‘HOW I QUIT SHOPPING’
As Fashion Revolution Week kicks off, fashion editor Prue Lewington reveals how she downsized her wardrobe to help save the planet
As a fashion editor I am expected to be on top of the hottest new trends each season but I have a confession — I haven’t shopped for over a year. Inspired by the KonMari method of decluttering and a home renovation, one year ago I cut up my credit card and culled my wardrobe to within an inch of its life. In the fashion industry wearing the same dress twice is the ultimate faux-pas, but when it takes 3000L of water to make one cotton T-shirt, it’s time for all of us to care more about how our clothes are made and where they end up.
It’s the antidote to fast fashion, a sartorial purge that forces you to re-purpose unwanted clothes and take better care of what’s left.
On the eve of Fashion Revolution Week, which marks the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in which 1138 garment workers were killed, consumers are being encouraged to consider purchases more thoughtfully.
The initiative encourages consumers to buy fewer, better quality garments and wants customers to ask #whomademyclothes to demand greater transparency in the fashion supply chain.
According to Baptist World Aid Australia’s fifth annual Ethical Fashion Report, the percentage of companies publishing at least some portion of their supplier lists increased from 26 to 34 per cent last year alone.
Even Hollywood is getting in on the act. At the Oscars last month, celebrities including Camila Alves McConaughey and Zoey Deutch turned up wearing archival gowns to promote conscious fashion. And the Duchess of Cambridge is often praised for wearing the same outfits multiple times.
Back home, my strict no-shopping rule was tough but no one seemed to notice I was wearing the same clothes to the office each week. On desperate days storage boxes were dusted off to reveal a few forgotten gems: a bespoke wool sweater that had lasted 20 years, and designer leather boots purchased at the same time that were in mint condition. It’s proof that with a little TLC, clothes can last decades.
I found my pared-down wardrobe liberating. Fewer options meant fewer headaches as I scrambled to get the kids ready for school each morning. Months later the only clothes left are basics that match my minimalist style. It felt good wearing them over and over again. And when it’s time to rebuild I’ll choose guilt-free purchases, which are now easy to find.
Local production of labels Bianca Spender, Carla Zampatti, Nobody Denim, Cue and Manning Cartell is audited for safety and fair treatment of factory workers. Retail giant David Jones has launched its first sustainable collection. And Aussie swimwear chain Tigerlily designs bikinis with Econyl — a regenerated fibre from fishnets and other nylon waste. Overseas chains H & M, Zara and C & A, which produce the highest volume of product, are introducing environmental stewardship programs.
So it turns out, we can all do our bit to save the world.
Prue Lewington wears the Diversity Drape Dress by KITX by Kit Willow (pictured). The Sydney label is at the forefront of the sustainability campaign.