Monday, March 30, 2009

Lindsay Lohan's ethical fashion shoot

Lindsay Lohan has posed in a selection of vintage clothing, in her new role fronting ethical fashion campaign Visa Swap.

Making quite a departure from her previous advertising shoots for high-end designers such as Miu Miu and Donna Karan, Lohan only wore second-hand clothing during the shoot, proving you don't have to spend a fortune to look stylish.

Commenting on her appointment, the Mean Girls star said, 'The concept of swapping clothes, getting something for nothing and refreshing your wardrobe appeals to everyone. Ethical stories continue to dominate the news agenda and it's great when fashion projects benefit charities.'

The event takes place this month in London's Covent Garden, and encourages shoppers to swap unwanted clothing. It is in association with clothing charity TRAID.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Future of Fashion is Ethical

Over the course of the last year or so, I’ve noticed an increasing amount of advertising that touts fashion apparel as organic; moving forward, it will also be "ethical." By definition, ethical fashion is "fashion that has been made, worn and passed on in a way that looks after people, animals, and the environment."

And it seems that there are several big names out there that are championing the cause. BBC is one of them, recently rolling out an online ethical fashion magazine titled "Thread." Being produced by BBC Learning, the online magazine is aimed at the 16 to 30 year-old crowd, because, as designer Katherine Hemnett cites, "young people are really interested in these issues."

What exactly qualifies as an "ethical fashion" issue? Everything from the environmental footprint created by clothing manufacturing and the impact of the fashion industry on human and animal rights to educating shoppers on why choosing ethical and organic makes a difference in the world’s future.

And of course, the celebrity crowd is already on the bandwagon too with supporters like Scarlett Johansson, Brad Pitt, and actress Lindsay Lohan who is reportedly collaborating with Visa to sing the praises of ethical fashion. In addition, the team will be launching a campaign that will give people an incentive for turning in unwanted designer fashions - the idea being that they can then go shopping for new, "ethical" fashion.

Speaking of shopping for ethical fashion, it does come with a sizable price tag in most cases. After all, we’re not talking about clothing that’s being pounded out by factory workers stuck under sewing machines for 14-hours a day, seven days a week. However, if you’re socially conscious, you’re probably going to be willing to open your wallet for it.

And it you need a little push in the right direction, even after watching the videos and reading about deplorable working conditions that are written about over at Thread, you can always shop offline at Oxfam.

The charity group, has just launched its first high-fashion boutique in Westbourne Grove, London to coincide with World Fair Trade Day. Selling a range of second hand designer items such as Prada and Gucci at bargain prices, it makes ethical fashion shopping easy on your budget.

Whether you’re in London or not, be sure to take advantage of BBC’s online fashion magazine. The site promises to "show you how to get the look you want in an eco-glam way through a unique mix of affordable fashion, exclusive videos, photo galleries, and thought-provoking features."


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ready To Wear: Ethical Fashion?

Fashion, we all know, is about rather more than just frocks. With this in mind, the strange juxtaposition of two events in the British capital last Thursday provided food for thought. On the one hand, a substantial part of London's Victoria was cordoned off to allow the hugely privileged creature that is the core Chanel customer to attend that label's first ever fashion show in this country without having to rub shoulders with anything so unsightly as a member of the general public, say. On the other, outside branches of Topshop countrywide, War On Want were encouraging students - probably that high street institution's core customer - to protest against what it describes as the store's "exploitation of workers" in the developing world. "The 1.2 billion dividend for Sir Philip Green, who owns UK retailer Topshop, was enough to double the salaries of Cambodia's whole garment workforce for eight years," read a press release issued by that pressure group.

Of course, the Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, today the grandest couturier still practising his craft, is unlikely ever to be strapped for cash. His income too would presumably keep a large proportion of the developing world in a manner to which it is not accustomed. Having said that, the more obviously elitist concern is, debatably, more politically correct than the democratic one, particularly in this instance.

Lagerfeld was in London, of course, putting on his annual Maisons d'Art collection, an event specifically designed to show-case the work of the atelier which provide the finest hand-crafted embellishment to all the great names, the embroiderer Lesage, the boot maker Massaro and the feather specialist Lemarie among them. Chanel has what might best be described as a special relationship with these workshops, having bought them outright five years ago now in order to preserve them not to mention the strictly unionised jobs of the skilled craftspeople involved, at least some of whom supplied the late Coco herself.

More broadly, for those bored of the rapacious pace of even the designer fashion industry today, investing in Chanel may be a shrewd move. As the unprecedented number of extraordinarily well-dressed clients at last week's presentation went to prove the label remains quintessentially chic, classically elegant and may be adapted to suit extremely diverse tastes, ages and body sizes.

There must be a downside, surely? But of course. Chanel, by almost any standards, is hugely expensive and there are therefore only very few who can reasonably consider buying it. A single piece from this great Gallic institution may be more precious than an entire high street collection, however. The rest of the world might have to make do with less rarefied designs but that doesn't mean we can't dream or indeed be mindful that these also come at a price.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ethical Wedding; I do: Tying the knot is getting greener

Economic woes may be causing the appetite for expensive white weddings to crash, but at least one form of wedding is blossoming: the green variety. In tune with a thriftier climate, today sees the doors open on the UK's first major wedding show dedicated to brides and grooms wanting to minimise the environmental impact of their big day, and is just one sign of the rising trend.

Billed as the Eco Chic Wedding & Home Show, the event in Birmingham follows a flurry of new books, suppliers and gift lists on the subject of green unions amid reports from churches and wedding planners of a growing interest in the concept.

Though there is no hard and fast definition of a green wedding, typical conscientious celebrations include a focus on low carbon transport — horse-pulled wagons to gas-powered Bentleys — and local produce — organic beers to British cider.

"A green wedding is one that truly reflects the values of the couple by being conscious of consumption — from the venue to the dress and the reception decorations — and being aware of your carbon footprint," said Rosie Ames, the founder of Green Union, a website that puts couples in contact with sustainably minded suppliers.

"The British public are becoming more environmentally conscious, so it makes sense that this awareness will trickle down to all areas of their life including their wedding day," said Kate Haines, the show's organiser.

Wedding venues have noticed the trend. The Church of England, which is running a two-year project to make its churches more enticing for weddings, reported that it has begun receiving requests for couples wanting a sustainable special day. One such couple was Jessica Randall and Joseph Carrick, who held their wedding in St. George's Church, London, to enable guests to travel via public transport. "We also honeymooned in the UK to reduce our carbon footprint and had a gift list with Oxfam Unwrapped," added Randall.

Organisers behind the National Wedding Show, the UK's biggest wedding event, said they had seen a move towards "ethical" gift lists akin to the advent of goats for Africa and other philanthropic gifts at Christmas. Charities including Cancer Research UK, Oxfam and NSPCC all exhibited for the first time at its Olympia show last month .

The past year has even seen four books published on the subject. "Almost every wedding magazine has had a green feature this season but, unlike previous years, it has lost its alternative 'druid' factor. It's now seen as very in vogue to have organic champagne," said Jen Marsden, author of the Green Guide to Weddings.

Websites catering for the rising interest have also enjoyed a boost in traffic, with the Ethical Weddings site reporting a six-fold increase in traffic between January 2007 and January 2009. An online poll by You And Your Wedding magazine suggested 22.6% of 745 respondents thought about green issues when planning their wedding.

With the credit crunch biting and the average cost of a wedding hovering just under £20,000, according to, there are also signs that more newlyweds are opting for UK honeymoons. The eco travel site said it experienced a 144% increase between 2007 and 2008 for honeymoons in the UK, a trend it attributed to cost-cutting and avoiding the carbon footprint created by traditional long-haul destinations.

But not everyone is convinced couples are always putting sustainability first in their planning. "I've noticed over the past two years that clients are asking about the provenance of food, questions such as: where do you source your meat and cheese?" said Kelly Chandler, a wedding planner for the Bespoke Wedding Company. "But it seems more out of curiosity and a desire for a 'feel-good' factor, because it hasn't ever been a deal-breaker when venues aren't sourcing locally."

The terms "green wedding" and "ethical wedding" appear to have originated in the UK. Data from Google's Insights for Search service shows that searches for "green wedding ideas" have mushroomed by over 5000% in the past five years, with the UK outstripping the US and Australia by a wide margin for queries on the subject.

Perhaps the surest sign green weddings are going mainstream is that TV companies are sniffing around green weddings. Dragon's Den researchers are reportedly scouting the Eco Chic Wedding & Homes Show today looking for exhibitors to go head-to-head with Peter Jones and company.