‘Sustainable’ is a word which we hear every single day, and the idea of sustainability dominates our culture. So why is sustainable fashion such a hidden phenomenon? Living ethically includes thinking about the clothes which you are wearing. Almost everybody is guilty of buying into the fast fashion industry (myself very much included) without a thought for who made the clothes, where the materials have come from, and where they will end up when the season is out.
Interpreting sustainable fashion into your wardrobe is easier than you might initially think. They can be decisions as small as supporting your local vintage shops and buying a vintage dress for that Soc Ball instead of jumping straight to the high street. Or, it could involve branching out of your comfort zone to explore pieces from a sustainable independent designer, who have founded their brand on ethics which you can get behind. University is a time when students pride themselves on their individual style, meaning sustainable fashion is really just a student’s dream. You can find something that you know nobody else will be wearing on campus, all while knowing you are contributing to pressing global causes, from fair trade to animal rights campaigns. Similarly, if you decide to go vintage, the chances are that your outfit will cost less than it would do if you bought something brand new, which leaves more money in your Pinot fund. The benefits just keep on coming.
Nobody knows more about ethical fashion than local Leeds based designer Bo Carter, who has built a business around fair trade and ethics, especially animal rights. Using raw ingredients, from Bamboo silk to organic cotton, Bo is the definition of sustainable, which is why we spoke to her to find out more about her brand, and why all students should join this fashion revolution.
For Bo, building a brand based on ethics was not necessarily a choice; instead, it was part of the way she lived her life, as she shared where her inspiration came from: “I started in 2010. The ethics weren’t a choice, it is just the way I always try to live, so creating clothes can only be done that way for me. I never chose to start an ethical brand, this simply was and is the only way things can be done”. Though sustainable fashion has a range of benefits, there is one stand out positive for Bo: “Saving our planet”. She went on,
“I think everyone should be responsible for their actions and buying clothes is an action so we all should try our hardest to make sure we making the right choice”.
As a student, or any consumer who is investing in retail, it is easy not to question where your clothes have come from. But as Bo points out, it’s the customers who really do have the power: “I think we always should care about where our clothes come from. Customers do have the power of asking questions and demanding honest answers. We are capable of checking labels and if not enough information there we should demand honest answers from high street shops. It really is in customers power”.
Bo Carter recognises the voice of students, as a community of trendsetters and individuals who can genuinely make a difference in promoting ethical fashion, saying “Because fast fashion industry is the second largest polluter of our planet. We need to change that, and if students learn about it then there is more hope that the difference will start happening”. She understands that sustainable fashion comes in a range of prices, but that doesn’t mean it is inaccessible for students who are on a budget. If you want to embrace this fashion movement cost-effectively, you can,
“Go vintage, second hand, make your own, swap…be creative and have fun with it, but please, please do not support fast fashion”.