I read the ethos of Eco-Age founded by Livia Firth and liked what I saw; a consultancy agency assisting companies and labels to become sustainable. The agency’s Green Carpet challenge include celebrities like Emma Watson and Thandie Newton wearing sustainable brands on the Red Carpet, such as Stella McCartney, who famously uses no animal products, and Chopard, who responsibly source their luxury jewellery. A simple but efficient way to prove ‘eco-fashion’ is more than a plain white, boxy hemp t-shirt, all while gaining loads of coverage through celebrity.
My Instagram feed had become saturated with posts of garment workers holding up white paper signs flashing #imadeyourclothes, thanks to Fashion Revolution. A UK organisation founded by Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro calling for demand of transparency in the fashion supply chain after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in 2013 that killed 1,138 garment workers and injured many more. The movement of asking #whomademyclothes has made brands and consumers from all over the world listen to why transparency is so important and why we need to know who made our clothes.
Here I was in Australia working in a fashion PR and communications agency who made a point to take on clients that give back to the community or have aspects of ethical manufacturing in their production. But I wanted to be more involved. I had found where I wanted to focus my career, although quite a niche area, it was also a topic becoming increasingly relevant and it seemed London was spearheading the revolution. Taking my pipe dream of wanting to live, work and play in London, the time was now.
London has a great reputation for unique creativity and for successful start-ups. The place to be as a young twenty-something wanting to further their career. I searched labels or brands that I could potentially get in to contact with once I had landed, Henri London, Reve En Vert but to my surprise it wasn’t nearly as built up of a community as I had originally envisioned. In Australia, the start-up scene and the idea of social media involving social change seemed to be more prevalent and it was possible that I had already been in the right place and indeed at the right time. Australian Vogue even recently published an entire ethical edition, guest edited by Emma Watson, using the Aussie start-up Good on You App to rate each brand’s sustainability.
Perhaps awareness has become quite established in Australia because you can see the beaches and wildlife trashed first-hand; the Great Barrier Reef disintegrating before our eyes. London is a city thriving on constant consumption, constantly feeding the masses, literally and figuratively. Recycling seems not nearly as important or as highlighted as it is in Australia. There isn’t always the luxury of individual bins given to a household, one for general waste, one for recycling. Flats and apartment blocks are given communal bins, or are forced to place their rubbish in bulk on the street. There is no room for recycling or proper care of where waste is going. In a city that is as constant and chaotic as London, to take a moment to care about waste and where it goes seems furthest from the mind; waste that spills out on to the streets, over-flowing bins in parks and plastic bags flying through the air.
image sourced via Pintrest
My second shock was the amount of unnecessary plastic usage in all major grocery stores. Tesco, Sainsbury, Co-op, Waitrose, doesn’t matter the calibre, all for some reason use plastic in excess. There is no picking vegetables or fruit and placing it in a paper bag, as you can in any Australian supermarket, they have packaged it up, sometimes even individually, in plastic. Contrastingly, I did recently shop at John Lewis where they do charge 5 pence per plastic bag, along with most supermarkets, just as Australia did before banning plastic bags - which does appear to be in the direction in which the UK are heading. It is certainly a topic that hits headlines quite often and is becoming a serious discussion in which to combat. Theresa May has announced her war on plastic, but with it being a 25 year strategy and the aim for the UK to be plastic free by 2042, it seems almost too little too late.
According to the website Plastic Free, plastic waste generated by the UK is estimated to be nearly at 5 million tonnes, with families throwing away around 40kg of plastic each year, which could otherwise be recycled. The Queen has made a conscious effort to lead by example making all of the Royal estates go plastic free by banning single-use plastic straws and bottles and even adding eco-friendly vehicles to her fleet.
Closing in on one year living in London I have begun to realise that there are absolutely teams of people out there that want to make a difference. But in a city full to the brim of almost 8 million people, fast-fashion, fast-food and ‘quick and easy’ packaged meals is one that is completely taking precedence, with social change unfortunately falling by the wayside.
With all this in mind, there are definitely independent businesses who are utilising their skills and profession and turning their attention to creating spaces, or brands that offer different options to the high street. They also assist in understanding how consumers can make the transition into an eco-friendly life and to even give back to local communities. Here are a few that are doing just that, right here in the London Town, pioneering this era of social change to make sure it’s a necessity and not just a trend:
Reve En Vert
A luxury sustainable fashion online store that has you covered, from day to night clothing, activewear, beauty and accessories, they have it all. Founded by Cora Hilts and Natasha Tucker, Reve En Vert was born out of a ‘commitment to bettering the world through the medium of fashion and lifestyle’. Each designer they stock is based on their four tenants of: organic, re-made, local and fair.
My favourite part is scrolling through the blog section of the website that include informative topics on how to live a more ethical and sustainable lifestyle. Whether it is interviews with people working within the industry and promoting the lifestyle, to how to switch to organic makeup to reducing plastic usage and even going meat-free.
Ninety-Percent donates 90% of it’s profits to charitable causes. Best part, you get to choose which one - each garment’s care label has a unique code encouraging you to vote for and support a cause. The London-based luxury womenswear brand is revolutionising our relationship with fashion in a practical and meaningful way. The brand is highlighting poor working conditions and reducing the negative impact on our environment by only working with materials and manufacturers that adhere to strict ethical and sustainable guidelines, and giving back to the communities who make our clothes.
A consultancy agency that is able to tailor bespoke sustainability solution to brands that are looking to position themselves within the social needs of tomorrow. The team will expertly asses the environment of companies’ supply chains outlining their principles as ‘covering social justice, corporate accountability, and environmental stewardship”. Eco-Age work with brands such as Matches Fashion, Gucci, Net-a-Porter and M&S.