Turtle Doves: recycled cashmere

Turtle Doves is a British brand that buys woollen items from charity shops and turns them into new products. This is great for so many reasons and their story of success is inspiring. Turtle Doves started very small but now employs over 20 people, including ex-Laura Ashley seamstresses whose jobs disappeared when production was moved to the Far East.

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I suffer really badly with cold hands (cheers Raynaurd’s disease) and a few months ago my Mam surprised me with some Turtle Doves finger-less gloves (rhymes!). Considering they are finger-less they amazingly cure ‘white finger’.

 

Turtle Doves don’t just make finger-less gloves, they do all sorts of top quality, cosy and ethical products. It’s getting colder every day and Christmas is looming closer and closer, Turtle Doves would make a great present and if you join their Friends Club they’ll give you 10% off your next order.

Winter Coats

I suddenly realised earlier this month, when it started to get cold, that I didn’t actually own a winter coat. And so… the hunt began. All I wanted was a plain, black, warm coat. Not much to ask you’d of thought?!

What I found was a great selection of ethically made coats, but they were wayyyyyy out of my price range. Here’s some of my favourites:

 

Lanius – €299,90

 

Jan’n June – €230

 

Langerchen – €279

 

Lowie – £389

As these lovely coats we’re a tad (*cough cough*) too expensive for me, I admitted defeat and looked at high street brands. I had a 20% off Sparks voucher for Marks & Spencers to use and so bit the bullet and bought a coat from there.

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In theory, this coat is exactly what I wanted. Plain, black and warm. It comes in 8 different colours and is a fraction of the cost compared to the coats mentioned earlier (£119, but I got it for £95 with my voucher).

 

M&S aren’t the worst offenders in the fast fashion industry. They have very good policies, are one of the first high street retailers to start being transparent and even have an interactive map on their website where you can find information on their supply chain. But as mentioned in one of my previous posts where I investigated into ‘Who made my clothes?’ for an M&S shirt, there have been some scandals regarding sweatshop conditions, using Syrian refugees for labour and UK worker union issues.

My search for a winter coat has proven that sometimes the ethical choice is much more expensive. But I shan’t feel guilty for this high street purchase. It is not just buying from ethical brands that will encourage fast fashion retailers to become more ethical, it is about buying less and asking brands the question ‘who made my clothes?’ over and over again.

This is a coat I love. It will be taken care of and worn for years to come. Moral of the story; if you cannot buy ethical, buy less, and buy something you love.

Autumn clean & a challenge

Fashion these days is fast, we are buying and chucking away clothes more than ever. Most clothes that are bought are made unethically, using unsustainable materials, tonnes of water and energy and producing lots of waste. They are cheap and disposable.

I started an ethical transition with my wardrobe last December, and this autumn I’m having another major clear out because I still have way too many clothes that I really do not need.

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In the clean out process I was cut throat, if I couldn’t see myself wearing it at least 30 times it was gone. This is called the 30 wear challenge. The other weekend I dropped four bags off to charity shops and I’m selling some stuff on Depop. I thought I was doing alright at it, until… Labour Behind the Label asked if I would like to join their challenge…

Every year Labour Behind the Label host the six item challenge in Lent which is designed to test our reliance on fast fashion and raise funds to help garment workers. Basically the idea is simple – you select six items of clothing from your wardrobe and pledge to wear only these every day for six weeks. Crikey!

They tell me not to panic and that you can have unlimited access to underwear, accessories, footwear and sportswear. But your main items of clothing – dresses, trousers, tops, skirts, jumpers, shirts or cardigans – must remain the same throughout.

I don’t know if I can do it? Can I really dedicate six weeks to wearing just six items of clothing? So this is where I need your help, I’m down for doing it, but only if some of you will do it with me! So… any takers?!

Responsible Running

I used to hate running. Back at school I was half decent so always got picked for cross country and athletics. Then once I left school and tried to go running on my own I’d just give up after 15 minutes as I’d get bored. However recently I have taken it up again and have grown to love it. I’ve found listening to podcasts and playlists a way to push through the boredom. Another big driver has been training for the Gateshead 10km that I’ll be running in July to raise money for Labour Behind the Label (you can donate here if you so wish!).

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To run I wear old Adidas trainers. People have advised me to invest in a new pair, but mine are still functional and super comfy. Living by my ‘conscious consumer’ ways I’ve decided to use what I already have. I did however need to invest in some decent leggings and after some research of ethical activewear (majority of which just do yoga clothing) I was over the moon to find Sundried.

Sundried is a British brand based on low carbon, employee wellbeing, fair wages in the supply chain and charitable values. This year  they will be launching a sustainable technology that turns used coffee grounds and plastic into fabric. Coffee has a natural ability to block odour which of course is ideal for activewear.

Their capris leggings are made in Portugal (fully traceable) from 60% Polyester, 35% Polyamide and 5% Elastane. They are very comfy, breathable and give great support. Now that I know Sundried can deliver on quality as well as their great ethics I’ll be buying one of their sports bras (which I have previously struggled to find as most ethical brands just do yoga crop tops… not great support for running).

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For those of you that want to run, but like me get bored and give up, try the Guilty Feminist podcast or the Big Little Lies Soundtrack playlist. With Guilty Feminist I get so engrossed and laugh that I forget my lungs are burning and legs are aching. With Big Little Lies the beat just keeps me going. I use wireless headphones and a running belt (from Etsy) to make sure I always have some running entertainment.

Seriously, just give it a go. Let me know how you get on! x

Super Sunday Swap Shop

People now buy four times more clothes than they did in the 80’s. To meet these increasing demands fashion brands are cutting corners in regards to worker rights, pay and safety. It also has huge consequences for the environment, on average UK consumers send 30kg of clothing to landfill each year.

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Labour Behind the Label are a charity that are dedicated to changing this. Throughout the year I’m doing a couple of challenges to raise money for them and today I held a Swap Shop to encourage the reuse of clothes and raise awareness of the issue.

A Swap Shop is simple, people bring any unwanted clothes, jewellery, books, toiletries etc. to swap. Anything that takes your fancy you can take and any left over bits will be donated to charity. One man/woman’s trash is another man/woman’s treasure.

With support from my amazing friends and family on the day we managed to raise a whopping £123!!!! It was great fun and we took away some cool pieces. My personal favourite is a demin jacket my mate Niamh brought. She had bought it from Dawn O’Porter who sold it on instagram for charity. And now it has been swapped, again for charity! A jacket that just keeps on giving.

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Thank you so much to everyone who has supported this so far. You’re all absolute legends. Especially my Mam, Alison, who today was a superstar! If you would like to donate click here.  Also, keep your ears to the ground as I’ll be hosting another Swap Shop soon!

Hope you’ve all had a great weekend, I know I certainly have. Good night x

 

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

Fashion Revolution Week

Most of us love clothes. I know I do. They give us an identity. They make us feel good about ourselves. But the people who make our clothes are hidden. And if we don’t know know who makes our clothes, we can’t be sure that they were made in a fair, clean and safe way. Is an item of clothing really worth the cost of people and our planet?

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Fashion Revolution is a global movement calling for a fairer, safer, cleaner, more transparent fashion industry. They encourage people to ask brands #whomademyclothes during Fashion Revolution Week 24-30th April.

How I took/you can take part…

  • #whomademyclothes – Fred Perry has been a favourite of mine for many many years. The classic, British, clean cut look. Abit Mod, abit Punk, abit Chav. But their website shows nothing of where their items are made, how they ensure their garment workers are fairly treated or how they manage the resources used in production. So for Fashion Revolution Week I have asked them to shed some light.
    •  I posted photos to instagram and twitter tagging @fredperry and #whomademyclothesfp1fp3fp2fp4
    • I also went old school and sent a letter. To which in reply I received their Modern Slavery Statement. As someone who has written a modern slavery statement this response is not sufficient. It is a one pager that does not give any insight into the transparency of their garments. Fred Perry, I will keep investigating!

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  • In a hope to get the government on our side I sent a postcard to my lofashrevpccal MP Andrew Bridgen.
  • Love story – Rather than always buying from new, clothes should be reworn and taken good care of to take a stand against fast fashion that ends up in landfill. See my post 30 wears on how I do this.
  • Try a #haulternative, a way of refreshing your wardrobe without buying new clothes. You could upcycle, swap with friends or buy in charity shops.
  • Fashion Revolution events are taking place across the world. I’m off to Berlin this weekend and will be popping in on their Re:fash:festival.

Alongside Fashion Revolution Week I am raising money for Labour Behind the Label by doing a 10k run, hosting a swap shop and trekking Hadrian’s Wall. Labour Behind the Label campaign worldwide for garment worker’s rights, supporting workers in their struggle to live in dignity and work in safety. They focus on relief of poverty, promotion of human rights and compliance with the law and ethical standards… not an easy task! They are only a small charity, with a very big job at hand, so every £ raised really does help. Click here to donate.