Today is Fashion Revolution Day. A day when we're encouraged to take a look at where our clothes actually come from and ask ourselves 'who made my clothes?'. The movement came into being after the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh in which 1133 people were killed and a further 2500 injured. It highlighted the urgent need to look at the supply chain and call for accountability within the manufacturing process. It's easy to pull a dress off a rail without considering where it came from as the disconnection between end product and the person/people who made it increases. An understanding of the chain that leads to that dress landing on the shop floor teaches us to value those who worked to create it for us. And, in turn, this will hopefully teach us to value what we buy and not be so ready to toss it aside when we fancy something new...
Georgia Bruton's collection first caught my eye at Graduate Fashion Week last summer (I had a dash round before I went to work back stage with the university whose graduate collections I was styling). It was bright and shiny so, like the predictable magpie that I am, I made a beeline to where it was hanging on the Northbrook stand. Her sequin, lace-trimmed oversized t-shirt dresses were my favourite pieces, with their clashing colours and bold printed slogans, so I made a note to work with the collection in future. Having recently loaned a number of pieces for an editorial shoot, I was able to discover more about the ideas and influences behind the collection and they certainly go a little deeper than mere sequins and trim.
Georgia's SS15 collection, 'Who Gives A Brit', was sponsored by RTS Textile Recyclers. RTS are a fantastic company who are dedicated to working towards reducing UK landfill to zero; no mean feat when we currently send 1 million tons worth of clothes to landfill each year.
Georgia became interested in sustainable fashion after attending a lecture by Dr Noki, founder of the NHS (not that one... Noki's House of Sustainability), and king of customisation. Some may call what he does 'upcycling' but his use of discarded materials pre-dates the coining of that term - he's a pioneer in his field. He takes a DIY yet couture approach to his work; taking something second hand and re-working it into a one of a kind garment. During his lecture, Dr Noki talked the students through his recycled collections and encouraged them to read Culture Jamming. It was this that sparked Georgia's interest in the subject of our throwaway culture. She says, "I started looking into consumer corporate society and how we have so much waste which is having negative effects on our heath and our communities. So, after that, I just became fascinated with it and knew that I had to do a recycled collection!"
It was then that she approached RTS with her idea to source bulk rag through a local company to turn it into something new. RTS were excited by the prospect of working with a fashion student and allowed her to hand pick her way through the mountain of textiles collected from clothes bins and charity shops.
"There is so much waste in the world, people buy more and more stuff, and don't see the potential of the old so just chuck it out. It was really satisfying to give the rag a new lease of life! I was really lucky RTS were so open minded and let me hand pick all of the clothing, I couldn't have done it without them!"
|Pages from Georgia's development book|
Georgia looked to the idea of waste and recycling to inspire the design process as well as fabric sourcing, creating motifs inspired by the creases in bin bags and beer cans discarded in flower beds. There was also the challenge of re-working pre-existing garments into something new and the restrictions that came with pre-cut fabrics. Rather than fight against this and try to disguise it, Georgia let the shapes inform her pattern cutting, and influence the cut and fit of her garments.
The result is a collection that, on the face of it, doesn't reveal its humble beginnings amongst piles of unloved wardrobe rejects but, upon closer inspection, embodies exactly that.
So, where does the Brit influence come from? Moving on from exploring our over consumption, Georgia also took a peek into the bleaker aspects of modern British culture - binge drinking, gambling, and fighting to name a few - and considered the decline of traditional figures of Britishness. The red phone box, for instance, is an enduring symbol of Britain, yet you would be hard pushed to find one that hasn't become an unofficial public toilet and a mosaic of call girl's cards. 'No Rush', the slogan that graces two of the dresses I'm wearing below, was a part of one lovely lady's sales pitch on her card but subsequently became an apt tagline for the 'slow fashion' path Georgia took. It's a simple line but, when applied to an industry which is so fascinated with what's coming next, it becomes a bold statement and a message to live by.
|T-shirt dress: Georgia Bruton, Turtle neck: Charity shop, |
Bag: Made by me
|Top and jeans: Georgia Bruton, Jacket: Vintage, |
Clutch: Jen Cheema
|Dress: Georgia Bruton: Hat: Vintage|