cannot stop overnight. That won’t stop us trying though. We go beyond a simple customer/supplier relationship investing in training and partnerships with local suppliers. We also take a hands-on approach to making sure that our provision of work and livelihoods make a positive contribution to the social and financial development of the communities with which we trade.”

Having previously been named and shamed for sweatshop-usage, it’s encouraging that there is at least easily accessible information on the matter on their website. Far from innocent, there is at least some progress in the provision of workers’ rights here.

ALTERNATIVE FOR SANDALS: Laidback London – Sandals

“Made the old fashioned way, by hand using traditional techniques while working with natural imperfections to create unique and individual products.

Creating timeless pieces that are made to last and wear better with age.

Each piece is made by hand in Africa and provides sustainable incomes for the workers while preserving their skills and artistry.”

I hope this wasn’t too dull, it’s just a little project that I want to use to encourage research into what we wear. Until the next blog!

Rosie

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Charity Shop Haul!

Hello my lovelies,

I recently watched a documentary called The True Cost – it’s on Netflix, please go watch it – and ever since I have felt that post-harrowing-documentary-compulsion to get up off my privileged butt and try to help the situation, instead of contributing to it. Like most of us I was already aware of the problem, but never really took the time to assess how I can change it. Right now, I am trying.

The situation is this. Fast fashion has become a poisonous force in this world. From the horrific treatment and low pay for garment workers in developing countries, to the pollution of their rivers and soil; the increased price of genetically modified cotton leading to suicides amongst Indian farmers who cannot afford the new costs; the severe health problems that result from increased use of pesticides. To pin this injustice into one singular, tragic event, the documentary focused on the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in April 2013. Garment workers were ordered to show up to work after cracks were discovered in the foundations of the eight-story building. That morning, the entire building collapsed on itself, and 1,129 people were killed, with another 2500 injured escaping. I’m sure you’ve all heard of these events, and the truths that emerged thereafter. That the Plaza was built on a filled-in pond which compromised its structural integrity, especially with the vibrations from heavy machinery and generators within. An additional three floors were built for commercial use beyond the original permit. Poor construction materials were used. All of which surround the lives of underpaid garment workers. Where is the social responsibility here? My work uniform may well have been manufactured by one of these people, who deserve a liveable minimum wage and decent working conditions as much as any of us do.

I won’t delve too far into this on this particular post, as I could go on and on with little progress. This post is a celebration of one of the (tiny) steps we can all take to support our world, and its inhabitants: Charity shops. Now, no fashion producer can be considered entirely ethical, but here is an option readily available to us all, in which we can offer the triple support of contributing to the funding of that particular charity, recycling items of clothing that may have ended up in landfill, AND you are actively saying to the fast fashion industry that you are a strong independent person who don’t need no poisonous garment regime in her life. Well, to a certain extent.

In posting this I am certainly not saying that I am innocent of supporting the fast fashion trade – the other day for instance, I bought a couple of bras from Primark, neither of which offered sufficient support in the end but that’s another story. What I am trying to say is that I am becoming more conscious of how I consume things (consume is such an odd word, there are definite om-nom-nom connotations). Instead of selecting the cheapest item possible, I am starting to think about the work that has gone into this particular item, and what I would be supporting if I purchased it. On a scale of flagrant nonchalance towards fairly traded products and boycotting sales altogether, I want to work towards the more ethical side. I’ve made a list of Fair Trade companies which I keep in my bullet journal, and although I consider a lot of their items quite expensive (well, I would compared to Primark’s prices), they do often have clearances, and their basics are very good investments to supplement the clothes you already own. I’m thinking about starting a series called “How Cruel is My Wardrobe” (inspired by a video by Justkissmyfrog) –  in which I pick my outfit for the day as normal, and then look at the background of the companies behind it, and possible alternative sources. I don’t know, I’m still toying with this idea. But for now, before I head out, here is a fashion haul from a mixture of charity shops that I have gathered over recent months.

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LET’S JUST ADDRESS MY BLATANT LACK OF IRONING WITH A SWIFT “OOPS!”

  1. Turquoise Sun Dress (£5.50) – Forgive me, I cannot remember the name of the charity shop, but it was in Knaresborough – I think it was Cancer Research? The dress itself is lovely, 1950s-style with lovely cut-out detail at the neck. It is a little roomy around the waist but I’ve just added a belt and hey presto, it fits.
  2. Gold Holographic Doc Martens (£25.00) – My sister bought these for me after she spotted them in a charity shop in Leeds. Brand spanking new, and absolutely gorgeous. They go with nothing I have, and yet in an odd way they seem to go with everything!
  3. Navy Polkadot Dress (£3.00) – I found this in Shelter (a homelessness charity). It is a size 16 which is two sizes above my usual, but again, once I’ve belted it up it fits a treat. It’s also some insurance in case I gain some weight!
  4. Yellow Floral Camisole (£1.50) – Again, this was from Shelter. Originally from New Look, it’s such a glorious summery top and I love it.
  5. Red Checked Camisole (50p) – This was from a delightful rack full of 50p tops in Marie Curie. I’ve been wearing it with a black maxi skirt and sandals and feeling very floaty indeed.

So there we have it! My first charity shop haul. It did involve a little snooping around, but it’s worth it to support such a good cause. I realise how preachy this sounds, but if I can encourage you even on the smallest level to reconsider some of your clothing purchases and opt for a more ethical source, then I consider this a solid effort. It does require patience but you can find gorgeous clothing in charity shops, and the prices are always undeniably awesome. And when you wear it, you can think that this item has had a previous life, but so what? Not everything I wear has to be made just for me. The second you take it home and wash it, and it bears the scent of your fabric conditioner, it’s yours. The option is there for you to try.

The Guardian – Ethical Living

Rosie

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