How To Make a Face Mask

We have been hosting regular Zoom meet ups for our Fast Fashion Therapy friends who miss our regular workshops. During our first meet up the chat was dominated by questions on how to make a face mask. At that time the scientists were sitting on the fence as to whether home-made masks were effective against Covid-19. Our group felt that something is better than nothing and since then the UK Government recommend wearing them when social distancing isn’t possible to prevent the spread of the virus.

Luckily for us, friend of Fast Fashion Therapy, Karla was on the call. She had been busy making hundreds of masks for her daughter and colleagues who work at the Whittington hospital in London. Karla’s daughter wears a surgical grade mask during her shift but finds the home made face coverings useful on her journey to and from work.

We have cheated and not created our own make a mask video. There are so many great videos out there we thought we would share our favourites.

How to make a mask videos

This is Karla and her daughter, Dr Imogen Ptacek. Karla made a respirator Jesse Mask designed by The Fabric Patch.

Sarah made her mask from instructions by Leah Day, also recommended by Karla. However, when she ran out of elastic, she used this video by Tilly & The Buttons to create a mask that ties at the back instead of using elastic around the ears. Stitchless TV have video tutorials for both style of masks and recommend using a back stitch if you don’t have a sewing machine.

Fabric choices

Sarah and Karla chose a cotton poplin from their fabric stash that could withstand washing at 60oC. We have read that fabrics need to be washed with soap at this temperature to help breakdown the proteins of the virus. (We don’t recommend washing clothes at this temperature and always follow the advice in the care label). Poly-cotton is also a good fabric choice for this project. We recommend the fabric not being too thick as the masks contain two layers plus pleats on one of the versions. The wearer needs to be able to breathe through all that fabric. Old shirts, pillow cases and bed sheets are ideal materials to use. T-shirts or jersey fabric could also be used if it is first fixed with non-woven interfacing (which works as an additional filter). We have seen some people on Instagram use denim but think it could be a bit thick to breathe through.

Wire

Many of the tutorials recommend using wire to give the mask a closer fit around the nose. Sarah used a pipe cleaner bought from her local hardware store. Stitchless TV use garden wire and Tilly and The Buttons use a straightened out paper clip. If you are going to use a wire, Sarah recommends sewing a channel where the wire can be removed (as Till’s instructions). After washing at 60 degrees, Sarah’s wire has lost it’s shape and is no longer useful.

Filter

The pleated style masks have a gap to insert a filter. If you are going to use a filter then it needs to be a fused material, such as a piece of kitchen towel, j-cloths and squares of chopped up hoover bags (the fabric variety, not paper). The filter should be thrown away securely after each wear.

Important to note

All the videos note that the masks are not suitable in a clinical setting. The UK Government recommend wearing the masks when social distancing is not possible, e.g. on public transport. They could possibly stop the wearer spreading the virus to someone else but they probably do not protect the wearer from catching the disease. The mask must be washed after each wear. Place the mask over your mouth and nose before leaving home. Do not touch your face or remove the mask whilst out and about. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face to remove the mask. Place the mask in a drawstring bag and wash them both on a hot soapy wash.

Fashion Revolution Week: What We Learnt

We have been taking part in Fashion Revolution Week. Encouraging the repair of clothes through four common problems that we see in our workshops: Sewing on a button, holes in knitwear, repairing a hem and tears on the inner thigh of trousers and jeans.

On Friday, the charity hosted the annual Fashion Question Time, which debates key issues within the fashion industry amongst MPs and industry experts.

Cary Somers, Co-Founder of Fashion Revolution, opens Fashion Question Time:

‘Our challenge this decade is to move beyond our currently destructive and western world view, which is tipping us into a climate catastrophe and a plastic pollution crisis, towards a fashion industry which integrates nature in a truly sustainable way. We need brands and retailers to move from competitiveness to collaboration. We need to move from the commodification of natural resources to working alongside nature with all of her diversity in a way that is respectful, renewable and regenerative. Look at our longer lasting value systems than profit. Prioritising instead the protection of our ecosystems and the well being of our workers and communities. We need to rebuild our connections with how our textiles and our clothing is made in the slow way, in balance with plants, animals, with the earth and with our oceans. Will we all be brave enough to embrace this opportunity and start to create the revolutionary change which the fashion industry so desperately needs to see’.

We have (virtually) attended many events this week to learn more about the change required in the fashion industry and our effects on the environment as consumers. Here are our five learnings from this inspiring week.

1. #whatsinourclothes?

‘Up to 95% of a garment’s impact lies in the material choice alone’ (Amanda Johnston, The Sustainable Angle). ‘Two thirds of our clothes contain 100% of chemicals and yet these are not disclosed to the consumer. We are breathing, eating, drinking the fibres in our clothes, the majority of which are plastic and chemical.’ Peter Gorse of Golf Refugees, who believes fashion brands should use blockchain technology and full disclose all the processes used to make our clothes.

2. Consume Less

‘If we consume less it automatically reduces the number of plastics and chemicals in our clothes.’ Baronness Bennett of Manor Castle, Green Party (eb4Fash Rev). ‘How do our habits have an impact? for example, if consumers knew that ordering multiple sizes online get burnt when they return them, would they stop? How do the facts help the consumers draw the connection and build the gap?’ Kenya Hunt, Grazia Fashion Director (FQT).

3. Repair

Extending the life of the clothes already in our wardrobe through repairing. ‘Appreciating the craft of our clothes means we are less likely to throw it out.’ Dr Lisa Cameron MP (FQT)

4. Become an Activist

Lobby to the Government for transparency on what is in our clothes and regulating the actions of fashion brands. A tax on virgin plastics is due to be introduced in 2022 but this does not include textiles. ‘Less emphasis on the consumer, brands need to be incentivised to do the right thing’ Mary Creagh, former MP. Fashion Revolution have tools on their website to help us lobby our MPs and favourite brands.

5. Make a Start

It is better to do something imperfectly than nothing at all. Kenya Hunt talked of the problems surrounding creating a sustainable issue of a magazine which also receives funding through advertising from unsustainable brands but ‘we have to start somewhere!’. Whilst Dr Lisa Cameron discussed how from a psychologists point of view it is human nature to ‘do a bit of what we think is right and then lapse’. It takes a while to get to the point where this new habit is embedded. It is not always easy for businesses or consumers to change behaviours. This moment of pause in the fashion industry is an ideal time to start.

Orsola de Castro, Co-Founder of Fashion Revolution, summarises the debate: ‘The fundamental role we will all have to play post Covid-19 more than ever to avoid a humanitarian and environmental crisis. Our current situation is highlighting the worse and best in our society at the same time. The worst is that our system values profits over people and mindless growth over sustainable prosperity. This has never been so outrageously visible until now. The cancelled orders, the lost jobs and the total disregard for human suffering and safety. The best is in a few short months we are seeing that nature has responded almost immediately free from our onslaught. Pollution is down, fish are returning to the rivers and canals, the big cities are quiet with no cars or aeroplanes. We can all see the stars at night. We are also seeing an increase in human empathy. For me, most important, we are growing a generation of kids that have been somehow temporarily suspended from hero worshipping privileged celebrities and are getting to know the real heroes, the people. The doctors, the nurses, the carers, the public workers who save our lives and who make our lifestyles possible. We will have to look for balance after all this. let’s ensure this period of restrictions won’t be followed by one of hyper-excesses, of business as usual times ten. There are ways to make an adequate amount of product, providing dignified work for the people who make them while protecing and conserving our environment. We have to invest in them and implement them with rigour. The call for this Fashion Question Time couldn’t be more simple: Mass consumption, the end of an era? Remove the question mark. Mass consumption, the end of an era – full stop.’

Fashion revolution was established in 2013 a year after the Rana Plaza disaster that killed 1138 garment workers in Bangladesh. Since then, the charity have been campaigning globally against the human and environmental consequenses of the fashion indsutry. Encouraging brands to change their practices to a more transparent and circular model and encouraging consumers to ask #whomademyclothes? This year the charity is also encouraging us to ask #whatsinmyclothes?

References: Events we have virtually watched this week

The Sustainable Angle – material solutions from the Future Fabrics Expo

Ethical Brands for Fashion Revolution

Fashion Question Time

Fashion Revolution Week: 5 Ways to Get Involved

Monday is the start of Fashion Revolution Week. The seventh year in which the charity ask us to challenge our favourite fashion brands with the question #whomademyclothes? Fashion Revolution was established in 2013 a year after the Rana Plaza disaster that killed 1138 garment workers in Bangladesh. Since then charity have been campaigning globally against the human and environmental consequences of the fashion industry. Encouraging brands to change their practices to a more transparent and circular model.

Our original plan was to host a variety of clothes mending workshops but the pandemic put a stop to this. We took comfort from the below quote, taken from a Fashion Revolution newsletter we received soon after we were asked to stay in our homes to protect lives.

The coronavirus pandemic will lead to a massive behavioural shift and an inevitable slowing down of consumption. As we always say, the most sustainable clothes are the ones already in our wardrobes so we can start, as so many of us already are, by looking after the clothes we have, sewing on buttons, repairing hems, darning holes.

Fashion Revolution, March 2020

Fast Fashion Therapy was created as a response to another overwhelming problem, climate change and the lack of sustainability in the fashion industry. We have taken on the challenge set by Fashion Revolution and have launched our workshops and repair cafes online via interactive call and video tutorials. Now, more than ever it is important to question fashion brands on their practices, here is how you can get involved:

Five Ways to Be Part of Fashion Revolution Week

1) Become an activist: Choose your favourite piece of clothing. Text, email and write a letter to the brand on the label using the hashtag #whomademyclothes? – find more tips and resources on how to approach the fashion brand effectively on Fashion Revolution’s website. Including downloadable posters and kits. Don’t give up, keep contacting the brand until you get an answer. Keep the message positive and professional.

2) Learn how clothes are made: Creating a 3D garment from a flat piece of fabric is no mean feat. Understanding the construction of clothes enables us to value them and appreciate that clothes shouldn’t be cheap. We respect the skill required and can campaign for garment workers to be paid a living wage. We are not suggesting everyone makes their own clothes (although it is fun!) but how about watching The Great British Sewing Bee? Starting next week, watch one episode to appreciate how difficult it is to make a simple garment. Judge Patrick Grant hosts a BBC Radio documentary ‘Making Fashion Sustainable‘, which is a good introduction to the complexity of fashion supply chains.

3) Mend your clothes: Go through your wardrobe and pull out the items you are not wearing because they need mending. Or maybe they don’t fit correctly and need altering? It is time to start tackling that pile of mending. We have ‘how to’ videos on this site to help you mend your clothes. New tutorials are posted every week. Or if you need some one-to-one help we are running 1:1 appointments for a virtual repair cafe. £2.50 from the ticket price will be donated to Fashion Revolution, Refuge and The Trussell Trust.

4) Take part in a virtual event: Next week, sustainable fashion companies will come together to debate the effects of the fast fashion industry on climate change and modern slavery. There are hundreds of events taking place around the world. We are joining Ethical Brands for Fashion Revolution (a week long event) and Fashion Question Time on 24th April. Search ‘Fashion Revolution’ in Eventbrite for the full list of events.

5) Consider the future: This is our opportunity to make a change. We all need to consume less to prevent further climate change. Yet millions of garment workers have lost their jobs due to orders from retailers being cancelled due to Covid-19. Fashion Revolution state: ‘If we do nothing, the fashion industry will simply return to business as usual when this is all over. Instead, let’s come together as a revolution and build a new system that values the wellbeing of people and planet over profit.’ How will your buying patterns change? Jen Gale at Sustainable(ish) recommends we become ‘conscious consumers’. Lauren Bravo has lots of practical tips in her book, How to Break up with Fast Fashion.

Let us know how you are getting involved in Fashion Revolution Week. Did you get an answer to #whomademyclothes? We would love to know, contact us on email or social media @fastfashiontherapy

‘Darning’ video tutorial

We’ve got a new ‘Darning’ video tutorial on our YouTube channel!

This video will take you through the basics of how to darn holes in knitwear. The technique can be used on an area that’s just worn down or where a hole has appeared to strengthen the item of clothing and create a new piece of fabric in the damaged area. This video shows a visible style of mending but the same technique can be used to repair invisibly if you use a matching thread.

If you’re looking for the basic kit you need to get started on your darning, head to our Shop to find our new darning kits!

Don’t have a darning mushroom at home? How about something from your kitchen? Read our blog on what to use around your home in place of a darning mushroom.

‘Slow Fashion’ interview with Obj.12 (City University)

Back in the days when we were allowed to visit clothes shops and talk to people that we didn’t live with in real life, we were invited by Obj.12 to talk about our clothing repair workshops and sustainable fashion for their video on ‘Slow Fashion’. It was a great project to be a part of, sadly the workshop we were going to run with them was cancelled, but hopefully we can work with City University and Obj. 12 again in the future!

Find the full video on their Vimeo at – https://vimeo.com/394023698/cb8e081f3d

A little more about Obj.12…

Meet Rachel, Lauren, Lisa, and Grace. They started Obj.12 with an aim to inspire, engage, and inform others about conscious consumption with a good sense of style.

Obj.12 is inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

“We all love fashion, why not be sustainable while we can still be fashionable?”

In this video, we take a closer look at fast vs. slow fashion. What’s the difference, and how is it affecting our planet?

A message from TRAID: It’s time to stop.

The whole world is doing it… no more commuting, gathering or shaking hands.

The list of things we have to stop seems bigger than the list of things we’re still allowed to do.

But look a bit deeper and you’ll see that we aren’t stopping because we are defeated – we’re stopping because we will not be beaten.

We’re stopping to protect the vulnerable in society. We’re stopping to save lives.

Your inaction, is the best possible action.

Many are talking about their fears right now and it is certainly right to be cautious. But today we want to talk about our hopes.

Because there is value in stopping, and it could look like this…


We learn to stop polluting

Researchers in New York are reporting a near 50% reduction in carbon monoxide compared to this time last year.

Perhaps this is a time where we can learn the value of reducing our emissions and our impact on the earth in the long term.


We learn to stop consuming

Forget about panic buying toilet rolls for a second and you can see that many of us are learning about what we really need – not focusing on the next big purchase.

Perhaps this is the time where we understand the value of what we consume and give our products and the people who make them the respect they deserve.


We learn to stop hating

‘Lands apart, sky shared’ 

A quote from an ancient poem written on a shipment of masks and thermometers that was sent from Japan to China.

Perhaps this is the time we realise that we share the same earth – and many of the same problems. Perhaps a common adversary will unite us.


It might sound idealistic 

…to talk too much of hope right now. 

But rest assured that we will be giving you practical ways that you can make the world a better, fairer place over the next weeks and months.

We’ll start with a short guide to the implications of the coronavirus on international trade and developing countries that will be with you next week.

Until then you can contact us any time by emailing hello@traidcraft.org – and if you feel compelled to support us in this difficult time, you can support us here.
 Thank you for everything you do.

A message from Fashion Revolution

At Fast Fashion Therapy, we were planning a range of workshops to support Fashion Revolution Week. We have course cancelled the events due to the Corona virus. Below is a poignant message from the founders of Fashion Revolution that we wanted to share…

Dear Fashion Revolutionaries,

It is impossible to disregard the profound effects that the coronavirus pandemic is having, and will have, on the global population, on our society, and the hardships we will all face over the coming months; nobody can continue with business as usual at this point in time. We know that crises like Corona Virus, Climate Change, and indeed most disasters disproportionately affect the most vulnerable populations and minorities. At the same time, the vast majority of the people who make our clothes are themselves vulnerable, and lacking sick pay, paid leave, or adequate health care. When we use our voices to hold big corporations accountable, we are part of the change in shaping a fairer world. 

Since Fashion Revolution began after the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013, we have used our collective voice to bring communities together, to offer support, share knowledge and to think creatively about finding solutions for challenging situations. In this new coronavirus world we are having to rethink everything, not least our own events scheduled to take place during Fashion Revolution Week April 20-26. 

Inevitably many of our physical events will be postponed. Our global teams will operate as best they can, but we will all stand united on the 24th of April, and throughout Fashion Revolution Week, to honour the victims of the Rana Plaza and all other disasters and injustices that keep happening in fashion supply chains. 

Where possible, Fashion Revolution will be moving many of our major events to online platforms. We will be postponing our Great Fashion Revolution Clothes Swap activation until a time when it is safe to gather together again. We will work with our country teams to ensure that local health guidelines and legislations are followed. But we are working hard at digitising, adapting our resources, and updating our content to respond to the present situation, so stay with us during Fashion Revolution Week and join us in our programme of webinars, discussions, virtual studio visits and news updates. 

This is not the ‘change’ we were hoping for, but nevertheless, as we sit this crisis out – so many of us in isolation –  we can also learn important things. The coronavirus pandemic will lead to a massive behavioural shift and an inevitable slowing down of consumption. As we always say, the most sustainable clothes are the ones already in our wardrobes so we can start, as so many of us already are, by looking after the clothes we have, sewing on buttons, repairing hems, darning holes. Repair is a Revolutionary Act, and the revolution starts with all of us, in our own wardrobes. 

We will continue to keep this extraordinary global community alive and connected. Together, we will be more present than ever before. We will push forward with our messaging for a fashion industry that conserves and restores the environment, and values people above growth and profit, and we will continue to inform our global community on the pressing topics facing the fashion industry as it struggles to become more sustainable. We can choose to spend the extra time on our hands scrutinising fashion brands, and asking for greater responsibility.

At Fashion Revolution, we say Be Curious, Find Out, Do Something. As we enter our seventh year of campaigning, we are very proud of our collective achievements: we certainly have made more people more curious, and so millions of citizens have taken it upon themselves to find out more.  Now is the time to Do Something. Bring your activism home. Turn it into daily actions: mend, repair, resell, learn a craft, fix a shoddy hemline that needs a stitch. Investigate your clothes: look at the labels, expose their details, research the brands. Take a closer look at a composition label that goes nowhere near telling you the full list of ingredients; a ‘Made In’ label that tells you nothing about where the fabric was made or the raw materials were sourced. 

As always, we want to hear from you. Keep us posted of your wardrobe activism. Tag us in your conversations and use our hashtags. We continue to ask #WhoMadeMyClothes to show our solidarity with the garment workers, and we are also asking #WhatsInMyClothes to help begin a wider conversation about the ingredients – the plastics, chemicals and polluting microfibres – that are not disclosed on our care labels. 

But most importantly, use your activism to help others. Use your voice, and help us to raise awareness of the most vulnerable people in the fashion industry – the garment workers without health care or sickpay,  whose living and working conditions will  be made even more acute by this pandemic.

Of course, we can all help out closer to home too. if you are a social media content whizz, consider helping a local business to support their communities; if you are a designer or maker, can you offer your help to your local coronavirus effort? If you have children off school, take the time to teach them the basics of sewing and mending. Wherever we can, we will use our voice and our skills to help others.
 We can use this crisis to pause: take stock, focus on our social conscience, reflect, and ensure that the drastic measures we are facing will lead us to be better prepared and more committed as we move to a more mindful, considerate future.

In gratitude,
Carry and Orsola

Culture Seeds 2020

We are very happy to say that we’ve been awarded a grant by the Mayor of London’s Culture Seeds programme! The programme aims to support grassroots community-led arts and cultural projects across the city. It means we’ll be able to provide even more of our clothing repair and up-cycling workshops over the next few months, whilst also expanding the range of our workshop programme and hosting more across South London. We couldn’t have got it without the support of everyone whose come to our workshops in the past so a big thank you to you too!

More information on Culture Seeds can be found here

Book Review: How to Break Up with Fast Fashion by Lauren Bravo

Eleanor’s Thoughts

‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’

Margaret Mead

This is one of my favourite motivational quotes. It’s one I kept coming back to as I was researching sustainable fashion at university, and one I think of when I’m sat trying to work on my own in my little bedroom feeling like this whole pursuit is too overwhelming.

When Lauren Bravo used it in the closing chapter of her book How to Break Up with Fast FashionI knew this book was one that really reflected how I feel about our personal potential to create a sustainable fashion industry. Trying to enact any kind of positive change in this vast and complex industry can feel pretty impossible at times, and many people will tell you it is. The internet may have made buying fast fashion even easier and quicker, but it’s also the thing that can help make finding sustainable fashion comrades in the area you live and all over the world far simpler. Community and collaboration drive this movement.

The stats that Lauren introduces the book with are a daunting read, and even as I begin to feel that I’m aware of many of them, there’s another one that shocks me. The fact that out of ’71 leading retailers in the UK, 77 per cent believe there is a likelihood of modern slavery (forced labour) occurring at some stage in their supply chains’ is a figure that’s hard to forget. Lauren discusses these heavy ideas with clarity and compassion, whilst moving on to discuss the conflicting emotions that can come through quitting fast fashion with playfulness and honesty that makes this challenging topic engaging, and actually easy to read. As someone who has just spent the last year of their life going through a break-up with a real-life human being, the swaying from anger to adoration to reflection to acceptance is very easy to empathise with. Not all the things we love are good for us and in this case, they’re not good for the people making our clothes or the planet.

Personal anecdotes are used to bring a balance of perspective to the large-scale problems tackled in the book. Percentage of Lauren’s clothes currently covered in food stains? Forty. One of the best techniques for replacing that ‘treat’ that fashion can be in your life? Lots of baths (not a euphemism apparently).

An outfit should always have at least 20 per cent space for pasta.

Lauren Bravo, How to Break Up with Fast Fashion

Whilst at the same time the ‘Where is the humanity?’ chapter discusses the many ways in which garment workers’ human rights have been disregarded unflinchingly. The death of 1,138 people in the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh in 2013 is a disaster that many were aware of at the time, but other building collapses and fires are simply forgotten. Lauren discusses in this book how the sustainability movement can often be too focused on a middle-class white women’s perspective which can bring with it accusations of a white saviour complex or companies who ‘greenwash’ purely for profit. It’s a complex issue which Lauren discusses much better than I could do here, and it’s clear that this perspective needs to change to reflect the experience and concerns of all parts of society for the movement to continue to grow.

But when considering our next fashion purchase, recognising that every item of clothing is handmade and that those hands have often been exposed to harsh working conditions is a simple way to respect the human rights of the garment workers.

‘We can only do the best we can do. But we can probably do better than we are.’

Lauren Bravo, How to Break Up with Fast Fashion

This quote repeated often throughout the book is something to remember in those conflicted moments in our shopping future. It’s going to be hard to avoid buying from a fast fashion shop ever again, their whole business model relies on making it easy, quick and cheap. With every time you have to compromise, there can be another moment where you take one step forward, whether it’s fixing your jumper, going to a ‘clothes swap’ or just not washing your clothing as much as you used to. Dressing in protest does not have to be reflected in the style of clothes you wear, as Lauren discusses, a radical act can be as simple as re-wearing the clothes we already own.

Sarah’s Thoughts

I love fashion. I have done since I was young. From dressing up Sindy dolls in my own creations to working in the fashion industry. My first job after fashion college was as an Assistant Buyer for a large high street retailer. A regular task was to trawl the length and breadth of Oxford Street to ‘comp shop’. Basically playing detective on what your competitors have in their store: price, colours, fibre content, where it is made and most importantly what did they have that we didn’t. I was literally shopping for a living.

I soon fell out of love with shopping for work and for myself. So when I was asked to review a book written by a woman who’s hobby was shopping on ASOS, I didn’t think it would be for me. My mind changed the minute I turned the last page on the first chapter. I haven’t stopped quoting lines from the book and telling friends and our workshop participants about it.

Lauren approaches a wide range of complex subjects with humour, and yet makes us aware that the fashion industry and our relationship to clothes is complicated. For example, during our workshops we are often asked if cotton is more sustainable than polyester but it isn’t as simple as yes or no. Neither is trying to explain that stopping buying clothes altogether puts jobs within the global fashion supply chain at risk. This quote sums up the conundrum:

‘’Between balancing environmental impact and human rights, spending more but buying less but still keeping garment workers in (fairly paid) jobs, the whole business of ethical shopping can start to feel a bit like that puzzle where you have to get a wolf, a chicken and a bag of corn across a river.’

Lauren Bravo, How to Break Up with Fast Fashion

I’ve had many discussions with friends trying to explain that just because a certain brand is expensive doesn’t make it more sustainable than a cheaper one. I’ve ear-marked this page of the book to bring out in the pub when the discussion arises again:

‘The price you pay for the garment is not always reflective of the quality of the garment, and definitely not reflective of the sustainability of the garment.’

Dr Sumner, Lecturer in Fashion and Sustainability, Leeds University

Despite my protests, I’ll admit I have three items of clothing from too-expensive-for-my-budget brands that I bought in the sale and I have never worn. My usual excuse of ‘I’ll slim into them’ but three to five years later I still haven’t. I teach people to repair and upcycle their clothes and yet it took for me to read this book to remember those unloved purchases hanging in my wardrobe. I’m now on the lookout for second-hand pieces of fabric that I can use to make the clothes bigger and finally wear them!

‘We need to stop shopping as though clothes are toothpaste, but equally we need to stop using the phrase ‘investment buy’ as a blanket excuse to spaff money we don’t have, on clothes we don’t need. We need to establish what ‘value’ means to us.’

Lauren Bravo, How to Break Up with Fast Fashion

As a UK size 16, sustainable fashion brands do not cater to my size. I’ve managed to buy a few pieces such as organic cotton T-shirts and a swimming costume made from fishing nets found on the ocean floor. The author criticises the sustainable fashion companies for often only catering up to size 14 and I appreciated the author for her honesty. It isn’t easy to criticise companies that are improving the practices of the fashion industry. We want sustainable fashion to be mainstream and that means catering for all sizes.

Photo: Victoria Briggs

I paid particular attention to Lauren’s advocacy of vintage and second-hand clothing. A more affordable alternative to buying new sustainable fashion, and one I am a big fan of. There are several chapters full of practical tips on how to shop at vintage fairs and charity shops. Even discussing what to do about that smell associated with second-hand clothes.

‘’The best solution is to keep our clothes in action, whether that’s by us or by a brand-new owner.’

Lauren Bravo, How to Break Up with Fast Fashion

Of course, I am biased and particularly enjoyed the philosophy and practical tips on how to care for our clothes, mend them and love them. Again, I’m guilty of teaching people to mend their clothes and yet my own mending pile never seems to get smaller.

‘…If fast fashion is the devil then home sewing is the saintly alternative…
Remember the golden rule of wardrobe maintenance: a disaster is just a craft project you haven’t met yet.’

Lauren Bravo, How to Break Up with Fast Fashion

I really enjoyed reading How to Break Up with Fashion Fashion. It was engaging, funny and enlightening. Most of all the book reminded me that I can do more to improve my carbon footprint when it comes to fashion. I will make more of an effort to love the clothes I own, alter them, look after them and most of all enjoy wearing them.

“If the most sustainable item of clothing is the one we already own, then appreciating and wearing those clothes is one of the most powerful differences we can make.”

Lauren Bravo, How to Break Up with Fast Fashion

How to Break up With Fast Fashion Book Launch at Foyles, London. Lauren Bravo in conversation with Katherine Oremrod.

Lauren Bravo’s Top Tips on How to Break Up with Fast Fashion

  1. Unsubscribe from all of your fashion related mailing lists
  2. Edit your social media feeds – swap accounts that make you want to shop to those who are into slow fashion
  3. Turn to your own wardrobe. Get it all out on the bed and confront yourself with the volume you own
  4. Take each piece and ask yourself why did I buy it? Why did I think I want it? Why haven’t I worn it?

‘Learn from this future you! You can learn from past you mistakes. Make clothes work harder for us. It is not sustainable behaviour to buy, wear once and resell. Hopping off that trend treadmill stopped me wearing things that didn’t suit me.’

Lauren Bravo speaking at Foyles Bookshop, London Jan 2020

Upcycle a Christmas Jumper

It is estimated that 12 million Christmas jumpers will be bought this festive season despite 65 million lurking in the back of the wardrobe according to charity Hubbub. Speaking in The Daily Telegraph, the Charity’s project co-ordinator Sarah Divall suggests customers ‘swap, buy second-hand or re-wear and remember a jumper is for life not, just for Christmas.’

These facts inspired us to create two upcycling workshops to combat this example of fast fashion, textile and plastic waste (up to 75% of Christmas jumpers contain acrylic, a form of plastic)

Upcycle a Plain Jumper Into a Christmas Jumper

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine asked us to help their staff and students create festive jumpers from plain knitwear already in their wardrobes as part of their Sustainable Christmas Fair. We were really impressed with everyone’s creativity. Techniques such as couching, appliqué and embroidery were applied using festive trims and fabric remnants we picked up at Charity shops. There are plenty available this time of year.

Upcycle a Christmas Jumper to Wear All-Year

We launched our December workshops at Buy a Gift’s Zero Waste Christmas market. Alternatively we took a Christmas jumper, added embellishments to create a jumper we could wear all year round. Ruching scrap fabrics and appliqueing them over the Christmas motif. This effect can be used to cover any branding on sweatshirts and t-shirts.

We run a variety of fashion repair and upcycling workshops for up to 15 people. Please email us on hello@fastfashiontherapy.co.uk to book us for your sustainable fashion event or click on our event calendar for our upcoming workshops.