Bursting the Instagram-Fast Fashion Bubble with a #Thrift Revolution

Is there anything more thrilling than rummaging through a second-hand store? The excitement of possibility in the vintage treasure you might uncover. The satisfaction of sustainability and knowing your money is investing in a positive cause. The bargain hiding under a dusty old scarf or a dead person’s jacket, just waiting for you to claim it. Ahhh! Nope. There is literally nothing more thrilling than getting your thrift on!

It’s definitely my Womble at heart that makes the impenetrable smell of mothballs wafting through the air and that inevitable film of grime that layers your hands after touching old stuff more a badge of glory than a cause for disgust.

Foraging through secondhand clothes is an addictive, dopamine-boosting concoction. Combining the quest for something new, creating a completely unique look and bargain-hunting, soothed with the reassurance of aiding the environment.

Any guilt of unnecessary consumption is vanquished by the security that thrifting  is an act of both social activism and personal liberation.

On a societal level, it’s a beautiful two-fingers up to the oppressive and prescriptive fashion system; a system that has relied on disconnecting and disempowering us, reducing us to empty vessels, filling us with what we think we need and pushing us to incessant over-consumption and perpetual dissatisfaction.

The speed and fickleness of trends it rapidly churns out is dizzying. It’s not possible to keep up. The whole thing is built to make us feel like we don’t have enough, we don’t look good enough and we need more, more, more.

How have our style figureheads become measured by Instagram likes, donning one-time-wears in attempts to ‘influence’ us to purchase the exact same look? That’s not creativity or style. That’s passive consumption and commercialism.

The wastefulness, the impersonality, the lack of creativity. Gross.

Cyclical fashion trends, intensified by social media, are constructed to compromise our personal power. In obvious – and not so obvious – ways, they tell us what to wear and how to spend, all whilst selling us the illusion that we’re the ones in control. Yet, beneath the surface, it evokes our insecurities and inside we’re battling a perpetual need to keep up and buy something new to feel good.

Many of us are awakening to that illusion and realising that the revolution is thrifting.  Secondhand shopping app Depop makes £300mn a year in sales since starting out in 2011.

Wearing secondhand bursts the Instagram-fast fashion bubble. Rather than leading others onto copycat fast-fashion sites, a unique-to-you, thrifted #OOTD inspires a culture of creatively styling ourselves and resourcing our wardrobes.

It requires style over fashion and means getting closer to who you are, your identity, self-expression and your definition of your style. Only you have the power to create and play with that.

Get vintage and secondhand fashion inspiration on my insta: @HCC

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The Government’s Rejection of Sustainable Fashion is a Catalyst for Radical Social Change

Parliament has failed us, now it’s time to build the vision of fashion we want without them

This week the biggest ever inquiry into the UK fashion industry was tabled by Parliament. Presenting wide-ranging and key recommendations for policies and legislation to end fast fashion (one of the world’s biggest contributors to climate change), Ministers rejected EVERY SINGLE RECOMMENDATION made by Fixing Fast Fashion Report: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability.

Conducted by the cross-parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee, the report cites startling truths on overconsumption including that, come 2050, we’ll require almost three planets to resource current lifestyles.

The government’s passivity of the urgency for change has sent shockwaves through the public, environmental activists and fashion designers. Ministers’ rejection of the report’s direct and tangible solutions to the fashion industry’s prolonged damage to the environment is especially startling as just last month, Parliament declared a state of climate emergency.

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The Fixing Fast Fashion Report evidences the urgent need for fast-acting, top-level action to tackle the current system’s environmental destruction and to clean up dire working conditions. Its recommendations to appease throwaway culture include a 1p garment tax and also promote a sociocultural shift by encouraging clothing design and mending lessons in schools and tax incentives for repair services.

The facts are unavoidable and they are sinister. It’s critical that prompt action is taken to regulate fashion’s contribution to climate damage. The immediate solution to the crisis is clear. Producers must slow down and stop producing. A move, of course, that requires legislation and policy change enforceable by the government.

Whilst Parliament’s refusal to legislate towards positive cultural and environmental change confirms that we’re in turbulent and uncertain times, we must recognise this as a crucial turning point in history in which we can reclaim our power and devise empowering new alternatives.

“By 2050 the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles” says the UN.

Unwittingly, Minister’s rejection of the report’s recommendation certifies loud and clear that the government as an institution is not fit for functioning in the vision of a just, equal and quality society that the public wants. In their indifference to sustainable fashion, Ministers have signified their own demise. Their passivity declares UK Parliament as ignorant and outdated. It illuminates the institution’s archaic, rigid structure as obsolete in times that we’re demanding more and better from our lives. We are bigger, brighter and more deserving than what the institution can, and is willing to, offer us.

Supported by critical movements like the Women’s March and Extinction Rebellion, we are shaping new parameters for the world we want to live in. That requires models founded on agility, adaptability, responsiveness and compassion – AKA antonyms for the current state of UK Parliament. As a society that wants more, we are outgrowing the function that this government can serve.

Parliament has once again failed its citizens, but this inaction serves as a mirror reflecting back to us where our collective power has long been absorbed in its out-of-touch institution. In its sustaining of class difference, healthcare cuts and social divisions whilst funding £80,000 salaries for its MPS.

Beating on Parliament’s door is not working because Ministers and MPs don’t want to hear us. So, stepping forward, we must channel our shock into action and reclaim our power as we continue to create the vision of the future we want. No one person can take on the entire epidemic of climate change, but we must recognise our responsibility to do our bit, wise-up, recognise our own power and act on it.

That requires a considerable perspective shift, redefining where our power lies and initiating new solutions – solutions that do not rely on the never-ending treadmill of winning the attention of unconcerned Ministers and MPs. It means focusing on the mass empowerment and emancipation of the UK’s citizens by recognising that the power is with us, not them.

Sans government, how can we step forward with determination and resolve to create positive, radical social and cultural change?

Two solutions immediately available to us are money and technology. Whilst both ideas commonly evoke cautious reactions, a paradigm shift from defensiveness to opportunity thinking could be the answer to reshaping fast fashion.

Embracing our capital power in a consumer-led society, we can initiate change through the way we spend. Money, no matter what amount we have, is power, and reframing the act of spending and consumption into a positive force could be the radical shift needed. Every pound we spend is a choice that creates the world we want to live in. Becoming conscious of this, we can cut off the power supply of fashion’s worst offenders forcing brands to either adapt to our demand or die.

“Every time you spend money you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” says Anna Lappe

In addition, at the rate of technological advancements, dominant power is moving from the hands of the lawmakers to the hands of the app-makers. Instantaneous communication has allowed global awareness-raising, birthing ‘clicktivism’ and making it possible for anti-Trump protest marches to take place simultaneously across the world. It allows for global networking and faster inspiration, creativity and creation for problem-solving through inventions, knowledge and environmental solutions.

There is no steadfast answer to the fast fashion epidemic. In a globalised culture, the law, education, media, brands and consumers all intermingle in a messy and complex web. What we do know is that the government is continuing to fail us as citizens and its unwillingness to fix fashion could be the catalyst needed to spur a radical paradigm and culture shift.

 

Author: Holly C. Campbell

Holly-Campbell@live.co.uk

What Does Feminism Mean Today?

Over centuries feminism’s presence in popular culture has been contested. Amidst a great shift in a how the movement exists in mainstream media, what do popular portrayals of feminism mean for women’s experiences of liberation today?

Holly Charlotte Campbell hosts a free interactive discussion and feedback group to inspire critical and collaborative thinking on feminism today.

Your voice, opinion and experiences are important. This is a comfortable, constructive and respectiful space for you to share your thoughts and receive valuable takeaways to inspire your own projects, career aspirations and academic work.

ProjectFEM’s next event is open to UAL students only.

Limited spaces available, please secure your space here: https://bit.ly/2RraZT7

10th October 2018

5:30-6:30pm

Free tickets: https://bit.ly/2RraZT7

Room: T1003

London College of Communication

Elephant & Castle
London
SE1 6SB

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How To Vote Towards Gender Equality on June 8th

Author: Holly Campbell

The state of politics in the world today can seem, at best, murky. It can be difficult to know who to trust or which party really upholds women’s interests. With the government calling on us to vote again on 8th June, we need to make some sense of the chaos and quick.

So, where do we start? Last month, Theresa May announced a shock snap election (despite promising to not hold one until 2020), in which she was debatably driven by her parties’ lead over Labour. An election win would enable the Tories to more easily pass their favoured Brexit related legislation. The announcement provoked calls for ‘progressive voting’, with the Green party tactically pulling out of crucial election seats to help Labour topple the Tories. This is in the context of the UK’s unrepresentative first-past-the-post electoral system, where the number of votes cast for a party does not determine the number of seats they will win in parliament. No wonder many of us are suffering from ‘world-whelm’! It’s enough to disaffect us from politics altogether, which is what we saw with the sense of ‘Bregret’ from voters who cast a protest ‘leave’ vote in the EU referendum but regretted it once the economic reality had set in.  If there is one thing we have learnt from the UK’s political turmoil, it’s how powerful your vote actually is. As 2018 marks 100 years since women were granted the right to vote and with women’s rights at the forefront of activism today, we must recognise that every vote makes a difference. It is important now more than ever to make the right decision towards gender equality on June 8th.

Amongst this political pandemonium, here are 3 ways that you can vote towards gender equality in the upcoming election:

  1. Vote for a party who show that they are actively challenging issues that affect women. This is how the main parties have voted on women-related policies:
Conservatives LibDems Labour Green
Abortion
Independent support for women seeking abortion – counselling services, guidance etc. (07/09/2011) Against Against Against Against
Decriminalising Abortion for up to 24 weeks gestation (13/03/2017) Against For For For
Sex selective abortion made illegal (23/02/2017)  For For For For
Domestic Violence
Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification) Bill (24/02/2017) For For For Not present (Copeland by-election results on same day)
Finance/Tampon Tax
Increasing min. wage to £8 (15/10/2014)  

(Women are more likely to work part-time than men and therefore be paid less than the min. wage than jobs held by men)

Against Against For Did not vote
Cost of Living (26/10/2014) incl. more free childcare for working parents, higher min. wage Against Against For For
Finance Bill (included abolishing the Tampon Tax) (26/10/2015) Against Against For For
Equal pay transparency (14/12/2016)  For For For For
Tax and Benefits – Gender Equality Strategy to Improve Position of Women (14/12/2016) Against For For For
Poverty
Reducing Dependency on Food Banks (17/12/2014) (1 in 5 parents struggling to feed children) Against Against For For
Ending Rough Sleeping (14/12/2016)  Against For For Did not vote
Pension
Equal pension age for men and women – delaying some women reaching state pension age from 60 to 65 (18/10/2011)  Against Against For For
Transitional arrangements for women adversely affected by state pension age increase (24/02/2016)  Against For For For
Slow increase in state pension age for women (30/11/2016) Against For For For
Political Action
Authorising Demonstrations in designated areas (07/02/2005) Inc. demonstrations for women’s issues i.e. Women’s March 2017 Against Against For No seat
Reduction of Voting Age (20/07/2016)  Against For For For
Gender/Sexuality
Equality Act – defining discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation (19/03/2007) Against For For Not present
Same Sex Couples to Marry (21/05/2013) Against For For For
Education
Abolishing tuition fees (14/09/2004)  Against Against For No seat
Scrap higher education student grants for loans (19/01/2016)  For Against Against Against
Environment
Control of Ozone-depleting Substances (11/03/2009)  Against For For No seat
Environmental protection following EU removal (12/07/2016)  Against For For For

2. Vote for a female MP, regardless of party, in support of gaining more female representatives in parliament. This could work towards equalising the disproportionate amount of men currently upholding seats. Here is how the gender imbalance in parliament looks at present:

Source: http://www.womensequality.org.uk/why-we

However, whilst a representative proportion of women in parliament may constitute equality this does not necessarily mean that those women will vote in favour (or at all) of women-specific legislation. For example, Theresa May did not vote for equal pay transparency, whereas Jeremy Corbyn voted in favour of this policy.

3. Vote for your local Women’s Equality (WE) party MP. Founded in 2015, WE do not yet have a seat in parliament, but have achieved fledgling success by gaining over 350,000 votes across 4 areas in their 2016 election campaign. There are 7 WE MPs standing in the 2017 election, a party founded on the principles of equality with objectives on ending violence against women and equalizing opportunities, representation and education. Find out more about WE here.

Ultimately, how you vote is your choice and there are multiple ways that you can use the upcoming election to vote towards gender equality. Whichever route you think most effective, between tactically toppling the Tories or backing your local female or WE MP, don’t let the bewildering landscape of British politics deter you from having your say, use your vote on June 8th.

Period Shaming: What is it? And why it needs to stop

 

Author: Holly C. Campbell

You’ve likely experienced somebody’s overt disgust at the sight of menstrual blood or had your views devalued with the phrase “She’s on her period” – an insult used to disregard a person of any gender as irrational. This is a culture of sexism used to instil shame and maintain the subordination of women. As a form of activism, we need to talk openly about menstrual cycles to empower women, support positive experiences for trans-men and encourage safe and environmentally sustainable sanitary products.

The social anxiety around women’s menstrual cycles is exhaustingly intrusive. Period shaming silences women and limits our experience of the world. Whilst enduring physical symptoms of pain, cramps and headaches and the economic injustice of expensive sanitary products, we’re also subjected to social shaming leading us to internalise ideas that our bodies and biology is wrong.

This consensus of shame leads to embarrassment for many and means that much-needed public conversations around menstruation are avoided. It also means that challenging concepts and promoting inclusion of trans-men are nowhere near considered.

The menstrual cycle is an inherently natural and biological function, yet we live in a culture that associates periods with weakness and irrationality – traits historically associated with women for the convenience of patriarchy. This oppression devalues women and marginalises trans-men.

Period shaming limits open conversations around menstruation and the potential for positive action to combat related social, health and environmental impacts. Period, vagina and tampon are not shameful, dirty words. However society has created a culture that squirms at the sound of them.

We need to challenge this for honest discussions around the environmental and health impacts of sanitary products. We use on average 11,000 tampons in our lifetime, all dumped in landfill and taking centuries to degrade. Shockingly, manufacturers are not legally obliged to disclose the ingredients of these products, meaning many consumers are unaware that their sanitary products contain harmful toxins. In many developing countries, conversations on periods are off limits meaning women resort to using unhygienic rags. Homeless women are crippling in period pain on freezing cold streets and cannot afford the luxury of sanitary towels – despite the British government providing free condoms to all citizens. This cultural ignorance also operates to further marginalise trans-men.

We can take action to unload this stigma by talking openly with our peers about our experiences – asking a friend for a tampon should be as easy as asking for a tissue! We should not have to bear the burden of cramps, expensive sanitary products and cultural shame in addition to confronting those who perpetuate it.

However, in the name of unloading the stigma we can enact defiance. Rupi Kaur has used art to challenge conceptions, the free bleed movement has used protest for awareness raising and recently, Madison Beer used her celebrity platform to normalise period (below).

When we talk openly and confidently about our menstrual cycles, we reclaim power and ownership of our bodies. We own vaginas, use tampons and we have periods. Calling it what it is a necessary leap for normalising and accepting women’s bodies.

 

Reflection: ProjectFEM’s Feminist Fashion Catwalk and Exhibition

High on the buzz of the debut ProjectFEM fashion event, Founder Holly Campbell reflects on the day, thanks all involved and offers food for thought for the next epic event…

The event was truly a success. After months of planning and exasperating hard work Danielle, Annie, Georgie and I managed to pull together our first event working late nights and weekends around our full time jobs. We emailed until our fingers were numb, persistently pitched for funding and flyered until we ran out of places to go; it all paid off on the day and we seamlessly improvised through unexpected challenges.

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The Team: Annie (Media), Holly (Director), Georgie (Stylist), Danielle (Event Manager at Cargo)

We welcomed guests including the Women’s Equality Party’s Sophie Walker and Catherine Meyer, plus size model Jada Sezer, activist model Rain Dove and America’s Next Top Model’s first gay contestant Cory Wade. All of whom were incredibly passionate about the cause and recognised the necessity of opening a conversation about the detrimental impacts of fashion around gender, beauty, diversity and representation. Sophie Walker gave a captivating speech about WEP’s #NoSizeFitsAll body image campaign, in which a fundamental component is to pressure London mayer Sadiq Khan into withdrawing funding from London Fashion Week for shows that do not cast at least one model of size 12 or above. Our audience were reassuringly engaged and opened up further important conversations around body image and fashion. Take action here.

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Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women’s Equality Party, speaking on 09.09.16

Then the show began! Our models were beaming with confidence and excitement and it showed. Designers included Gudrun & Gudrun, a sustainable knitwear brand and Neon Moon a feminist lingerie brand. Each look made a statement through visual culture in terms of gender and beauty.

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VIPs at the ProjectFEM event, 09.09.16

Diversity and representation are our fundamental aims and integral to our values and mission. We were successful in achieving racial diversity amongst our cast of models and we had a range of genders and ages. However, we recognise that we did not capture a cast as representative as we had hoped. We had two recruited plus-sized models and a model with physical disabilities, but at the last  minute they pulled out which was out of our control. This meant that we did not manage to represent physical disability in the show, whilst invisible disabilities were present amongst our cast.

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Catwalk Finale, 09.09.16

Upon reflection, as much as we advertised through social media, flyered and put out casting calls with a diverse modelling agencies, we struggled to capture the amount of transgender, age and ability diverse models as we wanted. We were inundated with applications from models from ranging ethnic background but found it a real task to reach those with broader ranging underrepresented qualities. Starting the project we thought individuals from these groups would eager get involved. Upon reflection, this challenge shows that if there is no consistent mainstream space for these people then how can there exist an aspiring population of models ready to jump at our adverts? We advertised with a diverse modelling agency but that brought us only young, slim and ethnically diverse models. Diversity is more than that.

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Models from the ProjectFEM Catwalk, 09.09.16

This exemplifies the need for us to continue our work in advocating true human representation within fashion. To achieve that we need to provide opportunities, hope and change for human beings who are completely unrepresented by the fashion industry. We need to give them the space to become models in the first place, to pressure fashion week organisers, designers and advertising agencies to allow equal space for these models. We cannot simply widen the goal posts of idealised beauty by having racial and size diversity, we need to reinvent those ideals from a deeper grassroots level with the radical value that we are all beautiful, all races, abilities, genders, sizes and ages included.

We cannot merely broaden the goal posts of what or who is considered idealised beauty, we need to revolutionise what we are told beauty is. If people outside the stereotypical ideal are not represented then they are unlikely to aspire to become models. We must provide that empowerment and a platform for them to do so. We have learnt a tremendous amount from hosting our first event and our values, drive and integrity has never been stronger!

Feedback from models following the event:

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Feminist Fashion Catwalk & Exhibition, Friday 9th Sept, Shoreditch London

We are hosting our first event under ProjectFEM.

Experience a truly empowering and inclusive fashion culture with diverse and representative models and ethically and socially responsible designers.

We are working with the Women’s Equality Party’s #NoSizeFitsAll body image campaign to combat the ideals perpetuated by the current fashion industry.

Let’s join forces and create the change we NEED to see in the world! 

Tickets: http://bit.ly/2bJPjvB