A few years ago, sustainable fashion seemed about as attainable as a Birken bag was for Samantha Jones and about as attractive as a pair of Crocs. Fast fashion was having its moment and H&M's designer collaborations (Alexander Wang, Isabel Marant) were a lot more appealing and wallet friendly than any eco-fashion styles pushed by Emma Watson or Stella McCartney. In recent times the buzz surrounding sustainable fashion has expanded beyond an exclusive group and is making its way into the conversation about the future of fashion. Just last month, fashion alum like Susie Lau (of Style Bubble) and Amber Valletta travelled to Copenhagen to participate in the Copenhagen Fashion Summit that discussed the state of the current industry and what the future of fashion could look like using a sustainable model. In recent months, the conversation surrounding ethical and sustainable fashion has seen a spike in popularity. Magazines like Vogue are starting to take notice and brands like Brother Vellies and Reformation are beginning to get more attention. The most exciting part is that much of this recent spike has been spearheaded by groups of young people who are dedicated to changing our planet, both socially and physically, for the better.
Despite the successes and ambitions of millennials, teenagers and young people are still radically underestimated. We’re thought to be superficial and lacking. Whenever a teen is well spoken and articulate, there is a slew of comments that express surprise. Yet it’s my peers who are at the forefront of trying to change our world for the better—especially when it comes to protecting and restoring our environment.
Up until a few months ago sustainable fashion felt inaccessible to me. I would read articles about how smarter shopping was beneficial for our planet, but I didn’t think there was a way that I could achieve that. Sure, I could buy less pieces from Forever21 and Zara that I would get rid of in two months and instead invest in pieces that lasted longer. I could thrift more and donate old clothes to the sea of thrift stores in my city. But I still felt lost. I wanted to be trendy and well dressed, which seemed impossible if I was also trying to be more ethical in my choices. Stories Behind Things couldn’t have come at a better time. The Instagram account (and soon to be blog!) was created by Ella Grace Denton and Jemma Finch, and orginally focused on spotlighting the uniqueness and creativity of secondhand clothing, and generate a conversation about it. What started out as sharing great stories about someone’s grandmother’s necklace and stylish trousers has now evolved into a platform that encourages conversation about smarter, eco-friendly shopping. While they focus on the greatness of secondhand clothing, they also share brands that have committed to sustainable and ethical production.
In March of this year, the team paired up with the website What’s Your Legacy on a Big Clothing Switch that saw hundreds of people streaming into a warehouse in London and engaging in an event that was not only fun, but also beneficial to our planet’s future health. What’s Your Legacy is a media platform started by Madara Freimane and Ance Rusova and is committed to helping their audience discover brands that are focused on ethical production, as well as changing consumer perspectives about what sustainable fashion looked like. From videos interviewing the owners of ethical brands to beautiful editorials, the team at WYL is making the sustainable fashion conversation a lot of fun. While the surge in the sustainable and ethical fashion conversation may seem like just another spike in an old trend, it feels like there is a true chance that this is it. This is the beginning of a better and cleaner fashion industry. It’s exciting to see a large group of young people who are looking to influence and change the future of fashion into something that’s great for the planet as well.
Written in June 2017