Is High Fashion Slow Fashion?

Those who know me know just how much I adore Alexa Chung’s style. A mix of band t-shirts, 60’s mod, English eccentric, scruffy hair, pumps, satchels and high waisted jeans.

So today when she launched her very own fashion label I was eager to see what was on offer.

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I headed to the website and what I found was a great selection of clothes, shoes and accessories but at ridiculously high prices… And this made me think about the ethics and transparency behind high fashion labels. They charge the earth, but why, is it merely because of a brand name? OR Does the garment truly cost that much? Are the cotton farmers, factory workers, shipping merchants, leather dyers paid a fair wage? Given good working conditions? Are the materials extremely good quality? Grown organically? Sourced locally? Rare? Handmade? Do they even know who their suppliers are? Where they are? What conditions they are working in?

Much of the ethical focus is on those fast fashion brands (Primark, H&M, ASOS, Boohoo etc.) because they are cheap and mass produced. Many investigations have been carried out and widely published in the media. However high fashion brands seem to have been left untouched and unscathed.

Is high fashion slow fashion?

I decided to send an email. Within 15 minutes I had a response:

“We understand your concerns. All factories had been visited and approved by our team.

We are also part of the UN Global Compact Program. 

We are happy to make fashion and to make it right as fair as we can.

Here is the link to UN Global Compact website if you want to learn more about it.

This response was a good first step, it shows they believe in making fashion fairly, but it merely just generated more questions. “Where are your factories? What did you find on your visits? How did the workers seem? What about the farmers? Where did the materials come from?”… So I will keep pestering until I get those answers.

But I am only one person. The only way we can get brands to own up and be transparent about where their clothes come from, the only way we can then get brands to ensure where their clothes come from is fair is by all of us asking those questions before we buy. If we keep asking brands the questions and not buying from them until they answer those questions well, they will be forced to ensure their clothes are made ethically.

Petals, keep on asking #whomademyclothes xxx

The Beauty of Simplicity

About a week ago I was well excited to receive my first ever monthly delivery from The Natural Beauty Box.

The Natural Beauty Box is a monthly subscription box of natural, vegan and cruelty-free skincare and beauty products. It’s a great way to try out new things and discover different brands.

Box subscription is only £24.95 per month (which is a bargain as boxes have an actual value of £50) and for every box sold there is a 50p charity donation. Also, with my promo code “BELLA3” you can get £3 off your very own subscription.

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May’s box “the beauty of simplicity” contains six super products which I’ve tried and tested over the past week.

Balm Balm Coconut Cleanser

INGREDIENTS: ORGANIC COCONUT OIL

I’m already a lover of coconut oil and have found this spray cleanser is great for a deep facial cleanse and to remove eye make up. To use it as an eye make up remover all you have to do is spray a couple of squirts into the palms of your hand, rub onto your closed eyes and let it soak for 30 seconds. Then use a warm, wet cotton pad or muslin cloth and the make up just slides off. Unlike other eye make up removers using coconut oil does not sting and leaves the eye area nice and moisturised.

Balm Balm Little Miracle Rosehip Serum

INGREDIENTS: ALL ORGANIC – ROSEHIP, JOJOBA, BORAGE, FRANKINCENSE, ROSE GERANIUM, PALMAROSA, JUNIPER BERRY, MANDARIN

This serum smells amazing, just look at the ingredients, is there really any wonder?! I’ve been using a couple of drops of this every other night before bed on my face. It’s a little oily, so maybe not great for people with oily skin, but after a few days of sunshine the past week this deep moisturising serum has been perfect.

Alchemy Oils Grapefruit Hair Remedy

INGREDIENTS: ORGANIC CASTOIR OIL, COCONUT OIL, ORGANIC AVOCADO OIL, SWEET ALMOND OIL, GRAPEFRUIT WHITE ESSENTIAL OIL

Again, like the serum, this smells great. Fruity and fresh. I’ve only used this once as my hair tends to get greasy with too much product, but it was a lovely treatment. Using a couple of drops to massage into the scalp and through to the ends, then leave in over night. The next day my hair didn’t just feel in better condition but also cleaner.

Kathy Sue-Ann’s Organic Lip Scrub

INGREDIENTS: ORGANIC PALM SUGAR, COCONUT OIL, SWEET ALMOND OIL, VITAMIN E

This little pot is brilliant. Not only does it really work on removing dry skin from lips, but the little pot will last forever as all you need is a tiny dab to do the job. Basically all you do is get a smidgen of it onto your finger and massage onto your lips for about a minute, wash it off and put on some lip balm. Super soft.

Skin Elixir Frankincense and May Chang Moisturiser

INGREDIENTS: ALL ORGANIC – SWEET ALMOND OIL, SHEA BUTTER, BLACK SEED, FRANKINCENSE, MAY CHANG, VITAMIN E

I’ve been alternating this moisturiser with the rosehip serum on an evening as a face cream, but it can also be used on your hands and body. It smells exotic and a little goes a long way. You wake up with your skin feeling totally refreshed.

Indigenous Beauty Uplifting Natural Deodorant Cream

INGREDIENTS: BICARBONATE OF SODA, ARROWROOT, COCONUT OIL, SHEA BUTTER, VITAMIN E

I’m not yet fully convinced on natural deodorant. I do a fair bit of sports and with hotter weather on it’s way I’m not entirely confident that it works. I feel I need to be able to do some more research into natural deodorants to be able to form an opinion on this product. Possibly a future blog post on the horizon…

If you’re thinking of transitioning your beauty regime to more natural and ethical products then The Natural Beauty Box is a great way to start (don’t forget with my promo code “BELLA3” you can get £3 off your very own subscription).

Personally I’m already looking forward to the June delivery, thanks TNBB! x

What is a Flexitarian?

At the start of the year I took part in Veganuary. Then for Lent I gave up meat.

I enjoyed being veggie so much that I extended my non-meat eating period until a weekend in Berlin where lots of beer weakened my resistance to currywurst (oops). Since then I have only been eating meat on the odd occasion.

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It turns out eating meat ‘on the odd occasion’ is actually a thing. It’s called flexitarianism.

Described as vegetarians with benefits, flexitarians are people whose diet is mostly vegetarian but sometimes includes meat. Many vegetarians and vegans consider flexitarianism as cheating, but research shows that the diet just might be one of the best ways to reduce environmental impact and improve health.

Mostly my diet contains no meat but I now allow myself an exception if I really fancy some when I’m eating out or I know that it is good quality.

For example last week I was working in London. On Tuesday evening I had Moroccan food, lots of tasty veggie mezze at Oasis in East Finchley. Then on Wednesday I went to Flat Iron in Soho for one of their famous steaks because I knew it was going to be a) good quality b) ethically sourced from their own herd in Yorkshire and b) absolutely delicious!

Personally I think giving this way of eating a title is abit silly. I can however vouch that having this type of diet certainly comes with benefits.

Benefits of being flexitarian:

  • Less meat = less cost – meaning more money left to spend on good quality meat when you fancy it instead of processed or chemically enhanced
  • Improved health – it’s a win-win as you still get the protein that comes from eating meat occasionally but also have the nutritional benefits from a plant based diet
  • Reduced environmental impact – livestock requires more food, water, land and energy to grow and transport than plants

Next week I’ll post some of my favourite  veggie recipes for you to try. But for now, I’m off work and heading out into the sunshine to kick start my bank holiday weekend with a delicious brekkie from The Farm in Harrogate.

Have a gooden! x

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Asquith – Yoga

I usually do yoga at my local leisure centre and recently they’ve added some extra sessions of piyo and pilates which I can’t wait to get stuck into.

I’ve also started going to an outdoor yoga session which is held at Whistlewood Common (a community-owned area of land in my parent’s town) one Friday a month. Typical UK style – this month’s session was held inside a yurt because of the rain…

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For yoga I used to wear old leggings and a scruffy t-shirt, but since I’m doing it more and I’m getting slightly better at it, I decided to invest in some proper gear and headed to Asquith.  They specify in yoga clothing made from bamboo and organic cotton at a family run factory in Turkey.

Bamboo is a sustainable and environmentally low-impact fabric, it grows faster and absorbs more carbon dioxide than hardwood trees (always a positive!). It is ideal for activewear as it is naturally anti-bacterial and breathable.

All Asquith’s fabrics are Oeko-Tex certified which means they have a low carbon footprint and biodegradable fibres. Their cotton is also GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) certified meaning it is ethically grown, chemical free and responsibly manufactured. It keeps it shape, doesn’t fade, bobble or stretch unlike other activewears.

This morning I wore my new clobber to a Sunday session at the leisure centre. As soon as I put them on they felt much more suitable to yoga than what I was previously wearing. They felt like a second skin, gentle and breathable. I might not yet be able to do ‘floating lizard’, but at least I look the part!

Even if you aren’t a yoga/pilates/piyo goer I’d recommend these clothes for loungewear. Proof – I’ve still got mine on now 4 hours after my session this morning!

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Bring Back the Bees – Burt’s Bees

Since the late 1990s, beekeepers around the world have observed a dramatic decline in bees.

Bees make more than honey. They are key to food production because they pollinate crops, a third of the food that we eat depends on pollinating insects.

The main reasons for global bee decline:

  • loss of biodiversity and destruction of habitats
  • increase in pesticides and insecticides
  • climate change

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Burt’s Bees, along with making delicious lipsticks, are dedicated to help prevent the bee decline by donating 10% of all purchases to the British Beekeepers Association. On top of this at the moment they have a limited edition lip balm. Where every balm bought, 5,000 bee friendly wildflower seeds are planted.

The balm is coconut and pear flavour made from beeswax and shea butter. I’ve always been a fan of Burt’s Bees, and this one might actually be a new favourite.

At £3.99, go grab one! #bringbackthebees

World Fairtrade Day – Honeystreet Handmade

As it is World Fairtrade Day I thought I’d write about Honeystreet Handmade who make beauty products in the Wiltshire countryside using Fairtrade Olive Oil, Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter and Apricot Kernel Oil.

A few weeks ago I ordered their Sunshine Body Scrub and Butter.

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INGREDIENTS: Shea Butter, Grape Seed Oil, Kernel Oil, Corn Silk, Orange Peel Oil, Lemon Peel Oil, Grapefruit Peel Oil, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Citral, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool – 56% are Fairtrade

The body butter has a mousse like texture and at first seems really difficult to apply and rub in. But once you get used to it and realise that it is not like a normal moisturiser it’s great. Within days my skin felt hydrated. What I also like is that the butter doesn’t have an overpowering scent, once on the skin it just smells very clean and fresh.

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INGREDIENTS: Sucrose, Sodium Chloride, Dead Sea Salt, Grape Seed Oil, Kernel Oil, Olive Oil, Orange Peel Oil, Lemongrass Essential Oil, Lemon Peel Oil, Grapefruit Peel Oil, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Citral, Citronellol, Eugenol, Geranol, Limonene, Linalool – 47% are Fairtrade

Again, the body scrub at first is difficult to use. It is made with natural dead sea salt, as soon as the scrub hits water it begins to dissolve. I found the best way to apply this is using an exfoliating glove. Using it this way it definitely brings results. My skin is lovely and smooth after using it. Like the butter it smells fresh and clean, slightly citrusy, not overpowering.

Honeystreet have a wide variety of ‘flavours’ for their body butters and scrubs. They also make soaps, bath bombs and massage oils. All products are individually handmade in small batches. None of the products contain parabens, sulphates, petrochemicals, palm oil or artificial colours and fragrances. All products or raw materials have not been tested on animals, just friends and family.

Ticking all the boxes? Hold on there’s more…

Their packaging is eco-friendly and recyclable. Their paper is handmade from recycled cotton and hand screen printed in a Fairtrade unit in India. The plastic bottles and jars are PET and are fully recyclable.

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Today is World Fairtrade Day. Why don’t you head out today and try something new that holds the Fairtrade mark (coffee, shampoo, bananas, lip balm, chocolate…) and help support the development of farmers and their working communities by giving them a fair price and better working conditions. Be an #agentforchange!

Beautiful Bank Holiday in Berlin

This time last week I was begrudgingly returning to work following a long weekend in Berlin (which now seems a lifetime ago). Having visited the city just last March, this trip’s aim was to practice our German ‘skills’, see the sights we didn’t manage to see last time and to experience some of the cool suburbs Berlin has to offer.

Whilst there we racked up a daily average of 27,000 steps. But do not fear, the calories burnt were soon topped up with booze and food.

Friday night after lots of German beer in Neukölln we headed to the Quasimodo jazz club in Charlottenburg to see Alexandra Savior perform. She was good, but as often happens didn’t even play our favourite song Shades!

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Saturday was spent mooching round the many vintage and independent shops. My will power somehow miraculously kicked in stopping me from spending a fortune on a beautiful handmade belt from Hoffnung or on a new pair of brogues from Zeha. That evening we hit Torstraße, having a different gin in each place and returning to our favourite smoky cocktail bar – Neue Odessa.

Berlin has a huge hipster scene. After watching a Rick Stein programme earlier in the year where he visited Berlin and called every cool place he entered ‘noir’, we also began calling these hipsters ‘noir’ and created a ‘noir scale’.

Sunday morning we ticked off the Reichstag from the tourist list. We’d booked to do this tour of the German parliament buildings last time but were too hungover to turn up. That was silly of us because I definitely recommend doing it, the views are amazing and you get a great overview of Berlin’s history, so make sure to pre-book before your visit and pick up the audio guide. Final pointer on this… it is FREE!

For lunch we headed to Kreuzberg for a famous Burgermeister and then crossed the Spree to the East Side Gallery to look at the graffiti and umpteen selfies being taken on the Berliner Mauer (wall).

On our way back to the hotel I was determined to find a Photoautomat machine just like Richard Ayoade in Travel Man. Nearly making the full journey back to Alexanderplatz and not finding a machine we decided to follow a ‘noir’ looking fellow to see what cool place he was heading to. This ‘noir’ chap all of a sudden dipped off the path under some old bits of wood, so we followed. On the other side of the wood stood what I’d been looking for, a Photoautomat machine! There was also a mini beach, fire pit, food huts, a bar and Bob Dylan blasting from the speakers. Holzmarkt was an amazing find.

Berlin, once again you were a blast. See you next year! x