Monday, January 24, 2011

Fashion Forward: A Look at Fashion and its Impact on the World.

Dior Runway Show:  Jan. 24, 2011
It's Paris fashion week, and in light of the Haute Couture fashions shows: today's showcasing Dior (click link to see the runway show pictures, photo below) and Giorgio Armani Prive,  and tomorrow featuring Chanel and the scary models of Givenchy, and on Wednesday Jean Paul Gaultier and Valentino, I thought I'd take a moment to think about the impact of fashion around the world.

I'm constantly examining the labels in my clothes to see where they came from. Most commonly I find Sri Lanka (an island nation with a population of 20M) where just this week there was an article in the UK Telegraph about how Sri Lanka is recycling fashion from waste materials "on an industrial scale." Although only a few years ago, embroiled in illegal sweat shops, workers (mostly female) were being paid less than $40.00 U.S per month. Now, these thoughts are front and foremost in my mind, but this wasn't always the case...

I remember in high school, my dad threatened to "throw out anything I bought from Ralph Lauren," because of the accusations of sweat shop labor. This message has always stuck with me throughout the years as I became a consumer and was able to purchase any label I wanted.

In my two years at Saks Fifth Avenue at the tender age of eighteen and nineteen, I became more brand-savvy, partially because I was trained and tested on name brand (pronunciation too) recognition. I became somewhat of a brand snob as I purchased a collection I've since discarded to consignment shops to another customer's delight, thinking that the brand or label made the woman or man. I've since learned that it's not what you wear, but how you wear it, that matters. (Thank you for teaching me that lesson: Natalie.) Always harking in the back of my mind were the thoughts of: how much money it was costing and how much waste it created when I got rid of it after it wasn't fashionable. I've since reconciled my 'wasteful fashion sense of youth' with the tried and true mantra, "The Classics Never Go Out of Style," and tried to stick to solid colors (not prints that go out easily) and the basics: pant, skirt, blouse, sweater, blazer/jacket.

Beyond the basics of clothes: I think it's important to think about our carbon footprint on the world. Think about this: since you were born, how many things and how much "stuff" JUST for you has been thrown away? Clothes, shoes, food trash, paper, etc? You can see the stats for an average human lifetime footprint here but the average weight of your lifetime (~77.9 years) of trash is TWENTY tons. That's about 22 elephants. Or three school busses PER PERSON. Multiply that by the current global estimated population of 6.9 billion people.

How can we begin to educate ourselves about responsible companies, such as the Brand Names of the Fashion world? With sites such as They outline how to live green, discover fair trade and the benefits of supporting fair trade companies, how to buy sweat-free products and what to boycott to send a message home to a company. It's not the only company out there leading the charge, but it's a start. I hope you'll take a minute to check out their site.

Have a great night!