Sunday, 1 November 2009

Sustainable Fashion, by M.O.

After Wikipedia: According to the May 2007 Vogue, [sustainable fashion] appears not to be a short-term trend but one could last multiple seasons! That's good news, because I'd risk a statement that it's a bit more important than the pendulum of shoulder shapes, dress lengths and the-new-blacks. It would be nice to conceive that one day the fashion industry would not contribute extensively to the world's carbon emissions and would promote ethical and responsible lifestyles, on levels of production and consumption alike.. Meanwhile, who doesn't love shopping? Faced with the exciting prospect of new clothes all arguments about growing landfills, child labour, fair trade, sweat shops, pesticides, water waste, carbon footprint, etc kinda move slightly to the side, right?

The challenge to blog about sustainable fashion will hopefully not be restricted to praising vintage clothing. It's been said a gazillion times that wearing vintage means uniqueness, character, and all those things that fade away as soon as enough magazines write about it. Vintage will always hold some validity as a trend, because recycling silhouettes or cuts is what fashion relies on, but it's good to conceive of sustainability as more than just a way of impressing the people you bump into in the library. In response to the 10:10 project to reduce carbon emissions by 10% in 2010, The Guardian proposes the following under the 'clothes' section:

Annual savings in tonnes of CO2
Buy 50% secondhand clothes 0.3
Reduce purchases by a more than a quarter compared to last year (eg buy four new T-shirts not the UK average of seven) 0.2
Buy only manmade fibres 0.2
Focus on new fabrics made from bamboo, hemp or other cotton substitutes 0.1

(full article:

I'd say that's a very tall order for anyone remotely interested in style! I myself am definitely very guilty of excessive wardrobe contents and a constant influx of novelty finds, yet still on many occasions I gape wordlessly at the heaps of clothing, thinking 'I have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to wear..'. So what do you do? Can you be stylish and sustainable? It's not like I have the answer, or that there is one at all, but I'll do my clumsy best to research the options.

Part 1 - Swapping
Exchange old for new! This requires two steps - identifying the old, locating the new. So first, have a critical look at your wardrobe(s) and determine which things you never wear, grew out of, got tired of, or never liked in the first place. These can them magically turn into new and exciting shit. Here are some ideas, in the order of ascending magic-ness.

  • offer your clothes to the local charity shop or recycling centre, and choose something from what they offer in return. In case of the charity shop, this might involve money, so it's not orthodox swapping.
  • offer your clothes online: both craigslist and gumtree have 'free' sections, and gumtree even a proper swap shop. Though by far the best free goods exchange is the fantastic network of freecycle. There is a group for just about every London neighbourhood, and people are super nice and generous. Speaking from experience - it's definitely well worth giving a try.

  • organize a clothes exchange with your friends. invite yourselves to someone's house for brunch/dinner/tea and bring all your unwanted clothes for an afternoon/evening of mass trying-on bliss. Extend the invite to all these people whose clothes you'd want to lay your hands on!

  • MODO Boot Sale - do I have to say more? Two more this term: 17th November and 8th December, South Cloisters

  • Go to Swap-a-rama. It's a clubnight where you're supposed to swap an article of clothing with the person next to you every time a klaxon sounds. Genius, unpredictable, amazing, true.
  • Create an account on Covert Candy, a new service where you can give away your clothes in exchange for credits, which you can then use to buy clothes from other users. Or buy nice and cheap vintage clothes in their vintage shop. Covert Candy is only starting out, so it would be super cool if many people joined in on the idea - then there would be more clothes to choose from! It seems to me like a very good call, as selling your used clothing for money kinda gives me the creeps, and giving it away for absolute free is not everyone's cup of tea. Here you get some sort of promise that in exchange for what you pass on to someone else, you'll be able to choose something for yourself. And it's all the rewarding, cheap, and magical stuff of sustainable fashion.

Yeah, did I mention sustainable fashion can be CHEAP? Insert a comment about the recession and studentness here.

Lastly, this post includes a treat! I have £25 worth of Covert Candy credits to give away! A nice start up gift that may encourage people to use the service. I received it myself and happily spent it on two t-shirts, a top, and a pair of shoes. Gods willing I'll start uploading my own stuff soon (please feel free to add me as a friend if you get an account). All you have to do is comment on this post, and leave some sort of contact info, so if you are picked ( will be involved) I know how to contact you. All comments posted up until midnight on Saturday, November 7th will count. Winner announced in the next week's post. So have a look at Covert Candy and comment away! Free shit is good shit!

All images courtesy of Google Images.

And yeah, keep it Modo people ;)


  1. and all the way from barcelona! xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. Seeing as I couldn't really enter my own competition I would love to win those credits! Brilliant article Marta.