By Sophie McGrath
On Monday 8 February, the IMT department’s Green Impact Team will be hosting a special event, LSE ReLove Fashion, to raise awareness about making sustainable fashion choices.
ReLove Fashion will feature a free swap shop, running between 10am – 3pm in the LSESU Venue (Saw Swee Hock Building) , where you can bring along clothes you no longer love and pick out a new look from other donated items, as well as two ‘t-shirt tote bag’ workshops taking place from 12-1pm and then 1.30-2.30pm.
Run by TRAID*, the workshops will show you how to make practical use of unloved clothing by fashioning a tote bag out of an old t-shirt. All materials will be provided and if you’d like to take part it costs £5 per workshop. To book your space, please see the Eventbrite page.
Why get involved?
Disposable, fast fashion is having a major negative impact on both the environment and the working conditions of low-wage workers.
ReLove Fashion aims to reduce clothing waste, encourage LSE staff and students to make more ethical and sustainable fashion choices, and supports the TRAID Second-hand First initiative.
The implications of ‘fast fashion’
The dangerous working conditions in low-wage developing countries that facilitate the fast fashion conveyor belt is facing increasing scrutiny. The Rana Plaza tragedy of 2013 in Bangladesh where 1,133 garment workers died helped bring to light the human cost of disposable fashion. However, since then it seems like little progress has been made in shifting the fashion industry away from fast-fashion to a more sustainable focus.
Workers are still subject to unsafe workspaces, low pay, long hours and underrepresentation by trade unions. In addition to the health and safety aspect of the issue, workers are subject to unfair conditions, which disproportionally affect the most vulnerable such as women, whose voices ceases to be heard. Often, women are asked to agree to not fall pregnant whilst employed by the factory.
There is also the environmental cost of textiles consumption; the average UK consumer sends 30kg of clothing to landfill every year on top of the increasing shipment by air or sea of clothing from the Far East to the west. The carbon footprint of textiles in unbeknown to the generation brought up on fast fashion.
‘Slow fashion’: where to shop ethically
Consumers hold a lot of power in determining the direction the fashion industry takes. It is only when the fashion industry realizes that consumers hold an expectation of brands to produce ethically, that brands will shift the emphasis away from cheap, fast fashion at the expense of rising production costs.
There are a host of both well-known brands and smaller retailers that are increasingly committed to ethically produced fashion so you can shop with a clearer conscience. A few examples of fashion brands who focus on sustainability are:
A pioneer of sustainable fashion, People Tree are 100% Fair Trade across their supply chain.
This global brand has implemented a ‘fair living wage’ policy, in which they aim to have this wage in place by 2018 that will cover ‘the worker and their family’s basic needs and a discretionary income’. H&M also has an in-store textile recycling initiative and Conscious Collection that uses sustainable fabrics. You can find out more information about their commitments here.
The trainer brand holds environmental sustainability as one of its key strategies; its looking to create products while eliminating waste. They also ensure their suppliers sign their Code of Conduct and undergo a compliance inspection. On top of this, they are an active member of the Fair Labour Association and have a team of professionals who conduct unannounced checks on suppliers worldwide.
For a more extensive overview, The Guardian have put together an Ethical fashion directory of UK clothing brands. Additionally, The Good Shopping Guide tells you what brands to trust or avoid based on their sustainability record.
*TRAID is a charity which focuses on preventing clothing waste by aiming to make the disposal, production and consumption of textiles more sustainable. You can get involved by taking their #secondhandfirst pledge and commit to sourcing part of your wardrobe second-hand.
About the author
Sophie McGrath is a recent LSE Economic History Graduate, currently working in LSE’s Information Management Technology (IMT) Divsion, as Student Communications Assistant and IT Help Desk Analyst before she goes traveling in South America.