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Fashion Revolution Week: Fashion - A Turbulent Love Story

Welcome to Fashion Revolution Week on my blog! This week (20th - 26th April) is Fashion Revolution week. A week dedicated to the anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse, which killed 1,138 people and injured many more in 2013. Designed to encourage millions of people to come together to campaign for systemic change in the fashion industry. I'm taking part in Fashion Revolution week as part of Izzy (The Quirky Environmentalist) bloggers campaign. The first blog is dedicated to Why A Fashion Revolution?

I decided to write this post from a very personal point of view, but if you would love to read more about why a fashion revolution is necessary please head to the Fashion Revolution website or check out Izzy's blog post.

Fashion - a turbulent love story

I can’t remember a time in my life when clothes haven’t brought me happiness. I remember vividly favourite items of clothing from childhood, a couple of which I would still wear today if they fit. Fashion has always provided me with confidence, even when I had none. I suffer from severe social anxiety, and internally in social situations I often feel like I’m dying, but my outfits project the image of a confident, creative, sassy woman. Bright colours and clashing patterns exude self esteem and boldness. I devour fashion related content at a rate of knots. And for years I brought more clothes than most of my friends, in fact I could clothe a small army. I was proud of my vast collection of pretty things, but sorta like the little mermaid, I wanted more!

I actually would still wear this! Very 90s, very cute!

My first real bump with fashion was when I moved to Birmingham. I was in my first year at uni, and after working hard for a year and student loan I had a sizeable amount of money in my account. My mental health dropped off rapidly. And fast fashion became a quick pick me up. I brought more clothes in that period of my life than I ever have. I was friends with a glamorous group of fashion students and I desperately wanted to keep up. Almost as soon as I got there I felt like my wardrobe needed a complete overhaul. I got anxious every time I left my halls, and walking through the centre of the bull ring shopping centre I would often retreat into shops to ease my anxiety. Grabbing anything pretty or shiny, and temporarily calming my fractured nerves. But soon the money I had saved, the loan and even my overdraft were dwindling. I was struggling to afford to eat, but somehow I was still buying clothes. My debt was mounting, and the happiness fashion gave me became more and more fleeting, but still I shopped. I was wracked with guilt, but shopping felt like a compulsion I could barely control.

The embroidery on these jeans is everything! I also love my styling of feather clips in my hair.

Eventually I dropped out of uni, student loans stopped, I moved back home and my financial situation was dire. But at least that meant there was no money left to spend. Back home, that instant fix, buying fast fashion has given me was less needed, and for the first time I truly assessed my clothing situation and was sort of horrified by how dependent on spending money I had become. Since then I have never spent quite so recklessly, but it wasn’t easy to stop twitchy fingers and late night cravings.

Check the skirt over trouser combo, and this top was an absolute fave! I still own and wear this necklace.

In 2016 I went vegan, which was the beginning of a journey to being more conscious about everything I consumed. What started with food, soon became beauty and household products and then I got interested in ethical and sustainable fashion. I guess for years I had been vaguely aware of the human rights abuses, poor working conditions and environmental impact of fast fashion. But I dived head first into the online ethical fashion community. The reality of my fast fashion addiction started to hang heavy on my heart. I realised just how my money had helped fund disasters like Rana Plaza, and ecocide by massive corporations. The more I looked the more I noticed the wastefulness throughout the fashion industry. The YouTube videos I consumed almost religiously, of very rich young women buying huge hauls of items that they would only wear a handful of times, became sickening. It was time for my own Fashion Revolution!

I researched a lot, and realised I already practiced a lot of sustainable shopping. I had always loved vintage and charity shop shopping, for years I had enjoyed the hunt and creativity of secondhand shopping. And the advantage that the chances of wearing the exact same outfit as someone at an event was greatly lessened. But I was thrilled that my new found morals coincided with my love of secondhand shopping.

I also researched ethical brands, I had always thought ethical fashion to be expensive, and way out of my price range. On closer inspection I found that actually prices from many brands weren’t too different from the upper end of the high street, and that if I brought less I could invest in slightly more expensive pieces.

I also realised I already had so many clothes! Committing to retrying, restyling, and upcycling my existing wardrobe has been a fun challenge.

Straight up swag from me and Alice

I didn’t quit fast fashion over night, the first year I brought three fast fashion items over a year. A significant reduction. Last year I brought absolutely no fast fashion items. I still enjoy treating myself every now and then, but I shopped exclusively from vintage, second-hand, ethical and charity shops.

This purple leopard print is a look!

When I first became interested in ethical and sustainable fashion, I wondered if giving up fast fashion would leave me feeling like I was missing out on something I had always loved.

But the reality was quite the opposite, discovering ethical and sustainable fashion reinvigorated my love of fashion! There is something so much more creative and fun about piecing together a look from second-hand and well loved pieces. The hunt is half the fun, whereas fast fashion is always given to us in neat packages, hiding its horrific past. My love of ethical and sustainable fashion has become not just an interest, but an important part of my life and job, rediscovering fashion gave me a whole new creative outlet. After a year or so of learning about ethical fashion, I decided to start writing about it. With that came photographing and styling it, at first I doubted my ability, as I felt inexperienced. But I realised my whole life I had been preparing to make fashion content, just by loving fashion so much. And once again fashion gave me confidence where I had none.

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