On Monday, I was delighted to take part in a little ethical fashion gathering with
Curated R, Becca Coughlan’s second-hand clothing brand, and j’ai cycle, Jenny Nicolas’s sustainable fashion initiative, at the Grassmarket Community Centre on the final night of the Edinburgh Festival. The event was a free film screening of the iconic documentary The True Cost, followed by a panel discussion exploring what we as consumer activists can do to help change the fashion industry for good.
This was probably my 10th time viewing The True Cost, a documentary created in the wake of the horrific Rana Plaza disaster, but it never gets less powerful to watch. This hard hitting movie directed by Andrew Morgan delves deep into the dark side of the fast fashion supply chain and its impacts on people and the environment, including the perspectives of ethical fashion experts like Livia Firth, Lucy Siegle, Stella McCartney, Safia Minney and Orsola De Castro, insightful counter-views from big business investors and brand representatives,, and most importantly, input from Bangladeshi garment workers, factory owners, cotton farmers, and all the other often forgotten voices of the complex, exploitative supply chain.
The panel/Q&A session after the film was a short discussion between myself, Julia Madge, (an ECA Graphic Design graduate with a focus on social media as a propaganda tool), and Fawns Reid, proprietor of FabHatrix, the Grassmarket’s bespoke atelier. We debated how social media can be a tool for both good and evil, where to find useful and reliable resources for exploring ethical fashion, the benefits of shopping from small local businesses, and how every fashion purchase is a powerful vote for your preferable values. Huge thank you to all that came and listened!
Curated R x j’ai cycle is a collaborative summer project focused on facilitating events around Edinburgh to encourage the discussion and practice of a slower type of fashion consumption. The fashion industry as it stands is one of the most polluting in the world and is infamous for its extremely poor labour standards. However, they believe that as individuals we can spark change through the way we approach consumption and how we run our businesses.
Sustainable fashion has been on Bacca and Jenny’s minds throughout their time at University as they’ve learned how corrupt the fashion industry (the 2nd most polluting industry in the world!) and how broken, problematic, and complex is every element of its supply chain. While University is a time of coming of age, they have also learned that while we as individuals might not have a say at every level, we can take power and spark change in the way things are currently happening and in the way we control our own lifestyles.
The events this summer have included several second hand and upcycled clothing sales and swaps at the Food + Flea Market near Waverley Station, with a goal to close the loop on clothing which would ordinarily be thrown out and placed into landfill but can instead be treasured by its next wearer. They acknowledge that by selling second-hand clothing with labels from unsustainable clothing stores it perpetuates the life of a brand which might have corrupt supply chain practices, but hope that at least it helps to close the loop on otherwise deaded clothing and might serve as a conversation starter and/or stimulus to think deeper about the sustainable practices we make in our purchasing decisions and in what goes into our own wardrobes.
Tonight at Canon’s Gait from 7pm, the final event takes place in the form of a clothes swap in collaboration with the Athenia Collective, a community of 20 and 30-something women who have formed what they deem ‘Edinburgh’s anti-clique’, a new movement for women of Edinburgh to find future friends, network, and provide a platform for members and raise their voices together.
Simply bring along your unwanted items of clothing and you will be given tokens to ‘buy’ your new garments with. The event is only £2 entry and refreshments are provided.
Leftover clothes at the end of the evening will be donated to charity and some will be sold on to continue facilitating such events. Please only bring good condition, clean (and reasonably unwrinkled!) items of clothing!
Let us know if you’ll be coming along, the Facebook event link is here.
Watch The True Cost trailer below, and find the full film on UK Netflix now!
Ruth @ Urbanity xxx