Thursday, 24th April 2014. Today is the day that Fashion Revolution's 'Inside Out' campaign is set to take centre stage on social media; already the hashtag is trending worldwide with the likes of Susie Bubble showing support for the campaign and prompting us to ask ourselves who makes the clothing we wear. It's a question that has often been raised in the past, and one that remains largely unanswered by several companies that have previously been investigated for the use of sweatshop workers. It's obvious that we can't all afford a wardrobe of custom-made couture; the extent of our wardrobe is largely governed by our wallets, so how can we be sure to make ethical choices without paying more?
The answer begins on the high-street, represented by ranges such as H&M's 'Conscious' line, whose impressive website comes complete with a manifesto on the promotion of sustainability as well as PDF copies of all previous reports. This transparency is refreshing, and it challenges other high-street companies to step up and expose their production process. As a country, we now seem to buy less and wear more; as a result of this mentality, we now want to know more so we can justify our choices.
The idea of upcycling and the vintage phenomenon also plays a pivotal role in the #InsideOut compaign. With the invention of eBay and, more recently, websites such as DePop, it's now easier than ever for us to sell clothes to new owners as opposed to throwing them away. Charity shops are also more important (and, more importantly, more credible) than ever, with many outlets establishing 'vintage' sections to tap into a new market. There are several examples of this mentality within high fashion, one of the most prominent being Maison Martin Margiela's 'Artisanal' range which specialises in the combination of 'found items' and clothing from past collections, created with intention to reinvigorate old pieces.
The legendary Vivienne Westwood is another key character in the high-fashion take on the upcycling market, using her initiative to set up 'The World's End' in London. The shop exclusively stocks upcycled versions of archive looks and sees them re-imagined and resold at a lower price - by recycling past fabrics, the cost of materials is eliminated meaning that the overall product can be sold much cheaper. This revolutionary concept is slowly widening the audience for designer clothes; after all, it's a lot easier to justify spending £200 on a pair of trousers than it is to justify £500. As always, Westwood has recognised the potential of a younger audience and nominated herself as one of the first designers to step up and make her designs more financially accessible.
Finally, the answer to sustainability in the fashion industry can be found in the introduction of new, innovative fabrics. Ever since Issey Miyake revolutionised textiles with his 'Pleats Please' and 'A-POC' collections, young designers have been looking at ways to move away from traditional fabrics. Iris van Herpen, for example, established herself by combining industrial materials (think corrugated iron and copper pipes) with 3D printing technology to distinguish herself from her contemporaries. Ada + Nik are another example of designers recognising the importance of fabric choices; by introducing materials such as fish skin and choosing byproduct shearling, they highlight the importance of the process in establishing the finished product.