Mindless Mag Special Edition 2020

Page 1



N O . 1

2 0 2 0




+ extra-special thanks to... For the words: Annabel Lindsay, Kate Harcourt, Lauren Archer, Olivia Nankivell + Scarlett O'Toole For the photos: Adam Sadiq For the modelling: Immy Cooke For lots of stuff: Eva Makin


Hello, Thank you for being here and supporting Mindless Mag! This special edit has been created to mark our first birthday and is a true celebration of our mission: to cultivate a conscious approach to fashion through the art of storytelling. Over the past year, Mindless Mag has been on an incredible journey. Ideas led to conversations and conversations led to this: a collective of readers, writers and storytellers from all over the world who, just like us, care about Fashion + Stuff That Matters. In this edition, we’ll be looking back on some of our greatest successes: how our Digital Micro-Internship programme has given work experience to over 250 interns worldwide, our global partnerships, Social Media Takeovers, writing workshops and university lectures.

We’ll also take a closer look at some of the important themes we've covered; climate change, veganism, mental health and consumerism. And finally, we'll share what lies in store for 2020 - our continued growth as a thought leader in conscious fashion and digital storytelling, the launch of the Mindless Academy and most importantly how YOU can get involved! So with happy tears in my eyes I’ll leave with you a huge, heartfelt thank you and one of my favourite quotes by Howard Zinn: "Small acts when multiplied by millions of people can change the world" LAURIE STEWART FOUNDER OF MINDLESS MAG

LOOK what's insideÂ

2020 Issue 01























FASHION + veganinsm


ABOUT US Mindless Mag is a storytelling space for FASHION + Stuff That Matters Each month we partner with charities, organisations, brands and influencers to explore a particular Fashion + theme, using digital storytelling techniques to investigate the relationship between fashion and important social issues. Last year we looked at Fashion + climate change, mental health, veganism and consumerism. This year we'll be talking fashion + influencers, sexuality, feminism, sustainability, body image and much more!

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

0 4



Laurie was a self-confessed Dopamine Junkie, high on her own mindlessness. She was climbing the corporate career ladder, filling her life with things she didn’t need and creating an eclectic wardrobe collection large enough to clothe a small country. One day, she had a conscious awakening - and everything changed.

“Somewhere between the age of 13 and 33 I lost my way. “I was no longer the little girl who made ladybird houses, rescued animals and donated all her pocket money to the World Wildlife Fund. The little girl who went for woodland walks and wrote stories about the animals and fairies that hid inside them, who idolised Anita Roddick and one day wanted to be just like her.” Instead, Laurie followed her dream of working for L’Oréal and spent years living the London life. She worked her way up the career ladder working for global brands in roles that spanned all 0 7

aspects of supply chain operations. She designed and developed products, negotiated prices, managed suppliers, took charge of ethical audits and visited factories. She saw everything there was to see behind the scenes of fashion and retail. A few years later, after returning back home to Liverpool, the pillars that were holding up her life came crashing down almost all at once. And so, when a promotion and move to Hong Kong fell through, she decided enough was enough. It was time to take a time-out. M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

From Corporate to Conscious "I had a burning fire inside my stomach telling me to press the pause button on life". "I wanted to free myself from the puppet master's strings; to be interested in everything and committed to nothing". interested in everything and committed to nothing

Time Out After working through her three month notice period, Laurie set off on an adventure. She spent a few lifechanging months volunteering at a meditation centre in Menorca where she focused on re-connecting with herself and strengthening her mind. Then, based on nothing but intuition, she decided to take a one-way flight to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand where she dove headfirst into start-ups and sustainability. For a while, she headed up a Fair Trade lifestyle brand and worked as a business coach for responsible fashion brands. After that, Laurie backpacked through Myanmar where she completed a vipassana retreat. For ten days she lived in complete silence high up on the hills of Mandalay and meditated for twelve hours per day. It was another transformational life experience. When the silence was broken, Laurie made her way back over to South Thailand to work as a freelance writer until the passing of her Grandma (and best friend) brought her back home. It was a journey from corporate to conscious and one that she scribbled down on her personal blog: All My Heroes Are Weirdos

All My Heroes Are Weirdos

The Power Of Storytelling "Nobody knew how much it meant to me. My blog was more than just words; it was promise to myself to keep doing good stuff to be a better me. To make sure that every day I woke up with happiness as my ambition". It was through storytelling that Laurie began to understand the inner workings of her own mind. It was how she worked out who she was and who she wanted to be. "Putting my life under the microscope through my writing, I realised just how much I'd been cluttering up my life with things I didn't need, things I didn't want, things I'd wear only once and leave hanging pointlessly in my wardrobe for years....and how none of those things ever gave me more than a momentary dose of happiness”.

A Conscious Awakening What happened back then is what Laurie can only describe as a conscious awakening. “It was a total shift in my consciousness. All of a sudden, I began to see things with such clarity, more than I ever had before. I was completely connected to my thoughts and feelings. Happiness became my ambition and I let my intuition guide my every move.” This new way of seeing the world through storytelling brought with it an abundance of energy, focus and inner peace that Laurie decided she wanted to share with others. Her ideas turned into conversations and conversations led to action - and on the 7th January 2019, Mindless Mag was born.

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

0 8

Start With Why Fashion is valued at roughly $3 trillion and employs over 1.8m people; it's one of the largest and most vibrant industries in the world but it's polluting our planet and our minds. The industry is known as the second most polluting in the world and its carbon footprint is greater than that of all transportation methods combined.

Then there’s the wholesale ruination of wildlife, water pollution and scarcity, carbon emissions, and the fact that our non-renewable sources are depleting at an unprecedented rate. High time and cost pressures imposed on all parts of the workforce and sexual violence are issues being dealt with on every continent.


Scarier still is that our mindless consumption habits have now turned fast fashion ultra-fast. We're buying 60% more new items than we did two decades ago. Each year 100 billion new garments are created while 39 million tonnes of post-consumer textiles are sent to landfill. Then there's the impact on our mental health; high cost and time pressures impact the industry's workers and as consumers we're struggling financially and emotionally to keep up. fashion is polluting our planet and our minds

Fashion's impact on our planet Every step in the process is having a detrimental effect: growing cotton, producing synthetic fibres, chemically treating fabrics, using harmful dyes or production processes that are heavily reliant on water.

0 9

Fashion's impact on our minds Working behind the scenes of fashion comes with enormous pressures. For farmers in India the rising price of cotton has resulted in tens of thousands of suicides. For garment workers, the demand for production is becoming increasingly unachievable, resulting in poor working conditions and high levels of stress. And for designers, the pressure to constantly churn out new trends and maintain status has been so overwhelming that some, particularly high profile designers, have taken their own lives.

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

Then there's us, the consumers. We're forever being bombarded with new styles, the latest must-haves and buy-nows. We measure ourselves against influencers and their somewhat unachievable Instagram perfection. We're so caught up in it all that we don't pay enough attention to how fashion is impacting our sense of self.

So what's the solution? At Mindless Mag, we believe the solution is cultivating a conscious approach to fashion through the art of storytelling. The creative process of writing or sharing a story allows us to explore various fashion concepts while taking us through four key stages of elevating consciousness: Awareness Acceptance Accountability Action

Awareness is a critically important first step in the process. We need to understand the impact fashion is having on our planet; the true cost. We also need to pay attention to our mindless consumption and how it's making us feel. Secondly, we must accept the fashion system as it is today. There's no point focusing on its flaws, pointing fingers or dwelling on the doom and gloom. We should celebrate fashion's progress and continually look for solutions to make it better. Thirdly, we must realise that it's no good outsourcing our responsibilities to policy makers and brands. Whether we call it fashion, style or simply clothing, each of us plays a part in this industry. Change starts with us. And finally, having accumulated knowledge and wisdom through exploring the stories we tell ourselves and others, we then feel inspired and empowered to take action. So let's go change the world, through Fashion + Stuf That Matters.

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

1 0



We hosted writing workshops in Liverpool and arranged networking events. We gave talks at vegan fairs and business conferences. We did everything we could to shout out loud about Mindless Mag and encourage people to join the community. By July we'd published over 50 articles on our website and garnered quite a lot of loyal readers and writers. It was time to take it up a notch...

Finders Keepers

Finding Our Feet For the first six months, we were finding our feet. We originally launched the platform as a storytelling space for conscious living. We had six categories and one question for each. On the 7th January 2019 we sent those questions out into the digital world and waited to see what would happen...

The idea for our Finders Keepers campaign came from Laurie's adventures in Menorca where she'd spent two months cycling around the island on her beloved bicycle. About to take that one-way flight to Thailand, she knew she wouldn't be using her two-wheeled wonder for a very long time. And so, inspired by all of the kindness and generosity she'd experienced while living there, she decided to give her bicycle away for free. One morning, while enjoying a coffee and one of Menorca's famous pastries -- an ensaĂŻmada --she created a treasure hunt. Lots of makeshift posters were plastered around the city and the following day, she released the first clue on All My Heroes Are Weirdos. The treasure hunt was an incredible success and Laurie made local headlines. Hundreds of people had taken part and a lovely young boy by the name of Alexandro won the bicycle.

99% of the responses were about fashion

With Laurie's background in fashion and retail supply chains and a personal passion for the subject, it made sense to make this our niche. So by February, we were a storytelling space for conscious fashion and we wanted to get our brand out there.

1 3

In August 2019, the 'pay it forward' concept was brought into the fashion world with Mindless Mag's Finders Keepers Campaign.

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

As well as the idea of 'gifting' a stranger with something you no longer want or need, Finders Keepers was aimed at challenging our fast fashion habits. It encouraged people to recognise just how far our throwaway culture has gone and to remind them of the value in ‘pre-loved’ clothes. To launch the campaign, Mindless Mag partnered with a number of Liverpool’s best loved vintage boutiques, second-hand stores and charity shops. The team even spent a whole afternoon at the Claire House distribution depot tagging up treasures ready for the hunt. Each day throughout the campaign month, those taking part would hide items in their stores with a Finders Keepers tag attached. Anybody who found the item could keep it for free. Just like the bicycle treasure hunt, Finders Keepers was a great success and Mindless Mag made into the local press. We were featured on page 2 of the Liverpool Echo, interviewed on Liverpool TV and BBC Radio Merseyside as well as various other local online news publications.

Global Partnerships

In September, Mindless Mag began partnering with global and local charities and organisations to promote our monthly themes. In September we partnered with Extinction Rebellion (XR) on the topic of Fashion + Climate Change. While XR were busy on the streets of London, Liverpool and many other cities around the UK protesting against London Fashion Week, Mindless Mag took the conversation online. We had some fantastic articles submitted and some great conversations with our social media followers. At the end of September we hosted a writing workshop alongside some members of XR Liverpool. Lauren Archer, whose interview you can read on page 27, gave some great insights into her own personal experiences with fashion and how the industry is contributing to our climate emergency. In October we partnered up with Chasing The Stigma and No Panic, two UK-based mental health charities on the topic of Fashion + Mental Health. In November, we investigated Fashion + Veganism with Vegan.org and Viva, international and UK vegan organisations. And finally in December, we collaborated with Ethical Trading Initiative, a leading alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that promotes respect for workers' rights around the globe.

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

1 4

Digital Micro-Internships

Guest Lectures

In October, Mindless Mag began developing partnerships with universities all over the UK to deliver a series of guest lectures and interactive workshops. Our lectures are designed to inspire, inform and empower. We talk through some of the greatest challenges the industry faces today; economic pressures across the glob, changing business models and how brands are having to keep apace with technology. We also explore the opportunities the industry has to evolve, how sustainability is rising up the agenda fast and how storytelling is one of the most powerful tools for influence. So far we've delivered lectures at University of Arts London, Birmingham City University, Leeds Beckett and of course Liverpool John Moores and University of Liverpool. We're looking forward to delivering many more this year.

1 5

Both the fashion and journalism industry are renowned for underrepresentation and exploitative internship programmes. Internships are often long-term, unpaid, in big cities and on offer only to those who have had access to higher education. Students commonly have to rely on parents to support them financially or take a second job to fund themselves, which eventually results in burnout. Mindless Mag wants to turn this around for the better. Our Digital Micro-Internship programme is focused on driving inclusivity while nurturing talent for the future of fashion. Since July 2019, we have provided short-term, highvalue, digital work experience to over 250 students worldwide. We've given students opportunities in marketing, campaign management, social media management, photography and videography. The feedback so far has been utterly brilliant and every single month we learn how to do things better.

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito

Anita Roddick

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

1 6

Climate Change


It’s the most devastating issue the earth will face in the 21st century and beyond. Our climate emergency represents humanity’s insatiable lust for progress at the expense of our natural resources, ecosystems, and precious wildlife. So what's fashion got to do with it?

The Earth is warming at an unprecedented rate, and we are the ones causing it. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says global emissions of greenhouse gas pollution must reach zero by about 2050 in order to halt global warming at 1.5°C. At 2°C of warming, the IPCC warns that the world will be set on a course towards uncontrollable temperatures and more frequent natural disasters. According to the World Meteorological Organization, 2014-2019 were the hottest years ever recorded. 1 9

At the heart of our climate emergency is capitalism – an economic system driven by competition for the endless accumulation of wealth. Over time, the structure – as we know it – has become unsustainable. The Earth is facing a major irreversible ecological collapse due to the greed and carelessness of a few powerful industries. When we think of minimising our own carbon footprint, our thoughts are usually focussed on using less energy around the home, driving less, and perhaps avoiding long-haul flights. But what about our shopping habits? M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

Throughout September 2019, Mindless Mag collaborated with Extinction Rebellion (XR) to investigate Fashion + Our Climate Emergency. Extinction Rebellion is an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse. To start the conversation, Mindless Mag and XR co-created a set of questions regarding the role of the fashion industry in our climate emergency.

Each question addressed critical issues such as the proposed cancellation of London Fashion Week, the immense carbon footprint of the fashion industry, and the role of government policy in creating new sustainability standards for the fashion industry. The fashion system as we know it is broken

Today, the UN Conference on Trade and Development considers textile production to be the world’s second most polluting industry after the oil industry. According to renowned scientific journal Nature Climate Change, the total greenhouse gas emissions from textile production currently stands at 1.2 billion tonnes per year or 10 percent of global carbon emissions; this is more than those of all international flights and maritime shipping combined. This number is expected to rise if substantial action is not taken. By 2030, emissions from the fashion industry are likely to increase by more than 60 percent. To limit warming to 1.5C above preindustrial levels, massive changes must occur at every level of the fashion supply chain. Implementing government policies to encourage sustainability standards is integral, as well as changing the ingrained behaviours of consumers in affluent societies. But how did we get to this point?

FAST FASHION The term ‘fast fashion’ describes the quick and inexpensive turnover of designs that originate on the runway and end up in the hands of consumers, on sale rails and in bargain bins, in the backs of closets, and ultimately in landfill sites. In the late 1990s and 2000s with the growing popularity of online shopping, fast fashion took over the high street. Giant retailers like H&M, Zara and Topshop seized high fashion looks and reproduced them quickly and cheaply for consumers. Nowadays, retailers like Boohoo, Fashion Nova, Missguided and ASOS operate successfully through social media marketing and influencer endorsements. The speed at which this process operates has become unsustainable for the planet and unhealthy for consumers; looks inspired by fashion shows in New York, Paris and Milan can be purchased within days, or even hours of taking place. This method is utter madness We, as consumers, are buying more clothes than ever before – in fact, we are buying 60 percent more than we were in 2000. More than 150 billion garments are produced annually, which is enough to provide 20 new garments to every person on the planet, every year. M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

2 0

Fashion Industry: Impacts on the Environment The overproduction and reckless overconsumption of clothes is taking a tremendous toll on the planet and the people who make them. From the sourcing of materials, the manufacturing process, and finally, the disposal of garments: the pollution that the fashion industry creates is enormous, and regulating it is an equally large challenge. When we hear that the fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world it's difficult to understand exactly what that means. As consumers, we are mostly oblivious to the environmental damage that these retailers are causing in their supply chains. With the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude to offshore manufacturing and the rise of ‘greenwashing’ tactics, consumers are intentionally left in the dark. Our climate emergency and the fashion industry’s heavy polluting are intrinsically linked. According to Sustain Your Style, the environmental impacts of the fashion industry are identified by five problematic components: water consumption; water pollution and the use of toxic chemicals; microfibres in our oceans; improper disposal and waste accumulation; and damage to soil and rainforests. 2 1

Microfibres Most of our clothing is made from polyester, nylon and acrylic – all of which require large amounts of fossil fuels for manufacturing. These fibres, primarily derived from plastic, are used by manufacturers because they’re cheap to produce and they’re durable. The problem is that the synthetic fibres from our clothing end up in the ocean as microplastics. According to Greenpeace, one piece of clothing can release up to 700,000 fibres in a single wash, and 30 percent of plastic pollution in the ocean could come from microplastics. Fashion Disposal Used garments, akin to the trends that we religiously follow, have become disposable. In 2018, Britons binned £12.5 billion worth of clothes – resulting in 300,000 tonnes of textiles ending up in landfill. Only a fraction of this is recycled or donated. The rest is unable to breakdown properly due to the presence of synthetic fibres – these fibres can take up to 200 years to decompose in landfill. Emissions of methane from UK landfill sites are estimated to be about 46 percent of the country's total releases of methane into the atmosphere. Soil Degradation and Deforestation We need healthy soil for responsible food production and forests to absorb CO2. The fashion industry – whether directly or indirectly – plays a significant part in the destruction of these precious natural resources. Cotton cultivation severely

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

degrades soil quality and globally consumes around 16.5 per cent of all pesticides – despite only growing on 2.4 percent of the world's arable land. 70 percent of Mongolia’s land has been degraded from the breeding of cashmere goats and sheep for wool, and the warming climate is creating further desertification. The fashion industry contributes to deforestation, too. Over 70 million trees are cut down every year to make our clothes. There are many fabrics derived from plants or plant pulp, such as viscose, rayon, modal and lyocell. The loss of forests for fashion can be devastating for its wildlife and surrounding communities.

Fashion Industry: Impacts on Human Rights

On top of the devastating pollution that the fashion industry causes, the supply chain is plagued with human rights abuses and exploitation. The majority of our clothes are manufactured in developing nations or places with high levels of corruption, for instance, Bangladesh, India and China, and the industry employs around 60 million people around the world. The Rana Plaza Disaster The collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh in 2013 shocked the world into considering the human cost of fashion; 1134 workers – mainly young women – perished in the fire, and over 2000 others were injured. Authorities had ignored the cracks in the buildings that were sighted the day before the collapse. Exploitation of Female Workers A 2019 Oxfam report, Made In Poverty, exhibits harrowing details of the exploitation of women in garment factories. 9 out of 10 workers interviewed in Bangladesh cannot afford food for themselves and their families, 76 percent have no running

water and 72 percent can’t afford medical treatment. On top of being trapped in the cycle of poverty – 88 percent of workers reported regular verbal abuse and incidents of physical and sexual abuse. Because these workers cannot afford to lose their employment, they internalise the violence and push their bodies and minds to the limit day after day.

As consumers, it can be difficult to know which brands are complicit in human and environmental exploitation. Thankfully, there are some existing initiatives to help consumers make the right choice. The 2019 Ethical Fashion Report by Baptist World Aid, for example, assesses popular brands against 44 specific criteria – including efforts to mitigate forced labour and child labour, as well as efforts to protect the environment from the harmful impacts of the fashion industry. Higher grades are given to companies with ethical sourcing systems that aim to reduce the extent of worker exploitation and environmental harm.

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

2 2

Looking to the Future The way the fashion industry currently operates is entirely unsustainable and unethical. Its impact on our climate – including the pollution of our rivers, oceans and soil – is incomprehensible. It desperately needs fixing. For all these reasons – concerning both environmental damage and supply chain malpractice – Extinction Rebellion is calling for a complete boycott of fast fashion and a complete overhaul of the current system. This is to disrupt business-as-usual and send a message to government, industry and public alike that enough is enough. 2 3

They urge us to act collaboratively to mitigate fashion's impact on people, planet and other animals with whom we share it. People are waking up to the true impact of the fashion industry upon our climate and demanding change. But whose responsibility is it to change? Pointing fingers and laying blame on others will not facilitate the complete overhaul that the fashion industry needs. To mitigate the fashion industry's greenhouse gas emissions and environmental pollution, all facets of the system must improve to become more sustainable. Retailing giants unequivocally hold the most responsibility in this area, but consumers hold the most power to create lasting change

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

The Solution: A Circular Economy What we need to push for is a circular economy. According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, a circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. It aims to redefine growth and end the unsustainable consumption of finite resources. In contrast with the existing linear economy – which inevitably creates waste – the circular system is entirely renewable. Repairing, re-using and recycling apparel is an example of the circular economy in action.

The issue is that consumers are still intentionally left in the dark when it comes to the environmental consequences of their purchases. A 2009 report in the International Journal of Consumer Studies found that consumers lack the knowledge of the social and environmental impacts of their purchasing behaviours, including the environmental consequences of producing artificial fibres and the intensive production of cotton.

The Rise of Sustainable Fashion Despite the lack of transparency in the fashion industry, the concept of circular fashion has gained momentum in recent years – especially among millennial consumers. According to a 2018 report in the Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management Consumers' interest in recycling and sustainable solutions have increased

Sustainable brands have also grown in popularity and demand, but they are still not selling as well as fast fashion, although certain purchasing behaviours like vintage shopping, DIY fashion, and the ‘slow fashion’ movement have resurfaced in the mainstream. The circular model must be applied Slow fashion, in particular, is a promising to the industry concept for fashion industry reform. As mentioned in the report, slow fashion is a According to Dr Anna Brismar, circular fashion can be socially conscious movement that shifts defined as apparel that is designed, sourced, produced consumers’ mindsets from quantity to and provided with the intention to be used and quality. It redefines what it means to be circulated responsibly and effectively in society for as fashionable and emphasises the intrinsic long as possible in its most valuable form. Apparel must value that our clothes have. But more also be designed with high longevity, resource importantly – it focuses on slower efficiency, non-toxicity, biodegradability, production schedules and fair living wages recyclability and good ethics in mind. for workers. M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

2 4

Fashion Innovation + Initiatives

Some luxury brands have even taken steps towards a closed-loop system and products.For example, Stella McCartney's shoe collection made from biodegradable and recycled plastic; Viktor and Rolf's collection using fabrics from previous collections; G Star Raw’s jeans and Adidas' training shoes made out of ocean plastic.

Growing Transitions Many businesses and brands are shifting towards a more sustainable approach to making apparel. With this growing transition, the concept of a functional circular economy has become more realistic. The ‘Cradle to Cradle’ design framework is a fabulous example of the circular economy in action. The philosophy states that all products must be designed to fit one of two cycles: The Biological Cycle – where the loop is closed by returning products harmlessly to nature, or the Industrial Cycle – where the loop is closed by recycling non-degradable material. 2 5

The Fashion Pact It isn’t just brands leading the way. In late 2018, the United Nations created the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, which is a vision and plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 Within the Charter, fashion stakeholders identified ways in which the broader textile, clothing and fashion industry can move towards a binding commitment to climate action.

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

The Signatories and Supporting Organisations of the Charter – including raw material producers, textile producers, apparel manufacturers and brands – will work collaboratively to deliver on the principles enshrined in the document. Burberry and Levi’s have led by setting an example with ambitious targets; committing to reduce emissions in their supply chains by more than 90 per cent by 2030

Brands and retailers are also investing in new technologies and materials to reduce emissions throughout the supply chain. Organic and recycled fibres such as Econyl (nylon derived from recycled plastic) are showing great potential. The fashion industry must continue to innovate to address critical areas which produce high emissions and pollution. According to Michael Beutler, director of sustainability operations at Kering – a French luxury goods company – these areas include removing fossil fuels and harsh chemicals from synthetic materials and finding ways to stop microfibres from entering our waterways. There is an abundance of clothing and textiles already in circulation which we can creatively repair, re-use, alter, upcycle and recycle to greatly minimise our use of new resources.

Extinction Rebellion urges us to repair, re-wear and rebel from fast fashion by swapping, renting, or buying and selling second-hand clothes. For us as consumers, it’s about recognising the urgency of the climate crisis and linking this to our shopping habits – and more broadly – questioning the way the fashion industry currently operates. The change will not happen overnight. Fast fashion's firm grip on our minds and our money will be difficult to shake. It is not the death of creativity or fashion, but instead, a radical transformation that must happen to give our planet a fighting chance of survival. M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

2 6


An interview with Lauren Archer from Extinction Rebellion Liverpool Extinction Rebellion has urged people to boycott fashion for a whole year, in order to disrupt “business-as-usual” and send a message to the fashion industry and public alike that enough is enough. One person who has taken this yearlong pledge is teacher Lauren Archer. She took the pledge back on August 20th: “I got involved over the last year, taking the pledge to not buy anything new to combat fast fashion. “I’m not going to stop shopping, but I am going to stick to second hand pieces and swap shops”

The internet has changed shopping trends in recent years. People can now order items of clothing online and pay after they have received the items. This makes it feel as though you aren’t spending any money, making it a completely mindless act. Lauren has managed to fight this ease of fast fashion. 2 7

“I’m at the point now where I’m more mindful about what it is that I actually need and if I want an item of clothing, I’ll look on eBay. If I just want to go shopping, I’ll go around the charity shops, or vintage shops.” Lauren said her friends have helped her throughout her pledge to end fast fashion: “I’ve got the support from a lot of my friends; they’ve not all given it up but we go charity shop shopping together.”

Prior to taking Extinction Rebellion’s pledge, Lauren said she would buy around one new outfit a week: “Confessions of a Shopaholic was described by numerous people as my biopic. I thought I was going to do really, really badly but I’m actually surprised by how easy I’m finding it. I don’t feel like I would ever change back.” Lauren believes it is important that people who don’t fully reduce their intake need not feel guilty: “I don’t think anything needs to be so black and white. “I think people need to remember if they do buy a top from Misguided once in a while, they shouldn’t feel guilty, like they’re a terrible person because that’s just the society we live in. If you can’t stop buying clothes for a whole year, you can just reduce your intake.” Whatever someone’s level of commitment to Extinction Rebellion’s fashion boycott, they have urged participants to ask questions and to challenge the status quo.

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world

Howard Zinn

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

2 8



Consumerism is the curse of the 21st century. Sales are getting bigger and better, Cyber Monday, Black Friday, Single’s Day and beyond. Fast Fashion is becoming ultra-fast and we're topping up our wardrobes at an exponential rate.

Retail Therapy

constructed ‘self-image’ on social media. We regard the ability to keep up with fashion trends as aspirational, Spending money on new clothes suggesting that, “if happiness is often associated with positive was dependent on our emotions, related to refreshed consumption level, we should be ownership, reinforcing our 100% content” (Vrany, 2017). identity and a quick fix gratification. The very term “if happiness was ‘retail therapy’ suggests that shopping is an effective form of dependent on our self-love. consumption level, we Marketing promises fulfilment to should be 100% us, trading cash for clothes for an enhanced image and lifestyle. content” New clothes enable us to communicate individual style to Consumption levels have now peers, either in person or reached dizzying heights, but 3 1

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

studies consistently show that we, as consumers, are in fact more dissatisfied than ever with the things we own. In the sense of Western attributes, shopping comprises “significations which compose the iconography and scopicregimes of modernity” (Nava et al, 1997:2). We return to high street retailers each time an urge to shop arises as our dependency on brands isn’t telling of some sort of shallowness but rather an efficient method of product associations which enables us to make shopping decisions with greater ease.

Comfort in the familiarity of established brands means that emerging sustainable brands have to overcome our psychological consumer barriers, to draw us in, as “the more established and routine the behaviour, the more likely it is to be dominated by unconscious drivers” (Graves). “the more established and routine the behaviour, the more likely it is to be dominated by unconscious drivers” Shopping is a modern norm and accepting our participation in the broken ‘take, make, waste’ fashion system would mean sacrificing ‘retail therapy’; discarding the notion that our self-image must always be updated with new trends. Current consumption is seemingly based on asking how much can we get for as little as possible? Instead we should be asking, how much can we give for all that we get?

Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is, for most, an accessible tool which enables us to continuously update our self-image with new outfits, without breaking the bank. Planned obsolescence comes hand in hand with fast fashion, with us accepting that garments bought today will serve a short-lived purpose, before the desire to upgrade an item arises; regardless of its condition.

Fast fashion garments are not expected to last; therefore, we arguably invest less emotional value into them. Lacy and Rutqvist summarise how fast fashion retailers profit, claiming that “one of the most efficient ways to grow is by increasing throughput.'' Shifting mass volume requires encouraging us to continually replace our clothes. Prospering brands in a high-speed, digitalised retail sector provide convenience and social purpose by enabling identity- using clothes to express the language of ourselves as seemingly unique individuals. Brands provide this by introducing new stock on a weekly basis. Subsequently, something you try on one week may not even be in store the next, therefore, purchasing prevents a fear of missing out (the dreaded FOMO). “Distinct neural mechanisms anticipate gain versus loss” (Kuhnen & Knutson, 2005), which influences our decisions of whether to purchase a garment, although biological factors alone might not cause our impulsive purchases. Shopping is pleasurable because the process is curated through external intentions, from friendly staff to store layouts and presentation. 53 million tons of clothes are produced each year

Ultimately, the aftermath of impulsive purchases is that 53 million tons of clothing are produced each year. 87% of this ends up in landfill or is incinerated (Williams, 2018). Furthermore, “half of fast fashion items are disposed of in under 12 months” (Stitched Up, n,d.). Garment overproduction is rinsing Earth’s finite resources. Overconsumption is leading to mass waste. We’re becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the clothes that we own and the primary beneficiaries are profit-driven brands. M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

3 2

Sociologist, Giddens addresses the characteristics of late modernity. Arguing that, “within contemporary Western societies identity has been linked to movements of self-affirmation… [becoming]... integrated into lifestyle decisions made about the self”. "it takes 2,700 litres to make one cotton shirt"

Fast fashion’s prosperity, whilst enabling indulgences of materialistic self-affirmation, has negative externalities on our fragile planet. The industry is so unsustainably resource-intensive that “it takes 2,700 litres to make one cotton shirt, enough to meet the average person’s drinking needs for two-and-a-half years” (Drew & Reichart, 2019). So, to fittingly quote The 1975’s Matty Healy consumers of lesser affluence to participate in an himself, “Modernity Has failed us”. integral societal activity. Sustainable fashion could, therefore, be a problem of privilege and accessibility. In 2017 “Britons binned clothes worth "Modernity £12.5 billion” (Ellson, 2018). Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2017) summarised globally, this is the has failed us" equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles being Perceived garment value has decreased with the landfilled or burned every second. Every. Second. cost of both manufacture and the cost to us end consumers, therefore creating a system where we Clothes within this polluting industry “release half a merely like our clothes, rather than love them, and million tonnes of microfibres into the ocean every the accepted narrative is to replace garments with year…Microfibres are likely impossible to clean up shifting trends. and can enter food chains.” The complexity of this interwoven problem extends far beyond the fashion Meanwhile, a lack of transparency in garment industry itself. Omittances of environmental manufacturing keeps us accepting planned considerations is consequently seeing the natural obsolescence; getting in return, cheaper fashion world around us diminished. and more freedom of choice to update ‘self-image’. For convenience, we may settle for a garment, If human impact is inevitable, minimising it should be failing to regard so much garment choice as a shared goal. But resisting the pull of trend-led overwhelming, under the illusion of offering style clothing seems hard to implement on an individual freedom. basis, despite growing knowledge of these environmental concerns. With a possibility of Whilst fast fashion has enabled us greater access policymakers failing to effectively respond and to cheaper clothes, this often means that the price implement serious action in time, we may have to tag isn’t reflective of the environmental cost of step up and take individual responsibility, producing that garment. Increasing product prices recognising that every purchase could be casting a could reduce consumption levels, but would also subconscious consumer vote, for continuing linear prevent fair access to shopping, by excluding production practises.

Fast Fashion

3 3

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

Reducing our consumption alone will not solve fashion’s core industry issues, although it may buy us a small window of time. Fashion’s ineffectiveness at meeting modern consumer demands in harmony with the environment should really be at the forefront of how all retailers operations. We hold brands accountable for improving our quality of life, therefore a “company’s environmental footprint…could erode brand value” (Lacy & Rutqvist, 2015:12). However, this perspective shuns all responsibility onto the brands, creating blurred lines between who should be held accountable and who holds the greatest capacity to initiate necessary industry change.

Dopamine Junkies

Shopping is a scientific burst of happiness, with dopamine released in the brain as we do it. Chemical reactions cause the positive feelings associated with shopping and brands marketing campaigns leverage this biology for profit. Neurobiologist, Sulzer (2017), reports that the “neurotransmitter surges when…considering buying something new…. When unforeseen benefits enter the “cognitive field— e.g. 30% off! —the dopamine really spikes. '' Marketing strategies manipulate the psychology of our relationships with ourselves, creating integrated desires to obtain peer validation through materialism and Western, cultural, liberation movements. Just like substance usage, a shopping binge is followed by the hangover.

Contradicting the fulfilment shopping promises, Greenpeace surveyed shoppers finding that around half of respondents admit that their shopping high wears off within less than a day. 16% of women often buy clothes for the excitement factor

Another survey, found that 16% of women often buy clothes for the excitement factor, while another 56% admit to ‘occasionally’ splashing out to boost their wardrobe just because it makes them feel better (Papworth, 2011). The root of addiction, however, is the building of tolerance to these chemical reactions in our head. Each time requiring a larger dose to get the same effect. (Bilder, 2017) Compulsive desires to shop stem from needing to satisfy desired fulfilment through perpetual acquisition.

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

3 4

The psychology behind ‘why’ we shop could go a way towards explaining why we’ve become more readily bored of our clothes. Murray (2014) explains that “having what you want implies that a goal preceded the acquisition. Happiness is derived from the “motivations for making those purchases.'' Therefore, the clothes are not the direct cause of our stimulated happiness but rather the ‘by-product’ of an acquisition triggered, emotional reward, of coming into product ownership. Buying without regard to the likelihood of garment usage and with trends shifting so quickly, impulsive fashion purchases fall short of justification for the resources required to manufacture them in the first place.

As you might expect, FOMO is an imposing sales driver for online shopping, creating a compelling urgency to spend- particularly when we feel we’re in direct competition with other shoppers to obtain products with limited availability. You see, fast fashion retailers work by drawing inspiration from two traditional catwalk seasons (Spring/Summer, Autumn/Winter), to produce 52+seasons a year: weekly drops are becoming the norm! Merged with the growth of social media, it results in today’s new, hyper-connected consumer market, demanding non-stop trend innovation.

FOMO is not just a hashtag

Trends are generally illustrative of the zeitgeist, and according to Vinken (2017:15) “fashion trends are a reflection of the spirit of the times” and “the goal of determining a trend is to be able to monitor that it achieves full integration among the majority”. The immediacy of trends today is arguably due to them being manufactured out of concepts stemming no deeper than visual aesthetic, with less emotional backstory to rationalise the reason for a trend’s emergence and growth. Do we then, seek newer trends in pursuit of emotional fulfilment which previous trend consumption failed to achieve?

Trend Setters

The Fashion Cycle

Aside from economic analysis, the fear of missing out (FOMO) element poses to be another purchase stimulant. The birth of online shopping gave us 24hour access to seemingly limitless fashion choice at the click of a button. If the fear of loss plays greater through the immediacy of online shopping, then the internet has contributed to increased consumption. 3 5

The ‘Fashion Cycle’ shows how micro-trends become macro-trends, involving 5 key stages: Introduction, rise in popularity, peak of popularity, decline in popularity, rejection. Once a trend is accepted amongst the majority, the fashion conscious will seek the next new thing to sustain a trend setter identity,

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

Continuous fashion consumption leads to the Western problem of 'stuffocation… feeling suffocated by the sheer volume of clothes that wallow in your wardrobe’ (Wallman, 2015). Sifting through a full wardrobe becomes more effort than buying something new and more ‘on trend’ instead, increasing consumption and perpetuating this feeling of ‘stuffocation’. In fact, research shows that we’d actually feel more content with less clothes, easing the process of outfit selection- although this requires overcoming a persistent desire to shop first.

The acquiring of fashion garments directly associates to positive emotions around selfimage construction. Looking at the theory of power dressing as the construction of a type of self: identifies power dressers as “a self who demonstrates that she is ambitious, autonomous and enterprising by taking responsibility for the management of the appearance.” (Molloy, 1980:18), which can be seen illustrated still in modernity through social media.

The Evolutionary Theories of Fashion

she is ambitious, autonomous and enterprising

Fashion trends are born out of desirable equities, not fundamental for survival, but idolised as a means to an enjoyable lifestyle. The argument for legitimate essential needs and “omg I need this new jacket” needs, is that the materialistic needs can only arise once we have all our basic living needs met. Our human desire to strive for progress sees Western societies socially construct materialistic needs, to give us aspirations, readily attainable through fast fashion consumption. Suggesting that the choice to buy into trends gives false illusions of individualism- the sentiment trends supposedly facilitate. “If we are following trends then we are following the masses...a trend becomes only a trend because it is shared by others” (Strähle, 2016). The power of marketing is what keeps us falsely eluded and buying into this broken narrative. “If we are following trends then we are following the masses"

Fashion Influencers

This year, Kylie Jenner became the youngest self-made billionaire ever through her cosmetic line, epitomising contemporary Western measures of success. For her 21st

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

3 6

birthday she wore a millennial pink, Swarovski crystal bodysuit.Overnight, fast fashion retailer, Fashion Nova, produced an affordable knock-off, advertising their copy on Instagram. With those flaunting the trendiest lifestyles on social media idolised, it’s an increasing phenomenon that we appear to engineer our wardrobes for association to subcultures we deem successful, based on subjective beliefs about what a successful life visually comprises. An outfit expresses these desired associations, and shopping aspirationally fulfils self-perceived requirements of identity significance. Fast fashion enables clothes to be utilised as a language of wealth. Stemming from the look-at-me culture, we’re seemingly competing to out-dress each other, for the sake of a curated self-image, portraying subjective levels of trend affluence. Between 2014 and 2030 there are expected to be 2.5 billion new middleclass consumers globally, potentially looking to out-dress each other for peer approval; raising concerns about fashion’s increasing strain on the planetwhich is already balancing on an environmental tipping point.

What's Next? Where do we go from here? Perhaps looking inwards towards our own consumer and shopping behaviour would be a good place to start, not just scratching the surface. Like, really digging deep into our own consciousness to try and understand why we buy what we buy, shop in certain stores; are drawn to certain styles... 3 7

Only when we begin to truly reflect inwards, can we then hope to understand how we can have a positive external impact outward into the world. And maybe you’re not so interested in cutting back on how much fashion you consume, but a little self-reflection probably would do your energy some good all the same (plus we’ve all got room for improvement). Fashion. It’s not as easy to define as you may think. It’s a complex system filled with pragmatic construction, emotional responses, intertwined actions. Yet our role within the fashion system is suspended, not fixed. We have the power to cut ties to this intense system when we’re ready to challenge fashion consumption as it is presented to us today and question the true meaning of it all. However, what you choose to do with all this information is up to you. You are, after all, an original and individual thinking entity, with your own unique identity to fulfil… aren’t you? M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful

William Morris

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

3 8

Mental Health


The statistics surrounding mental health in the UK are startling: one in six people in England experience a mental health problem in any given week and two thirds of adults in Britain will suffer from a mental health issue at some point in their lives.

Outwardly, at least, the world of fashion is everchanging. It’s a world populated and led by the young, beautiful and nameless at the front, and by a largely older generation of fashion kings and queens at the back (think curators and commentators like Anna Wintour, Suzy Menkes and Carine Roitveld and designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Muccia Prada and Donatella Versace). Then there are the ever-present fashion innovators and influencers like Natalie Massenet and Kate Moss who have held their positions of power for decades.

The Dark Side of Fashion

In 2018 the UK fashion industry was worth £32b and while money might buy a great wardrobe, it 4 1

appears not to buy happiness even for those at the top. Sadly, the fashion industry has seen some of their most celebrated icons take their own lives. From humble beginnings, Lee Alexander McQueen built a career which included designing for David Bowie and Bjork as well as time as Givenchy’s Chief Designer before building the Alexander McQueen empire, 51 percent of which he eventually sold to Gucci while staying on as Creative Director. There was always a darkness to McQueen’s creativity. He referred to his runway shows as his own “living nightmares” and enjoyed provoking his audience with ripped bodices and blood-spattered models in Highland Rape (1995) – intended as a political comment on the relationship between England and Scotland in

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

reference to fashion, music and historical events - and his infamous VOSS show which began with an unnerving, pulsating heartbeat and models trapped in a padded cell. In 2003 he was appointed a CBE and named in the US as International Designer of the Year. But in 2010, eight days after the death of his mother and shortly before Autumn/Winter London Fashion Week, he was found dead at his London apartment, aged 40. He had been diagnosed with both anxiety and depression three years previously and had already made two attempts on his own life. Tragically, the tales of other fashion textile and accessory artists bear the same hallmarks of reaching a dizzying pinnacle of success only to be brought down by their own hands. RIP industry icons, Isabella Blow (2007), L’Wren Scott (2014), and more recently Kate Spade (2018).

Why is fashion so full of tales of tragedy?

Is it industry pressure which flicks the switch between life and death for those at the top? The pressure to constantly reinvent and innovate, to meet deadlines, to originate a new trend? Is it the ever-increasing pace of fashion collection production which now routinely requires six collections per year, in contrast to the traditional two: Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter? Is it the high stakes of success, the opportunity for fame and fortune? Does the industry-wide acceptance of self-medication through drugs and alcohol play a part, cleverly masking the grim, stigmatised reality of stress and illness? Or is it simply the mismanagement of a creative mind?

Of course, while Marc Jacobs is checking into rehab and John Galliano is having a very public breakdown – both have spoken through the media about their battles with anxiety and depression – others are clearly thriving on the cut and thrust of fashion. Karl Lagerfeld concurrently designed for Chanel, Fendi and his own eponymous label, producing up to 20 collections a year. When it was put to him that such a workload might cause creative burnout he famously said, If you’re not a good bullfighter, don’t get in the arena. Fashion is a sport now: You have to run

Other designers choose to step back from industry pressures and work at their own pace.

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

4 2

Defying the trend for multiple collections in a season, Azzedine Alaia presents his collections when he feels they are ready, and Viktor & Rolf have withdrawn entirely from the ready-towear circuit, choosing solely to produce couture.

Who Makes Our Clothes?

At the far less glamorous end of the fashion industry are the people who make our clothes. Often based in developing countries, garment workers are most likely to be young women with very little education or training who move to the big cities from rural areas. Widespread access to technology and mechanised farming equipment means that the agricultural work these women would have once undertaken within a family unit is no longer available. Simultaneously, the growth of global fashion businesses since the 1980s combined with routine outsourcing of garment manufacturing from the West to the East saw the development of massive export industry opportunities and employment for these otherwise displaced women. Countries such as India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh have all seen the 4 3

rapid installation ofgarment factories. In some countries workers are protected by a national minimum wage, though this is widely accepted throughout the industry to be substantially below what could be considered a living wage. In India, it is reported by The US Bureau of Labor Statistics, that up to 80 percent of garment workers are employed informally, meaning their pay is likely to be considerably lower still and possibly based on piece production. In Bangladesh where 80 percent of the country's export income comes from garment production, there are over 4,800 factories employing an estimated 3.5 million workers. 80% of Bangladesh's GDP comes from garment manufacturing and 80% of the workforce is female

Females provide 80 percent of this workforce due to their lower pay expectations and the perception that they are less likely to demand promotion, or attempt to collectively bargain. Essentially, they are employed because they are more easily exploited. And with exploitation, often, mental health issues follow.

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

Anti-poverty charity, War on Want, describes work in a garment factory involving 14-16 hour days, seven days a week in unsafe, cramped and hazardous conditions which “often lead to work injuries and factory fires”. They state on their website that over 400 workers have died and several thousand more have been wounded in 50 major factory fires since 1990. Many women workers have reported that the right to maternity leave is not upheld by employers. Factory management also take steps to prevent the formation of trade unions, a right protected under the Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining ILO Conventions, which Bangladesh ratified in 1972. Development in Action During her three month research project for Development in Action, Marie Petterson also reported the alarming fact that as well as coping with the exploitative nature of their work, workplace and supervisors, garment factory workers in metropolitan Dhaka made up 11 percent of reported rape cases despite only representing 2-3 percent of the female population in the area. She attributes this to their “long commutes home to the poorer slum areas where they tend to reside”. A 2017 study entitled “Work, gender roles, and health:

neglected mental health issues among female workers in the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh” explored why these women in particular are more likely to have poor mental health. It summarised that the main motivation for work within the industry is poverty, and that garment factory workers frequently leave children with grandparents in the country when they move to urban areas to work. This is because their wages do not cover suitable housing or childcare.

NGO Action While there are consumer and Non Government Organisation (NGO)-led campaigns which aim to acknowledge and redress the plight of garment factory workers, their cause seems to gain little legal traction in countries which essentially depend on slave labour to maintain a position in the global textile market. And some even justify the use of this kind of labour, claiming it’s better

The report concluded: “The women reported stress, anxiety, restlessness, and thoughts of suicide, due to the double burden of work and separation from their children and family support. Further, they cannot easily access government hospital services due to their long work hours, and the limited medical services provided in the workplace do not meet their needs.”

forthose in poverty to have some work rather than no work at all. However, if mental health is to be cared for all along the supply chain, Kalpona Akter, Executive Director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity has a much more equitable solution. She doesn’t want the work to leave Bangladesh, she would instead like to see workers paid a living wage instead of a minimum wage.

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

4 4

In 2013 John Galliano openly discussed his poor mental health in an interview with Vanity Fair. The interview followed two years of silence after he was caught having a racist and antisemitic outburst on film. He admitted to addiction and claimed,

We need these jobs but we want these jobs with dignity. We want these jobs with a decent wage, a safe working place and with a union voice

she said during an interview on National Public Radio. In Bangladesh, that would be an increase in wages from approximately £25 per month to £45 per month, and according to Garment Workers United, would increase the cost of a $18 t-shirt made under current work and pay conditions to approximately $20.


“I was going to end up in a mental asylum or six feet under.”

Although the most senior creative heads of industry are perhaps more reluctant to speak about their mental health experiences, younger celebrities who have come to epitomise fashion for some consumers seem more willing to share. Models/designers Kendall Jenner and Cara Delevibgne have both spoken openly about their own experiences and used their celebrity to draw attention to the narrow definition of beauty within the industry – young and ultra-slim – and how this negatively affected their mental health. The goal stated on the pledge website is no less than “to pursue healthy working conditions for ev eryone working in the fashion industry.” Clearly their w ork is very much focused on the treatment of models, many of whom are very young and navigating a demanding, high pressure industry, often without a lot of supervision or protection. The online platform provides an anonymous reporting point which specifically deals with misconduct or unhealthy work situations. It also provides access to experts in sports, nutrition, the fashion profession, personal development and business.

Conversations recognising issues of mental health in fashion are starting, and although it seems these are focussed more on problems than solutions, they are a starting point. 4 5

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

Skinny Supermodels

The goal stated on the pledge website is no less than “to pursue healthy working conditions for The pressure on models who become the physical representation of a brand, a look or everyone working in the fashion industry". a style is immense. For years we have seen emaciated models with jutting rib cages and Clearly their work is very much focused on the treatment of models, many of whom are very young hungry eyes parading the catwalks of and navigating a demanding, high pressure industry, fashion week, and for years we have heard often without a lot of supervision or protection. about eating disorders being rife. The online platform provides an anonymous reporting More recently, calls have been made for point which specifically deals with misconduct or fashion brands to ensure that the models they use have a body mass index (BMI) which unhealthy work situations. It also provides access to falls within the World Health Organisation’s experts in sports, nutrition, the fashion profession, personal development and business. definition of healthy. France's minister of social affairs and health, Marisol Touraine, is particularly supportive of the legislation. She believes that it protects not only models, but also the people who see the imagery and aspire to inaccessible beauty ideals. “Exposing young people to normative and unrealistic images of bodies leads to a sense of self-depreciation and poor self-esteem that can impact healthrelated behaviour,” she said.

The Model Health Pledge One initiative to deal with poor working conditions in the fashion industry is the Model Health Pledge which was set up in collaboration between model agents, clients, media businesses and health care. It sets out thirteen “promises” which have been created by an advisory board and are aimed to improve models’ health. “to pursue healthy working conditions for everyone working in the fashion industry"


In the wake of the infamous Rana Plaza disaster in 2013 – a garment factory which collapsed causing the death of 1138 employees and injuries to an estimated further 2,500 making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history – the fashion activist group Fashion Revolution was born and started powerful work campaigning for people across the globe to ask, “Who made my clothes?”. Growing concerns for the environment are also raising awareness of how fashion corporations promote short lived trends and excess consumption. In 2015, American eco fashion pioneer Eileen Fisher shockingly described her industry as the “second largest polluter in the world ... second only to oil… It's a really nasty business ... it's a mess," she said.

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

4 6

When London, New York and Paris fashion weeks come about it seems that as long as designer fashion are producing multiple prêt-a-porter ranges each season, high street retailers will continue to replicate these trends: making them fast and selling them cheaply.

Slow Fashion could be the solution The slow fashion movement seeks to encourage fashion consumers to shop mindfully and with conscious concerns for social and environmental responsibility. From the very start of the supply chain responsible fashion brands manufacture their garments more often from material made from organic, Fairtrade crops which are known to be less environmentally harmful, and kinder to those who work the land to produce them. Fabric made from low-water, high fibre crops like bamboo and hemp are also popular, as are manmade materials like Tencel and the use of recycled materials. At this early point in the supply chain, Fairtrade has a particularly important role to play in the mental health of the farmers who produce cotton. An epidemic of suicides has effected Western India's cotton production belt since the turn of the millenium, where according to a recent CNN report,

number of more curated collections, it seems that secondhand fashion is no longer the domain of necessity and more increasingly used to create individual fashion statements which avoid supporting sweatshops and decrease landfill. An online search of clothes swap meetings brings up a fascinating variety of events with names such as “Swap Rebellion”, “Luxe Swaps”, “’TEEN’ Clothes Swap” and “Swap and Style”. Not only is the trend increasingly popular, it is increasingly appealing to groups of all ages and all budgets. Importantly, slow fashion also celebrates diversity. Brands such as Gudrun Sjoden have long used models of varied ages and sizes, and the trend is noticeably alive both in major ethical fashion brands as well as the slow fashion Instagram influencers with the greatest number of followers. Could this increase in mindfulness and care for those all along the fashion supply chain improve the mental health of everyone from the designers allowed to invest their time to create smaller, fewer ranges, through to the fairly one cotton farmer paid organic cotton farmers, weavers, and spinners, to the people working in garment manufacturing and receiving a commits suicide every living wage, the diverse models promoting healthy beauty… and right on to the consumer, who uses their eight hours purchasing power to look good and support integrally good fashion? Slow fashion also embraces recycled, restyled and secondhand fashion. Whether Perhaps the best chance of change to the fashion industry shoppers are trawling through charity shops with its negative effect on the mental health of everyone hoping to find a bargain designer gem, or involved will come from consumer pressure. Proponents of shopping online through one of the growing the slow fashion movement believe it is possible. 4 7

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.

William James

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

4 8



The global shift in attitudes to veganism is changing the way we eat, the way we purchase, and increasingly – the way we dress. Veganism is growing exponentially in the UK; the number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupled between 2014 and 2018, and by 2025, vegans are likely to make up a quarter of the population.

Many people believe that Billions of animals are raised and veganism is about claiming the slaughtered each year for the higher moral ground – but it’s fashion industry. Cows, sheep, quite the opposite. Veganism, geese, foxes, rabbits and first and foremost, is based on countless other species – compassion for other sentient including dogs and cats – are beings. raised and killed to produce clothing and accessories. According to the Vegan Society, With new technological veganism is a philosophy and innovations and humane way of living which seeks to alternatives like faux fur and exclude – as far as is possible vegan leather and practicable – all forms of exploitation. The commercial exploitation of animals can be Why do we still buy for food, clothing or entertainment. While all vegans clothing that an choose not to eat animals or animal by-products, many also animal had to die avoid wearing animal products in the form of leather, fur, down for? and wool. 5 1

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

Throughout November 2019, Mindless Mag collaborated with Vegan Action (Vegan.org) and Viva! to investigate Fashion + Veganism. Vegan Action – creators of the globally recognised Certified Vegan Logo – is a non-profit organisation that works to eliminate animal suffering, reduce negative environmental impacts, and improve human health through a vegan diet. Viva! is the UK’s leading vegan charity working towards a kinder world and the end of animal suffering.

To begin the conversation, Mindless Mag co-created a set of questions with Vegan Action and Viva! about the link between the growing trend of veganism and how this impacts our fashion choices. Many have disregarded veganism as a fad or dietary trend, like the countless other styles of eating that go in and out of fashion

If the Veganuary campaign is anything to go by, veganism is here to stay. The rapid explosion of the campaign is staggering – in 2014, 3,300 people signed up to go vegan for January. By 2016, there were 23,000 participants, and by 2019, there were a quarter of a million participants. In the same period, the ‘vegan’ google search quadrupled. A.T. Kearney predicts that by 2040 only 40% of the global population will be consuming meat

The other 60 percent will be consuming clean (lab) meat and vegan meat replacements. For some people, leading a vegan lifestyle is a choice for the planet. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that eating a vegan diet could be the

"single biggest way" to reduce your environmental impact on the Earth. Cutting meat and dairy from your diet could reduce your carbon footprint from food by up to 73 percent, which is far more effective than cutting down on your flights or driving an electric car.


However, it is not just limited to food choices. According to research carried out by The Vegan Society, 56 percent of Brits have adopted vegan buying behaviours like buying vegan products or checking if their toiletries are crueltyfree. If we’re more aware of animal cruelty – and perhaps willing to change our purchasing habits – what impact does this have on the fashion industry? According to a report by retail technology and data company EDITED, compared to last year, there are 75 percent more products labelled as “vegan”. This has been reflected through more than 40 major fashion retailers in the UK. Due to “increased customer interest in veganism” and a “rise in online searches for related products”, UK retailer Marks & Spencer launched 350 different styles of affordable vegan leather shoes. Adidas, in partnership with non-profit Parley for the Oceans, released 5 million pairs of vegan shoes made out of ocean plastics. M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

5 2

Vegan footwear now accounts for 73 percent of the vegan market. Vegetarian leather and other materials are proving that high-quality, durable shoes can be made without animals. The decision to forgo animal suffering is impacting our fashion choices and the current trajectory of the fashion industry. According to Common Objective, 65 percent of our clothes are now made from synthetic fibres. Cotton and wool are on the decline, cellulose fibres (extracted from natural resources) are on the rise, and around 98 percent of all future fibre growth is expected to be in synthetic fibres. It begs the questions – do we still need leather, fur, down and wool? Why do these industries still exist?

Animals used in Fashion

The Leather Industry

look. Even though it’s classed as a by-product, it’s still integral to the profitability of the meat trade. The skin of a cow, sheep, pig, crocodile, snake and many more animals can still represent a large portion of the income made on the sale of their body parts. Nearly half of the global leather trade operates from developing countries that are rife with exploitation of both animals and workers. Animals Australia reports that China – the largest exporter of leather in the world – kills millions of dogs and cats for their skin every year. Because there are no labelling requirements for leather goods, it’s difficult for the consumer to know what animal it has come from and where the animal was raised and slaughtered. India, another significant exporter of leather, has been criticised for its treatment of ‘sacred cows’. These animals are forced to endure gruelling journeys to be brutally killed in neighbouring countries and provinces.

Leather is big business, and the process is certainly not as glamorous as the end product. As reported by Common Objective Nearly 4 million cows and other bovine animals are used in the leather production industry each year

Once the skin of the animal is removed, it is preserved through a process called ‘tanning' which uses strong chemicals to prevent the skin from decomposing. The tanning process can be toxic for both the environment and the people in contact with the chemicals. Whether it’s made into a jacket, a handbag, a keychain, or car seats – leather is everywhere we 5 3

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

Leather Alternatives Cruelty-free leather is undeniably on the rise, and the leather industry is suffering as a result. According to a report by Grand View Research, the vegan leather market is set to be worth $85 billion by 2025. Through new technology and some innovative minds, we now have highquality, durable alternatives that completely remove animal cruelty from the equation. It isn’t just limited to the fashion world – Ferrari and Tesla are pioneering the development of vegan automotive interiors. Brands are continually debuting innovative new materials to make clothing and shoes. Hugo Boss launched “BOSS”; a vegan shoe line made from pineapple leather. Other new materials include mushroom leather, apple leather and coconut water leather.

Historically leather-laden brands are also making the shift to vegan leather. Birkenstock, despite still releasing leather products, won two awards by PETA for the Most Vegan-Friendly Shoe Company in 2017 as well as the Vegan Fashion Award in 2016.

Fur Factory Farming Fur farming is another brutal industry that is on a steady decline. Fur factory farms are where animals are bred and raised for their fur. Many of us would like to believe that these farms don’t exist anymore, but 85 percent of the fur industry’s skins still come from animals on fur factory farms. According to Last Chance for Animals (LCA), a nonprofit organisation dedicated to eliminating animal exploitation, more than 1 billion rabbits and 50 million other animals – including foxes, mink, raccoons and dogs – are raised and slaughtered for their fur every year. These animals are kept in deplorable conditions and forced to endure short, miserable lives. Fur farming has long been a subject of public scrutiny. The UK was the first country to ban fur farming in M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

5 4

2000, and many other European countries have taken steps to ban the trade altogether. Akin to the leather industry, severe lack of regulations from major fur importers – like China – means products are often mislabelled as “faux”.

feathers, and Hungary is a major player in European markets. We don't need to buy clothing made with down. Cruelty-free fabrics like PrimaLoft are synthetic, hypoallergenic and waterproof. Down and Wool The wool industry faces its own An Alternative - Faux Fur Down – sourced primarily from share of criticism from animal ducks and geese, and wool – rights’ groups. Australia – with Fur is no longer a luxurious sourced from sheep, goats and more than 100 million sheep – display of beauty, and we no llamas – are considered to be produces 30 percent of all wool longer need it for warmth; the more humane clothing materials used worldwide. Shearing sheep only place fur belongs is on its because the animals are not for their wool is about speed, not the welfare of the animal. rightful animal owner. The best typically slaughtered in the cruelty-free alternative to fur is process. faux fur, which is steadily growing in popularity. Top fashion brands all around the world are creating faux fur that is better for the animals and the environment. Unreal fur is an Australian brand that creates luxurious and ethical alternatives to real fur. The products look and feel like fur, but there's also a massive array of different colours, textures and patterns available. Jakke is a London-based brand that specialises in affordable faux fur products, and the brand Cosy down jackets, in particular, The demand for wool has been in SpiritHoods donates 10 percent are currently experiencing major steady decline since the 1990s. of its profits from faux fur items revival in popularity – but at what There are many innovative alternatives to wool which are to the conservation of cost? According to Animal endangered animals. Cruelty Exposure Fund, millions cruelty-free: cotton and of birds, mainly geese, suffer polyester fleece, as well as Cheaply made faux fur, however, through the excruciating ‘live- Tencel: a breathable, durable, has its fair share of problems. plucking' of their feathers to biodegradable material made of According to fashion critic Alden produce down for jackets and wood pulp, and Polartec Fabric: a revolutionary material made Wicker, well-meaning people bedding. from recycled plastic bottles. often conflate the term ‘vegan’ with ‘ethical’ or ‘eco-friendly’ as Two billion ducks are if they can be used slaughtered for their down every interchangeably. Faux fur is year – these are considered the made from petroleum-based "lucky ones". China produces 80 synthetic materials like percent of the world's down and 5 5

polyester and acrylic. These materials can take more than 200 years longer to degrade than real fur, and they also shed microplastics that end up in our waterways.

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

unnecessary thing in the world. Those animals are bred to be turned into coats,” Stella says. Stella’s brand also uses completely vegetarian leather - an alternative which creates 24 times less environmental impact than Brazilian calf leather. As well, her cashmere products contain the same soft, There are some key players in the fashion industry insulating qualities as real cashmere – but they’re made using re-engineered cashmere, not virgin that are incorporating aspects of veganism into cashmere. This decision reduced the related their businesses. environmental impacts by 92 percent. Stella McCartney The Stella McCartney brand also uses organic Stella McCartney is a high-end fashion designer, an cotton farming methods. Organic cotton eliminates the use of toxic and persistent chemicals, improves ethical fashion pioneer and lifelong vegetarian. She’s also the daughter of animal rights activist and soil health and increases water conservation. Beatles legend Paul McCartney, and faux-meat Vaute Couture by Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart business owner Linda McCartney. Vaute Couture, created by animal rights activist Since vowing to never use leather, skin, fur or feathers in 2001, her brand has paved the way for Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart, is the world's first all-vegan other high-end brands to forgo unnecessary animal fashion brand. It was founded with a mission of taking animals out of the fashion equation by products. creating something better; using innovative, high“When we established our brand in 2001, there were tech, sustainable textiles which are cut and sewn in doubts in the industry that it would be possible to NYC's garment district with love. create a luxury fashion brand without using leather Leanne has aptly been described as the “most or fur,” Stella says. influential designer” by PETA, a “fashion mogul without compromising morals” by NYLON, and a "But we proved, and continue to prove, that it is “gamechanger – embodying courage, creativity and possible”. conviction” by Conde Nast. The Stella McCartney brand created Fur-Free-Fur: an ethical, cruelty-free alternative to real fur. "I think “Without a background in fashion, or outside investors, I started this label in 2008, to be the first that the fashion industry can get away with a lot, and it is getting away with murder. Fur is the most vegan fashion brand in the world,” says Leanne.

Pioneers of Vegan Fashion

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

5 6

“With the industrial revolution, we’ve ended up with factory farms and slaughterhouses that prove animals are not machine parts. It needs to stop. And it will only stop if we create something better: the future of fashion”.

Designers such as Gucci, Chanel, Burberry and Versace have also vowed to keep their catwalks furfree. Vegan fashion is here, and it’s here to stay. New technology and cruelty-free innovations in the Olsenhaus – Pure Vegan by Elizabeth fashion industry are shaking up the status quo. We Olsen know that the suffering of animals for fashion is Elizabeth Olsen founded Olsenhaus - Pure Vegan in arbitrary and cruel, especially when we consider the 2008 by using only sustainable, vegan and cruelty- array of new materials that eliminate animal free design materials. Elizabeth is a pioneer in the suffering from the equation. world of vegan fashion and is an outspoken As consumers, we have the choice to support or advocate against animal exploitation. refuse animal suffering every time we purchase a She is actively changing the way consumers think pair of shoes or a coat. about the ethics of luxury fashion and veganism as a way of life. The Olsenhaus brand is proving that vegan fashion What will you can still be luxurious; it has received positive press from print media like Vogue, Marie Claire, NYLON, choose? Paper and The New York Times as well as a long list of celebrity clients.

5 7

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

Fashion should be about challenging the status quo

Dylis Williams

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

5 8


JOIN THE MINDLESS MAG COMMUNITY If you want to be part of a fast-growing global community driving forward the conscious fashion movement there are plenty of ways you can get involved! For information on any of the following, please visit our website or email Laurie at info@mindlessmag.com: Influencer Takeovers Online Courses Events Lectures + Talks Digital Micro-Internships Business Coaching

6 1

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

OUR COMMUNITY what's inside this issue

6 2












ASH hop

Hotels: Which one to stay in

Eternal profession of love

Culture: Thailand's workers

Experience: India's extensive labor





Hotels: Which one to stay in

Eternal profession of love

Culture: Thailand's workers


M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

6 3









ak bryan
























M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M














charlotte charlotte chaz

6 4






@sustainablefashionma tterz









M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

6 5




























@gmayportfolio M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M



6 5





@hannamcdonough.desig n


























@consciousfashioncamp aign

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M
























mary ann






@styleapproximately 6 6

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M

6 7































M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M























zahra @zahra.biabani_ 6 8

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M



If you have any questions about Mindless Mag or how you can get involved, please email Laurie at info@mindlessmag.com

6 9

M I N D L E S S M A G . C O M