September 2021 | Monthly Wrap Up

Wednesday 29 September 2021

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I have been thriving in September. Still a bit overwhelmed and stressed at times, but on the whole thriving. 


Favourite part?

I kicked off the month with an action as part of Green New Deal Rising aiming to hold Rishi Sunak for his climate delaying actions. A few of us from the North East travelled down to Richmond together and met up with the rest of the team taking part. We covered all entrances to the venue of the event Sunak was attending so he had to pass one of us and Fatima managed to challenge him directly! It was so much fun, gave me so much energy, and it felt like we made a real impact both in publicly embarrassing him to his constituents (by reeling off everything he has done to prevent climate action outside on a megaphone) and online. I love being a part of GNDR and meeting other people involved. If you’re interested in joining there’s a call on how to take part in the GNDR actions at COP26 tomorrow, and you can sign up here

I also moved house! It’s so exciting to be in a new place with more space, a bigger bookcase, and did I mention the space?? Moving on one of the hottest days of the month if not summer was a great idea. Really great…


The day after we moved, I had a trip down to London where I visited ethical brand Birdsong’s Launch and Lunch for their new website. I was so honoured to be invited and it was so much fun meeting people I’d only known through online spaces, to try on lots of snazzy clothes and to be in London for a fun day rather than simply travelling through. I stayed with a friend I’d not seen in ages and we had such a good afternoon/evening. 

My first piece for Shado Mag was published this month! I have loved Shado for a long time and I don’t think I’ll ever get over the fact that they asked me to write for them. I’m super proud of the piece (which is based on my undergrad dissertation) and I got pretty emotional about the amazing feedback I received on it. I’ve got some more exciting news when it comes to my writing, but I’ll update you on that in the next wrap up! 


Two of my best pals came up to visit me for a weekend! They’d not been to Newcastle before so it was great to show them around and show off my fave city. We went to some of my favourite food spots, had a wander around the city centre and my first bar crawl in a long long time. It was great to dance with pals again. 

After about 2 years of having the tickets, I finally got to see McFly live! I had such a good night with my friends Leo and Rosie and it’s still weird to have been in an arena with thousands of people. I have been slightly paranoid about having Covid since then, but so far all my tests are all good. Here’s to not catching deadly diseases at public events!


I officially started my Masters degree in September! It was so weird being back on campus actually in lecture theatres and seminar rooms with actual real-life people! What is this fantasy world?!


Best read?


I finished reading The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, which is one of the books I’m looking at for my course. 


I also started reading We Need to Talk About Money by Otegha Uwagba, which so far has been incredible. I want to set aside more time to read next month and I cannot wait to read more of this book! 

Favourite listen?


Of course it has to be McFly seeing as I finally got to see them live! 


I’ve also listened to Maisie Peters’ new album on repeat. There are some serious tunes on there. 


Favourite watch?


Everything has seemed to have started up again in September and I am HERE for it! Strictly is back, Bake Off is back, Drag Race is back. 


I’ve already watched all of the new series of Sex Education (justice for Ruby!), Dear White People (I felt very emotional saying goodbye to these characters although I’m still not 100% sure what I think of the musical format of the last series), and Married at First Sight UK.


And for some reason I decided now would be a great time to rewatch all of Downton Abbey. I hadn’t watched it in so long and while the characters are everything I stand against I absolutely love it. This time round I also connected lots of what they say in the series to an English module I studied last year for my BA and I actually wish I could have done a project related to depictions of sex and relationships in Downton Abbey connected to the real-life culture of 1910s/20s because there is so much to say! 


What did I learn?


That some opportunities that you may be perfect for just come along at the bad time, and prioritizing mental wellbeing is most often more important than saying yes to absolutely every opportunity made available to you.


What’s happening next month?

It’s both mine and my flatmate’s birthdays so there’ll be various different celebrations. I’ll also be getting into the rhythm of my masters and just figuring out how my life is going to look now that different areas now starting to pan out a bit more. 


What’s been on my mind?

I’ve been quite overwhelmed with climate news recently and cried a few times because of it. One particular thing that got to me was seeing a video of a 13-year-old girl from where I grew up giving a speech at a recent climate strike. That video really hit home how my generation was the last to enjoy the outdoors without worrying that it will be destroyed in front of our eyes. It just means we have to fight harder to save it on their behalf. Children should be able to make the most of their local environments and coastlines not having to campaign to save them.


Favourite post?


I’m proud of both my blog posts this month. Fashion Deep Dive: Shein is a super exciting one as it kicked off a new series and I hope is useful for anyone wanting to learn more about the brand. 


I also hope that 5 Ways to Learn About Fast Fashion When You Don’t Have Much Time is a useful resource for facilitating education on the fashion industry. Time is such a privilege and I want to make sure what I share supports as many people as possible in taking action or deepening their understanding. 


Biggest inspiration?

Seeing pals in person doing regular things, being in the sea, lots of new starts and beginnings! And honestly the feedback on my Shado article and being taken seriously as a writer at the Birdsong event (and the other writing news I'm keeping back for a little while) gave me such a boost and has given me so much more confidence and motivation in my writing and what I can do.

Any other favourites?

Does my bookshelf count? Or new cafes I’ve discovered close to my new house? Actually my other favourite has to be a new jacket I got secondhand for free recently and I have been wearing it almost every day single I got it. It’s so comfy, and works with everything. We love a versatile garment. 


If you like my work and have learned something from it, please consider helping support me (so I have more time to write posts and articles like these!) by buying me a virtual cuppa

If you liked this post you might like: August 2021 | Monthly Wrap Up

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Fashion Deep Dive: Shein

Wednesday 22 September 2021

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Welcome to the first instalment of my new blog series Fashion Deep Dive, where I delve into the details of mainstream fashion brands looking at their histories, their human rights violations and any other cobwebs they might have hidden away in their cupboards. 


First on my hit-list is Shein, the Chinese brand that has risen rapidly in prominence in recent years and is now practically infamous – for all the reasons I will be discussing.  

The brand was founded 2008 in Nanjing, China by Chris Xu (who is thought to be a billionaire and doesn’t give interviews), and was originally called SheInside. Not quite as snappy as Shein I think you’ll agree. However, the original name nevertheless shows the brand’s aims and core ideal customer base: to make young women believe they are in a trendy exclusive club by buying more and more of their clothes. The app’s 7 million users per month and 160% surge in sales in January and June 2021 certainly show that that marketing is working. The brand officially became Shein in 2015 and now includes the brand Romwe as a subsidiary company. 


Shein have a history of opaque business practices, from the elusiveness of its CEO to the details of its supply chain. There is very little information about the people who make Shein’s clothes, which usually is a sign they are treated very poorly.The brand received 0 points in Remake’s Sustainability Assessment, which looks in-depth at a range of factors including worker welfare, sustainability of garments, transparency, and diversity of higher level staff. It’s pretty impressive to score absolutely nothing, and Shein trump even Boohoo who received 5 points. 


Shein is perhaps the prime example of ultra-fast fashion. On their website, they list 500 – 2,000 items listed every day and the time between the ‘design’ (read: theft) and  shipping to be as little as 3 days. That is ridiculously damaging on so many levels. The sheer amount of new clothing listed on their website every day is frankly nauseating. Think of the number of sizes for one item and the number of each they will have. That’s most likely tens of thousands of garments in total – mostly made out of polyester (aka plastic aka fossil fuels). With such a quick turnaround and at such cheap prices, you can almost guarantee that the (majority women) workers who made these clothes are not paid a living wage and are probably treated quite badly in order to get the clothes out in time (you can find out more about some of the things that occur in fast fashion factories in this blog post). Shein were one of the brands highlighted by Reuters in August 2021 for not making the relevant suppl chain disclosures in relation to the Modern Slavery Act.


Shein have made a series of very bad product design decisions. I genuinely don’t understand how these got the okay to be manufactured. For instance, in summer 2020 they tried pass off an Islamic prayer mat as a ‘decorative Greek rug’, completely disregarding the religious significance an connotations of these designs. At around the same time (the same week if I remember correctly), they also listed a swastika necklace. They later took it down and claimed that they used the original Buddhist symbol. In either case it’s not particularly great – trivialising and commercialising a religious symbol or a deeply fascist, anti-semitic, homophobic, racist etc. one. Neither is good, Shein. 


In May 2021, they released a phone case with the image of a handcuffed Black man outlined in white chalk on the back. Shein are using products using insensitive images, symbols, and cultural/religious items, created on the back of exploitation of mostly black and brown women purely to increase their own profit. 


Shein is perhaps most well-known for its regular theft of designs from small independent businesses and designers – ones that are much more ethical and sustainable than Shein themselves. The issue of design theft has been a huge issue with Shein for several years now, kicking off with a lawsuit filed against them by Levi Strauss & Co for using a trademarked jean stitching in 2018. It now seems like every week a new brand is stolen from and they are frequently owned by Black women. Brands they have stolen from include:



It feels needless to say that stealing from other brands at any time is obviously bad - however, it becomes even more so when these designs by small ethical and sustainable businesses often owned by marginalised people are stolen so openly by a brand that has never shown any evidence that it cares about its workers and mass produces these carefully crafted ideas with the sole aim of creating profit for its billionaire CEO. These tactics push small ethical and sustainable brands out of businesses, leaving the international fast fashion conglomerates with a monopoly on the fashion market – something that is good for neither their workers or the environment. 


Shein have hit the headlines in recent weeks for their new series airing this year where designers compete to win $100,000. A slight kick in the teeth considering Shein have been stealing from independent designers for years. Judges include Khloe Kardashian and designers such as Christian Siriano and Jenna Lyons. Big names adding further legitimacy to system of fashion reliant on exploitation and destruction of marginalised people and planet. It’s not something I’m particularly keen to watch.


More recently have stepped into the greenwashing arena with their new eco-line Shein Cares. The word ‘cares’ seems to be the it thing for brands who are super unethical trying to trick the public into thinking they give a damn about the environment (workers are normally left out of these campaigns altogether). Through their Wild Heart Collection, Shein raises money for animal conservation charities such as IFAW and various wildlife reserves in Singapore, but completely fails to recognise the role their overproduction has in damaging the animals they are supposedly aiming to protect. Shein’s campaign has been featured by various well known (and mostly rich, white, thin and straight) influencers who have highlighted what massive tree-huggers Shein apparently are with absolutely zero mention of their workers and supply chain. On their website they state that they will be donating $300,000 to animal welfare organisations as part of this campaign – a drop in the ocean of their estimated $10 billion annual revenue. Given everything we do and don’t know about Shein, these claims are undoubtedly lies made up for marketing purposes. These eco-lines never have good intentions and usually make up a small percentage of brands’ total production.  


Similarly, Shein claim to use factories that are ISO certified but ISO don’t actually certified brands. The ISO develop international standards but don’t certify brands themselves. This is deliberately misleading their customers. For more information on Shein’s vagueness about their supply chain vs the actual facts, make sure to read Remake’s article on them from earlier this year. 


Shein are the prime example of everything we need to move away from in order to make the fashion industry better everyone. They may claim to care but they do not give a single sh*t about their workers, the environment, designers, or even the animals they are seemingly so desperate to protect. They are a company built on lies, theft, and exploitation.

If you like my work and have learned something from it, please consider helping support me (so I have more time to write posts and articles like these!) by buying me a virtual cuppa

If you liked this post you might like: What To Do With Your Old Clothes

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5 Quick Ways To Learn About Fast Fashion When You Don't Have Much Time

Friday 17 September 2021

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The fashion industry is complex, often a bit murky and it can be difficult to figure out exactly what’s what. Many of us also don’t have the time to learn loads about the industry because it’s so complex and there’s so much information out there. I know I didn’t get the level of knowledge I have now until the pandemic, finishing my second year of uni and furlough combined so that I had literally all the time in the world to research this topic that I had previously only really dabbled in outside of changing up my own shopping habits. Time is a massive privilege, and one that doesn’t get talked about much. But never fear! This post aims to help you find ways to learn about the fashion industry in smaller doses. They’re things that you can do little but often so that eventually you’ll be able to answer the question ‘what’s so bad about fast fashion?’ with informed confidence. I hope these are useful and remember to check out my other blog posts for more quick bits of information on this overwhelming issue. 

1. Follow activists and organisations on social media

Social media may be complicated but is useful in some respects. As an issue not frequently covered by mainstream media, you often have to go out of your way to look for updates on the fashion industry. By following NGOs, trade unions, and reliable individuals (campaigners, Remake ambassadors, etc.), you can have that information almost handed to you. I know I’ve learned so much about the fashion industry through posts on social media which have then prompted me to learn elsewhere. Social media has a huge role in ethical and sustainable fashion activism, especially since the pandemic. We now have direct access to contact brands and talk directly with other customers of those brands. This is only exemplified by the successes of the #PayUp campaign which was conducted completely virtually and the pressure it put on brands resulting in the recovery of over $22 billion worth of garment workers’ wages previously withheld at the beginning of the pandemic. 


Some of the accounts I’ve learned most from are Remake, Aja Barber, Venetia La Manna, Zainab Mahmood, Clean Clothes Campaign, Labour Behind the Label, Awaj Foundation, and Nothing to Hide (and you can follow me while you’re at it!). Of course there are many more but these are ones you should be following if you want to learn about labour rights and environmental issues in the fashion industry! 


Social media is limited though. It’s a starting point, and that’s how I think it should be treated for social issues. Make sure you’re also looking elsewhere and having nuanced conversations that just aren’t able to occur in social media spaces. 

2. Listen to podcast

There are lots of amazing podcasts out there discussing what’s wrong about the fashion industry and the people who are trying to make it better. From Remember Who Made Them to Common Threads and the Fashion Fix, there’ll be a fashion podcast out there to suit you! I love listening to podcasts while I’m running, while doing housework, while cooking, and just generally whenever I have any time when I could be listening to something, I’ll probably be listening to a podcast. They’re a great way to learn new things while on the go!

3. Listen to audiobooks

Like podcasts but in longer form! As you can maybe tell by the title of my blog, I love books and love to recommend books. There are several incredible books by experts in the ethical fashion field, from Loved Clothes Last by Orsola de Castro, founder of Fashion Revolution, to Stitched Up by Tansy Hoskins, and more recently Consumed by the always incredible Aja Barber which is out very soon (I cannot wait for my copy to arrive!), you have a wealth of books to choose from. While physical books needed dedicated time and attention, you can listen to audiobooks on your commute, while doing the washing up, or even on a pop to the shops, audiobooks are a great way of reading more and therefore learning more. It’s a win-win really. 

4. Sign up to informative newsletters

Unsubscribe from the emails you may receive from fast fashion brands and replace those with the newsletters of small slow fashion brands doing good things, of campaigners, journalists, and organisations working to make the industry a better place. Like on social media, once you’ve subscribed this information will just be handed to you. Some newsletters I recommend include ones by Remake, Besma Whayeb, and Mel Watt. I would particularly recommend Aja Barber’s newsletter and her Patreon articles and updates. She’s someone myself and loads of other people learn a whole lot from and she never misses a beat. 

5. Watch short documentary films

Documentaries are so impactful. They shorten the distance between the consumer and the maker of clothes and have the potential to reveal so much to us. Perhaps the most famous fashion documentary is The True Cost, but since it was taken off Netflix it’s difficult to find for free so may be inaccessible for a lot of people. If you can afford it though, I would highly recommend you pay for a DVD or a download as it is a game-changer. 


There are many others available for free and which are quite short but still filled with a lot of information and emotion. 


Of course I will never not mention Remake! Remake have many incredible films on these issues within the fashion supply chain that highlight and uplift the voices of garment workers. I would particularly recommend the ‘Made in’ Series in addition to some of the recordings of Remake’s monthly Community Calls, where we hear from experts in the industry, union leaders, academics, updates on Remake campaigns, and sometimes from garment workers themselves. The episodes of the ‘Made in’ series are super short (some are literally two minutes long, I think the longest is about 10 or 15 minutes) so are really easily slotted into a busy day. You could watch one on a tea break!

Mikaela Loach also has a new three-part documentary series on the fashion industry called ReDress the Future. I haven't watched this yet but it looks incredible and each episode is only 15 minutes long so definitely check that one out too.


For more documentaries, check out the list included in my Fast Fashion 101 Resource Doc.

If you like my work and have learned something from it, please consider helping support me (so I have more time to write posts and articles like these!) by buying me a virtual cuppa

If you liked this post you might like: What To Do With Your Old Clothes

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