The Clothes Show – Guide to Swapping

Conscious Style

On Sunday 9th Nov I attended an ethical fashion day at the V&A

Swishing Party
The morning kicked off with a swishing party. I exchanged an ethical shopper bag full of my old clothing and collected a raffle ticket to partake in the swishing event. All clothing was sorted and displayed beautifully and on clothing rails. A 30 min look but don’t touch session allowed participants to eye up the goodies. Then when the rails were opened the clothing disappeared within seconds as a frenzy of fashionistas ran around frantically seeking out their treasures and delighted girls exited, arms laden with ethical shopper bags full of clothing.
I think this is a wonderful way to update your wardrobe and send your unwanted clothing to a good home, you could say one girls cast off clothing is another girls treasure…
Other highlights of the day were a cut & sew workshop run by central saint martins students who were on hand to offer their expertise to update and restyle old clothing. An IT suite was available to educate participants of how to source ethical fashion on the net.
A series of discussions and lectures ran throughout the day covering themes from how we shop for ethical fashion on the high street, how to re-style your wardrobe, slow fashion, and a panel debate. The Ethical Fashion Debate presented a panel of inspiration speakers from Katherine E Hamnet, journalist Lucy Siegel, Research Fellow Mo Tomaney from Central Saint Martins, founder of People Tree Safia Minney and chaired by Caryn Franklin. They were truly inspirational as they gave us insights into where we stand with ethical fashion by illustrated how far we have come, hugely due to their commitment and effort. However, a lot of issues need to be addressed and we as consumers have a responsibility to ask questions about where our clothing comes from and how it is made. The panel encouraged everyone to write to retailers to ask questions and demand more sustainable goods. Lucy Siegel asked the panel and audience (who included top model Erin O’Conner), “If we think a retailer is guilty of unethical practice do you boycott or engage?” The majority of the audience and panel raised hands to suggest the would boycott and Lucy replied… how about we engage.
I think collaboration and good design is the way forward. If consumers communicate their desires to retailers they will be forced to supply to meet consumer demand. Take a look at ethical trading initiative – be an ethical pest for ideas.
The day closed with an Ethical Fashion Show, presented by Orsola de Castro, fashion designer and curator of Estethica at London Fashion Week. Designs from Stella McCartney, Junky Styling, Noir and t-shirts made for EJF by designers Giles Deacon and Allegra Hicks.
This was a breathtaking finale to a truly inspirational day. Fashion is so multi faceted and ethical clothing can be achieved under an umbrella of different methods.
I walked away with knowledge of where to buy ethical clothing, techniques to update my existing wardrobe, some newly swished clothing and a commitment to be an active consumer who will engage with retailers and be truly style conscious.