Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012

Ideally I would have posted this before the New Year, however better late than never, here is my view on where I’m at. It is the first year in a few that I feel pretty content that I know what I’m doing and where I’ll be for the entire year. In Southampton, continuing to work towards my PhD in Retail Geography. I’m six months in to the doctorate, I think its going well but I do tend to live in la la land sometimes, but by the end of the year I should have some preliminary results to share. Some people wonder why I bother with the ethical fashion thing, seeing as I don’t get paid for it and its no longer directly related to my studies (I did an MPhil in ethical fashion). The thing is I cannot imagine not being involved with it, because I love fashion and always have but the current fast fashion industry is simply not sustainable and I can’t sit back and watch something as beautiful as fashion have such negative consequences on the world around us, people and planet. It is a dichotomy that I find fascinating.

I was able to make some great contacts in 2011 with other ethical fashion bloggers and business people. I’ve interviewed them for my blog, gone to conferences, lectures and tradeshows. I was thrilled to start guest blogging for the Oxfam fashion blog and work with them at the Clothes Show Live. I also had a fab time working with social enterprise WhoMadeYourPants? at Vintage at Southbank. Plus I ran a WWF stand at Ikea Southampton, and worked with the textile collection at Guildford Museum.

I started writing for www.clothes.org.uk in 2011 which has become far more of a commitment than I ever planned. I applied at the start of the year to write a few blogs a week, now I write a couple a day, plus guest blog to increase traffic. I believe there are plans to turn this into a far more dynamic fashion website/social network community so watch this space. Although, being a fashion writer was always my dream, dreams change and my stance on fashion has changed so I do sometimes feel like I’m ‘selling out’ as my blogs affectively encourage people to shop! That said, I try to feature ethical brands wherever I can, I write a lot about high fashion, and just on principle rather than anything else I don’t mention Primark. Maybe if I can save enough money from writing to start my own ethical fashion business I can realign my morals.

2011 was quite intense both personally and professionally and I’m hoping for a mellow 2012, but considering my inability to rein in my enthusiasm and slow down a notch, I fear that won’t be the case! I must say many thanks to all my friends and family for putting up with me babbling on about work stuff, it is much appreciated. If there’s one thing I would encourage people to do this year, its buy less and buy better (clothes, food, furniture whatever) and if your jeans only cost £15 from Primark*, please, please don’t tell me :-).

Work hard, play hard.

Lots of love,
Em x

*Just to be clear, my problem with Primark (and I have shopped there myself as a student) is not necessarily about sweatshops or child labour. I don’t know enough about their supply chains, and certainly some brands that have been in the news for exploitative practices in the past (Nike and Gap for instance) now have some of the best codes of conduct in the business. I interviewed the ex-head buyer for Primark and she said that some of their clothes were made in the same factory as Armani. Primark will use hundreds of factories, and all this shows is that a name means very little. My problem is that for me they epitomise fast fashion, which isn’t sustainable, and it’s started to make me really, really angry. People go in and literally buy handfuls of clothes that they probably don’t really need, or that won’t last. And I know people argue that value retailers provide for those that can’t afford to shop elsewhere, but in terms of being able to get the essentials, that’s a minority. I am far from perfect when it comes to shopping but maybe this will be the year that I can put well-laid plans into action.

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