Fashion, sustainability and why I buy second hand

Fashion, sustainability and why I buy second hand

I am going to talk about something other than gardening today – my love of clothes. But did you know the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world? Fashion encourages us to buy more clothes than we need and retailers are competing with lower prices, often made in developing countries with devastating effects on the environment and their local ecology.  The sad truth is these cheap clothes are often quickly discarded in favour of the next season’s trends. Many of us have no idea how destructive this is.

As a TV presenter and a designer I know I am a person of influence and believe it is my job to speak up on these matters. My friends know that out of my gardening clothes, I love fashion. I have a wardrobe that puts most women to shame and nothing gives me more pleasure than letting my creativity flow with fine tailoring and beautiful garments – but I do fashion my way and don’t listen to trends or advertising.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying clothes but I think we can make better decisions how we buy them. I have never been a fan of mass produced seasonal fashion – my clothes are often found in second hand shops and I enjoy having my own style. I find well made, well tailored classics often in vintage markets or charity shops and feel good about giving them a second home. Furthermore they are better made than a lot of high street fashion – I buy them to last a lifetime.

I also like fair trade clothing where the proceeds go direct to the maker – especially where the fabrics come from sustainable sources. I do buy new, well tailored garments and prefer small designers – the type you may find at Portobello or Camden market- I know the profits go to people and their families and the clothes are unique and well made. If I do buy from the high street I prefer brands with ethical and environmental policies and timeless items which are made to last.

None of us are perfect and we all need to buy clothes. I am no saint but I try. If we all took more notice how we buy clothing we can at least help lower the carbon footprint. Globally that’s not enough alone but it does matter. Have a watch of this if you haven’t already – Stacey Dooley investigates ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’

The Black Gardener
June 2019

Image credit: Neil Marshment

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