“When something is beautifully and consciously made and is of the highest quality, it is not meant to be thrown away and will not be destined to end up in a landfill.”
– TOM FORD
Every now and then I stop and question how the quest for sustainability in fashion is playing out in the real world, is it actually in practice or is it simply another fashionable social media born bandwagon? Because, it doesn’t take a deep look into the life stories displayed on Instagram to notice the inherent dissonance among fashion consumers who on paper share a concern for the environment, but who in practice continue to indulge in fast fashion’s infamously unethical practices.
Are fashion consumers really prepared to buy less in exchange for buying longevity? This is a question as complex as the fashion world itself.
Think about this: with the rise and rise of social media and new ways to covet and acquire fashion pieces, dressing ourselves with the latest, readily available trends has become the norm – for the new and older generation alike. So how does one marry our desire for new trends with the ethos behind responsible fashion?
I have a feeling that the answer isn’t a one dimensional one. In some cultures, there have always been layers of society that were taught from an early age to buy less and to buy well, when it comes to fashion. The French woman being this line of thought’s poster girl. Although not French, I was always an adept of the buy well rationale.
It would be hypocritical of me to say it was because I was ahead of the curve in terms of concern for sustainability in fashion – I am well over the millennial age bracket after all, but I did always appreciate a well made garment that made me want to wear it over and over again. Yet, I fully understand how irresistible the thrill of buying new, cheaper fashion items, has in the last few decades slowly taken over the less thrilling idea of owning one single luxury piece.
Furthermore, I’m of course not oblivious to the fact that it was only a very small percentage of the world population that until very recently could afford an ethical garment made of luxurious, long lasting fabrics and cut to flatter any figure.
However, such pieces are infinitely more accessible nowadays, one just has to literally look outside the box.
Allow me to explain….giant luxury brands owned by wealthy conglomerates or a team of investors is first and foremost a business, and as such, its main focus is on creating large returns for those who own it. In order to create large returns, a brand has to create an ever larger number of sales. In order to achieve that, it has to cover the costs of their large scale marketing campaigns, fashion shows and/or presentations, flashy storefronts with accompanying websites, gifts and event invitations to celebrities, influencers, fashion editors and so on…all these expenses come over and above the actual cost of designing, sourcing, manufacturing, transporting and merchandising those luxury pieces. So what you are paying at the end for that big brand garment is made up of roughly 70% frills, 30% is what the garment would actually retail at – with company profits included!
Back to my point, I am starting to question where is the sustainability in this old fashioned way of doing things? Consumers and designers alike seem guilty of a lot of talk but little action.
So in order to do my part in helping we fashion lovers, keep the choices available to us as wide as possible, I am on a mission to further adjust my shopping habits.
Slowly switching from luxury big brands to luxury independent brands, before fashion’s creativity and independent new talent is swallowed up by the giant brands and our environment reaches the point of no return.
With this anti-consumerism objective in mind, you can then imagine my delight when an opportunity arose for me to meet up with the founder of a quaint little Notting Hill based luxury cashmere designer. When I say luxury cashmere, I don’t mean the word luxury lightly, I very specifically mean cashmere sweaters that are designed and made from 100% Italian and Scottish cashmere from anything between 2-ply to an incredibly indulgent 12-ply. The difference, not always easily translated in photographs, is on the touch to the skin and of course, in its way out of my washing machine’s hand wash cycle. Over and over again, these exquisite sweaters come out looking as new – not a bobble in sight.
The new LW11’s story is not an unusual one, originated from pure passion for its products and the desire to fill a gap on the market by offering exceptional cashmere at accessible price points. That’s when the lovely Eva-Maria decided that after gaining many years experience with this tricky fabric (LW11 started as a wholesale business suppling independent retailers in the US, Germany, Japan and the UK); she would turn the businesses’s direction around by cutting off the middle man, and to start offering her exquisite sweaters directly to the sophisticated woman who is in search for that perfect cashmere not found amongst the mass production offerings.
You can nowadays explore their work here: www.londonw11.com
Judge it for yourself, you can thank me later.
PS: As with all my writing and reviews, I am not paid or sponsored by the brands I feature in my stories.