Category Archives: International Fashion

Good On You: Fashion Assistant

It’s time to make feeling guilty about your fashion choices a thing of the past. Discover brands that do good by the planet and its inhabitants with Good On You.

Image: Instagram

Good On You is a free app that rates fashion brands on how ethically they make their clothes. With a 4.8 out of 5 rating on the Apple App Store, being ethically conscious in your fashion decisions has never been easier. Over 1,000 brands have been rated since its launch in 2015, including household names like Nike and Zara.

The app began with the realisation that consumers wanted to make better choices when purchasing but didn’t have the information on hand to make those better choices. It was established by non-profit organisation Ethical Consumers Australia and rates companies on a scale of one to five, with five being the most ethically conscious.

Image: Good On You

Good On You generates its ratings by analysing all public information from over 50 certification schemes in order to bring transparency from brands to their consumers. Users of the app can browse by names of brands, product categories, even by ethical issue (e.g. vegan, fair trade, country made, etc). When a brand is searched, Good On You will recommend alternative brands that are similar in style and price but carry a higher ethical rating.

Information doesn’t just flow from app to user either; suggestions and questions are encouraged to be sent in so that improvements can be made to make ethical shopping an easier experience. Users can recommend brands for Good On You to rate, too.

Image: Instagram

Good On You empowers brands that are committed to creating a sustainable fashion industry. If you want to start buying smarter and greener, look no further. Download the app now, available on iOS and Android.

 

Written by: Celina Foong

Find Good On You here.

 

Cultural Appropriation: The Do’s, Dont’s and Definitions

If you’ve been keeping up with all the fashion madness over the last few years you’re bound to have heard the term ‘cultural appropriation’. You might have seen pictures from Coachella with influencers sporting dreadlocks and cornrows, liked and commented on their posts, and not realised the consequences. Wherever you look, it’s basically a topic that has everyone split which is hard to ignore. No one really seems to fully understand it—big time fashion designers, celebrities and even us average Joes.

Cultural appropriation is defined as ‘the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect their culture’. And while that seems simple enough, in our social media globalised society, the lines between trying to be ‘on trend’ and something that is obviously offensive can be blurry.

Image: Joel Ryan/ Invision/ AP

In recent years, there have been numerous high-profile cases of well-known and respected brands in the industry getting it, well, wrong. Early this year, Gucci was criticised for styling turbans on their models who were not Seik. Many ethnicities declared the move as a huge sign of disrespect, stating that the turban is a symbol of faith and not an accessory. A similar controversy came about back in 2016 after Marc Jacobs used dreadlocks on mainly white models, where the designer stated: “To all who cry cultural appropriation or whatever nonsense about any race or skin colour wearing their hair in any particular style or manner- funny how you don’t criticise women of colour for straightening their hair”. He did later apologise for the debacle and statement he issued realising just how big the issue actually was in the world.

Image: Backgrid

In terms of trends, costumes and fashion, cultural appropriation makes certain styles seem cool and edgy for some, but too ethnic for people for others. Standards of professionalism in many business places actually ban African American women from wearing their natural hair in cornrows, dreadlocks or an afro, making them chose between appearing as they naturally would (as people suggest), or succeeding in their workplace. But influencers such as Kylie Jenner, are somehow praised when they choose to wear cornrows or dreadlocks. This doesn’t sound so fair does it?

The world shared a collective gasp when it was revealed what exactly Chanel’s newest item was a $2000 boomerang featuring their signature logo. People immediately saw the issue with the disgusting appropriation of Aboriginal culture. An Indigenous project officer, Nathan Sentence, of the Australian Museum spoke out about the issue, pointing out that the $2000 boomerang cost almost 10% of the average annual income of Indigenous Australians. Regardless, what can be described as worldwide outrage, the boomerang remained on their website listed under ‘Other Accessories’ amongst Chanel tennis racquets and surfboards.

Image: Twitter

Celebrities have the fan base and influence to really make a change with this growing issue. Some who rely heavily on their fanbases, often do apologise for ignorantly flashing dreadlocks or native headdresses as fashion, and some do the opposite of the right thing. One of them being Jeffree Star, who proudly shared on Instagram him playing, holding, throwing and hoping his ‘other accessory’ would return to him as advertised. As Chanel went on and operated their brand unaffected by the backlash, designers often do go on unscathed, seemingly existing above this level of scrutiny, to only later issuing a simple, sentence, eyeroll apology over social media.

It’s important to pay homage to artistry and ideas, and ultimately acknowledge their origins. Cultural appropriation was at the heart of Met Gala in 2015 when the announced theme was “China: Through the Looking Glass”. This extravagant event for the fashion industry where many expected to be a bombarding overflow for accidental racism. Instead the red carpet showcased some of the most admirable examples of cultural appropriation done right. Rihanna navigated the theme with her bold robe by Guo Pei, a Beijing-based Chinese couturier. The ‘imperial yellow’ worn was a shade reserved for the emperors of ancient Chinese dynasties.

Image: Getty

It’s a minefield out there on whether you are respecting or ripping off a culture but just know that it would be wrong to say that engaging with other people’s cultures is always out of line. There is always a time and a place. Henna has been problematic but getting it done at a special event where you are surrounded by people of the culture, you’re using it as a means to relate them in that environment where nobody can make profit off you wearing or flaunting it. This is appreciating someone’s culture, not mimicking it at Coachella. Angelina Jolie is always visting Pakistan to support the communities, where she is surrounded by women in hijabs, so wearing one herself as a means to fit in and show respect toward the culture.  Being in the appropriate environment, refusing to participate in known traditions can be shown as disrespect and insulting.

The tip to positively reflect cultural appropriation, like Rhi-Rhi did so elegantly at the Met, is to treat a cultural exchange like any other creative collaboration — you must give credit and consider royalties.

 

Written by: Darcey Weaven

References:
https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/cultural-appropriation-appreciation-difference-meaning-fashion-examples-chinese-prom-dress-a8332176.html
https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/10/the-dos-and-donts-of-cultural-appropriation/411292/
https://fashionista.com/2015/12/cultural-appropriation-in-2015

Grow Your Own Wardrobe: How Science Is Brewing Up New Looks

Ever walked past a fabric store and felt inspired to make your own clothes, to reject the destructive industry of fast fashion and become the next Project Runway superstar? Only to feel the inspo quickly fade when you remember that making clothes takes a whole bunch of time, money and probable swearing?

If only beautiful, conscious clothes grew on trees, right? Well, according to designer Suzanne Lee, home-grown (literally) clothes may soon be a reality. And all you need is a little green tea and sugar. Oh, and some bacteria.

Image: Hands Across The Sea Samplers

That’s right, everyone’s favourite trendy health-drink, kombucha, is now leading the charge of bio-fashion technology. The source of the magic is the slightly disturbing ‘scoby’, the gelatinous blob which is a byproduct of the kombucha brewing process. When dried out and rolled, this creates a unique transparent material, which Lee then turns into structured jackets and ethereal looking shirts. “It’s like a flexible vegetable leather” says Lee in her TED Talk on the process. “You can sew it conventionally or form it around a three-dimensional shape”.

The material is not without its downsides, however. For one, the results may be a little unnerving for some. “I guess it looks a little like human skin, which intrigues me” laughs Lee. The textile is also super water-absorbent, so your cool beverage-based bomber may not fare so well in the rain.

Image: Hands Across The Sea Samplers

However, while scoby-based fabric may not be viable for use outside of haute couture just yet, it represents a promising future for science-based fashion. Lee says that biological technologies currently being explored to ‘program’ bacteria to heal wounds or grow replacement bone tissue, could someday be used in textile manufacturing. “I’m not suggesting microbial cellulose is going to be a replacement for cotton, leather or other textile materials, but I do think it could be quite a smart and sustainable addition to our precious natural resources.” She notes.

Image: Hands Across The Sea Samplers

If you’re intrigued by the idea of growing fabrics from stuff found in your fridge, the possibilities don’t end with kombucha. If you can bear to waste good wine, there’s even the possibility of using a nice Merlot to make your next party outfit. The delicate fabric, produced by fermenting the drink in a similar process to kombucha, retains the rich colour of the wine (and the rich scent!).

On the less appetizing end of the spectrum, spoiled milk is also being used to develop new bio-textiles. That funky smell you get when you leave your milk on the counter just a little too long? It actually signals the presence of a special protein which forms unique fibres.


Image: I, Science

The velvety texture of milk translates really well into the fabric, according to inventor Anke Domaske, who believes it could one day be a cheaper alternative to silk. “Milk is underrated because people only view it as a food-stuff. But you can make a lot more from it – milk is a wonderful, natural raw material.” She comments.

With advances in microbiology coming in leaps and bounds, it may not be long until we start seeing this ‘fermented fashion’ make its way onto the high street. With biodegradable clothes grown from scratch, wastage and clothing landfill could soon be a thing of the past. In the meantime, prepare to start seeing your favourite drinks in a new light!

Thirsty, anyone?

 

Written by: Kate Nightingale

Sources:
https://www.thekitchn.com/you-can-make-clothes-out-of-your-kombucha-scoby-214887
https://www.trustedclothes.com/blog/2016/05/18/the-future-of-sustainable-textiles/

H&M: Planet or Profit Conscious?

Old candlesticks and sea-worn rope fishing nets may not instantly inspire thoughts of glamorous high fashion, but according to Ann-Sofie Johansson, creative advisor at H&M, they represent a new way forward for the industry.

“The way the materials feature in our Conscious Exclusive collection shows how the latest technology can be incorporated with time-honoured techniques for spectacular results.” Johansson says of the fast-fashion giant’s newest ‘eco-positive’ undertaking.

Inspired by the early 20th century Arts and Craft movement, the 2018 Conscious Exclusive collection features rich emeralds, dusky blues and neutral tones, showcasing the unusual recycled materials.

Image: H&M

The Conscious Exclusive line was spawned several years ago when the company recognised growing social pressure to change their unsustainable practices. “Our size, scale and influence mean we have both a responsibility to do the right thing and an opportunity to create real lasting change.” acknowledges Anna Gedda, the head of sustainability.

Recycling-focused Conscious Exclusive was their solution. Now on their seventh collection, the line has garnered a sizeable following with celebs and eco-minded customers.

The move was met with such a success, in fact, that the company announced in December a brand new progressive range, lauded by designer Petra Smeds as ‘the way forward’ for fashion.
The big innovation? Activewear, made -wait for it- from recycled materials. And of course, we can’t forget H&M’s October sustainability initiative “Close The Loop”: cutting edge, state of the art denim looks… made from recycled materials.

Image: H&M

To quote The Devil Wears Prada: groundbreaking.

It seems H&M have found a niche that ticks all the boxes in moving away from their damaging ‘ruthless fast-fashion mill’ image. But is this really the revolution they claim it to be? The prices in the ‘exquisite, premium’ Conscious line, as H&M’s website describes it, are drastically higher from the stores usual offerings — on average retailing around $200-$400AUD. Meanwhile, a run-of-the-mill, non-‘eco’ t-shirt will still only set you back little more than $5.

When we look past the novelty factor of clothes made from fishing nets, it begs the question: what is being done to address the very real and very unsustainable production practices that enable such appealing low prices?

H&M defends its use of developing countries for production, arguing the company is ‘supporting’ growth through ‘mutually prosperous partnerships’. Furthermore, H&M attests that “We only allow our products to be manufactured by suppliers and factories that commit to our values and sign our strict code of conduct”.

Image: H&M

However, H&M concedes that suppliers have often broken their ‘strict code of conduct’ in the past. A Cambodian production factory rated ‘Gold’ standard by H&M revealed 8000 of their workers had collapsed of malnutrition since 2010. Most recently, the brand made news in February when an exposé alleged a major supplier to H&M used Chinese prisoners as labour to make packaging for the brand, paying them just $19USD a month. Meanwhile, the same amount could buy Aussie customers a nice H&M top.

Not only are at-risk workers losing out in this race for volume, but so is the planet. H&M proudly boasts it has been certified as the world’s No.1 user of organic cotton; a fact that distracts from the reality that H&M is one of the biggest consumers of cotton, period. Cotton crops, organic or not, require colossal amounts of water and energy in their production: it takes 20,000 litres to produce enough cotton for a single t-shirt.

Image: H&M

H&M’s intentions seem undeniably noble, taking measures toward production transparency and conscientiousness far beyond those of their fast-fashion competitors. However, the issue lies in mass fashion retailers’ driving motivation: ‘quantity, quantity, quantity’.

Whilst this remains the ethos of these brands, sustainability will never be achievable, and author of To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? Lucy Siegle advises we take so-called “green or ethical collections” with a pinch of salt.

“The biggest of the fast fashion brands are keen to show us that they are not just cleaning up but leading the charge. But behind the scenes the business model remains intact, predicated on producing ever-increasing volumes at lower prices and faster speeds.” She says.

Image: H&M

It may seem as though all hope is lost for a sustainable future for the industry as long as the appeal of trendy, cheap fashion reigns supreme. But Siegle has one solution for budget-conscious consumers who can’t afford the eco-friendly boutiques but still want to make a difference. “Buy fast fashion for slow reasons.” She implores; “Keep [it] in your wardrobe for as long as possible and commit to wearing until it’s fit for dusters”.

So next time you feel tempted by that $5 shirt destined to be thrown out in your next spring clean, or are drawn to that magic green sticker that makes you look great AND feel good, stop and think: what’s the real cost here?

 

Written by: Kate Nightingale

Sources:
http://money.cnn.com/2018/02/22/news/companies/hm-3m-ca-china-prison-labor-allegations/index.html
http://www.businessinsider.com/hm-vows-to-improve-working-conditions-in-its-factories-in-cambodia-and-india-2016-5?IR=T
https://www.vogue.com.au/fashion/trends/how-your-fast-fashion-habit-is-harming-more-than-the-earth/news-story/b67985de72be083a05570255ee8bdc2c
https://www.vogue.com.au/gamechangers/Fashion-and-Culture/hm-are-set-to-launch-their-latest-sustainable-conscious-exclusive-collection/news-story/9bf78e608fe81a61dffee840b523073b
https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/cotton
http://about.hm.com/en/sustainability.html

Tom Ford Goes Vegan And The Fashion World Gets Better

We are no strangers to veganism – from our colourful Instagram feeds, to the trendy cafés popping up all over the place, even to our close friends ditching meat and animal by-products, one thing is clear: veganism has taken the world by storm. Celebrities and ambassadors alike have advocated for the positive health and environmental benefits of this plant-based diet. But how has this movement changed the fashion industry?

Tom Ford, founder of the eponymous multi-million fashion label, is one example of how this trend is influencing the way high fashion is being produced. Always mindful of his health, Ford says he was inspired to take the leap and become vegan after watching the documentary What The Health. “I’ve been vegan for about the last year. When you look at how most of our meat, our animal products, are raised, from a health standpoint, I didn’t feel that I should eat those things anymore.”

Image: Landon Nordeman

Although initially health-related, Ford says that since going vegan, he has become more conscious of the unethical use of animal products in fashion. It goes without mention that the fur controversy is heading this debate, and Ford is proud to be limiting the use of fur in his collections, embracing faux fur and clothing pieces made from food by-products instead. “That means cowhide, it means shearling, it means not doing fur that is raised purely for its pelt…whether I’m consuming meat or not, other people are, so these are things that are collected.”

Image: Alessandro Garofalo

But is using faux fur instead of real fur a change for the better? The production of faux fur itself is an unsustainable practice, as most fake fur is produced with petroleum, a non-renewable resource. Creating synthetic fibres to imitate fur also requires chemical reactions which release toxic substances into the environment, and so many designers are torn between the unethical practice of using real fur, and the unsustainability of faux fur. Ford himself is ambivalent regarding this topic, “I’m also very torn about this because fake fur is terrible for the environment. People think of fake fur as a disposable thing. They buy it, they wear it a few seasons, they throw it away, it doesn’t biodegrade. It’s a petroleum product. It is highly toxic. And then, you could argue that tanning leather is a highly toxic process. A fur coat gets recycled. People wear them for 30 years, they give them to their kids, then they turn them into throw pillows. So I don’t know the answer to that.”

Image: Landon Nordeman

This uncertainty in which course to take is by no means a harmless one. Ford recounts the time when a woman at an event was so distraught by the use of fur in his collections that she poured tomato juice over him in protest. Although a frightening experience, it did not convince him to ban fur from his label. He goes on to explain how many customers are loyal to the brand because of its fur and leather pieces, and how it is ultimately a difficult decision to make for the business.

Image: Yannis Vlamos

So, has veganism saved the day? We don’t know for sure, but it has definitely made heads turn and minds think about the future of the fashion industry. Even though progress is slow, we are for sure heading towards a more sustainable future. Let’s hope we will soon be saying goodbye to fur and leather, for good!

 

Written by: Tiffany Ko

Sources:
http://www.latimes.com/fashion/la-ig-wwd-vegan-tom-ford-20180206-story.html
https://www.wmagazine.com/story/tom-ford-vegan-fur
http://www.truthaboutfur.com/en/questions-answers-about-fur

A Fashion Reformation

Making waves in LA, Reformation is the new go-to label of fashion’s best and brightest. With minimalist staple pieces and luxe basics, it’s been snapped adorning the likes of Margot Robbie and Emily Ratajowski. But this isn’t your average trend alert. The brand, established in 2009, has a mission. Conscious, persistent fashion made for real people, by real people.

Image: Fashionisers

“Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. We’re #2,” the brand’s website boldly quips. So you might be surprised to hear that Reformation is, by definition and self-professedly, fast fashion.

“The prevailing sustainable platform—‘Buy less, use less’— isn’t a scalable strategy,” explains the label’s founder Yeal Aflalo. “You buy clothes because you really want them. The sustainability part is for us to figure out.” And they have. Reformation chases sustainability across the board, from recycled hangers in their stores to paying their workforce to use public transport instead of cars. Employees shouldn’t expect a sad cupcake on their birthday, with the company instead planting a tree in their name to commemorate the occasion. All whilst releasing new collections weekly.

Image: Observer

It almost sounds too good to be true- in a world of “green” and “eco” buzzwords, it can be hard to assess the true extent of a brand’s impact. This is where Reformation put their money where their mouth is.

Their online ‘RefScale’ feature tracks their environmental footprint on every article of clothing, adding up the pounds of carbon dioxide emitted, gallons of water used, and pounds of waste generated. When compared against the average article of clothing, the impact is startling.

Image: Eluxe Magazine 

With such extreme scrupulousness, Reformation is definitely a labour of love for Aflalo. However, she remains driven by her frustration at the inaccessibility of many sustainable clothes. “First and foremost, we’re trying to make great clothes that everyone will love, which also happen to be sustainable.” She says, “At the time [Reformation was founded], there weren’t many other brands who were making sustainable clothes that I would actually want to wear, so I created Reformation to fill this void at the intersection of design and sustainability.” 

Image: Fashionisers

However, the brand is so much more than just ‘cool and green’. Reformation consistently pursues body positivity- a rare find for a Hollywood label of such celeb status. Designs are released in capsule collections, each with different bodies in mind, with a recent a petites collection designed for ladies 5’2 and under, as well as a collection specially designed to fit women with a full C-DD cup. The brand has now gone even further in their push for social change by announcing more inclusive sizing, ranging from US size 0-22.

Image: Culture Map Dallas 

Aflalo hopes Reformation will be they first of many labels to adopt progressive social and environmental attitudes. “The industry will have to change given resource constraints and other environmental and social constraints,” she says. “I think the question is more “when” – when will big brand leaders respond proactively, or will they wait until it’s a matter of compliance. We’re really excited about the future of sustainability and the technology that comes along with it.”

 

Written by: Kate Nightingale

Find Reformation here

Sources:
https://www.vogue.com/article/reformation-eco-fashion-ethical-label
http://www.buro247.com.au/fashion/insiders/how-yael-aflalo-turned-reformation-into-an-it-girl.html
https://www.thereformation.com/pages/sustainable-practices