In conversation with 'How to Break Up with Fast Fashion' novelist, Lauren Bravo.
Following her inaugural book and feminist anthem, ‘What Would the Spice Girls Do?’, Lauren Bravo has published a guilt-free guide to changing the way you shop. Global clothing production has roughly doubled in the past 15 year; year upon year an estimated 300,000 tonnes of used clothing ends up in UK landfill. Analysing the toxic relationship between fast fashion and the planet, the fashion lover and journalist looks at ways to lead a more eco-friendly life without sacrificing your style.
The chic fashion journalist, who in recent years has churned out several articles on the latest fashion trends and must-haves, is probably the most qualified voice of reason. Inspired by a collective of articles, in addition to her own trials and tribulations, Lauren presents a witty and informative guide to stepping away from the conveyor belt of fast fashion.
“I felt wildly under-qualified, not virtuous enough, and still quite confused by the whole world of sustainable fashion. Finally I realised that was probably what made me the ideal person to write it!”
I had the pleasure to attend the book launch and author Q&A session hosted by sustainable fashion crusader Emma Slade Edmondson and the volunteers of Boutique by Shelter. The charity shop unlike charity shops. Kitted with interior similar to a swanky Shoreditch store but a charity shop nonetheless, donate all their proceeds to the fight against homelessness. Situated in Coal Drops Yard of Kings Cross, the vintage treasure trove gathered a bunch of fashion fanatics and eco enthusiasts to delve into the murky world of fast fashion.
“The fashion industry produces more CO2 emissions than both shipping and flying combined!"
On my way to the event - immersed and scrolling through the endless fashion envy influencers on Instagram - I was blissfully unaware I was being seduced by the fashion industry. As many well dressed and stylish attendees began arriving, I was interested to hear why many fashion loving individuals were willing to kick the habit and break off the toxic relationship with fast fashion. As Lauren began discussing the birth of her latest book, I was astounded.
“Oxfam found last year that 52% of UK adults had no idea the fashion industry was damaging to the planet.”
With many shocking statistics presented to me, it was here I wondered who is to blame for the state of the fashion industry. Bearing similarity to the ubiquitous chicken and egg scenario, are the fashion industry or fashion lovers to blame? As a fashion lover myself it is hard not to lust over the latest fashion trends; whether it be the Louis Vuitton Multi Pochette Accessoires Monogram bag or the oversized boxy blazer and slacks combo. It is near impossible to not want after seeing them graced over every chic Instagram influencer. According to a Social Publishing Insights Report released by Newswhip in 2018, 92% of marketers cited Instagram as the most important social network for influencer marketing in 2018. As Lauren brazenly put it, it is the industries mindset of must-haves and trends that have become engraved to us as consumers. Churning out masses and masses of clothing, curating trend after trend, the pursuit for the new has captured the minds of many and shaped the way we shop; get it or regret it.
“We’re being sold to incessantly, not just by professional influencers but often by our friends too. There’s a kind of stealth peer-to-peer marketing happening every time we open our phones, and that subliminal pressure can be hard to resist.”
In recent years it is encouraging to see more and more consumers have become somewhat conscious of their shopping habits. From acknowledging the shocking and harrowing statistics of the fashion industry, to stepping away from authentic fur products; people are making a change. In 2018, fashion platform Lyst reported a 47% increase in shoppers searching for eco-friendly items, predominantly with the terms ‘vegan leather’ and ‘organic cotton’. Despite the spike in more environmentally friendly purchases, the sheer volume of the fashion industry remains with £30 billion worth of unused garments languishing in the pits of our wardrobes whilst an estimated £140 million worth of clothing ends up in landfill each year.
“[Writing about fashion] also made me more cynical, and less susceptible to marketing messages. When you’ve seen inside the machine and you know how much work goes into making us want to shop, you’re less easily seduced.”
Lauren Bravo’s refreshing and witty account of her own journey, from shopaholic to a more conscious savvy shopper, is both relatable and eye-opening. The shame of outfit repeating and not owning the latest Instagram must-have has curated a burden of baggage, one that we brush off by shopping more. Fashion becomes a void we fill to mask an emotional state. Shopping makes us feel good. It is the cycle of buying more, then not being content with what we own that fuels the economy. We are being seduced into the dark murky world of must haves and trend tales that we forget why we loved fashion in the first place. ‘How to Break Up with Fast Fashion’ not only brings awareness to the dark side of the fashion industry, but reminds us to romance our wardrobes to ignite the spark with our clothes. Reminding us why we loved that silky slip dress rather than lusting after the Zara dress we didn’t buy.
“I knew from the start that I wanted to write something entertaining and non-judgemental, something that celebrates the joy of clothes but also speaks honestly about our complex, often quite toxic relationship with fashion.”
In order to become relatable to the everyday shopper, Lauren’s preface ‘ A note on being terrible’, emphasises the trials and tribulations of any fashion lover. To overhaul the negative impact of the fashion industry, millions of individuals need to change the way in which they shop. The guilt-free guide provides tips and tricks to shop less and love more. With the average garment worn a measly three times before being considered old, it is clear we have a problem. Through Lauren’s fashionable manifesto, divided neatly into 3 witty chapters ‘The Fight’, ‘The Split’ & ‘The Rebound’, details the way you can make a change. Whether it’s the #nonewyear, #30wearchallenge, #oootd or #clothesswap; falling in love with fashion does not need to mean buying more.
“We need to completely overhaul the industry, and we need to do it now. The reasons are right there for us all to see. Climate change isn’t coming. It’s already here."
According to the ‘State of Fashion 2020’ report, fashion industry growth is set to slow to 3-4% in 2020. With anxiety and concern remaining a prevailing mood across the fashion industry, companies are forced to take a stand. Whether it be a pledge to sustainability, a reduction in landfill waste or banishing the use of fur, albeit a drop in the ocean, however they need to start somewhere. By doing your bit to shop more consciously, shall in turn force the fashion fat cats to make a change.
How to Break Up with Fast Fashion by Lauren Bravo is available to buy now. Enjoy!