TILLY TRETHOWAN x FASHION INDUSTRY
We all wear clothes. Old, young, male, female and everything in between - clothing is something that is relevant to us all. And if we don't address the sustainability challenges in the fashion industry, the impacts of the climate crisis will be felt by all of us, especially those of the younger generations.
We've been working with Tilly Trethowan, a young woman who has been supporting the GIVE WEAR LOVE team behind the scenes. She's given us her take on the fashion industry and her relationship with it...
When Amelia asked me to write a blog post for GIVE WEAR LOVE my first thought was one of inner panic! I’ve never written a blog post before, where should I even start? But then I thought about the clothes, the descriptions I had been uploading to the website and realised that this wasn’t going to be hard at all - there are so many things to write about and so many angles to take.
As a young teenage woman I am caught between the pull of fast cheap fashion to keep my wardrobe updated, and the increasingly urgent need to do things well, ethically and sustainably if we are to have a hope of long term survival. Greta Thunberg reminds us of this daily.
I’m still at school and I’m still learning - and hopefully always will be. I feel lucky to be of the generation that has Greta campaigning for change, and whose actions promote fashion designers such as Vivienne Westwood to lead “reduce, reuse, rethink” movements. Within my group of friends, we are aware of the negative impact of fast fashion, and we often buy our clothes second hand, or from thrift stores, but I know we still need to think harder about the effect of our choices.
Working for Amelia has helped me to understand the urgent need for sustainable, ethical, slow fashion. I am not going to pretend I don’t want to regularly update my wardrobe - but I am excited and encouraged by the fact that there are and can be alternatives to fast, “feel-bad” polluting and unsustainable fashion. I want to feel good in every way about the clothes I’m wearing - and that’s not just about the way they look. It’s about the way they are made, where they’re made, what they’re made from and who they’re made by.
I don’t want the urge to have lots of trendy clothes to impact on the environment or on communities. And I don’t want to be lured by big brands. I’m not a saint but I do think I can begin to take a few steps in the right direction and if I can bring a few friends along on the journey with me then so much the better.
While I think there’s a growing awareness among my friends, I don’t think there’s been a sea change yet in the way younger people value fashion and ‘good’ fashion. I think many are aware of the issues or at least some of the issues. I think some brands are good at putting on an ‘ethical face’. I think others that genuinely do go a long way to make their processes more sustainable, and ethical could work harder at telling us about them and bringing us, and I mean young people particularly, with them on the journey.
There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic. As I’ve learnt while talking to Amelia, there are new techniques, processes and materials being developed within the fashion industry all the time. Few garments are perfectly sustainable in both environmental and social terms... but we can keep on striving to make improvements, and as consumers, making better choices..
It's great that clothes can be made from reused, recycled or sustainable fabrics, without toxic chemicals and pesticides that damage the environment and workers health, and without using too much water.
So I won’t be buying throw away fashion for the next party, but I am going to make a few promises to myself. I will be looking for pieces I love the look of, the feel of, and that I feel good about buying and wearing. I will have a mini checklist which will help me to buy less and buy better. I’m going to find out more about the clothes I want to buy before I buy them, and even if I love that particularly soft snuggly hoody (the one with all the micro plastics that are released each time I wash it), I may well decide that this time, it’s just not worth it. Respect for the planet and respect for people - I don’t think there can be anything more important than that, can there?