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Is fashion becoming more sustainable?

By Noa Mokhnachi

The fashion industry is one of the biggest players in the global economy and carries a heavy responsibility to help protect the environment and be as sustainable and ethical as possible.

After the tragic events that occurred at Rana Plaza almost four years ago, in which a near-derelict garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,134 people, has the fashion industry changed?

 

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Rana Plaza in 2013

The fashion and textiles industry is the most polluting industry in the world, second to oil, according to an article in Business of Fashion published in 2015. More recently, companies have started to be more transparent in sharing their code of ethics with their customers, and organizations have raised serious concerns and demanded changes.

With the rise of fast fashion and globalization, consumers have been buying more and more clothes, only to throw them away a few years later. Fast fashion brands like Zara or H&M produce new collections almost on a monthly basis, pushing customers to buy more items in order to be “trendy”. Those high street brands offer cheap versions of runway looks, which consumers wear for a few months before moving on to the next trend.

Capture d_écran 2017-06-01 à 19.40.06“There are some improvements overall in an environmental context. Ideas such as utilising resources in a smarter way and switching to alternative supply chain (which happen to be ‘cleaner’) such as for cotton mean that some elements of baseline (or first rung) sustainability now have mainstream traction. But we are very hazy on figures,” said Lucy Siegle, a 42-year-old environmentalist journalist.

It can take more than 20,000 liters of water to produce 1kg of cotton, which would be equivalent to one t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Worldwide, up to 8,000 different chemicals are used to produce clothes, and to turn raw materials into items of clothing.

And despite all the resources used in the garment industry, a lot of the clothes end up being thrown away. In fact, the UK alone throws away an impressive one million tonnes of clothing every year, according to wasteonline.

As awareness of sustainable fashion is growing, key leaders in the industry are beginning to question the impact of a model built on careless consumption and fast fashion.

Stella McCartney has been one of the first advocates of ethical and sustainable fashion. An outspoken activist, she creates collections using environmentally friendly materials and participates in environmentalist events. She was one of the first designers to publish the first environmental report: Stella McCartney Environmental Profit and Loss, which opened the door for many other luxury designers to publish their code of conduct.

The giant luxury group Kering published a brand new code of ethics in 2013, along with a five- year social and environmental plan, where they vowed to focus on the reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions, reduce paper waste in their packaging, and source raw materials and optimize the use of water. The group is now sourcing 100% of its paper from certified sustainably managed forests and is avoiding using PVC.

Even though it seems like the luxury industry is making considerable progress in terms of ethical and sustainable conduct, high street brands don’t seem to follow its footsteps.

Children as young as 13 are often employed in manufactories to produce clothes for some of the biggest names on the UK high street. The Guardian reported in early 2017 that brands like New Look or H&M were using factories that employed children in Myanmar. They were paid as little as 13p an hour to produce clothes for the UK high street brands. Countries like Bangladesh or China have also been accused of employing children to lower labour costs. Unicef reported that about 170 million children are involved in child labour in the world, with many working in textiles factories to produce garments for the American and European market.

 

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Piktochart made by Noa Mokhnachi showing child labour facts

 

 

“I avoid Primark and Zara as much as possible now, I am much more informed and I can’t pretend not to know about what is happening in the factories in Bangladesh for example. After the Rana Plaza disaster we can’t ignore these issues,” says Hayley Oliveira, 31, a stay-at-home mum of one.

 

After the tragic incident that killed 1,134 people and injured thousand more, companies, trade unions, and workers’-rights groups agreed to make the factories safer for the workers and improve their conditions within the next five years. But four years later, it seems that not much have changed. Children are still being employed and the conditions in the factories are still far from being ideal. Sociologist Jennifer Blair, told the Atlantic: “It’s very unlikely that all of the Accord and Alliance factories would be fully remediated by that deadline”.

After having her first child, Olivera is much more aware of what clothes she dresses her daughter in. “You can find online retailers selling made in the UK clothes for kids, sure they might be slightly more expensive but it is worth it,” she said.

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Price seems to be one of the main issues for young people not investing in sustainable clothes. High street brands offer a wide range of clothes at a very competitive price whereas sustainable brands seem to be more expensive as the cost of production is more elevated.

If clothing in the fast fashion industry was produced in a more recyclable and sustainable way, the fashion industry would become suddenly more sustainable as fast fashion retailers are the leading clothing retailers in the world.

By definition, dematerialisation and lowering consumption are two central tenets of sustainability. It is clearly impossible to achieve true or deep sustainability without these factors. Two factors that high street brands like Zara and H&M are struggling to achieve.

“Zara is highlighted as the fastest brand (and most successful according to analysts and pieces including Forbes magazine) and the one that has ‘revolutionised’ fast fashion by cutting the time from design to market. That business model cannot in my view be considered or be made to be truly sustainable,” said Lucy Siegle.

The fashion retailer H&M has started to make considerable changes in its code of conducts by introducing an ethical project in 2012 called H&M conscious. Every spring for the past 5 years, the Swedish giant showcase a capsule made from organic and recycled materials such as organic cotton, the collections is proposed in stores all around the world. But the brand might not be as sustainable as it seems.

“Is Zara the brand that worries me most? No, because they do not really message sustainability. That honour goes to H&M who loudly proclaim to be sustainable and supply chain re-inventors while continuing to pursue (aggressively) the same rapid production, turbo charged, high-profit business model,” shared Lucy Siegle.

Small sustainable brands are rising on social media and are starting to slowly become more important but they are far for being able to compete with high street brands.

To learn more about sustainable fashion watch the documentary The True Cost:

 

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events, HOME

Fighting to stay fit!

By Noa Mokhnachi

Did you ever want to try out boxing but couldn’t really afford it? well, you can now attend free classes in London.

On Tuesday 9th of May, the activewear retail Sweaty Betty partnered with a local Personal trainer to offer their customers a free boxing class in their Fulham store to introduce them to the boxing world.

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The event was run by Carly a Fulham based boxing teacher with over 15 years experience in the health and fitness industry. Ladies of all levels and ages were invited to attend the class followed by healthy advices given by the Sweaty Betty staff and goody bags with Chia Coconut water and healthy treats.

“Carly told us that she wanted to ran a free class to introduce women to boxing and we were more than happy to partner with her. Plus it was free, normally boxing class are very expensive, it’s a great way to try out boxing without spending a fortune,” said Bethany Thomas, 24, assistant manager at Sweaty Betty.

The class lasted for more than an hour and hosted more than fifteen guests. The attendees, all females, were ranged from 20 to 40 years olds with different boxing levels. The atmosphere was in full swing and Rihanna’s songs were shaping the rhythm of the boxing movements.

“I had never done boxing before and I have always been hesitant to buy classes because I found them so overpriced especially around Fulham so to be able to try out for free was a great,” said Monica Gilbert 24, investment banker assistant. She also explained that the fact that it was women only made her feel much more comfortable and powerful.

Sweaty Betty isn’t the only activewear offering classes; Lululemon also offers free yoga classes in their stores. It is a good opportunity for the stores to attract new customer who will hopefully purchase items or at least come back to browse the selection.

CHECK OUT OUR FACTS ABOUT FEMALE BOXING:

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source: piktochart made by NoaMokhnachi

TAKE A LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES:

 

fashion, HOME, NEWS

France leading the charge in realistic body image

BY HANNAH LEDDEN

France has taken a step towards creating a healthier body image in modelling by introducing new laws to tackle excessively thin models as the face of fashion. 

The new laws will see models requiring confirmation from their doctors that they are healthy, and further measures later in the year will see manipulated images in magazines stamped with the words ‘photographie retouchée’  (retouched photograph).

Fashion models
Models on the catwalk. Image courtesy of Creative Commons

An emphasis has been placed on the BMI (body mass index) of the models in confirming they are fit to work, with similar laws already in place in other areas of Europe. The difference being that although doctors will be advised to look at the individual’s BMI, a minimum number won’t be put in place like Spain or Italy have already imposed.

Freelance photographer Katie McKenna, 21, from Norwich, believes these guidelines are a step in the right direction. “I agree with everything being said by the French government however there has to be a shift in the wider market and advertisement industry for this to be enforced.”

“As a society, we have become used to seeing these thin fashion images, with manipulation or retouching, mainly without being overtly aware, so I think the wider industry needs to get on board with this new way of working for any real changes.”

Guidelines released by the World Health Organisation suggest an adult with a BMI below 18.5 is considered to be underweight and below 17 is extremely malnourished.

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BMI levels. Infographic made by Hannah Ledden

Nathalie Clarkson, 21, a fashion promotion graduate from Southend agrees that this could be the start of a fresh-thinking fashion industry. “The ban is long overdue because they don’t represent real women and people’s views end up being distorted,” she says. “Hopefully the rest of the world will follow in their footsteps.”

France’s health and social affairs minister, Marisol Touraine, said the aim was to prevent anorexia and an unrealistic level of beauty ideals. “Exposing young people to unrealistic images of body image leads to a sense of poor self-esteem that can impact health-related behaviour.”

Fashion capitals of the World
Will all the fashion capitals follow in France’s footsteps? Map made by Hannah Ledden using Google Maps

Having a capital city of fashion take the first step towards a healthier presentation of body image is surely a step in the right direction for the industry as a whole. Severe punishments are also to be put in place for those who fail to follow the new standards, including six months in prison for staff who use models without the correct medical certificates.

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From law school to fashion editor, meet Nelli Konstantinova jack-of-all trades.

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BY Noa Mokhnachi

Most people who spend years attending law school and passing  exams revel in finally becoming a lawyer, and aren’t willing to give up the accolades – and salary – that being a solicitor or barrister entails.

But Nelli Konstantinova gave it all up in an instant and is now enjoying a second career as one of Russia’s most celebrated lifestyle journalists.

Nelli Konstontinova was born and currently lives in Russia; she studied law and worked as a lawyer for ten years. “I don’t disclose my age darling because this is how I got my job at Vogue Magazine,” she said. After her wedding to another lawyer she decided that one good lawyer in the family was more than enough, so she started writing short stories about traveling, food and home design as a favor for her socialite’s friends.

In 2001, she got a call from Vogue Russia who wanted to hire her as living editor, “Those were the best six years for me in Russia, I learned so much,” she says. She moved on to becoming features editor for Harper’s Bazaar Russia and Elle Russia before being named editor in chief of Elle Deluxe in 2008.

After little more than a year, Elle Deluxe shut down due to the financial crisis, and Konstantinova became a freelance journalist. “I had acquired so many contacts over the years that it was easy to get my article published, and then in 2011 Conde Nast approached me to become editor-at-large,” she says.

Editors-at-large work closely with the editor to help them to make editorial decisions. “Basically I attended all the editorials meetings, advised the editor in chief and organized our shooting locations but eventually I wasn’t carrying the whole magazine’s future on my shoulder, which made it easier,” she says. She worked for Conde Nast Traveller as the editor-at-large for more than six years. She is also an avid social media user.

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For Konstantinova, this was the perfect balance between freelancing and being the editor in chief. “I got to go and supervise so many trips that the editor in chief wouldn’t have time to do. I would take the editorial lead and decide what we were going to cover,” she said.

Working for Conde Nast Traveller, Konstantinova got to travel all over the world and that is what she enjoyed most. “The best part of the job is that your dreams come true and you get to travel the world and it is very useful for people, you become more open, and always want to learn more,” she said.

Indeed, her openness has become an inspiration for the next generation. “I am amazed by my aunt’s career. She has been so versatile that it has inspired me to try so many different things,” said Dasha Korznikova, 21, a fashion student at UAL.

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But with the rise of bloggers, Konstontinova admits that now she is facing harsh competition. “I am a lawyer and I like definitions, bloggers shouldn’t be trusted they don’t have our knowledge most of the time they are biased and sponsored, they are not journalists.”

She adds that websites such as Trip Advisor or Yelp keep rising and are slowly killing the travel printed magazine. “Nobody wants to pay for a magazine anymore they can have access to information instantly and for free.”

She launched her own website two years ago called Travelinsider.Ru, which you can translate with the help of Google automatic translation, where she shared itineraries, lifestyle and beauty tips and pictures of her trips. She wanted to bring to the virtual world real expertise – something she brings to everything she does.

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 4.20.16 PM.pngNelli’s website the Travel Insider

fashion, Uncategorized

BARNARDOS BLOGGER BABE – Holly Olivia Stephenson

BY AMARA HOWE

It’s a well-known fact that the coolest girls are from up North. Maybe that’s because most of them identify as part-time fashion bloggers or maybe it’s because Manchester’s Trafford Centre just opened the second biggest Topshop outside of London. With the likes of Megan Ellaby, Sara Luxe and Lizzy Hadfield overtaking the bloggersphere it’s no surprise new bloggers are popping up from every corner following in their footsteps.

One of those up-and-coming bloggers includes Holly Olivia Stephenson, 19, from Newcastle upon Tyne, who I recently spoke to about her fashion blog bisoushollyolivia and her up-coming work with the children’s charity Barnado’s.

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At first glance of her blog you get a vibe only the bravest of ladies can pull off. A mixture of current high street trends with sixties and seventies pieces often found on EBay – a “modern vintage” vibe as Stephenson dubbed it.  With a penchant for leopard print and a knack for layering, Stephenson’s clothing combinations are a perfect mixture of casual meets cool.

Currently taking a gap year after finishing college in 2017 before starting a degree in Fashion Communication and Promotion at the University of Huddersfield in September, Stephenson has since been focussing on her fashion blog as well as guest-posting for various blogs including the Barnardo’s blog.

Stephenson, who was approached by Barnado’s to write for their blog said: “I love charity shopping and the Barnado’s stores are actually some of my favourites. Writing for them is something I have actually wanted to do since I found out about their blog.”

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Posting weekly outfit posts, Stephenson’s street-style pictures depict her favour for combining in-trend fashion pieces and vintage charity-shop finds. “I have started to struggle buying from the high street. One reason is the ethics behind it… I know a lot of shops use cheap labour to make their clothes.”

Stephenson’s enthusiasm for ethical fashion is what gives her blog such a unique selling point. “I think fashion has become really disposable… it’s actually the second worst industry for the environment after oil, so buying second-hand is so important to me.” Stephenson said.

holly

After launching her blog in August 2014, Stephenson has been working actively for the past three years collaborating with different companies and sharing her passion for both writing and styling. Stephenson said “Being able to combine my passions and write about what I love is so fun. It’s humbling to find brands who love what I do and I always push myself to create the best content for collaborations.”

Collaborating with various brands since starting her blog, Stephenson was ecstatic to have worked with her favourite British fashion brand Dahlia in October. “I’ve admired them for years so for them to like my blog enough to want to collaborate with me was amazing.”

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Working with other brands including Shein, KoKo Couture and James Viana London, it’s no surprise Stephenson won the Best Student Blog award for the North East Blogger awards. “It was amazing to be shortlisted, and even more amazing to win… I really didn’t expect to.”

Stephensons best friend Beka Theaker, 23, a mental health nurse at Bupa said: “Holy is such a down to earth girl who is able to make basically every single work look. I think she’s going to be someone to watch out for. Her blog is just on the rise and it’s because of her ability to make a piece work in so many different ways and she pushes charity shopping so much.”

Despite a social media status which is rapidly increasing, Stephenson is still undecided about her future. What she does know, however, is she wants to work within the fashion industry. “I am interested in being a fashion stylist, a fashion writer or maybe a photographer.” With her unique style and passion for ethical fashion, Stephenson is certainly making a stance this season.

www.bisoushollyolivia.co.uk

Take STANCE’s poll here: https://goo.gl/RajYwz

Read the best books for bloggers:

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INFLUENCE BY MARY KATE AND ASHLEY OLSEN

IT BY ALEXA CHUNG

LOVE STYLE LIFE BY GARANCE DORE

HOW TO BE PARISIAN BY ANNE BEREST

 

Follow Holly on Instagram:

hollyin

 

 

 

 
 
NEWS, Uncategorized

STRAIGHT OUTTA HER MOUTH

BY AMARA HOWE

‘GIRLSMOUTH’ – THE EMPOWERING NEW FACEBOOK GROUP FOR EVERYTHING ‘GIRL’

girlsmouth

Who doesn’t love a good rant? I know I do. Whether it’s complaining about the severe lack of good-looking men on Tinder despite your obvious catfish, or the fact your fringe will never – and I repeat, never – look like Zooey Deschanel’s, us women love to moan.

And who wouldn’t moan when there’s a space for it on Facebook open for anyone – granted they identify with being female? Over 30,000 of you lovely ladies apparently.

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GIRLSMOUTH is an ‘invite-only’ Facebook page open to women aged 16+ from around the UK to talk about whatever ‘feels’ they might have. From ‘ranting about your bitch mother in law’ to ‘sharing your undie pics because you feel like a sex goddess’, GIRLSMOUTH is a fully disclosed page made to express whatever emotions you might be feeling on that day.

Creator of the Facebook page, Chloe Todd from Colchester, Essex spoke to me about why she originally set up GIRLSMOUTH. “I wanted to make it to show girls it’s okay to explore outside of your comfort zone. It’s okay to say “hey, let’s be friends”, with someone you hardly know. It’s okay to admit when you’re not okay.”  

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Far from any judgements, GIRLSMOUTH gives women a platform to express their emotions, ask for advice or heck – just post a bangin’ photo of them in their new underwear. “GIRLSMOUTH represents girl power completely” Todd said. And this sense of positivity and drive is what has made GIRLSMOUTH so successful – making women feel comfortable in their own skin.   

grl power

With the increase of ‘girl clubs’ sweeping the internet, the overwhelming sense of girl power is commendable. No longer are we experiencing the high-school bitchiness we all once faced – the rise of support for one another is wonderful. Natasha Conway, 28 from Colchester who’s a member of the group said, “It’s nice to see women empower other women instead of tearing each other down.”

From engagements to pregnancy announcements, the page has a new surprise every day. Todd told me “I have met some incredible people and witnessed some truly heart-warming moments on the group.” Allowing other women to comment on such posts ultimately boosts our self-esteem and allows us to sense such girl-power.  

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But it’s not without its poignant subject matter. Women can also post anonymously, either for advice or simply to get something off their chest – from abusive relationships to family problems, no topics are taboo. Todd describes GIRLSMOUTH as a “support system for woman of all ages” – enabling those who have no one to talk to a chance to converse with others online is the reason why social media is such a powerful tool, without which, many are lost.

Not just a place to rant but a place to meet other likeminded people and receive honest advice on something you may be struggling with. “Empowering, hilarious and honest” are the three words Todd would use to describe GIRLSMOUTH.

So whether you want to get something off your chest, ask a fellow stylist for fashion advice, find a gym partner in your local area or hey – admire beautiful women, get your invite at GIRLSMOUTH – the ultimate girl power club.

Check out STANCE’s favourite girl power tees here:

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BABE YOU GOT THIS TEE – H&M

EVERYONE SHOULD BE A FEMINIST – MISSGUIDED

BABES UNITE – TOPSHOP

GIRL GANG – ASOS

Follow GIRLSMOUTH on insta @ https://www.instagram.com/girlsmouth/

girlsmouth

Who remembers this gem?

 

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NETFLIX AND CHIC

girlboss

Girlboss. That says it all really.

Bringing to you the ultimate girl-power series, Netflix has just released the trailer for the up-and-coming must-see-series Girlboss. We’ve figured we might as well start calling it ‘Netflix and chic’ because we don’t think we’ve ever seen a trailer so ridiculously cool.

Inspired by New York Times best-selling book (also called “Girlboss”), Netflix has turned founder of clothing brand Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso’s entrepreneurial tale into 13 episodes documenting her rags-to-riches journey from eBay teen to fashion queen.  

sophia    

Building a $250 million dollar business, Nasty Gal began with Amoruso, aged 22, trawling around vintage shops in California, haggling items and selling them on her Ebay store ‘Nasty Gal Vintage.’ Growing from $200k to $23million in the space of three years, Amoruso was named as one of the richest self-made women in the world by Forbes in 2016.

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The two-minute trailer which was released April 3rd features American born actress Britt Robertson in her first ever lead-role portraying Sophia as a kooky-teen with the type of fringe dreams are made of.

In the trailer, Amoruso manages to haggle a metallic Western-print jacket down from $12 offering $9 along with some “free business advice.”

“This is an original 1970’s East-West katzkin motorcycle jacket in perfect condition. Know what your shit’s worth, because you just got played.”

girlbosssub.pngNow I don’t know about you, but that might possibly be the coolest quote I’ve ever heard in my life. Sassy and bad-assy, we just know this fashion flick is going to be the new Netflix-fave.

Mia Sheperd, 21, a student from Manchester said: “I’ve just finished reading her book… I’m really excited to see her story put into film. It’ll be good to see a strong female character like Sophia being shown – she’s sassy, funny and inspirational.”

Created and produced by Kay Cannon, the writer of Pitch Perfect, the series will premiere at the end of April. Featuring the queen herself, RuPaul, this literally couldn’t get any better.

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Sophie Sprittles, 22, from Colchester, a third year fashion and textiles student who quit her part-time retail job to sell clothes on her incredibly successful Depop page thegirlboss told me how much she looks up to Amoruso. “I found it amazing how she built the Nasty Gal empire from selling on Ebay in her bedroom.” With over 13k depop followers, Sprittles is on her way to becoming Essex’s girl boss herself. “I see Sophia as a huge inspiration to women with a small business idea. I am so excited for the Netflix series!”

The Independent recently wrote a review on the trailer, picking up on the fact that the “business woman” character is often portrayed as someone who’s pretty much a narcissistic bitch. They said “it’s great to see a show that attempts to place the same lens on the world of a business woman.” YAS!

If you haven’t seen the trailer for the soon to be Netflix-obsession already then, we advise you to watch it below RIGHT NOW

YOU ARE A BADASS BY JEN SINCERO

LEAVE YOUR MARK BY ALIZA LICHT

SEEKING LOVE. FINDING OVERALLS BY LEANDRA MEDINE

GIRLBOSS BY SOPHIE AMORUSO

 

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