New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2016 is coming up quick, followed by London, Milan, and Paris Ready-to-Wear Fashion Weeks: the big four that make up fashion month each September and February/March.
The last fashion month, February 2015, I was obsessed. I’d already been blogging on Sense of Aesthetic for some time, basically about random topics related to my ever-present interest in all things beauty and fashion. And that month was no different: I watched as many live stream shows as I could and I wrote about everything I saw.
But then when fashion month ended, I began to realize (thanks to a catalyst that I’ll write about soon) that when it comes to conventional high fashion, my interest can wane when it hits a saturation point of all the toxic elements that surround the beautiful clothes: the abused garment workers, environment, models and depending on how you look at it — designers — who pump out more more and yet more collections each season.
That’s when I discovered sustainable and ethical fashion. And then everything changed!
All of that to say, over the month of September my Conscious Fashion Swaps will focus on fashion events rather than specific brands or fashion houses. But in the run-up to those fashion weeks, I have a luxe fashion swap for you!
Switch Christian Dior
When it comes to the world of fast fashion, it’s easy to see that it’s an unsustainable system. The developed world’s taste for fast fashion, and the governmental regulations and international agreements that allow and have facilitated its existence, damage the environment, garment workers and consumers (in that it means that we’re purchasing more and more shoddy product with each passing year).
This is not news. But what about high fashion? We’re sold the story (or at least the implication) that the looks that head down the ready-to-wear runway are made of finer stuff: high quality materials made by design geniuses. Flourishes meticulously crafted by European artisans who have been doing it for countless generations. Exotic bits of animal (I can’t. even. touch. that) or at least chic vegan alternatives that are better than PVC.
And maybe all of this is true, when it comes to an unincorporated brand. But where there are highly popular, famous or infamous brands, there’s usually greed not far behind.
A great guide to knowing which high fashion labels are ethical and which are not? Whether they’re incorporated or not. A great list comes from the Rainforest Action Network, which names all of the major fashion houses whose logos have been emblazoned into your mind or whose designs can be found at your local outlet mall or high-end department store. And what all of these brands have in common? They use viscose textiles in their designs that has been created from the pulp of clear cut trees from rainforests the world over.
And yes, some of the most ‘prestigious’ high fashion houses in the world are on that list. Louis Vuitton, Prada, and even Christian Dior. They don’t make ’em like this anymore? It applies to all of the ‘best’ houses!
For me, this information is shocking and disheartening as it is not that surprising at all. It’s the oldest corporate marketing trick in the book: take your sub-par product and dress it up a bit. Label it ‘premium’, ‘gourmet’ or ‘luxury’ and folks will suddenly beg you to take their money. Mass appeal has worked so well for Forever21 (another clothing brand that uses rainforest viscose), why wouldn’t it work higher up the price point range?
And while I’m not one for fashion snobbery (it’s not as if I could afford a Dior piece after a lifetime of saving up — trust!), I feel that this means that many historic high fashion houses have lost the spirit upon which they were founded: high-quality pieces made by a small group of high skilled individuals with prices that matched the laborious task of making them, rather than the perceived value of their logo.
And so I think it’s time that the fashion-obsessed (myself included) find other fashion houses to worship. Houses that, through their ethics, quality and sustainability, stay true to high fashion’s original ethos. And to that end, I offer BreeLayne to you.
It’s difficult to compare designers, as well as a little unfair. Unlike the wardrobe basics or trendy pieces of fast fashion brands that can be easily swapped for ecochic or fair trade pieces, when you look for sustainable designers their work is never going to be a dupe for a high fashion house (nor should it be).
But if you’re the type of fashion girl who’s pockets are as deep as your ethical musings (a small but with any luck growing demographic) than you should definitely check out BreeLayne. The Fall/Winter collection for this year is sleek and dark — and but for hints of the neo-victorian trend in high neck and other subtle flourishes, very different from what was shown on the conventional runways for this season.
These are elegant, sophisticated garments that also happen to be produced from recycled clothing (warning: there is leather in this collection so it’s not vegan-approved!). I especially love the cropped moto jacket in velvet — textured like the stripes of a zebra. And that black neo-victorian dress with bell sleeves I alluded to? To die for!
I’ll be back next week for a suggestion of events to attend if you’ve had it up to here with New York Fashion Week’s unsustainable ways! Until then, click here to check out my other Conscious Fashion Swaps.