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.

30 Wears (✓)

“Take two very simple actions that we perform every single day: getting dressed and eating. Now start a journey backwards – to where your food and your clothes come from. At the other end, you will rarely find happy people, treated with dignity and respect.” – Livia Firth

In this post I’m focusing on the first action, getting dressed. Fast fashion is forcing people to buy more and waste more. The high demand of ‘needing’ the latest trends has forced retailers to use unethical ways to produce their clothes.

One way to contribute in making a positive change against this is by asking yourself when buying new clothes, “Can I wear this a minimum of 30 times?” If the answer is no… then don’t buy it. By using this rule not only are you helping the fast fashion crisis, but you are ensuring that the clothes you do buy are clothes you truly love.

Here I am sharing with you some of my favourite clothes that I’ve had for many years and have experienced many things. * I apologise that most pictures contain booze and for some of the hair cuts and pouts…

This item I bought in Oxfam Leeds for £4 in 2010 on a whim when visiting my sister at Uni for a night out. Since then it has seen many a bottle of beer and dance floor. 30 wears (✓).

This item is a Topshop coat I got as a birthday present from my parents in 2012. It now has holes in the armpit lining, but from the outside looks fine. 30 wears (✓).

This Fred P item I found in a vintage shop in 2011. It’s since been worn with scarves, shirts, dresses, skirts. 30 wears (✓).

This dress I nicked from my sister in 2014, I believe she wore it at least 30 times before I stole it. It’s been on loads of nights out and now I use it as a work dress. 30 wears (✓).

This item is a pair of dungarees I managed to get for £10 in a Zara sale in 2014. Whenever I feel stuck on what to wear, this is my go-to as it goes well with all sorts. 30 wears (✓).

If you have any fave clothes that you have worn a minimum of 30 times let me know or use the #30wears to create awareness.

Enjoy your clothes xxx

 

p.s I am raising money for Labour Behind the Label who work to fight fast fashion. If you can, donate here.

Labour Behind the Label – Fundraiser

This year I will be doing a number of things to raise money for Labour Behind the Label.

  • Hadrian’s Wall Trek – 8th September – 25 miles over 2 days with my good friend Antoinette.
  • Swap Shop event – venue and date to be confirmed but keep your eyes peeled for an invite!
  • Great North 10k – 9th July – 10k run in Gateshead.

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Labour Behind the Label, based in Bristol, 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.

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“Made in Turkey. Wash at 40 degrees. 100% cotton.” Garment labels give us some information, but tell us nothing about who made our clothes and the conditions they were working in. Even if we look beyond the labels and scour brands’ websites, it’s hard to find out much more.  Believe me, I have tried.

“No-one should live in poverty for the price of a cheap t-shirt.”

When a label says “Made in Europe” should we breathe a sigh of relief? Unfortunately, no. Labour Behind the Label study ‘Labour on a Shoe String’ shows how garment workers in Eastern Europe and the Balkans face severe wage poverty, it was found that shoes labelled “made in Italy” or “made in Germany” are often part-produced in Eastern Europe and the Balkan states, the shoes are then shipped back to the country of origin for labelling and retail.

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But imagine if every item you wore, you knew exactly which factory it was made in and whether the workers had secure contracts, whether they worked in safe conditions, and whether they earned a living wage. This level of transparency is a long way off, but Labour Behind the Label is pushing for it. That is why I am supporting them. With knowledge like this we could really start to challenge the brands, make conscious decisions when buying, boycott those that do not treat workers ethically and push for change within the industry.

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The garment industry turns over almost $3 Trillion a year. Yet garment workers, 80% of them women, work for poverty pay, earning as little as $21 a month. Poverty wages, long hours, forced overtime, unsafe working conditions, sexual, physical and verbal abuse, repression of trade union rights and short term contracts are all commonplace in the clothing industry. It is an industry under huge demands due to fast fashion that is built on exploitation and growing under a lack of transparency that makes holding brands accountable difficult. Labour Behind the Label are dedicated to changing this. I am dedicated to change this.

Thanks to all of you that have donated! It really means a lot. Be sure that I will keep you posted on my challenges.

Spotlight on ethical fashion

In just the past few weeks there have been two very interesting broadcasts around ‘fast fashion‘. Channel 4 Dispatches and a podcast by The Guilty Feminist have placed a spotlight on the issues surrounding today’s clothing production and consumption.

Dispatches – Britain’s Cheap Clothes

Channel 4 uncovers issues in UK factories and warehouses of brands such as Boohoo, Misguided, ASOS, New Look and River Island. The factories that were investigated were based in Leicester, literally on my own doorstep. Workers were being paid £3 an hour, less than half the national minimum wage. The workings conditions were poor, fire hazards were rife and employees worked extra long shifts. In the warehouses workers were searched and given strikes for ridiculous reasons such as clocking in one minute late, taking compassionate leave to look after a sick parent and even smiling!

“They see pounds not people.”

The two Dispatches episodes are a must watch. Seeing the conditions, the attitudes and just how poorly made the items are is definitely motivation to keep asking the question – “How was it made?

The Guilty Feminist – Ethical Clothing with Aisling Bea

If you do not listen to The Guilty Feminist, then I suggest you start. Alongside being hilarious, their discussions really make you think. Whether it is about a man being seen as powerful, yet a woman being seen as BOSSY. Or apologising for eating chocolate then ordering slices of cake. Or finding that when surrounded by men you speed up your speech to make sure you are not interrupted. What they discuss is real, and it the feminism where you don’t shave your armpits and hate on men, it is about equality and empowerment and generally feeling happier in who you are.

This podcast episode focuses on how consumerism has changed. We are wanting to buy more for less money. A celebrity wears something one day, we want it the next. Brands are under pressure to make clothing quickly and cheaply, resulting in unfair labour practices. As the consumer we are the only ones that can change this by not buying from businesses that exploit their workers and driving consumerism to being about buying less at a fairer, better quality.

However The Guilty Feminist made a poignant point, for instance a single mother of 3 children, how is it possible for her to purchase ethically on a budget to continually replace her ever growing children’s wardrobe? At the end of the day it is about making sensible decisions when buying clothes. Some handy tips were discussed, such as buying vintage or from charity shops, trying the 30 wears challenge (if you are not going to wear it at least 30 times, do not buy!), doing some research into your favourite brands, and not just buying a new outfit because of the pressure of wearing something never been seen before.

I am 100% positive we are all guilty of treating ourselves to a new pair of shoes, just because. Or searching high and low for a new outfit for a party, despite having a wardrobe full of great outfits, but because people may have seen it before there needs to be a new one bought. Or refusing to buy from a charity shop because not matter how many times you wash it, it still smells a little foisty. But having the media place a spotlight on these issues will hopefully keep reminding us to just think more about what we are buying. Long may this unfurling of the fashion industry continue.