Sunday, 25 April 2010

Spring Shopping Guide by MO

22 April was Earth Day, and The Guardian's Fashion Statement published an Ethical Shopping Guide. It deviates slightly from the usual treehugging aesthetic, usually associated with sustainability in fashion, but not all that dramatically. A very decent selection of ethical links to clothes (including menswear and kids clothes), shoes, bags, jewellery, etc is punctuated with a pretty predictable set of images ranging from pastoral to plain ugly. There is an angelic white lace A-line tunic, a skirt with an 'ethnic' print that looks only a notch up from a potato sack when you look closely, a simplistic bike pendant, a shapeless jeans skirt.

It's not all bad - there's also some gorgeous espadrille wedges, vegan brogues, washed-out jeans and a smart dress, but I'd say for the amount of resources cited, the choices were still only half-heartedly led by good taste.

It makes me awfully mad to see fashion editors patronize ethical fashion by tirelessly associating it with an "earthy" aesthetic, where all colours and lines are carefully blunter than they would in any other editorial without sustainable credentials. It's like saying that people who care about the environment are all nice and we should give them a pat on the back, but not expect them to be too cutting-edge, of course. We are all a target audience for ethical fashion, not just the ones that, as the article suggest, vote Green. And even those, I can assure you, represent a variety of styles. So to break this cutesy, soft, flowy associations with sustainable fashion, I present my own guide - what I would have chosen from the same sites that the Guardian mentions.

Step 1: Raid your own wardrobe!

You already own a bunch of the must-have items for this season! If you didn't buy them last spring, then you did two, three, five years ago, or earlier. Reappropriating items bought in the previous seasons (yes, even winter!) will work marvellously in new context. So look at the stuff you already own and think of new configurations. The constant babble about trends may make you feel like every 3 months you need to throw out everything you own and buy new shit, but really, from season to season (especially going from A/W to S/S), there is no radical change in silhouettes or fabrics or colours. Just try and browse last year's must-have spring picks, and you'll be surprised.

To reutilize from last year's purchases:

- florals - best on shorts or jumpsuit, but a dress is also great.

- pencil skirt

- black dress

- large t-shirt/boyish shirt/tunic-dress

- nautical stuff (navy shorts, stripy top, etc)

- wide and long linen blazer

- grey and nude (or even champagne)

- bright colours (yellow/blue/green)

- brogues

- slip-on sporty pumps

- gold/wings jewellery

- lightly studded belt

Step 2: Add a few new items to facilitate the context change. 

If you already have some florals, buy colours, and if you have nude, buy print. People tend to gravitate towards stuff they are already familiar with, always like similar cuts, or usually buy one type of clothes (for instance t-shirts). The result often is you buy your 400th navy dress or 50th pair of jean shorts. Or even worse, that you spontaneously decided one trend will be your big bang this season, and bought 25 items in deep bright blue (or red for men) and 15 tops+dresses with accentuated shoulders/empire waistline/buttons on sides. Always consider your purchase against what you already have, and also what you have to compliment it. Nothing worse than buying a cropped green leather jacket only to realize you've got absolutely nothing to wear it with.

Some potentially new stuff -- but even for that, best to first check the back of the wardrobe, or that of your mum's/big sister's/boyfriend's/grandma's; or a charity shop -- again, chosen on whim from only two online stores, there's loads more cool stuff out there.

- black+white

- new prints

- cool print trench (for more polka dot, revisit your early 2000s wardrobe)

- big round hat

- floral flats

- misc jewellery

- HEADBANDS (cue the 60s post). Not pictured, but I bet you have some at home.

And keep it MODO, people ;)