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The Future of Sustainable Fashion in Bristol

Posted on November 29 2019

We're teaming up with Bristol 24/7 on Wednesday 11th December for an evening looking at The Future of Fashion, we want to help encourage Bristol to shop more sustainable and locally for 2020, and many more years to come! 

All ticket sales will be going to the incredible local homeless charity, Caring in Bristol, so please donate what you can! Our killer panel will be hosted by Emma Gorton-Ellicott fashion editor at Bristol24/7, sustainable fashion blogger and independent fashion designer.

 With an all-star local panel of fashion independents and sustainable fashion supports, join us in celebrating and learning about sustainable shopping and get your tickets right here.

 

We spoke to our inspiring panel before the big event to find out more about being sustainable in Bristol and their independent brands. 

Amelia at Give Wear Love

Tell us about what inspired you to start working in fashion?

I am new to the world of fashion, but not to sustainability. I’ve built a career around trying to support the shift from our current ways of living and consuming to a more sustainable and respectful approach. I moved into fashion, from a food background, seeing too many parallels in the damage the two industries do globally. I wanted to bring my love for the land into fashion and encourage people to move away from a fast fashion addiction and instead choose garments that were produced in a gentler, cleaner and fairer way. 

 

How would you describe the Bristol fashion scene right now?

Bristol has always been a hub of creative, independent activity - and a city leading the way in terms of sustainable thought. These two core parts of the city’s character combine to make it the perfect setting for fresh, new labels which are both conscious and bang.on.trend. 

 

Have you seen perceptions change of sustainable & slow fashion?

Absolutely. When I started working on GIVE WEAR LOVE in 2017 it was still quite niche. In the space of 2.5 years, everything has changed. The market is changing very quickly - there is a growing demand for sustainable and ethical fashion which is getting loud enough to push large retailers into making changes in their production processes. Although I am always sceptical when large multinationals claim to be sustainable, the very fact that they are talking about it and making any changes at all is indicative of changing attitudes. Sustainability is beginning to be on-trend in the industry, but - although this is a step in the right direction - it’s essential we call out greenwashing and question the integrity of sustainable fashion being offered at fast-fashion prices. Sustainability in fashion needs to be considered both in terms of production, but also in our levels of consumption. We need to buy less and invest more in the garments we choose. There’s a way to go yet before we are really making positive changes. 

 

What do you in your day to day life to help impact the environment positively? Any sustainable tips for our readers?

Eat organically as much as possible, eat locally, reduce your consumption of meat and dairy. Don’t fly, or fly every few years. Switch to a 100% renewable energy provider. Reduce consumption - buy second hand,  reuse everything you can. These would be my tips. On a personal level, they are easy wins which have such significant consequential impacts. Beyond what we do day to day in our personal lives - we need to demand systemic change at the government level to help us secure a sustainable future. We must make sure that the efforts we put into our day to day commitments to sustainability aren't undermined by government and big business. 

 

What do you hope for the future of fashion in 2020?

I hope we begin to see more engagement from the government and that legislative steps are taken to limit the impact fast fashion brands can have on the land and society through financial penalties. I hope fashion hauls begin to be a thing of the past. I hope the pre-loved fashion market continues to soar and that vintage clothing sees a huge resurgence. We all wear clothing and therefore sustainability in fashion is relevant to us all - I hope we begin to realise we’re wearing the land on our backs and to really see what this means. 

 

Joh from That Thing

Tell us about what inspired you to start working in fashion?

I grew up in a creative environment - my dad a jazz musician with a big love for fancy dress, and my mother a Steiner school teaching assistant. At home, we were always doing something creative, and I learnt to sew and knit at an early age, on the sewing machine by the age of 10, and I started customising my own clothing from early teenage years.
The customisations began when I discovered my love for vintage clothing - a big part of 90's fashion. I would often alter stuff to fit, but also to give it individuality. Expressing myself through fashion came naturally to me, and soon I was taking orders for stuff! When I finished school I took a college course in art & design, followed by a pattern cutting course. I knew then, that I wanted to work in fashion, one way or another. At uni, I did Fine Art, mainly because I wanted the creative freedom, and a couple of years after graduating I opened the shop.

 

How would you describe the Bristol fashion scene right now?

There are more independent fashion stores than ever, and we're seeing an increase in sustainable creativity and a surge in vintage too. One thing I've always admired about Bristol -as an alternative fashion capital of the UK- is the colour and pattern you will see around you! I feel like people can express themselves in Bristol, and it's generally a more colourful scene than other big UK cities. Having said that, I feel like Bristol has segments of different fashion pulses going on, and whilst the independent scene might seem like it's booming, I'm not sure it's surviving under the current economic strains we are all feeling, in competition with the high street stores that sadly seem largely favoured here.

 

Have you seen perceptions change of sustainable & slow fashion?

As someone who've been pushing local designers and vintage clothing for over 10years, I definitely feel that people are more open and receptive to the idea of second hand or repurposed materials now. And to have been part of the change in perception is great! I feel like we are reaching a time where it's not just socially acceptable to shout about wearing second-hand but also finally fashionable in its own right!

 

What do you in your day to day life to help impact the environment positively? Any sustainable tips for our readers?

At That Thing, we have a full sustainability report. It's an open document that we work towards improving all the time. It can be little things from recycling to composting - we do all those already, but also looking at the bigger picture of how we can re-use something, make things last better, or minimise waste in the first place. As a retail business we deal with a lot of packaging, so we always communicate with our suppliers to minimise this, but when we receive it we also always try to pass it on - giving it away on local facebook selling pages works well! So it's about reducing and repurposing, not just being good at recycling.

 

What do you hope for the future of fashion in 2020?

Sustainability is key. And I hope we see this on a wider level in the highstreet too. There's such a disturbing trend for greenwashing, -companies making unsubstantiated or misleading claims just to appear to care. I would like to see politicians take action on, and include, the textile industry in environmental legislation, and environmental impact specifically in fashion to be taught in education on a wider level. I think knowledge is key - and at the moment there are still too many people who simply don't know about the importance of sustainability.

Aside from that - I want people to shop independent; Shop small, buy well and buy less!

 

Sophie Filomena

 

Tell us about what inspired you to start working in fashion?

I didn't consciously make a decision to get into fashion, as I graduated in Illustration several years ago. Since then, my work became more digitised and I wanted to begin creating with my hands again. One day, I needed a pair of earrings to match an outfit for a party so I just made my own as I couldn't find anything I wanted. 

I posted my first pair on Instagram, and someone made me sell them to them! The rest, as they say, is history - that was back in 2016 and I have made a business out of it since then, posting to the USA and beyond! Through doing this, I have met many other fashion and jewellery designers in Bristol and It has opened my world up!

 

How would you describe the Bristol fashion scene right now?

I think the scene is very distinct and unique to the City. The fashion designers I know are supportive of each other, and love to get involved with events, as well as promoting the importance of buying from local independents. 

A lot follow the Indies in Bristol Instagram account and are getting involved with our digital advent calendar. We are doing this to help spread the word of slow fashion and independent makers and businesses in Bristol, creating a platform for people to show their work on.

 

Have you seen perceptions change of sustainable & slow fashion?

In this consumer world we live in, I have noticed ethical demand increase over the past few years and a desire for sustainable options. This is more important than ever and highlights the value of making a positive difference with small actions. I think more people are starting to see the value in slow fashion and buying locally, whether it's food, art or clothes. People are preferring something that is handmade, as it's more personal and gives back to the local community.

 

What do you in your day to day life to help impact the environment positively? Any sustainable tips for our readers?

I like to ensure that my packaging is as eco-friendly as possible to reduce my carbon footprint. Making small changes like this helps my customers with their desire to reduce waste. I prefer to walk and cycle, even as the weather turns dark and cold!



What do you hope for the future of fashion in 2020?

I hope that more people get involved with the amazing community of handmade and slow fashion. Whether that's through making one small purchase from an indie this Christmas, or creating their own fashion items. 

I think Bristol is already DIY, but I can see it becoming the norm to have most of your wardrobe and accessories made by Independent makers and fashionistas. 

 

Emma from Duvet Days

 

Tell us about what inspired you to start working in fashion?

My mum taught me how to sew from a young age, I loved it. I loved all aspects of art and design though, I come from a very artistic family; my mums a potter, my dads an architect and my brothers are artists too! After doing an Art Foundation course at Stroud and enjoying both fashion and illustration, I went with fashion in the end.. I couldn't copy my older brothers!

 

How would you describe the Bristol fashion scene right now?

Bristols fashion scene is very varied! I love how people in Bristol have the confidence to wear more colour and pattern. In London, I feel the fashion scene can be pretty dull and plain. Bristol is such a friendly and diverse city and the fashion scene represents it well. 



Have you seen perceptions change of sustainable & slow fashion?

Definitely, I have noticed so many people making small switches and being much more aware of how clothes are made and the impact it has on the planet. Friends who would shop high street and not think twice are now looking on eBay, charity shops and jumble sales.

 

What do you in your day to day life to help impact the environment positively? Any sustainable tips for our readers?

I do as much as I can but I still have a long way to go! Day to day I use shampoo bars and soap instead of plastic bottles, I use a reusable coffee cup and water bottle. Zero waste shops like Preserve on Church Road in Bristol are excellent. I go there to get my pasta, refill oils and cleaning products. I also recycle duvet covers into clothing every day!

 

What do you hope for the future of fashion in 2020?

I hope that big companies will stop greenwashing (Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company's products are more environmentally sound. Greenwashing is considered an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company's products are environmentally friendly)and actually make some significant changes to their production.  I also hope that sustainable fashion will continue to grow and become more mainstream. 

 

Cat from Carny Valley

Tell us about what inspired you to start working in fashion? 

I'm a big festival goer and love creativity, colour and craziness. It rains a lot in the UK and I saw a niche for a raincoat, for festivals and everyday life, that was a part of your outfit, instead of bringing the vibe down. There were a few on the market but they were plastic and definitely fashion pieces focussing on trend rather than style, a big difference, the former feeding into fast fashion and the throwaway culture.. I wanted to offer a more sustainable option.. an investment piece that would be in it for the long haul. My rain capes will last the distance and have been created with sustainability at the core. I also wanted my capes to be easy to wear - so I solved the problem of what to do when it stops raining, or you get too hot, with a clip-on carry system.

 

How would you describe the Bristol fashion scene right now?

OH my god... I've just been a part of the Bristol Fashion Show with TWENTY FIVE local designers, most of which I hadn't met before! Our scene in Bristol is insane - there is so much talent. Take a walk around Joh's shop, That Thing, and just feel the vibe. It's like an instant party the moment you step through the door! 

 

Have you seen perceptions change of sustainable & slow fashion?

I think that the key people to ask are those who regularly shop the high street. This is where the potential for real change is. I’ve heard Extinction Rebellion call for a boycott on buying new clothes for a year. I feel really strongly that the people who’ll buy into this are people already sympathetic to the cause. People who regularly buy new clothes from Primark, for example, will view this as so far from their behaviour that they’ll dismiss it as unrealistic and unachievable. I truly believe that encouraging people to buy less but to buy better, is the way to go. We need to reach the heavy high street shoppers with this message and equip them with the information and tools to do this.

What I find interesting is that we're seeing a rebrand of second-hand clothing. Once we hit the 80s everything was NEW, BETTER, FASTER, MORE. I’m happy to see the shift back towards reusing and mending.  Encouraging greater reuse of clothes, accessories and shoes once the original owner has done with them is a move in the right direction and one I'm happy to see us travelling in. 

 

What do you in your day to day life to help impact the environment positively? Any sustainable tips for our readers?

Do a little audit on which areas of your household are the most wasteful. I am now lucky that I have a refill shop on my street and our local chemist is also a refill station, so I can reduce plastic use AND shop local. We also have a local greengrocer which makes shopping plastic-free for fruit and veg easy. We've also switched energy suppliers to a greener company. Vote with your money. Take the small steps. They really do add up. 

There are loads of second-hand clothes apps like Depop, Vinted and a new app I learned about, Swapsy. Check out your local designers on Instagram and see what they have to offer. Choose investment pieces as a capsule that you can change up with accessories. They’ll last the distance and you’re supporting small designers which are much more accountable and sustainable than high street or online chains. Need inspiration? Pop into shops that sell independent labels and see who your favourites are. And honestly, don’t be ashamed to wear outfits more than once. If you’ve invested in a great piece that fits well and makes you feel great, show it off as much as possible!

 

What do you hope for the future of fashion in 2020?

Let's see more people shopping independently! I'd love to see a way to help high street shoppers find indie designers more easily. Any ideas, anyone? We need to reach the masses and offer them better choices.

 

Emma Gorton from Bristol 24/7

Tell us about what inspired you to start working in fashion?

 I was given two bags of hand-me-downs (pre-loved clothing) as a kid and there were so many clothes I became addicted to creating new outfits each day and that was it, I was hooked to fashion!

 My journey in the fashion industry has been varied from designing children wear for the high street and running my own upcycling fashion brand to fashion blogging, where I became a big supporter of independent and sustainable fashion and have continued this passion as a fashion editor at Bristol24/7. My views on fashion have evolved a great deal since I started out and I want to share that with the world!

 

How would you describe the Bristol fashion scene right now?

 The scene is an eclectic mash-up of sustainable fashion, streetwear brands, inspiring jewellery makers and vintage. The city is brimming with creativity and there really are no rules in the way people dress here. Festival fashion has always been a big influence in Bristol alongside the streetwear but I would say nearly all the brands and designers are trying to become more sustainable and support slow fashion, which is really inspiring.

 

Have you seen perceptions change of sustainable & slow fashion?

I think a few years back a lot of new independent fashion brands would startup hoping for the success of big brands, they were all thinking on a ridiculously big scale, knocking up too many printed t-shirts aiming to drop a new collection of t-shirts every few weeks! Instagram played a big role in this and brands aspired to be this big without considering their impact on the planet.

The ideal has shifted considerably lately, brands are putting out micro ranges on small runs, using organic t-shirts and are now getting involved in the cut and sew process by creating their own ranges rather than printing on ready-mades. It’s not quite where we want to be as it may appear that many are jumping on sustainable fashion like a trend but for me, this has been the biggest change for designers. I don’t want to start telling people they are not doing enough, they are, at least, heading in the right direction, which is a good thing!  

As for convincing the consumers to move away from fast fashion, I think we are a long way off. There are many of us that are supporting and getting the word out there but people don’t like being told what to do! Regular fun fashion events like the Future of Fashion could help them understand the impact fast fashion has on the planet whilst encouraging them to find new, more sustainable ways to shop.

 

What do you in your day to day life to help impact the environment positively? Any sustainable tips for our readers?

I stopped following fashion trends a few years ago, I am no longer a slave to fashion! Become your own stylist, wear an outfit you love and feel great every day. You don’t need the latest colour just to fit in. Be unique!  I also only buy clothes that I really love, if it looks great on and I love it and then I get it, I never buy anything that’s just ok! What’s the point?

 Consider if you really need the item you want to buy too. I haven’t actually bought anything for a few months and nearly always go for clothes made by an independent designer/brand or for a pre-loved/vintage items over a high street purchase. What was the last thing you bought; how often do you buy? It can be scary when you add it all up! 

I am also a massive hoarder and mix all my clothes together to make unique outfits from vintage to contemporary fashion, don’t buy throwaway cheap fast fashions, buy quality clothes that you can keep for years.

 Buying from independent designers, vintage and charity shops is also a great way to support slow fashion, driving more people away from the high street brands and keeping the money in the local economy rather than the pockets of fat cat corporates is the way to go!

  

What do you hope for the future of fashion in 2020?

 I hope more people start to listen and wake up to what fast fashion is doing to our planet and to our culture.

 I would like to see more information being shared in the press on a worldwide scale so that everyone hears about it, not just the people who are already interested in making a change. People laughed at the idea of recycling their rubbish a few years back now everyone does it….

It’s going to be difficult but bringing slow fashion into the conversation is a start and spreading awareness at events, like The Future of Fashion, is starting a conversation which needs to evolve into a movement to make a change. We can do this!

 

CARING IN BRISTOL

'We find gaps in Bristol’s provision for people experiencing homelessness and work together with our community to create innovative projects to fill them. From prevention to emergency support, our projects range from producing free citywide resources that empower our city to act, to investing in youth support, helping influence change from the very start.' This brilliant campaign will support a unique pop-up shelter spread across two city-centre venues in St Pauls and Old Market, and runs from 23 December to 1 January. The shelter will provide 24-hour support and is open to all who are homeless and vulnerable for the 10 days over Christmas and New Year.

 

Don't forget to get your tickets, and see you there Bristol!