In Pursuit of Fashion: A New York Exhibition

At the start of the year, I was fortunate enough to get to New York before the world came to a standstill. And whilst it feels like it was a lifetime ago- thanks corona– I couldn’t not share one of my favourite exhibitions.

Can we start with where it was? Only the flippin’ Metropolitan Museum of Art. My brain isn’t sure what to reference first, Blair and Serena on the steps, ‘The METS suck’ – FRIENDS fans will understand- or of course the MET Gala, one of the biggest Fashion Events of the year. If you didn’t understand any of those, I apologise, but I can assure you standing on those steps, I definitely shed a few happy tears inside.

Anyways, onto the exhibition itself. It was titled ‘In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection’ and the 80 pieces on show were an incredible archive of Fashion’s history.

Christian Dior ‘Du Barry’ Evening Dress Autumn/Winter 1957-58

Starting with one of my favourites, I adore everything about this one; the silhouette; the bow detailing and of course the pale blue silk satin. For some reason, Cinderella vibes come to mind?

Moschino Cheap and Chic ‘Art is Love’ dress Spring/Summer 1993

Apparently taking inspiration from YSL, Moschino replicated the modernist art. The complexity of ownership is arguably highlighted with this piece.

Charles James Evening Dress 1952-54

I love the elegance of this garment, with the head piece only adding to its beauty. OBSESSED. Also majorly appreciate the layers of tulle adding depth, yes please.

Whilst I think one positive to come out of this year is the accessibility of exhibitions and events after the shift to online platforms. And I hope that doesn’t ever disappear. I’ll be very happy to step inside a museum/gallery/anywhere different at this point. Future note to myself to not take for granted new experiences ever again.

Finally don’t forget if you want regular updates, Instagram usually sees it first: @sophiesamantha_fashion

What I Learnt from Fashion Revolution’s FREE Online Course…

On the 22nd of May I finished my second year of University. And by the 13th June I had completed Fashion Revolution’s 4 week course on Fashion’s Future and the Sustainable Development Goals. Some might say I couldn’t bare the thought of having zero form of education. Realistically, I just had to take advantage of the resources available before Future Learn made me pay into a subscription- #poorstudentlife.

Anyways, I thought it would be beneficial to document somewhat of an overview of the month. For my own reference, and with the possibility that something sparks an interest or at the very least, sits in your subconscious until triggered.

Week 1

The first week seemed to be a general introduction into how sustainability can be defined; holistically in the industry and generally how it should be achieved within planetary boundaries (Johan Rockström, 2007). Finally, briefly including which of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) would coincide with the course- circled above.

Week 2

The second week dived into SDG 1 (No Poverty) and SDG 5 (Gender Equality). The Fashion industry- in particular fast fashion- have arguably a lot to answer for when it comes to garment workers receiving in most cases, a ‘below the living standard’ income. Deloitte Access Economics for Oxfam found that 4% of the price of a piece of clothing is estimated to make it back to the workers. Side note: If you haven’t been following #PayUp on Instagram, then get to it! The pandemic has caused BIG brands to cancel BILLIONS of dollars worth of orders, leaving garment workers in crisis mode.

Meanwhile, I found it equally as interesting that CARE International included 1 in 3 women working in garment factories had reported sexually harassing behaviour in the last year. That already doesn’t sit right with me, without thinking about all the times it wasn’t reported. However, one initiative worth researching is the Good Business Lab. Their projects include; unlocking female labour; improving work environment; closing the skill gap and building holistic health.

Week 3

From the third week, I was learning about the damaging, waste culture of the industry. For example, its estimated the fashion industry emits 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2e a year. With clothing as the 4th largest environmental impact after housing, transport and food in the U.K (WRAP).

More specifically at SDG 14: conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources. Synthetic fibres such as polyester, are made up of microfibres that can shed over its lifetime, particularly when put in the washing machine (Environmental Audit Committee, 2019). 35% of all microplastics come from clothing and textiles and its expected by 2050 for there to be more plastic than fish in the sea. Fortunately from the course, I learnt that France are leading the way for improvement. In February 2020, the country brought in legislative steps for microfibre pollution. Including that by January 2025, all new washing machines will have to include a filter to catch the microfibres before they’re released into water systems.

Week 4

By the final week it was time to look at the industry’s options. The initiatives already in place such as Lenzing’s ‘Refibra Tencel’ fabric that uses pre-consumer cotton scraps and wood pulp. Or Swedish government proposed a 50% tax break for repair on shoes, clothes and bikes which supports the ‘make do and mend’ mentality we should have. Finally, the industry should try to implement circularity through rental or resale. Furthermore, circularity through manufacturing which would phase out hazardous chemicals.

Overall, I was thoroughly fascinated by the Fashion Revolution course, through the amount of topics covered and the quality of content. Moreover, because of its impact, I’ll be uploading another post based on one of the assignments I had to complete for the course. Until then, as Fashion Revolution states:

Be Curious. Find Out. Do Something.

Easley Magazine – 2019

What I Wore in New York

Like many isolating from home, I’m thinking of all the day-to-day tasks I was taking for granted; being able to shop without restrictions, leave the house for longer than an hour and having social interactions with someone outside of my household. Of course I’m willing to comply for as long as needs be to ensure the change that ultimately slows down this deadly virus.

However, whilst it may feel as though we’ve been on lockdown an eternity, (how have two weeks felt so long?!) the U.K in particular had the first couple months of 2020 to enjoy. Personally, the start of my year couldn’t have gone better with a trip to New York in the back end of January. And whilst I’m not here to ignore Covid-19, I want to continue what this blog once was, a space to share my interest in fashion.  Meanwhile I’m sure posts on the virus will appear, just once I’ve collated the right words to use…

DAY ONE

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Speaking to those who’d been to the city, all advised the same thing; LAYERS, LAYERS AND EXTRA LAYERS. So I tried to go for warmth as much as possible with my wardrobe to ensure I could comfortably explore New York. For the first full day, I had the idea to experiment with layers visually rather than thinking about practicality and thermals. Pinterest and Instagram are my go to sources for streetwear inspiration, so it must have subconsciously stored in my brain at some point to layer a roll neck under a jumpsuit. Quickly, this jumpsuit has become a favourite of mine because of its versatility, being able to layer underneath with different weights of garments or on its own. Trying to keep your wardrobe to key pieces can be done through finding garments that can be flexible through seasons.

xdf       Outfit Details:

  • Jumpsuit: Topshop
  • Roll Neck: Zara
  • Boots: ASOS
  •  Coat: Topshop

DAY TWO

7Throughout the trip, we were really fortunate with the weather, I’m pretty certain it didn’t rain during the day and whilst it was cold it wasn’t unbearable. I was really happy with the styling of this outfit, I think the beige and white work well, going with the earth tones vibe. With the white jeans, it was a purchase I really took my time over, I wanted to know I was sure I’d be able to pair it with a lot. But I think it effectively contrasts with the other garments and balances well with the black coat.

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      Outfit Details:

  •  Jumper: Topshop
  •  Jeans: Topshop
  •  Headband: Topshop

DAY THREE

5Come the third day, I switched out my black coat for a much thicker and in turn warmer pink one. This released some pressure over what basics I should wear under my visible outfit because I knew how warm it would and did end up keeping me. With this outfit I turned to black jeans, knowing there was enough going on with the polka dots and pink.

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  • Coat: Topshop
  •  Top: H&M
  •  Jeans: Topshop
  •  Scarf: Topshop

 

DAY 4

The day we were flying home, I needed a comfortable yet you’re-still-in-new-york outfit. So with leggings being comfortable, they also became a must. Layered with a Jumper and a black top underneath in case I got too warm on the plane.

      Outfit Details:

  • Jumper: Topshop
  •  Leggings: Topshop
  •  Trainers: Topshop

Back soon,

Sophie

T-Shirt: Cult, Culture, Subversion Exhibition

Seemingly, it doesn’t matter how many posts you’d like to write, if you don’t have enough hours in the day, your blog is slowly going to die a painful death.

New tactic.

To incorporate your degree with your blog, so you can be blogging and still technically be doing uni work.

In all seriousness, my second year at university has kicked up a gear and I’m struggling for time to do anything. My Fashion degree is obviously something that consumes me and therefore needs to filter through into this blog. Starting with a recent visit to a T-Shirt exhibition that was a part of the British Textile Biennial.

The first stand I was drawn to in the exhibition was the selection of climate change t-shirts. They varied from hand drawn pieces overlaying commercial graphics to simple yet effective stand-alone text tees. Luckily, the t-shirts stood for what was printed on them. One read ‘Single Use Plastic is Never Fantastic’ (designed by Henry Holland in collaboration with BRITA) and was made using recycled plastic and salvaged cotton.

4 From climate change to political issues, specifically titled ‘Personal/Political’ deriving from the slogan ‘the personal is political’. I thought that this section in particular covered a lot of issues in one. Which only highlights the aim of the exhibition as a whole to start the discussion of fashion being an avenue for communication and personal expression.

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A big influence in the exhibition was the work of Vivienne Westwood. The pefect choice, that I thought encapsulated what the collection stood for. The particular piece above was from Westwood’s runway for Spring/Summer 2018 and I think its a t-shirt in its peak  of importance during a time of awareness against fast fashion.

Another selection of t-shirts came bearing empowering quotes which further highlights the premise of the collection, demonstrating t-shirts being a really impactful communication tool. Whilst I feel the one on the right (‘We should all be feminists‘) has a great importance it has definitely circulated a lot more. Whereas, I particularly loved the left tee ‘What other people think about you is none of your business’.

7Finally finishing with this masterpiece, obviously I adore the quoted t-shirt and once I’ve finished writing this I’ll be googling where I can get my hands on one – a sustainably and ehtically produced one of course. But I just really appreciate the scale in which Vivienne Westwoods face has been printed onto the t-shirt behind. Go big or go home, I guess.

 

S.S.S

OOTD #30: A Richard Allan x H&M Collaboration?!

It’s probably fair to say that the Richard Allan x H&M collaboration was one we didn’t know we needed. But it has by far excited me the most…

Richard Allan’s bold, abstract prints have been reworked and released with H&M to create the most stunning collection, unlike anything else on the high street.

Outfit Details:

Stand-up Collar Satin Dress

Patterned Scarf

Inspired by the swinging sixties’, along with the most perfect colour scheme, each garment is perfect for Autumn/Winter.

H&M wrote up an interview with Cate Allan (Richard Allan’s daughter) introducing their ‘wearable art’ collaboration. I found it really informative to read, not only for the vibe of the collection but also details of the designer himself. Article linked here.

I am obsessed with this dress and will figure out what to pair it with in the U.K’s colder climate. I’m also going to attempt to get other pieces in the collection, the patterned boiler suit has my attention but who knows if I could pull it off.

S.S.S

Fight Against Plastic: An Experiment

With Boots announcing their plan to ban plastic bags in the news this past week, it reminded me of my aim to write more on being environmentally conscious. With time on my hands, I’m able to read up on and learn different lifestyle changes I can make. In this post, I’ll include the things I’ve started to do and the goal being by the end of Summer, I’ll post whats been maintained and added.

Muslin cloths replacing Makeup wipes

Initially, I thought the hardest one to maintain would be to go without makeup wipes. In truth, its been much easier than expected, if you don’t have something, you make do without. It’s probably better for my skin because now I have to double cleanse after wearing makeup. Muslin cloths are also much softer to use on my skin, easy to wash and zero waste.

Okay, I can’t stop using ALL wipes…

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Purely from the house I’ve grown up in, we always have wipes in the bathroom but I don’t know whether this is a standard or uncommon thing to do? Anyways, it was a ‘This Morning‘ segment I watched where I learnt that wipes don’t biodegrade and whilst they can state ‘safe to flush’, they’re not safe for the environment. So until I stop using wipes all together, I think I’ve found the best option; biodegradable; compostable; suitable for vegans and 100% organic cotton- Amazon link here.

Reusable bottle, single use plastic who?

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An obvious one is to invest in a refillable bottle because there’s really no excuse to buy a single-use plastic bottle anymore. I bought this one from Amazon and think its the perfect size because I know I can leave the house and know I’m not about to have an empty bottle within five minutes.

A cute Tote

3Similar to the bottle, there is no reason to not be using re-usable bags. My go-to is this one I bought from the design museum in Milan, I think its much prettier than any 5p bag I’m offered in stores. Also, it might be a good idea to just have one in the boot of your car, then you’re never caught off guard with a spontaneous shopping trip.

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After sharing what is probably the bare minimum of what I’m doing to use less plastic, my next read is ‘Turning the Tide on Plastic‘. Hopefully, by the end of it, I’ll have accumulated more plastic-free lifestyle changes and be able to have a more thorough post by the end of Summer.

S.S.S

Taking Inspiration from the Harris

Something I don’t write a lot about on this blog, is where I get my inspiration from to help with my course. If you didn’t know, I’m currently coming towards the end of my first year of University, studying Fashion. Due to the creative nature of the degree, I’m always aware of what could inspire me. A couple months ago, I visited the Harris in Preston, in doing so a starting point for ideas was created.

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Figure 1- ‘Beside the Brambled Ditch’ Painting 1983

After looking at numerous paintings in the museum, this one had my attention. Titled ‘Beside the Brambled Ditch’ by Ian Mckeever in 1983, I was in awe by the fluid brush strokes. Also, the module this was going to help with, is drawing based, so I knew immediately it would help with practising that free hand. Another reason this painting had my attention for so long, was because it is actually a photograph of a pond and the artist covers it with paint, to express how he felt. No matter how long I looked, I really couldn’t see the photograph. However, the painting had started the thought process for the module.

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Figure 2- 1972 Garment

Arguably a piece that I got even more inspiration from; a luxurious seventy’s dress. When I saw it, I knew it was going to play a big part in my module, but the difficulty was, there wasn’t much information on it. After contacting the Art Curator of the Museum, I finally had the backstory; the dress was bought in Speights for £69 in 1972. The designer was Susan Small, apparently the retail arm of Maureen Baker, the designer of Princess Anne’s wedding dress.

From that point, I’ve developed the idea of the dress (observing colour, silhouette) and used the time period to research other 1970 dresses- that decade becoming almost a theme. Also, keeping the painting involved, that has helped with observational drawings and method of expression to inform my own prints for the 70’s themed dresses I’ve illustrated.

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Figure 3- Example of my own work. 

Overall, the above painting and garment both became a starting point for my module. Since taking inspiration from them, I’ve been able to continue to develop and inform my ideas to help towards my work.

 

 

Broken Nature Exhibition- Milan

Today- 22nd April- is Earth day, therefore finding it very appropriate to write about an exhibition I visited at the Triennale di Milano titled ‘Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival’. I found each piece fascinating, so I thought I’d highlight a few of my favourites in a post.

Figure 1 & 2- Plastiglomerate

One of the first pieces to catch my attention were these, titled ‘Plastiglomerate’. These samples were described as ‘fossils of the future‘ because of all the plastic waste that ends up on our beaches, heavier pieces could end up being preserved in the sediment record. It was a stark shock to realise that’s what humans are doing to something that should be so natural.

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Figure 3- Growing Varieties

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Figure 4- Nanohana Heels

These heels were designed by British Japanese designer Sputniko, in collaboration with shoe designer Massaya Kushino. It started when scientists discovered rapeseed blossoms absorb radioactive substances from soil. These shoes have heels that plant rapeseeds with each step- ‘turning a stroll into a dynamic and reparative act’. I love the concept behind this, to think you could be helping the earth just by having a walk around.

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Figure 5- Reliquaries

Titled ‘Reliquaries’ it was the idea of presenting natural elements because one day- at the rate the earth is dramatically changing- it may be that these things will become precious to us. Alluding to a moment where ‘a daisy might become more treasured than a diamond’. When I first looked at this, I was immediately confused, why was I standing in front of things that we have an abundance of? More importantly things I thought couldn’t be affected. But of course, with the way the world is going, everything is/will be affected and that’s a scary thought.

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Figure 6- Sempione Park

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Figure 7- Transitory Yarn

Designed by Alexandra Fruhstorfer, a system called ‘Transitory Yarn’ created to combat the fashion industry’s large waste issue and huge resource consumption. This makes it possible to dismantle and reknit items again, which I think is genius and something we need to see more of within the industry.

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Figure 8- Sun Protection Clothing

Something I hadn’t thought of until coming across this piece, is the amount of sun cream bottles that end up in landfill, majority of them being made from plastic. However, protecting your skin against the sun’s rays is considered very important. So it was interesting to see garments that had been constructed with sun protection in mind.

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Figure 9- The Black Forest

This chair, titled ‘The Black Forest’ reflects the suffering of forests and man’s involvement. It is made out of recycled plastic, iron and coal. What grasped my interest was the intricate detail that you wouldn’t pick up if you weren’t stood right in front of it. I think that with the dark, almost blurred marks you can tell it is representing torture.

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Figure 10- Fishing Net Tops

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the Broken Nature Exhibition and only wish the Triennale Milan Museum was a frequent visit.

How I’m Stopping Contributing to Fast Fashion

Globally, the second most polluting industry is fashion.

This alarming information appeared in Stacey Dooley Investigates ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’ (BBC, 2018). Since then, I’ve gained a growing awareness to the state of the environment and the particular effect the fashion industry is having on it. After reading various sources, I’ve accumulated my own list of ways I can help alleviate the problem.

1. Don’t Throw Unwanted Clothes Away.

As tempting as it is to throw away old clothes- 3/4 of Britons do (Perry, 2018). It’s much better for the environment to take those garments to a charity shop or re-use them. Is it necessary it goes in the bin? Or is there a creative way it could get a new life? For me- on a fashion degree- any extra material can always be cut up and used in some way.

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Figure 1- An example of my work, re-using a curtain.

2. Awareness of Where to Shop.

Do we always know the ethics of a store when we’re shopping in it? Of course not. But 5 minutes of research can give a plethora of information on where a store stands on sustainability. It seems simple, but I want to be supporting the brands that understand how important it is to be aware of the environmental state and be positively contributing to the issue. For example, & Other Stories have a ‘Textile Recycling‘ solution to help minimise the effect of fashion on the environment (& Other Stories, 2019).

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Figure 2- & Other Stories top.

3. Quality of Clothes.

One of the main features of fast fashion is the price, clothes are more often than not on the cheaper side. Which in turn, happens to also be a downfall of the industry, the better the price, the more we buy. But we’re forgetting the garments aren’t as durable. I’ve always tried to make a conscious effort to save my money, to be able to buy the clothes I know I’ll get a lot of wear out of.

4. Shop When and as Needed.

If we all stopped falling for the next fast fashion deals, brands would have to listen to consumers. Production would slow down and there wouldn’t be as much waste going to landfill. By decreasing our shopping habits, we’d only be purchasing items when we needed them. Ideally, with less demand, designers could focus their energy on how to use less fabric for multiple garments.

5. Washing Polyester Fabrics in Bags

For £5.99 you can buy a set of laundry bags from Amazon. Washing polyester fabrics in bags, stops the microfibers coming off the fabric. Ultimately, when this happens the microfibers add to the already astonishing amount of plastic in our oceans and affects the sea life.

If we all just started one of these points, we’d be making a difference.


HOME

The Effect of Fast Fashion

Currently, the fast fashion industry is catastrophically damaging our environment, and whilst it’s doing so in numerous ways, I wanted to research a particular avenue; water. That being arguably one of the most important factors- we need to look after- that needs to also be sustained.

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Figure 1- Jeans

Something that can be found in the majority of our wardrobes are jeans. But not all of us are aware of the true cost of owning them. According to the BBC: ‘it can take over 15,000 litres of water to grow the cotton to make a pair of jeans’ (Sanghani, 2018). Not only this, but because of the continual consumer need for these cotton garments we’re seeing whole lakes drying up. The Aral sea- once globally the fourth biggest lake- had ‘completely dried’ (Hoskins, 2014). Whilst this obviously leaves residents with no water, it also seriously affected their health. Pesticides were released from the exposed sea bed and affected people and farm land (Hoskins, 2014). Also, dust has replaced water, causing respiratory problems for people nearby (Hoskins, 2014). From watching a documentary a few months ago, I understand the surrounding residents have been slowly trying to recover the sea (BBC, 2018). However, I think that’s something that shouldn’t have to be done, the problem of water usage should have been addressed much sooner before a whole lake emptied.

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Figure 2- Water

From the decrease of vast water to the quality of it: ‘fashion is the cause of 20 per cent of water pollution globally’ (World Bank cited in Nahyan, 2019). During the textile dyeing procedure, 85% of the water used pollutes the local water sources (Cotton inc cited in Nahyan, 2019). Greenpeace are seemingly very invested in this matter and have created a ‘Detox’ campaign: ‘which exposed the links between textile manufacturing facilities using toxic chemicals and water pollution’ and aims to encourage fashion brands to eliminate the hazardous portion of manufacturing (Greenpeace, 2012). The chemicals ending up in the water are highly toxic to the wildlife and people who rely on those water sources. Azo dyes are commonly used in the textile industry, when some break down during the process another chemical is released, that one being able to cause cancer (Greenpeace, 2019). Furthermore, heavy metals are used in certain dyes which once in the body, can have irreversible effects (Greenpeace, 2019). Overall, I think it is a basic human right to have clean drinking water and it leaves me feeling guilty to think many people don’t have that, just so we can have highly-toxic-made clothing.

The points I’ve put together in this post apply to fashion as a whole but with the alarming rate of the fast fashion industry, it’s safe to say the latter is also very much accountable. Finally, whilst I think we’re all starting to become more aware of the issues that lie within the fast fashion industry, I think we still have far to go.