Katie McCallum wrote really popular critiques of both Topshop and H&M so we asked her how we could begin to put our ethical fashion dilemmas to rights. Here are Katie’s top four ways that we can fashion the way forward.
‘Know first who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.’ - Euripides
Number one // Shop ethically
Buying from Fairtrade fashion suppliers ensures responsibly sourced materials as well as the rights of people making our clothes. Lots of UK high street stores have jumped on the ‘organic cotton’ bandwagon, but this still doesn’t ensure fairly-paid and well-treated workers. No Fairtrade logo = no guaranteed living wage.
Left: People Tree Swing dress, bought for £15 from a People Tree sample sale. Right: Fairtrade ‘Love 146′ T-shirt.
Number two // Shop second hand
We’re used to the idea of recycling being good for the environment. We’re taking it more and more seriously when it comes to things like paper, plastics and metals, but what about our clothes? Buying second hand clothes saves precious natural resources and works out cheaper than buying new almost 100% of the time.
Fantastically festive green Christmas jumper bought for £5 in Scope which has turned into a cold day essential.
I picked up this retro tweed jacket from Radio Days Vintage for only £7!
Number three // Upcycle
Upcycling is a great way of remaking an item of clothing that’s a bit worn out and broken, or just boring! Whether you take some scissors to a t-shirt, dye a pair of trousers, or even get the sewing kit out, upcycling is all about getting creative. The fantastic thing about it is that it often doesn’t matter if you mess something up because you probably would’ve chucked the old item of clothing out anyway. There are absolutely loads of blogs out there from people who have devoted themselves to upcycling, with helpful tips and instructions. This one is my favourite.
Despite my wardrobe full of clothes, I felt like I had nothing to wear to my friend’s party. I cut an old Primark vest top into a crop top and used black fabric dye from Wilkinson’s to print little birds all over it.
Continuing the theme of cutting Primark clothes up, check out my pink bow headband, once known as a summer dress.
Number four // Clothes Fast
One of the most powerful ways of reinventing the way we dress is to take a step back and examine our attitude towards fashion. I spent a few months fasting from buying new clothes, and it really took me by surprise how hard I found it. I’d got so used to impulse-buying and kidding myself that I absolutely needed something new to wear. I’ve learned some ugly truths about my attitude towards consumerism; how much it centres around me and my desire to be accepted. But I’ve also stumbled upon some beautiful truths along the way; stories of the fashion industry getting it right with Fairtrade. And people who don’t pay much attention to what they wear, but have clothed themselves with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)