So today was my belated birthday present of a massage in Oxford Street.
See photo below: not your usual massage!
The treatment lasted almost four hours and was skeletal-muscular: focused through addressing bodily issues and imbalances, using techniques such as cupping, resistance, acupuncture, electric acupuncture and other electricity-related things I had not heard of before.
In fact, my wonderful and very knowledgably bodywork practitioner, Mariora, teaches clients techniques to retrain their bodies in a balanced way, overcoming tensions and traumas. I found it was very interesting to go through this treatment and relate it to my previous understandings of my physical and energetic bodies that have been developed through self-practices (yoga, meditation etc) and from external expertise including The Bone and Body Clinic in Dharamshala, India, and previous massages. It was very nice for Mariora to tell me I had a very supple body and that clearly my practices had been working to heal my body! She said I was very lucky. So do yoga guys!
I start a new job next week which is actually off Oxford Street and I was (and still am) in need of a few smart-casual garments for work- because you can’t wear Flossophy Fashion in the office, apparently (best to save those for the weekend anyway).
So, I decided why not check out a few shops on Oxford Street.
Firstly, I did not buy anything. But the real truth and issue was the whole vibe of Oxford Street. I absolutely hated it and it made me feel like sh*t!
I don’t think I have bought a brand-new item of clothing for a while, even since I have been back from India, which is probably why I had a super emotional response to the pure mass of new clothes everywhere. I even went in to M&S to buy some food and the shock horror of the price and repetition of the clothes: £20 for a very standard, slightly ugly cardigan and a whole shop filled with this. It is strange that my life has become quite far removed from the reality of retail-shopping and consumption which, to so many, is normality.
So here are my 5 statements about why you should F*CK FAST FASHION! (and maybe buy Flossophy instead).
FAST FASHION: is “a contemporary term used by fashion retailers for designs that move from catwalk quickly to capture current fashion trends. A second, critical definition adds that fast fashion is not only about quickly moving from runway to store to consumer, but also to the garbage"
("Are you a consumer of fast fashion?". Trusted Clothes. Retrieved October 2019.)
1) Breaking Fashion
There is this new documentary series on BBC 3 that you may have seen which talks about fast fashion brand, In the Style. It’s pretty interesting. Focussing mainly on the side of selling: promotion through collaborating with influencers, social media marketing and campaigning, as well as the difficulties of getting new collections out every two weeks. But aside from the dramas of everyday celeb collabs, the show highlights a wider culture of consumption in an industry which is booming rapidly.
But what does this mean for us, society and the planet?
“When people think oh its fast fashion that means they’re not sustainable, that means they don’t care: I like to challenge that.”
Adam, Founder of In The Style
Truth be told Adam, it’s not just about you. It’s collectively about us- the consumers: where we decide to spend our money, and the producers: who perpetuate a fast fashion model of consumption and production for economic gain and environmental damnation. It is about a collective consciousness of instant gratification which values cheap clothes, and often, over long term investment in quality which will last.
It is this collective consciousness which allows fast fashion brands such as Boohoo.com and In The Style grow, and for what? At the cost of our planet? To fill up landfill dumps? To create more waste, more pollution, and at a higher cost for those who are out of sight, out of mind?
I start a new job next week which is actually off Oxford Street and I was (and still am) in need of a few smart-casual garments for work- because you can’t wear Flossophy Fashion to wapparently (best to save those for the weekend).
2) The £1 bikini; The £4 dress.
It probably makes sense right? You buy a brand new product for a very low price, and the ethics seem questionable; where did it come from? How can it cost so little? Who made it? Who profits?
But maybe it’s also that super cheap price which makes you ignore those alarm bells ringing. Because it only costs £1 so its not damaging (your bank).
But what are the wider costs hidden behind the cheap price tag?
Well for one, clothes are manufactured and imported with quick turn around from industrially-developing countries such as China. Products are made in large factories by poor workers in often trepid conditions and for extremely low pay to meet the high demand for low cost, quick turn arounds and to maximise profits.
"We can not know the lived realities of how these clothes are produced so quickly and cheaply. What we can infer, categorically: it is not a sustainable model in light of the issues we as a planet are facing."
In fact, the same can be said about pretty much all clothing which is brand new. When products are produced in a factory, on a large scale, on a different continent by third parties, the sourcing, manufacturing and logistic processes are hidden from sight. We can not know the lived realities of how these clothes are produced so quickly and cheaply: the conditions others and our planet pay for consumer demand. What we can infer, categorically: this is not good for us, our planet, and what the world needs right now.
3) The end of the High Street?
The growth of online shopping and social media is seeing fast fashion online retailers like Boohoo.com, Misguided and In The Style compete and even put out of High Street retailers such as Forever21, who filed for bankruptcy this week. This shift, however, is still promoted by a culture and collective consciousness of cheap, on demand clothing.
With no physical store-space, online fast-fashion brands save money and encourage faster turn around through instant buying at a click, and even the option to pay later.
Yet the low cost of products literally means the product is valued lowly. Which means the producers are relying on a business model where they produce, and you consume, more. As Lorna Lux on episode one of Breaking Fashion quotes: “you’ve got to work with cheaper brands too because you make more money. More people buy it.”
But this model, sadly, also relies on more waste: clothes go out of fashion, become replaceable, and aren’t missed economically if they are thrown away to make room for, or because of overproduction which is an intrinsic part of this production model.
In fact, Apparel and footwear production alone accounts for 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a 2018 report from Quantis, not adding up the equivalents in what is taken to landfill or incineration to make room for more. So is it all bad news?
4) Second Hand <3
No, it is not! While online fast fashion retailers may be pushing high street competitors out of business, it seems the biggest competition they are facing is the rise of second hand. The digital era has massively helped: social media highlights all kinds of nuances and trends (not just those Love Island influencers!) for different kinds of people, allowing communities or “tribes” to form as people connect around brands, interests and styles. This includes Wavey Garms which was founded as a Facebook group to sell and trade “Wavey” branded items of clothing in 2013, and now has become a brand in itself with a physical store in my local neighbourhood of Peckham! Now apps such as Depop and Ebay allow people to sell and even trade their pre-loved items, with new emerging sharing-economies being facilitated by sites such as Freecycle. Physically, people are shopping in charity shops (I have always been a fan), vintage stores and looking for sustainable brands which centre themselves on ethically sourcing products and using recycled materials were possible.
5) Small scale (and a bit of Flossophy)
Buying from smaller vendors who deal with ethnically made garments makes the production process and journey to you more transparent. Sustainable brands are always keen to share how and why their brand is improving the world, so do not be afraid to ask more or investigate before you buy! It is more likely they have social relationships with those who help make their items, and there is a real-life story behind their brand, which allows you to connect humanly to the brand and product as well. Through this brand story and garment history, not to mention quality, it is much more likely for you to value your item as special.
By paying a little bit more, you acknowledge this item has been made to last and to be adored for a long time to come. Places like Etsy and Depop are great places to start and explore sustainable, smaller and unique brands- but sometimes the best stuff can be found in real life! Small, local markets which pride themselves on independent producers can be home to real gems! From beauty and bathroom brands (check out Urban Self) to upcycled Indian fashion…
So, in celebration of the Flossophy Fashion online-shop launch coming soon, here is a special selection of this collection’s garments.