November & December 2020 | Monthly Wrap Up

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

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The past couple of months have been hectic but somehow haven’t felt as stressful as they could have done.



Favourite part?

 

With lockdown and then Tier 3 and 4, I’ve not been up to much (like most people!). But it’s still been pretty good I’d say. Especially considering the circumstances!

 

One of my favourite things the past couple of months has been going for a lot of walks and seeing more of the area surrounding where I live. Not having my weekends filled has meant I’ve been able to explore a bit more and force myself to go outside! 



 

As since the beginning of lockdown, I’ve relly been enjoying online events, including talks by Layla F. Saad and Fiona Thomas, Remake Community Calls, as well as hosting some of my own events as part of FemSoc!

 

Before my flatmates and I went home for Christmas, we made the flat look really festive and I absolutely loved it! Here's to the wonders fairylights from Poundland and some green fabric can do! I was really glad to get home for Christmas though and feel like I have had a decent amount of rest time – not doing any work at all is amazing!  But I’ve now been back to work for a couple of days and it won’t stop until I finish my degree! (No you’re the one panicking about that.)


Oh! And I got a fringe! Here's to dissertation procrastination haircuts...



Best read?


I’ve actually read a lot recently! They’ve mostly been for my course, but they have all been super interesting and I’ve enjoyed them all. At one point in November, I read 3 books in a week. It’s fair to say I was quite tired by the end of it! Books I read for my course were The Beetle by Richard Marsh, which was very weird but was quite easy to read and enjoyable; Dracula by Bram Stoker, which I did really enjoy although there were definitely some bits they could have cut out! I also read Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn and The Sheik by E. M. Hull.

 

I read Trumpet by Jackie Kay and held a book club event around it for my uni’s Feminist Society. It’s such an incredible book and I honestly couldn’t put it down. It’s such a beautiful story of love and grief and it’s so wonderfully written!

 

I have also read Quite by Claudia Winkleman, which I found very funny and readable, as Ruby Rare’s Sex Ed, an incredible book I would recommend to everyone. That book is what our sex education should be!



Favourite tunes?


As always I’ve listened to a fair amount of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. I’ve also been loving Taylor Swift’s new album, evermore, I find it quite relaxing. I’ve been listening to a ot more Dolly Parton, specifically her new Christmas album and her album Here You Come Again (including singing quite loudly on a train carriage I thought was empty but turned out not to be). 


My favourite music to work to recently has been the soundtracks for Ratatouille, How to rain Your Dragon and Narnia. 


Image source

Favourite watch?


As I’m sure a lot of people have a found, a combination of lockdowns (including a mixture of Tiers 3 and 4) and winter has meant a lot of TV has been watched. 

 

My flatmates and I watched Catastrophe, which I absolutely loved and miss. We lso watched Strictly, I’m a Celeb and Bake Off when they were on, as well as the old reliables: Gogglebox and First Dates. I may also have been binge watching Made in Chelsea, and yes it’s shit but I can’t stop watching!

 

And of course there’s been Christmas watches: both Home Alone films, Arthur Christmas twice, Dickensian, Muppets Christmas Carol and the 

 

I also watched the BBC Dracula series. I thought the first two episodes were incredible but the third one went a little bit rogue and I’m not sure what I think about it. 

 

I introduced my family to the show Lovesick, and they lved it as much as I do! And then I’ve watched Bridgerton with my mum over the past couple of days and loved the silliness!


Image source

 

What did I learn?


Rest is crucial!! This is the same for the whole of this year but I suddenly noticed how tired I was when I went home for Christmas once I wasn’t worrying about work for a week and a bit. Things really catch up on you and we all need to take care of ourselves!

 

What’s happening next month?


I’ve been in Tier 4 since Boxing Day, but have to go back to Newcastle for university at the beginning of January - doing my best to keep Covid safe of course! I’ll be mostly working on some final assessments and my dissertation.

 

What’s been on my mind?


Honestly just trying to keep on top of everything! I’ve had so much to do, I’ve been focusing on my uni work and other commitments, as well as making sure I take time for myself and actually relax on the weekends. It’s a plan which seems to be working so far.

 

Favourite blogger/vlogger?

 

I won’t lie I’ve not watched much YouTube or read many blogs recently. I’ve been focusing on all the work I’ve had to do!

 

Favourite post?

 

I wrote a lot of the posts published in November and December earlier on in the year and I quite enjoyed revisiting them when they were released.

 

Some of my favourites are How to Check a Fashion Brand’s Ethics and Sustainability, 5 Ways You Can Support Ethical Fashion Without Spending a Penny and My Slow Fashion Journey.



Biggest inspiration?

 

Not very exciting, but honestly just getting through this year and trying to do the best in my degree!

 

Any other favourites?


This one has to be seeing my cat for the first time in 3 months. I missed cuddles with her!



If you liked this post you might like: October 2020 | Monthly Wrap Up

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How to Check a Fashion Brand’s Ethics and Sustainability

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

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 Being able to tell if a brand’s practices are ethical and sustainable is difficult. We have greenwashing, lack of transparency and a whole load of flashy marketing to push passed to help us make purchasing decisions we’re happy with and to help us know where to direct our activism. This post outlines my process when researching into a brand and some tips I’ve picked up along the way. Sometimes, the answers are confusing, and although it may seem incredibly cynical, I find that going into research assuming the worst of brands tends to be the best (and often most accurate) approach. They must prove that their supply chains and practices are ethical and sustainable to you as a citizen and potential purchaser – think of it like a defense in court but just with fashion brands.

 

First, go to their website


This should be the first thing you do every time you want to find out more about a brand. What does their homepage look like? Have they got green, natural imagery everywhere that’s a bit overwhelming? Do they have ‘sustainable collection’ plastered everywhere? This is likely to be greenwashing if they don’t clearly state their ethics and sustainability policies elsewhere on their site.  Now, most brands will have a page related to these issues. They may be called something like ‘Sustainability and Ethics’ or ‘Supplier Code of Conduct’, but we’re looking for more than them just having that page. If they go into specifics on their site they’re more likely to actually be ethical. These include include details such as naming factories and countries, stating their materials clearly, highlighting whether or not their workers get a living wage. If they’re being vague and simply stating their ‘commitments’ to ethical working conditions and sustainability, you need more information. The important thing here is what they’re doing to make changes and ensure these commitments are a reality. What are they doing to follow up on these claims?

 

You can also keep your eyes peeled for any accreditations which may pop up on these pages. These may be from Fairtrade, Fair Wear, Ethical Trade Initiative and more. If a brand includes any certification logos on their page, look up those certifications and see what they actually mean. 

 

As it is now compulsory in the UK for brands to publish their Gender Pay Gap, you can also find that out relatively easily. Some will have this on their websites, but the Government website should also have them. However, these stats don’t account for their supply chains or other companies they own. Boohoo, for example has a 0% median gender pay gap, whereas their subsidiary companies Pretty Little Thing and Karen Millen have gaps of 29% and 49% respectively. The UK average is 17%.

 

Google their brand name along with words like ‘sustainability’ ‘ethics’ and look through the results


This is good for getting the initial picture. You may see some major red flags straight away or it may be a bit more complicated. When you search ‘Boohoo ethics’ for example, you get loads of information about Leicester and their generally terrible supply chains. Other brands may be less specific. Most brands aren’t great, but it’s generally about determining the horrendous ones from the bearable ones. This will take time just having a flick though articles and headlines, but it will provide you with a broader picture of the brand. 

 

Use tools like Good On You and Clean Clothes Campaign’s Fashion Checker to find out background more information

 

There are loads of great tools out there to help breakdown the ethics of different brands and when deciding if you want to buy from a brand or not. Many of these tools show different elements of ethical production and go into different levels of detail. 

 

Good On You are a great resource. You can use their app and their website to find information about brands’ records in regards to workers’ rights, environmental impact and animal welfare (if they use materials such as fur, leather etc.). They don’t go into a huge amount of detail but I find Good On You to be incredibly useful to get the general gis of how good a brand is. The one thing I find frustrating about Good On You is that that tend to only have information on bigger brands, so you often have more work if you want to find out about smaller brands. 

 

Other useful tools include Clean Clothes Campaign’s Fashion Checker. This website will tell you whether or not the garment workers making clothes for a brand are being paid a living wage or not. They also have more information on what minimum vs living wage means and how it affects garment workers, the gendered aspects of the garment industry and a whole host of other great resources to learn more about the industry from podcasts and reports to Netflix shows. Fashion Checker provides a bit more information, highlighting the brand’s revenue, other brands they might own, their top 3 production countries and any commitments they may have made to improving their supply chains. 

 

Find detailed information on Remake's Transparency Report

Remake have recently released their incredible new Transparency Report, and it is incredible.  Remake rank their brands in a slightly different way than just saying ‘they’re good’ or ‘they’re bad’. They have 4 main categories: Rockstars, Up & Comers, Wannabees and Offenders. Each brand gets a different number of points based on five different categories: Traceability & Transparency, Maker Wellbeing, Environmental Sustainability, Sustainable Raw Materials and Leadership, Diversity & Inclusion. While some brands did much better than others, every single brand surveyed lost points on the last category, which measures racial diversity at board levels and throughout their headquarters. 


Currently, they have the information about 40 different brands on their website, however they are aiming to expand to 400 soon and you can request to find out more about a specific brand if they haven't got their information up already. This report includes all public information about the brands, so you have one place to go to for everything! I love it. 


They also further divide brands depending on their price and what type of clothing they make. To me, this is a temptation for endless clicking. I find that kind of research a bit addictive, but maybe that’s me being nerdy for ethics. I'm so excited to see how this grows!

 

You can also check Remake’s Pay Up Fashion campaign website to keep track of which brands have paid their suppliers since the start of the pandemic and who hasn’t (spoiler: many still haven’t). 

 

Check Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index


Brands who do well on this Transparency Index aren’t guaranteed to be ethical or sustainable by any means (H&M took the number one spot in the first report and they are certainly not ethical), however, it is a good means of knowing what information is out there. We can’t know if a brand is ethical or sustainable in its practices if they’re not telling us any information about its supply chain. Transparency is the first step for any brand to move toward a more ethical framework and it is vital when communicating with the people who buy their clothes. 

 

Contact the brand!


If you can’t find much elsewhere, ask the brand directly. Send them a message on social media or tag them in a post/tweet asking them for more information. You can also find a contact email for most brands quite easily, so send them an email asking to know more about their supply chains and their policies in terms of ethical and sustainable production. You may get no reply (as has often been the case), or you may get something that may as well have not been a reply, or you may get something pretty decent and detailed – it all depends on the brands themselves but analyse their responses carefully. 

 

Just remember that the people behind the social media accounts and emails aren’t the ones who are exploiting garment workers and the environment and ultimately don’t have the power to make change quickly, so make sure that you’re being nice to them! They may be able to pass on concerns their customers have to people higher up and what they’re allowed to tell you is certainly indicative of the brand’s ethical policies. 

 

Keep researching and keep updated


Brands are always changing. New scandals emerge and we have to remember that brands can change and do actually do better sometimes. We have to keep holding brands to account, even if they’re ones who are open about trying to do be better. Follow fashion activists on social media, keep an eye on how and when brands are being covered in the news, and let them know what you think of their actions. And remember that it’s okay not to be a perfectly ethical consumer, because frankly no one is – we just have to try and hold those in power to account and to demand they make meaningful change. 

 

If you have any questions about figuring out how ethical and sustainable a brand is, just comment on this post and I’d be perfectly happy to help you! 



If you liked this post you might like: Quitting Fast Fashion: Where to Start

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5 Practices to Implement into Your Self-Care

Friday, 11 December 2020

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 Self-care is necessary at the best of times, but right now it is more important than ever. There are different challenges to our mental health than life pre-pandemic, and we need to adapt and think of new ways to look after ourselves we maybe didn’t have to consider previously.



1. Write a list of everything you need to do


Anyone who knows me in real life will probably know how much of a list person I am. I make daily lists of things to do, and have a huge list on a Google Doc separated into different categories, to help me keep track of different areas of my life (e.g. uni, my blog, other projects, general life things, etc.), and honestly, having these lists helps me so much. 

 

Having everything stuck in my head stresses me out, and leaves me overwhelmed and confused. My making a list of everything I need to do, no matter how small, I dump everything in my mind onto the page (whether paper of digital) and I can think so much more clearly. I guess it’s quite similar to how some people use journaling as a tool to clear their minds. 

 

2. Go outside


Get some Vitamin D! As we’re all spending so much time inside now, this has become much more of a chore or something we have to remind ourselves to do. Even if it’s only to pop to the shops or a five-minute walk around the nearby streets, you’ll be glad to have a change of scene. I think having somewhere to physically be is something we all miss and feel like we took for granted, I know I do. I used to spend most of my days out of the house working in different uni buildings or cafes, and I am definitely going to miss that this year. However, I’m still trying to break up my days with scheduled plans to walks outside, even if it’s just to sit on a bench with a cup of tea for 10 minutes. Brave the cold, get moving and get some fresh air!


3. Cook something from scratch


Cooking is like meditation to me. Whether I’m cooking in silence or having a dance party in the kitchen, the act of putting together something nutritious always calms me down. I’m not sure if there’s some psychological links behind it, but having that process does wonders for me and really helps me unwind and to really do something I love. And you have to eat after, something you may forget to do if that’s the space of mind you’re in, especially as the days blur into one in lockdown. 


4. Speak to friends or family


Just because we’re socially distanced, that shouldn’t mean that we have to be socially distant – if that makes any sense at all? If you’re able to, foster the relationships you cherish and try to stay connected where possible. While we do need time to ourselves, humans are social creatures at heart, and this forced behaviour will take its toll. Wherever possible, we must try to mitigate that. Just remember that if you’re seeing people you don’t live with in person to make sure you’re taking the necessary precautions to protect both yourselves and others and that you’re following the law wherever you are (i.e. standing at least one metre apart if not two metres, wearing masks, unless you have a medical reason not to, and being outside if possible).


5. Fight for change 


Like many others, I believe that activism is a form of self-care. Wellbeing is not an individual thing. It is dependent on us as a collective, and political decisions impact on the wellbeing. A bubble bath is useless if mental health services aren’t properly funded, or if systemic racism is damaging both the mental and physical health of people from ethnic minorities, particularly Black people. Calling for wider systemic change not only seeks to improve overall wellbeing in the immediate term, but also for longer term impact so that future generations can have an improved wellbeing and better mental health than those who have come before them. 

 

In the words of Audre Lorde: ‘Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare,’ and therefore all acts of self-care, whether acts of sheer survival or of engaging with wider political systems, are acts of defiance and revolt.



If you liked this post you might like: Self-Care is Not Pretty | Rethinking Wellness

 

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5 Netflix Originals You Need to Watch

Friday, 4 December 2020

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 In the age of streaming (combined with the spates of boredom brought on by a pandemic) it can often feel like you’ve exhausted all streaming services possible. But there’s always more out there, especially when service algorithms aren’t showing us a show we may absolutely love because we binge-watched a whole load of crappy Vanessa Hudgens Christmas romcoms that one night. Here are some of my favourite Netflix Original series that even if you’ve seen before, you’ll love watching again!



1. Dear White People


I am obsessed with this show and I am anxiously awaiting it’s fourth and final series. It’s genuinely one of the best TV series I’ve seen in ages. Aside from the characters, the cinematography and directing is beautifully done. The point-of-view structures for most of the main characters all discuss different issues, and develops each character in deep and believable ways. They’re all so complex and you can believe that they’re real people. This show is all about nuance, understanding other people’s perspectives and developing your own to encompass that. It highlights issues such as colourism, intersectionality, white privilege, class divisions, police brutality, the model minority stereotype, and a whole load more. All while being funny, clever, unpatronising and complicated. Honestly this show is so well written and the talent in all aspects is phenomenal. Bring on series four!


Source: Netflix

 

2. Dead to Me


A dark comedy centred around the growing friendship of two middle-aged women, Dead to Me had me hooked. Grief is a central theme to this series, both in terms of what we grieve and the different ways people manage their grief. Both of the main characters are complex, well thought out, and interesting.It is suspenseful throughout, and while I didn’t think the second series was as good as the first, I’m still excited to see what happens next!


Source: Netflix


3. 13th


Directed by the brilliant Ava DuVernay, this documentary discusses how slavery didn’t end with the passing of the 13thamendment, due to a loop-hole relating to prison-labour. I learned so much from 13th. It was such an eye-opener and after I watched it, I have also come to learn more about how the prison-labour system operates in the UK (although I don’t know enough as I should and am still learning). Not only is it incredibly informative, it is also an incredible piece of film-making. It’s so well put together, with outstanding visuals and structure. Some of the backgrounds to the interviews look amazing. My favourite is the abandoned train station where DuVernay interviews Angela Davis. This is also available to watch on YouTube. 


Source: Netflix


4. Sex Education


I feel like everyone has watched Sex Education, but there’s no way I couldn’t mention it here. Some people find the mixture of US and UK settings and of different era aesthetics a bit off-putting, but I quite like it. I love loads of the clothes, especially Aimee’s outfits in series 2. This show talks about so many issues that don’t tend to get representation in mainstream media or education. The cast is diverse in several ways, and the wide range of storylines covers so many areas, both serious issues like sexual assault, revenge porn and drug addiction to blossoming friendships, joyful coming out scenes and moments of empowerment. Episode 7 of series 2 never fails to make me cry. I won’t lie, I also kind of aspire to be Jean Milburn... Gillian Anderson at her finest. 


Source: Netflix

5. Never Have I Ever


If you need any more proof of what a talented writer Mindy Kaling is, look no further than Never Have I Ever. This high school coming of age series centres around Devi, in the year after both the death of her father and her temporary paralysis. It covers grief so well, and even the characters who would be normally depicted as horrible people in any other teen drama are given complexities and become likeable. But don’t worry, it’s not all seriousness. While it is certainly heartfelt and touching, it is also hilarious. I genuinely laughed out loud so many times, and do I even need to mention that John McEnroe is the narrator. Yes, you read that right, John McEnroe?! There’s so much I could say about this show, I could honestly go on for ages. One of my other favourite aspects include the way they represent female sexuality, the fact that teenage girls actually want and think about sex too – something I’ve not really seen anywhere before. 


Source: Netflix



If you liked this post you might like: 5 Women-Led TV Shows You Need to Watch

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5 Ways You Can Support Ethical Fashion Without Spending a Penny

Friday, 27 November 2020

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Whenever discussions around sustainable and ethical consumption happen, they inevitably come around to the topic of inaccessibility and the costs this can take. Products which are sustainable and ethical should naturally cost more than products which are unethical (for example with the simple act of paying workers a living wage), but at the same time, this often means excluding a significant number of people from being able to buy these products. I talk more about privilege and sustainability in my post We Need to Talk About Privilege and Sustainable Fashion, but I want to emphasise the fact that we need to fight for wage increases globally, and to avoid placing blame on consumers who don’t have the privilege to be able to shop sustainably and ethically, and instead focus that blame where it belongs: on the billionaire brand owners. It can still be frustrating when feel like you can’t take action on a cause you care about for whatever reason, so here are some ways you can support ethical and sustainable fashion without spending a penny!*

*It is important to note that while these actions don't require immediate payment, most do require Internet access. 


1. Contact fast fashion brands and ask them for change


Tell fast fashion companies that you disagree with their actions. Tell them you want to know more about their supply changes, who makes you clothes and how much they’re paid. Ask them about the materials they use, the chemicals, safety procedures and recycling policies. 

That sounds scary. I know, I’m sorry. It’s daunting. But you don’t have to email them if you don’t want to, and instead start contacting them on social media. Tag them in Instagram stories highlighting their policies, tweet them (for example during promos such as #PrettyPleasePLT) and comment on their posts (if the comments haven’t been turned off). Contacting brands on social media is a very quick and easy way of getting to brands directly, so if you’re limited on time, this could be the way to increase your impact.

Oh So Ethical compiled a list of contact details of companies who have not paid for cancelled orders after the impact of coronavirus and lockdown, with links and templates to tweet and email them. This can be accessed here. If you do want to email brands, I would encourage you to do so. You may not get the best replies (if any), but it fills inboxes with these pressing issues. 

Do be respectful and mindful of how you speak to them though. They may just be a logo, a face of a corporation, on your screen, but there is at least one real life person behind that screen, and it’s not the social media manager who is exploiting garment workers and they should not receive abuse simply because they’re dependent on the same billionaire who does exploit garment workers.  

2. Sign petitions


Petitions are everywhere, and some argue that they do nothing, but I disagree. They show governments, organisations and companies that you care and want your voice to be heard. The #PayUp petition by Remake Our World calling for companies to pay up after refusing to pay for orders that had already been made following coronavirus disruptions, has had huge successes. At the time of writing, it is estimated that the #PayUp campaign has unlocked $1 billion for suppliers in Bangladesh and $22 billion globally, with 19 brands committing to pay for canceled orders.  

As well as the #PayUp petition, there are lots more you can sign and it takes less than a minute to sign them. Several fashion related petitions have been compiled by Oh So Ethical and International Labor Rights Forum, which you can access here and here

3. Unfollow fast fashion brands on social media


If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re one of the 3.8 billion people using social media worldwide. Even though you’re in a pool with literally half the world, each one of those active social media accounts has an impact and has even a little bit of power. You can use this power and stop giving fast fashion companies your public approval by unfollowing them on all social media platforms. At the time of writing, H&M has 35.6 million Instagram followers, with Topshop following up at 10.3 million, Primark at 8.4 million and Boohoo at 6.6 million. Yes, your unfollow would only be a small dent, but imagine if everyone who thinks workers should be paid a living wage and want to reduce their impact on the environment unfollowed fast fashion accounts? That would probably be a hell of a lot of people. 

There are also other benefits of unfollowing fast fashion on social media. By unfollowing, you’re no longer being bombarded with advertising of clothes you probably don’t need, likely don’t even like, and that you’ll probably forget about as you scroll further down your feed. Unfollowing with help you unpick the consumerist mindset we have all been conditioned in and help you fight the urge to buy new clothes just for the sake of it. 

4. Research where you can!


Do what you can to learn about the fashion industry, and the many different issues which crop up within it. With increased knowledge, you are better equipped to campaign and tackle any issue. This is one that will take up lots of time, but that’s okay! Do whatever you can to learn something new about the industry, even if it’s reading one article a week. If you don’t have much time, I’d recommend using podcast as tool for research. You can listen to them while commuting, doing house work, cooking, and any other activity you do about your day. Some of my favourites are The Yikes Podcast by Mikaela Loach and Jo Baker and Remember Who Made Them.

If you’re wondering where to start, I have a resource document called Fast Fashion 101: Stay Informed and Take Action, which has resources on everything fast fashion, including articles on Rana Plaza, greenwashing, #PayUp, working conditions, colonialism and more! 

5. Keep wearing the clothes you already own


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the most sustainable way of consuming clothes is to continue to wear, love, and take care of the clothes you already own. Take pride in rewearing outfits, mix things up with different combos and make sure you know how best to look after all of your clothes (i.e. make sure you’re not tumble drying items which really shouldn’t be tumble dried, and be extra careful with any fabrics which may be quite delicate).

Do you know any other ways to support ethical and sustainable fashion without spending any money?




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5 Sustainable Jewellery Businesses You Need to Know About

Friday, 20 November 2020

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 Snazzy jewellery is what I live for! Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but the sentiment still applies. Jewellery is such a fun way of expressing yourself and jazzing up an outfit. To find the most interesting jewellery, I always head either secondhand or to small businesses. Here are some small jewellery businesses owned and run by women I love, and I hope you will too!



1. Pomsha


Pomsha sells a wide variety of earrings, using lots of different materials and styles. They do clip-ons and requests for colours, so you can really customize your order. They have several charity earrings, in support of causes such as Color of Change, supporting Covid protections in Syria, Extinciton Rebellion, Black Vision Collective and Free Palestine. They use clay in several different ways – as tiles to paint images on, to make faces and other shapes, all are super creative and not something I’ve seen used much before. Other products include hook earrings with charms, beads and pom-poms. 


Pomsha Instagram

2. Felt Fancy

 

Felt Fancy sells a mixture of necklaces, bracelets and earrings, all made out of recycled and responsibility sourced materials. The main feature of Felt Fancy, as you would expect from the name, is their use of felt in most of their designs. Their most pom-pom earrings! These come in several different sizes, a wide range of colours, and some have added beads on the hoops. Each item is made to order, which reduces the amount of wasted materials. 50% of all bracelet profits go to Black Lives Matter UK.


Felt Fancy Instagram

3. WOWE


On their Instagram page, WOWE describe themselves as ‘wearable art’ and I certainly think that description is very apt. The products they make genuinely astound me frequently. They have so many different designs, including every type of fruit you could think of (my personal faves are the pears), flowers, waves, and more! They use minimal and plastic-free packaging. If you like bright colours and snazzy patterns, WOWE is for you!


WOWE Instagram


4. Eclectic Eccentricity


I first found out about Eclectic Eccentricity after Hannah Witton shared a few items she’d been gifted a few years ago. They sell bracelets, earrings, and necklaces, as well as stationary and some homeware (mostly small plant pots). My favourites of theirs are their pressed flower necklaces. I think they’re absolutely beautiful. Eclectic Eccentricitiy has been running for over 10 years and continues to support several charities, particularly Women for Women International. They also avoid all single-use plastic and are zero waste!


Eclectic Eccentricity Instagram

5. Foaki


Run by Yossy, all the products sold by Foaki are inspired by her Nigerian heritage. They sell rings, necklaces, earrings, hairclips, and even some net bags! All of their products are absolutely gorgeous, but I have to say that my favourite product of theirs is their Nike earrings. I am obsessed, and kept an eye out for a long time for them to come back in stock so I could get my own pair. I also think many of these would make beautiful and super affordable gifts for friends and family. 


Foaki Website
 

What are your favourite small jewellery businesses? 




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My Slow Fashion Journey: From Addict to Activist

Monday, 9 November 2020

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The transition to slow fashion is a journey that the entire fashion industry and us as citizens needs to take is a gradual one, yet so vital. While it’s important that we as citizens do our best to slow down our own consumption of clothes and to source them from ethical and sustainable avenues, that’s not always possible and is so dependent on a person’s privilege. As much as we should try our best individually to make our choices more ethical and sustainable, we have to hold brands to account for their exploitative practices. Complete system change is required to bring justice to workers and the planet, and shaming ourselves and others is not the way to change, naming and shaming the brands is!


I always find it useful and super interesting to find out about how people discovered slow fashion and how they made differences in their lifestyles and approach to brands. It’s important to remember that even the people who are now the most outspoken advocates of ethical and sustainable fashion at one point bought fast fashion, and probably bought a lot of it. There’s a starting point for everyone, and we shouldn’t feel guilty about wherever we are along our slow fashion journey. These things take time, persistence, frustration and resilience. Fast fashion marketing is manipulative and seemingly ethical and inclusive brands can let us down. It’s complicated.  

 

So, how did my slow fashion journey begin?



My A Level years were a huge time of learning for me, particularly outside of the curriculum. I learned a lot about feminism, mostly through the books I was able to borrow from my local library and my college library, and I increasingly looked into the need for intersectionality within this movement. I also learned a lot about sustainability, veganism (through my vegan friends I met at college), and eventually the effects of fast fashion. I started looking into the issue after hearing about some ethical issues within the fast fashion industry from a friend (love you Liz). I starting looking into NGOs like Fashion Revolution, and through them finding out about events like Rana Plaza and how systemic worker and environmental exploitation is within the industry. 

 

I went into college starting my A Levels and buying fast fashion enthusiastically – H&M was my favourite place to get my clothes! – and I left with completed exams and a determination to buy as little as possible, and when I did for those garments to be either secondhand or made sustainably and ethically (or at least to buy the most sustainable and ethical option available to me).

 

It was that summer between A levels and starting uni that I became more confident in my style. I got my dungarees, a couple of wildly patterned t-shirts and a few other items (all secondhand), and felt a lot happier in the clothes that I was wearing. I’d always loved clothes and putting outfits together, but there was a different kind of satisfaction knowing that less harm was created through the clothes I was now wearing (and indeed, do still wear).

 

Since then, I’ve done a lot more research into workers’ rights and the environment, have actively sought out stories from garment workers themselves, and was even able to write about the Rana Plaza disaster for a university essay. I am also currently doing a project on migrant workers in Boohoo's Leicester factories as part of one of my final year modules. Slow fashion is now at the centre of my activism. It encompasses so many different areas and issues – from colonialism, feminism, environmental conservation, labour rights, and more. With the pandemic, the increasing number of fast fashion scandals (notably #PayUp), as well as having more spare time as a result of finishing my second year of uni and being unable to continue my usual customer service job, I used the opportunity to ramp up my activism and research in the area. Before and at the beginning of the pandemic, I had kind of lost my way with my blog. I hadn’t written a post that wasn’t a Monthly Wrap Up for a several months, and to be frank, was burned out from my degree and other projects. Writing about these issues, on my blog and elsewhere, helped me get my writing mojo back as well as help give me a new sense of purpose and improve my mental health when it had been in a bit of a dire state. 

 

Although I do consider myself to be a subscriber of slow fashion, and for most of my clothes consumption to be generally sustainable and ethical, I am still not perfect, and that is important to highlight. M&S is always my backup if I can’t find something secondhand, or need something new and either can’t find it ethically or the ethical option is unaffordable for me. It’s not a perfect brand, but it’s certainly the best on the high street for sustainability and workers’ rights (Good On You is a great place to check these areas), and shopping better wear possible even if not perfect is always better than not thinking about wear your garment comes from at all. Middle grounds are what movements towards ethical and sustainable consumption need more of, so that it doesn’t just become the domain the most elite. 

 

I have probably gone as far as the average individual is able – more if you take into account my level of privilege – and wider changes need to be made societally and within the fashion industry to bring justice to workers and those buying the clothes they make. If you want to find out more about the fast fashion industry and how to separate yourself from it, I recommend looking through my Fast Fashion 101 Resource Document as well as looking into organisations like Remake and Remember Who Made Them. Please sign Remake's latest #PayUp petition to demand that brands pay their workers during the pandemic.





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