Is Fashion Sustainable?

This week has been all about feeding off other bloggers’ posts instead of writing my own, and when you’re on a roll (or incredibly lazy), why change things? Last night I went to “Is Fashion Sustainable?” which was a forum organised by Lara from Wardrobe Wonderland, so head on over to that blog if you want to find out more. There’s profiles and links about all the speakers, and if you’re at all interested in finding out who’s who in sustainable fashion in Melbourne (or even in Australia), it’s well worth the read. Here are the panelists, with apologies for the tiny, crap, horribly backlit picture…from left to right: Kerryn Caulfield, Cameron Neil, Tullia Jack, Juliette Anich, Alex Trimmer and Karen Webster.

I got to chat with Alex Trimmer (who designs Sosume, which is a very cool brand we used in the Fair@Square fashion show) before the forum started. And that amazing, gorgeous magazine I’m holding? That would be Peppermint, not that I’d be doing my best cheesy grin while shamelessly flogging the magazine I write for or anything like that! (Subliminal message: you need to buy this mag!!!)

Speaking of magazines, I was sitting next to Kealey Nutt of Thelma magazine, but she was rather busy filming the proceedings so I didn’t get to pick her brain about things really. My somewhat surprised expression was due to my Peppermint pal Lou snapping us unawares (thanks for these pics, Lou).

So what was the discussion about? Well, the title says it all, really. The fashion world is moving at an ever more insane pace, we’re consuming more and more, and some of us think it’s time to slow things down before it gets too late. No doubt there will be videos or transcripts of the evening online through at least one of the links within this post, so keep checking them, but basically everybody agreed that fashion as it exists now is not at all sustainable. I won’t go into details because once I get started on this I get a bit wound up, but we really need to stop buying cheap crap that we only wear a few times; buy stuff that already exists (ie from op shops), swap clothes with others, or invest in sustainably created pieces (organics, natural materials, fair trade and ethically manufactured brands, recycled garments, brands which use material that biodegrades or can be recycled, like polyester); wash the clothes we wear less and in cold water, and repair, remake or recycle them once we don’t want to wear them any more. (If you’re in the mood for browsing, you might find quite a few remaking ideas on my blog!) Me-Made-March and ideas that involve making your own things are also great… which of course is my excuse to segue into telling you what I’m wearing…

… although I have to say this is not the best example of a me-made outfit. I “made” the earrings and joined a few turquoise necklaces together to make a long rope, but the tassel necklace is from an op shop and my shoes I bought (gasp!) new, as in, not from an op shop even (double gasp).
My dress is not me-made, although I did draft the pattern for it (it’s the same as this one). I was planning to have it produced in India so this blue one is a sample that a factory I contacted made up for me. It was one of those projects that ended up on the backburner, because I was not sure whether the factory was ethical. The colour is amazing too – which unfortunately quite possibly points to a terribly synthetic, chemical dye… aggh…

I will spare you the guilt trip and wind up this somewhat serious post with an amusing anecdote… I wore this dress on a silly fashion shoot that my friends and I did a few years ago – we were snapping away on the steps of Parliament and a policeman stopped us because he thought we were doing a professional fashion shoot and we didn’t have the permission. Ha!! We nearly all died laughing and he let us keep snapping once he realised he was not in the presence of a supermodel or the next Steven Meisel.