How I turned my back on fast fashion and became sustainable, by Tiffanie Darke
It all started on a miserable gray day last October. London was on lockdown again, fashion had stopped, the world was grappling with the shock of Covid. I met my friend, Vogue Fashion Director Daniela Agnelli, for a walk in the drizzle in the park and we chatted where we were at. Fashion, at least the fashion at the maddening pace of consumption that it had become, no longer made sense. The parades, the trips, the seemingly endless collections of ready-to-wear, couture, cruising, what’s the point now?
Make no mistake, Daniela and I have had golden lives as fashion editors. For over a decade, we’ve been on the biannual fashion tour from New York to London, Milan and Paris. For eight weeks a year, each of those show days was filled with parades in increasingly lavish venues, and breakfasts, lunches and dinners in the cities most glamorous restaurants. As editor-in-chief of Sunday Times Style magazine and most recently Harrods magazine, I danced with Beyonce in Donatella’s Milanese house, partied with Tom Ford in a castle strewn with rose petals, accompanied by Gigi Hadid in the loft New Yorker from Alexander Wang and feasted on countless bowls of risotto. Milanese. It’s been a storm of glamor, a whirlwind of social events and a busy travel schedule – when ready-to-wear shows weren’t enough, we followed Dior in Morocco, Chanel in Havana and Louis Vuitton in Tokyo. . It seemed like everything was going faster and faster, there were more and more collections and products around which to build desirability stories, so more and more people around the world were buying, buying, buying, consuming, consuming. , were consuming.
The sustainable materials you need to know, from orange fiber to leather made from pineapple, mushrooms and wine (!)
And then last March, everything stopped. I decided to calculate the cost by taking a course in sustainability at Cambridge University (we’ll talk about that later – it’s open to everyone and I can’t recommend it more highly). Daniela too, had her own moment of pause, this is how we find ourselves now, on the edge of one of the most beautiful bays in the Balearic Islands, as part of Six Senses Ibiza, the coolest new resort in this summer. Within the resort, we have organized a new type of shop: a shop that tells the story of fashion and sustainable development. In fact, we’re reluctant to call it a store – it’s more of a live magazine (although you can buy everything).
It is called “Agora”, after the ancient Greek word meaning market. Back then, people visited the market as much to hear the news, meet each other, swap stories, and find out what was going on, as well as buy what they needed. We want people to visit our store as much to hear the stories behind our product as to buy the clothes. Because all the brands and products we have selected come with great stories: how they got there, how the materials, travel and manual labor were valued and delivered.
There are shawls woven by rural workers in Uruguay: work that allows women to stay in the countryside and not migrate to cities in search of employment. There are block printed shirts from Indian communities who have perfected the craftsmanship over the centuries but were in danger of losing their livelihood. There are CDLP swim shorts made from recycled plastic waste, an Iris Ven Herpen couture dress inspired by a scholarly book on the future potential of mushrooms, biodegradable shoes invented by Camila Skovgaard, one of the most popular designers. prolific 2000s. There are no plastic buttons, just coconut buttons, recycled gold jewelry, unique vintage pieces with the history of fashion behind them, upcycled kimonos and briefs “Silk of peace”.
As our story came to fruition, we realized that fashion and sustainability is a story that can be told in four chapters. Recycle (either by recycling old fabrics or leftovers, or by using the new facing fabrics of the future which are made from recycled plastic waste: Econyl, Lyocell and Tencel to name just three), Restore, which consists of of course to mend, but also to preserve the ancient crafts and artisans who have supported communities around the world. Reduce is us, the consumers, buying less but buying better. And for rental and resale, we’ve come up with a Cinderella bedroom concept: it’s Ibiza, which means there’s a party and you might not have packed your ball gown. So why not hire one instead?
Fashion is the fourth largest industry in the world for environmental damage. The era of mass consumerism that began in the 1950s and gave birth to plastics, overproduction, excessive global travel and unbearable consumption of fossil fuels, had been the primary driver of fashion. But on the other hand, fashion is a riot of creativity and design, a celebration of the joy of personality, confidence and identity. We both love fashion – we didn’t want to stray from it. Instead, we asked ourselves if we could change the idea of what is desirable. If we could redefine luxury, traveling the world as smoothly as possible. Take, but at the same time give back.
As we put the store together, we learned about the differences in sustainability, admiring new brands that were building innovative business models (like BITE, Another Tomorrow, Otiumberg), to older brands that were looking to reorganize their supply chains and place in the world (Temperley, La Double J, Orlebar Brown), to local ibicenca brands whose work supports the island we are on (Of Origin, Aho hats, Temple Jewels).
Honestly, we never imagined ourselves as traders, but that’s what we have become. The launch of Six Senses Ibiza, a resort dedicated to sustainability, immediately found its audience and almost overnight we got the quick booking in: Alexa Chung, Lily Cole, Liya Kebede, Jordan Barrett, Loyle Carner, Kate Moss and Sadie Frost have all visited. When guests arrive, they discover no plastic on site, a largely vegetarian menu provided by our local farm, hedgehog sanctuary and chicken hotel. This winter, the hens also have a gym.
And they also discover Agora. For those who cannot visit, we tell our stories on our instagram account @ agora.ibiza. We would love to hear from you and find your solutions, the brands and products that you think make the difference. Please join our community and our conversation.
There is urgency to all of this. Environmental disaster is heading our way, if we look at the fires in the northwestern US, in Siberia – and even this month’s flash floods in the UK -. The arctic cap is melting and unless we start consuming more consciously, pay a little more for something that will last us a lifetime, that has been made with its materials, its supply chain. and his community in mind, the consequences are unthinkable. For all of us, that means buying less and buying better. When choosing pieces that you can put back to heart, know that you will wear them at least 30 times, whatever your budget. Ask where the fabrics come from, in which factories the clothes were made, to which community the money you spend is going. Renting and reselling is another great solution – buy from Depop, Ebay or Cloakroom or one of these great second hand sites because then you know you’re not taking anything new from the world. A party or a wedding? Why not hire something instead – MyWardrobe HQ offers glamorous dresses for just £ 30 a night. The fashion industry is slowly waking up. But as consumers, we have the power to drive this change. It’s in our hands.
These are a sustainable way to recycle your clothes, instead of throwing them in a charity store
Five tips for a sustainable life:
- Buy linen, not cotton. Flax comes from the flax plant, which requires little water and can grow in poor soil. During its lifetime, a linen shirt uses 6.4 liters of water, compared to 2,700 for a cotton shirt.
- Check the material of your swimsuit. There are amazing companies like CDLP, All Sisters, and Apnee that make all of their swimwear from recycled ocean plastic waste at no additional cost. In addition, these fabrics are themselves fully recyclable.
- Leather: is it necessary? Pineapple leather, mushroom leather and even recycled plastic leather are the new materials looking to the future. And they look and feel good.
- Look for peace silk or vegan silk. It is made from silkworms which do not die when harvesting the silk. Instead, the cocoon is carefully opened and the silkworm is allowed to transform and live like a butterfly.
- Inquire. Look into sustainability courses. It’s expensive, but I learned so much. But you don’t have to pay – the Live Fashion Revolution websites and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation have resources on their website for free download. During this time, many of the course participants I took were sponsored by the companies they worked for. Talk to your HR department!