|Alexa Chung she has substance - and not just style - for Vogue UK ethical special|
Wonderful that Vogue is devoting six pages to an 'ethical special' this month with Alexa Chung acting as the postergirl for the growing army of women who care about how and where our clothes are made, in just the same way we make decisions about the food we buy at the supermarket - or should I say, the local farmer's market. And even better, for us who cannot buy the english Edition of the Fashion Magazine, Fashion Telegraph decided to do a piece on it. More after the jump.
Chung is not claiming to be any kind of green goddess. Who can? But she is voicing an increasing awareness among women - and men - to question what and how they buy.
|Alexa Chung - Vogue UK april 2012|
'I was first made aware of the appalling conditions factory workers are often forced to work under while filming a documentary in 2008 for Channel 4,' she writes. The idea was 'to recreate a sweatshop environment in a makeshift Covent Garden factory, in which we then invited high-street shoppers to work. Most grumbled about the dirty water, sweltering heat, poor pay and forced overtime. A good few quit almost instantly. Questionable ethics isn't the only disturbing factor in the production of the clothes I love. Ecologically sound brands try to limit the vast carbon footprint that production and distribution create, while fair-trade brands ensure that nobody in the creative chain is taken advantage of financially.'
|Alexa Chung - Vero Moda|
In an ideal world, all of these things would be taken as read and Vogue wouldn't need to single out specialist brands who are doing the right thing in their own little ethical ghetto.
And it has to be said, things are getting better. The high street is being forced to conform to regulations on carbon footprint, factory conditions and pay. The next generation of designers are leaving college knowing that too many clothes are being dumped in landfill every year. Whether they choose to do anything about it is up to them.
It seems the all round solution is for us to buy less, choose more thoughtfully - Chung says she has a mental checklist whenever she buys anything; if she can't style it three ways, she usually doesn't buy - and, where possible to recycle, swap, thrift, or buy from designers like the brilliant Christopher Raeburn who produce well-made clothes that will last, made with upcycled or locally sourced materials in small batches.
|Alexa Chung - Vero Moda|
'I for one,' admits Chung, 'am all too often guilty of pointless purchases that don't make it beyond one or two outings. It is unlikely, for example, that those Primark espadrilles or Topshop shorts will be handed down to future generations as my grandmother's fur coat and dresses were to me.' Chung's own style icons including Patti Smith, Debbit Harry and Francoise Hardy wear the same things like a uniform until they fall to pieces.
Problem is, we also - like Chung - love fashion. And that means new stuff. That's why we are reading Vogue in the first place. What would be really wonderful is for the industry itself to take a deep breath and slow down so that we don't feel quite so much pressure to change the colour of handbags quite so often and for 'ethical' fashion not to have to be pigeonholed but its principles embraced by everyone from the high street up, and not just the chosen few. Oh and yes, Alexa, that organic cotton shirt looks great and so do the red jaquard fairtrade shorts.