Oh hey, Happy Cinco! Today’s post is on Vanessa Friedman’s (head fashion critic at the New York Times) keynote that she gave at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit last week. She talked about sustainable fashion and how it’s a contradiction because something sustainable is built to last, while fashion is inherently disposable.
So, she says, let go of sustainable fashion and focus on building a sustainable wardrobe, which I love. But then she says this thing about leather handbags and fur coats:
“Once upon a time my grandmother saved and saved to buy a nice leather handbag, and once she had it, she had it for decades. Her fur coat? Same story. Her cashmere sweaters – you know the little cardigans with beading on the edges that were so popular in the 50s – same. She knew how to wash her garments—by hand usually — and how to hang them, and how store them, be it for the next season, or the next generation.”
True statement! But totally suggests animal products will last longer than other materials. Thing is, it still remains true even if you’re just taking some plastic-based leather or fur alternative. A high-quality garment will hold up when you take care of it, no matter what it’s made of.
So it’s not just the material, but how the piece is made. Did you know you can spot a fake Hermès by looking at the stitching? Yep, an Hermès with perfect and even stitching is usually a fake, since they’re made by hand. A genuine bag has slightly imperfect and irregular stitches. (Even though yeah, I know, they’re made of leather. But we have some amazing alternatives available now, and more animal-friendly alternatives on the way.) And when you look at an Hermès bag, it’s certainly not something you’d see as disposable! You take good care of it, and it will last.
So it all comes back to quality, which is probably the most vital element of sustainable fashion. Building clothes to last and releasing that fast-fashion mentality is the first step, but it doesn’t have to be the only step. If you’re going to splurge on a high-quality bag, why not make it an eco-friendly, animal-friendly bag, a la Stella McCartney? See, plenty out there to suit your sustainable wardrobe :)