April is almost here and for the culture vultures amongst us, it means FASHION month, as Bath In Fashion rolls into town once more bringing with it a plethora of events starring the industry's fashion makers and commentators.
And there's one event in particular I jumped to bag and that's with fashion journalist, Avril Groom in conversation with Livia Firth. As a champion of fair trade and ethical fashion, Livia campaigns for social justice issues, in particular the working rights of women in garment factories of the developing world.
Her work resonates deeply with my passion for provenance and UK made wares. Although, tempted like us all by the fast fashion fashion that fills our high streets, I feel deeply that we should all try to shop thoughtfully, buy less but buy better.
As as a shop owner, I feel a strong responsibility to source everything I sell thoughtfully too. And although, not perfect, the responsibility is always foremost in my mind and part of the ethos behind Lola Swift. In my latest pop-up we featured fair trade homewares from Nkuku and crafts from local designers. One wonderful Bath lady hand felted us custom made wool dogs - she sourced her raw wool from a local sheep farmer and dyed it herself.
When I began my career as a knitwear designer, even all those years ago, I knew I wanted to use the skills of knitters from the UK. With so many garments made cheaply in India or China, we are trying to do our bit to support the industry here. Our yarn is spun in a Scottish mill and all our knitwear is made by machine knitters there, in a truly cottage industry set-up. I'll devote another blog post to who and how on this subject soon!
Wool, as a material is a big sustainable winner too. It is definitely not a part of our throwaway culture. Whose favourite, comfiest jumper is probably the oldest and maybe most treasured item of their wardrobe? I know a proper Guernsey jumper I found at my grandparent's house still looks new and is a classic jumper my husband and I argue over. And that's the thing: quality wool items last. Friends who've invested in my pieces yonks ago, still sport their first Lola Swift scarves and they still look as vibrant and as fabulous as ever.
So when we ask the question, "who made my clothes?", we can reply with a resounding "we know!" from the Lola Swift camp. Sustainable fashion isn't a passing trend, it's our fashion future. Let's buy more secondhand and vintage and clothes that will last longer and serve us better. Lots to think about.......thank you BIF for prompting the conversation!
- The Fashion Revolution campaign is, by happy coincide running at the same time as Bath in Fashion (18th - 24th April). Find out more here.
- A recommended read, Green is the New Black by Tamsin Blanchard. A bit of a bible for all things eco-fashion. I bought this when first published a while back but still refer to it regularly.