Ethics and Sustainability: Keeping Up with the Pace of Fashion

Image credit: Isobel MacAuslain

This term has seen the launch of a new, student-led magazine, Garbage. Its mission is ‘supporting a breed of fashion which is body positive, diverse, and cares about people, whilst retaining that love and joy that you can find in dressing up’, creator and editor Ellie Sophie explained to me.

The magazine’s name is a play on the term ‘garb’ and the idea of fast fashion: ‘clothes becoming garbage’ – ‘so it’s like reclaiming garbage’.

Ellie became ‘really interested’ in sustainable and ethical fashion in her mid-teens, but found that there was a lack of resources to learn about the issues in the industry. Garbage ­aims to fill this gap.

The magazine will have ‘an informative element, pinpointing issues in the fashion industry, investigating the structural aspects of the fashion industry which are problematic’. Ellie highlights upcoming features on the cotton industry and big brands like Prada.

She emphasizes worker rights as being the main issue with the mainstream fashion industry: ‘I think it’s easy to disassociate yourself from the actual people who are producing the things that you buy’. The Rana Plaza factory collapse illustrates Ellie’s point.

Ellie also discusses issues of diversity in the fashion industry, both in terms of feminism in relation to the workers and in modelling. To tackle the diversity issue in modelling, Garbage aims to focus on the people behind the clothes, doing interviews with the models so that the magazine can be ‘a platform’ for these ‘really wonderful, interesting people’.  

Alongside this educational element, there’s a ‘fun, creative side’ to Garbage, ‘with photoshoots and opinion pieces’. Ellie tells me about a planned ‘charity shop challenge’ in which two teams will be given £15 with which they will create outfits on a theme using only clothing from charity shops.  

Charity shops are what Ellie considers to be a great starting point for people to become more ethical and sustainable consumers: ‘I cannot stress enough how wonderful charity shops are - they’re cheap, they’re good for charity, it’s stopping clothes going to waste’. She also suggests that people look at the section of fashion companies’ websites which discusses legal issues, ‘trying to be more aware as a shopper, to be more inquisitive’.

The team will be holding a charity clothes sale on 2nd February at Jesus College, for which they are taking donations. Profits from this will be going to Oxfam and the charity Labour Behind the Label, which Ellie explains ‘helps to empower those garment workers who are being treated unfairly and to expose what goes into making people’s clothes’.

But Garbage is not intended to tell people what to do. Ellie emphasizes that people shouldn’t ‘beat themselves up’: ‘fashion is for everyone’ and, more than anything, the magazine ‘stems from a deep love of fashion and wanting it to be as positive as possible’.

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