Thoughts on the 2020 Australian Fashion Summit

Prior to the announcement of Coronavirus cancelling everything, I attended the 2020 Australian Fashion Summit on 13 March here in Melbourne. As the second fashion summit to take place in Australia, it was an action-packed day filled with people from all over the globe and representing different aspects of the fashion industry. Being in a room filled with local and international fashion heavyweights was surreal. From fashion editors, indigenous designers, sustainability activists and CEO’s of fashion brands, we had exclusive access to their views on the future of the fashion industry on a global scale.

The word on everyone’s lips was sustainability. Fashion is great, fashion is fun. But it’s also contributing to the extreme decline of the environment, not to mention the exacerbation of a myriad of social justice issues. It can’t be ignored, and all industry stakeholders have a responsibility to change their habits and practices. This summit was a call-to-action, and it emphasised how drastic our actions need to be in order to achieve some progress. Consumers need to aggressively demand change and brands need to revolutionise their business operations.

The speaker who really struck a chord with me was Eva Kruse. Eva Kruse is the founder and CEO of the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), the world’s foremost leadership forum for industry collaboration on sustainability in fashion. With her dedication to promoting awareness and action on sustainability, Eva has worked with the United Nations, the European Commission and recently spoke at the World Economic Forum. She is a badass to the finest degree and works tirelessly with a vast range of stakeholders to spread her message on sustainability.

With an initial presentation on the hard-hitting facts, Eva immediately dispelled the myth that the fashion industry is the second largest contributor to pollution by clarifying that it may be true in some areas in the world, but not overall. That being said, she stated that the industry is one of the most resource-intensive in the world. It is also highly exploitative of garment workers (which has been affected by the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth)), fostering a demand for human-trafficking and slavery. As stated by Glynis Traill-Nash, the Fashion Editor of The Australian, “name an issue and the fashion industry will have it!”.

Eva Kruse proposed some ideas to reduce the damaging effect of the fashion industry. One concept that she suggested was the abolishment of discount sales. The consumer has become accustomed to only purchasing items ‘on sale’, creating a disillusionment as to the true cost of manufacturing clothes. The psychology of only buying on sale also feeds the concept of fashion being disposable. There is evidence of the fast fashion industry slowly declining, as shown by the collapse of Forever 21, however plenty of consumers are not prepared to pay the fair price for a good-quality garment. Buying cheap clothing undermines the work of textile workers, and indicates that workers are not being appropriately financially compensated. But it appears that discount sales tactics are so ingrained in the retail culture that it would be almost impossible to eliminate them. Brands rely on seasonal sales in order to make money. This could not be more apparent with what’s occurring right at this moment, as essentially every brand is discounting in an attempt to induce some spending.

Eva also suggested limiting fashion week to once a year. Fashion weeks are resource intensive, wasteful and reinforce the need to comply with the latest trends. This aligns with Eva’s suggestion that we need to eliminate the concept of ‘trends’, which was also supported by InStyle USA Editor in Chief Laura Brown. Laura Brown spoke about how InStyle USA stopped including reports on the latest trends, because the concept of designers’ collections being reduced to a single transient trend is ridiculous. And in a world where the demand for vintage and second-hand clothing is on the rise, trends are limiting and should become redundant. Trends feed the need to continue buying, which is further enhanced by the sheer number of collections brought out by designers and brands every year. From my experience as a retail sales assistant, customers continue to demand the release of more collections so that they are constantly exposed to newness. This attitude may change post-Coronavirus, but we shall see.

But what does this all mean for fashion brands? As more brands are going into voluntary administration every week, it is no secret that retail is on the decline. Coronavirus has accelerated the process and the economic repercussions are going to be devastating. Many brands will be incapable of implementing sustainable business practices while remaining profitable, as it would be completely at odds with their current business models. But continuing on this path of environmental destruction is going to have unprecedented economic effects regardless, so the priority needs to be safeguarding our planet.

If the sustainable and socially responsible manufacturing of fashion is going to take place, businesses will close. Consumers will be able to afford much less due to the comparatively high cost of sustainable fashion, leading to decreasing consumption of new products and increasing expenditure on vintage and second-hand clothing. But some brands have been able to successfully navigate the sustainable fashion business, with Outland denim, ELK and Bassike representing just a few of examples of local brands that are making a difference. The founders of these brands spoke about their commitment to supplying customers with the highest standard of products and the need to be transparent. Maintaining a trusting relationship with customers is imperative to survival, and this attitude is central to the success of their businesses. It was encouraging to hear their stories, as they are proof that a viable future for the fashion industry is possible.

Towards the end of the day, there was an announcement that the remaining two days of Melbourne Fashion Week would be cancelled due to the ban on large gatherings. Although the world’s attention is currently on Coronavirus, this may be an indicator of how dire circumstances will become if we do not take drastic action on climate change. We are navigating highly uncertain times and the sense of fear is palpable. However, this summit highlighted the need to be adaptable and resilient. This is true for the battle we are fighting currently and will also be the key to success when making the switch to a sustainable fashion industry.

Secondhand Staples

I am so blessed to have fashion-forward family members. It’s a good excuse to rummage through their wardrobes to find some vintage pieces that probably haven’t been worn since the 80’s. I barely need to head to the op shops. This top is no exception, as it previously belonged to my aunty and even has a matching long skirt. It’s a gorgeous colour, but what is more striking is the sequinned detail at the back. You could even wear the top as a cardigan, but I’ve chosen to wear it as a top with a few buttons undone because it was such a warm evening. I wore it with a secondhand white denim skirt from Solus Shop (@solus.shop), which I would wear with everything if I could because it’s such a versatile summer staple. I love to add a pop of colour so I matched the outfit with an aquamarine bag from Mimco and mules from Midas. I haven’t worn this bag in a while so it was nice to air it out.

I am still determined to wear every piece of my summer wardrobe before the summer ends to carry on with my challenge from 2019. Despite last year’s shopping ban, I still have so many clothes, and I need to continually remind myself that I don’t need to add anything else to the wardrobe. And if there’s anything that doesn’t spark joy by the end of the summer, then it will probably be sent to the op shop!

(No pieces worn are current stock)

Shoes: Midas

Bag: Mimco 

Earrings: Witchery 

Thanks for stopping by! x

It’s the Modern Jazz Age

Happy New Year!

2020 has finally arrived and it feels as though there should be robots wondering around on the streets by this point. But luckily a robot/alien invasion isn’t on the cards as all the movies have led us to believe, and instead we’ve been reminiscing about the 1920’s.  Like a dream come true, we (comprising of me, my boyf and his sister) hosted a roaring 20’s party to lead us into the New Year. As a pivotal time in fashion, I have always felt so inspired by the 20’s due to the glitz and glamour of the dresses, jewellery, androgynous hairstyles and the parties. As the quintessential novel of that decade, Great Gatsby showcased the excessive opulence of the era in addition to atrocities that were often masked by such conspicuous extravagance. But problematic events aside, the fashion was glorious and I had so much fun putting my costume together as inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s movie.

The dress was from my mum’s wardrobe, as they always are, which she purchased a couple of decades ago. I found this wig from Spotlight which looked nothing like the assigned photo and the description of ‘1920s Flapper Wig’. I’m thinking it gives off more Pulp-Fiction-Uma-Thurman vibes, or even Dora the Explorer, but that’s fine. I wore it with my leather, round-toe shoes from Florence and a white opal necklace.

Needless to say, my priorities were NOT sorted and I failed to get any individual photos. The obligatory front pose, side pose and back pose to show the outfit from 360 degrees was noticeably absent as I was too busy hosting. So the photos where my boyfriend performs the same pose in every shot will have to do. He’s trying to be Leo, just BTW.

Trying to be poised and dignified….

…Until we’re not

So just like that Christmas and New Year’s is done and dusted.

On a more serious note, it feels somewhat odd to be celebrating when disastrous bushfires are burning right across the country, and they’re showing no sign of slowing down. The climate crisis is is real, it’s here and it’s deadly. It’s also downright terrifying. But I’m grateful for these moments I can have with my friends and family, where we can join together and enjoy some laughs, have a dance and be safe. Others are not so fortunate and are unable to celebrate with their loved ones over this holiday period as they continue to battle the fires. I can’t pretend to know what that’s like, but I hope that this year we can all work together to mitigate the effects of climate change. Let’s all try to look after each other in 2020, and have a safe and happy New Year.

Thanks for stopping by! x

And the Ban Shall be Lifted

It is New Year’s Eve and the next decade is literally hours away! Naturally I’ve been contemplating how on earth 12 months has passed so quickly and what I’ve achieved in 2019, which I always think falls slightly short of my goals. But I recognise that I did the best I could, and I leave 2019 feeling exhausted but pleased. After all, I succeeded in what I planned to do in the beginning of 2019 (may have fallen short by a week, whoops) and reached December 26 without needing to shop for my wardrobe. On the outset it’s a superficial endeavour that for some would be laughable, but as simple as it is, I completed my goal and my carbon footprint has hopefully decreased as a result.

SO NOW IT’S TIME FOR A SHOPPING SPREE!

No, just joking. I really don’t need anything, except for maybe a couple of things here and there. But other than that, the minimal shopping thing really needs to continue into the next decade. My attitude towards consumerism has evolved enough to prevent me from going on a massive shopping expedition anytime in the future, as I have enough stuff in my wardrobe to dress myself (and all my female relatives) for a long time. BUT I must confess that I took a trip to the Boxing Day sales for a bit of an adventure. It’s a bit of a joke that someone who practiced a shopping ban attends the Boxing Day sales for fun, but my sister insisted. I bought some new runners, activewear, and a beautiful dress from Sheike. I didn’t get trampled on and nothing was snatched from my arms. It was actually significantly less frightening than I anticipated.

On Christmas, I wore a Witchery dress – of course, as Witchery clothes for uniform were the only clothes I could buy this year- Mimco earrings, and white mules from Zara that I got for Christmas. I can’t go past a teal dress and some matching bejewelled earrings. Everyone in my family dresses up for these occasions, and we had a lovely, food-filled afternoon with plenty of laughs. We are so lucky. Plus, we got a peek of the Melbourne summer.

My main girls

Dress: Witchery

Shoes: Zara 

Earrings: Mimco

Tonight I’m co-hosting a 1920’s themed New Year’s Eve party where I’m wearing a dress of my mum’s from 15 years ago. I’ll be donning a black bob wig, and hopefully I can round up some jewellery from the dress up box to fit with the theme. I wish I had time to watch some Great Gadsby for inspiration, but scrolling through Pinterest will have to suffice. I’ll be posting photos hopefully tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Thanks for following my adventures in 2019, and I hope you have a safe and happy New Year! x

Wardrobe Workout

There’s less than a month to go until my fashion ban is over!!

My goodness how time has flown by. Uni is over, Christmas preparations are in full swing, and summer in Melbourne has arrived. I may have failed occasionally with the odd purchase of earrings, the dress for the wedding, aaaand the boots (as you will see below), but I don’t regret anything – least of all the things I have not purchased this year and the few things I did.  I probably shouldn’t celebrate the fact that I’ll be able to buy a brand-spanking-new outfit (GUILT FREE!) when the clock strikes 2020, because I really don’t need anything. My wardrobe is still overflowing, and the combinations of outfits I’m able to create are seemingly endless. So we’ll see if the lifting of my self-imposed ban will actually make a difference to my sparse spending habits – I’m actually fairly certain that my growing dissatisfaction with raging consumption will curb any unnecessary buying.

So, to further exercise the depths of my wardrobe, I turned to this white button-up Witchery shirt that I haven’t worn in yonks. I’ve probably neglected it because it crushes so easily and is the biggest pain to iron. My schedule does not always take into account ironing time, so the clothes that need to be ironed usually remain far back in the wardrobe. But not this time – I am determined to wear EVERY SINGLE ITEM in my wardrobe this year.

I slapped on my corset-style belt and transformed it into a shirt-dress (with little black shorts underneath – don’t want to experience any mishaps) with a matching black felt hat from Blue Illusion.

The pièce de résistance is obviously the Tony Bianco boots, closely followed by my burgundy Prada bag. These boots are still everything to me. I am trying to to shake off the belief that clothes buy happiness, because I’m actively trying to stop myself from giving in to consumer culture. But for me, fashion is often the source of some kind of happiness, and it’s not fleeting or superficial.

This is the face of a gal who loves her boots like she loves her cat.

I love a white shirt dress. It’s a traditionally masculine item of clothing that has been transformed into a statement-making piece thanks to a few feminine touches. I’ve also worn this shirt with blue jeans, on top of bathers and with a pleated skirt. You can’t really go wrong with a long white shirt as it’s easy to coordinate and works well in both the summer and winter months. But before you buy, just make sure that you won’t have to drag your iron out before each wear.

Shirt: Witchery

Shorts: Glassons

Boots: Tony Bianco

Bag: Prada

Hat: Blue Illusion 

 

Thanks for stopping by!

A Night at the Grand Budapest

My lovely sister and I headed to the Windsor Hotel in Melbourne on the weekend for a Grand Budapest Hotel-themed soiree. As big fans of the Wes Anderson film, we couldn’t miss the chance to attend this Underground Cinema event and to get all dressed up in our 1930s gear. We will take any opportunity to dress up – especially if it’s fancy.

Sorting out a 1930s-themed outfit was tough work, as it’s not considered a prominent time for fashion. I had to scour the internet for inspiration, then burrow into my wardrobe to find something resembling the trends, until finally I had no other choice but to rummage through mum’s wardrobe. As always, she provided the goods. I found this sparkly Cue dress that at least had the classic length of the 1930s and a little flair at the hem. Then I added her faux fur black cape, black evening gloves and some low heels. Even in the 1930s I’m sure I wouldn’t have been low-key, so I thought I’d go full glam on this occasion.

The actual event was super fun. Everyone threw themselves into the spirit of things, with all the guests dressed to the nines and actors wearing purple uniforms like the hotel staff in the movie. With ballroom dancers and hilarious acting sequences keeping us entertained, there were food and drinks to keep us happy and refreshed.

My sister and I loved going along with the dialogue of the actors, because secretly we just want to become actors ourselves. If they’re looking for volunteers for next year then we’re happy to help! We already have our outfits sorted.

After enjoying the grand environment of the Windsor hotel, we swiftly moved to a nearby church where we enjoyed a viewing of the actual movie. I can’t say I’ve ever watched a movie in a church before, but it was certainly a cool experience (notwithstanding the sore backside by the end of it). And when you’re finishing the night off with a bit of Wes Anderson magic, you can’t go wrong.

Dress: Cue

Shoes: Mimco

Bag: ?

Cape: ?

Thanks for stopping by! x

Casual Weekdays

With the winter weather hopefully on the way out, I’ve been on a mission to wear every last piece of winter clothing in my wardrobe. Of course, I’ve been wearing a lot more of my wardrobe than previous years thanks to my fashion ban, but I know that I can go further. I’m aiming to counteract the statistic that on average we only wear 20% of the clothes in our wardrobes, and only wear each item of clothing about 7 times before they’re neglected or discarded. How crazy is that! The cost per wear is through the roof, and studies have also found that an item is deemed ‘old’ if it’s worn a few times. Our obsession for newness is wasteful and darn expensive.

Social media has a significant impact on this by creating a taboo in being photographed in the same outfit twice. And the proof of this ridiculous fascination over ‘outfit-repeating’ is evident by the controversy that occurs when Kate Middleton wears the same coat a couple of times in a year. How dare she pluck a coat out of her mountainous wardrobe that has already been photographed by the tabloids! It really is laughable.

So, everyday I’ve been digging through my wardrobe to find something that’s been somewhat neglected recently to wear. I picked out this lace Witchery top because I haven’t worn it in a while, and matched it with Witchery floral boots. I borrowed my mum’s new black coat which I LOVE as it’s so versatile and warm, and accessorised with silver jewellery and bag. The outfit is practically all Witchery, which is proof that my wardrobe has been lacking diversity in the last four years. You find that your disposable income decreases dramatically when you work for a fashion retail brand.

Coat, top, jeans and boots: Witchery 

It’s been a refreshing exercise in repurposing old clothes to fit new trends, and sometimes we just need a reminder that we already own some pretty cool fashion. I still need to try out my Sportsgirl ponchos from 2010 that are kept in the back of my wardrobe, so that will be the next challenge. Stay tuned! x