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AT WHAT COST?

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Today, we took a few minutes out with the @fashionnetworker Georgia Fels, who gave us the 101 on what it truly means to take an interest in being a conscious consumer! 

C: Georgia, define for our readers, what the concept of 'ethically produced fashion' actually means.

G: Fashion which has been ethically produced is the product of careful planning and construction. We can assure quality from an ethically produced product, as the end game was never entirely focused on the making of a 'quick profit' by cutting costs wherever possible throughout the supply chain. Ultimately this is more often reflected in the cost to the end consumer.   

An ethically sourced piece of clothing is made with love, often in-house, but at the very least it has been designed and manufactured at it's true cost without leveraging slave labour, unsafe working conditions or inhumane practices of any sort.   

C: So what then, is the definition of sustainable fashion or sustainable practices?  

G: Whilst 'ethically produced fashion' generally relates to the supply chain, the concept of sustainable fashion refers to the greater impact on the environment. To produce sustainable fashion means to consider an environmentally-conscious long-term strategy for producing quality pieces that wont heavily damage the earth in the long term.

Thankfully, more and more brands [and consumers] are realising the positive socio-economic benefits sustainable fashion and sustainable practices have on the environment. A piece of clothing is generally considered sustainable when it is made with natural fibres (for example wool or organic cotton). Additional to this, when a piece is well made or trans-seasonal, we not only get more wear out of these pieces, but they often retain their value enabling them to be given a second life once we decide we no longer are able to provide them the love they deserve. 

C: For those of us who are still not convinced it's worthwhile to stop and think about what we are buying, who from and why... Why does any of this even matter? 

G: There are ramification to the environment if we all remain 'unconscious consumers'. Knowing that the fashion industry is the second biggest contributor to pollution in the world (behind oil), it makes for a scary thought. With 'fast fashion' brands tempting us to splurge on quick-to-market trends at very affordable price points, the cycle is enabled to continue to turn.

Whilst I do not think that it's always entirely wrong to buy synthetic pieces here and there if you think that you are going to get the wear out of them, it's definitely time we stop and consider our choices prior to purchase. 

The real problem resides in clothing made from synthetic fibres and toxic dyes. These man-made chemically soaked pieces are not biodegradable, meaning they can take decades to decay, rotting in landfills, creating methane gas and subsequently warming our planet.

Ironic as it is, an industry as glamorous as fashion has the ugly potential to damage our planet. 

C: What are the top three thing we can do to simply improve our habits? 

G: The number one thing is to know what you are buying and ensure it aligns with your individual values. Consider shopping pre-loved. Alternatively, buy new pieces that are made well and will retain their value.

Secondly, (and this is one that I am definitely guilty of myself), is to stop the continuous regular spending on new items of clothing and accessories, in some cases every week, simply because they're cheap, trendy, or because we can. You know, the items that end up sitting in our wardrobes, tags attached, not getting the love and wear they would if they were a little more versatile and considered. 

Lastly, I think it is important to demonstrate your individual fashion values through the pieces you choose to wear. It is impossible to be 100% sustainable. You have to choose what's right for you.

Clare Press, Sustainability Editor for Vogue Australia makes an excellent point of this in one of her most recent articles on why Asos has banned mohair, cashmere and silk. Clare notes how Stella McCartney [as a vegan] leads the way for producing collections that are authentically in line with her ethics and values. But if you're not a vegan, per se, do you truly view animal bi-products such as silk, fur and leather goods as morally wrong? 

This is an endless debate, to which I stress the importance in doing our homework, researching the pros and cons, know your values and dress accordingly. 

- GEORGIA FELS

Georgia is a freelance fashion writer, digital content creator and designer fashion lover from Perth. A collector of vintage fashion magazines, Georgia is drawn to the historical roots of designer clothing and the luxury fashion market, whilst endlessly inspired by the ever-changing industry, modern developments in technology and new innovations in sustainable business practices.

Away from VFCA, Georgia runs a fashion-networking business, @fashionnetworker – promoting local events, job opportunities and sharing insider advice to support and inspire a community of like-minded fashion enthusiasts throughout Australia.  Connect with Georgia via Instagram: @gfels_

Photo by Brunel Johnson on Unsplash

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