Sustainable fashion 2.0

In a workshop in the North of India, old saris are being washed individually by hand, taken apart, and stitched back together into silk bomber jackets.

When we see an item of clothing, we have a preconceived idea that it is the end of the story, the final use of the fabric, to be worn to death and then discarded. But what if it could be the beginning instead?

The saris are salvaged by Jeanne Sissel Thompson’s team who go from door to door to buy them directly from Indian women for money or in exchange for items they can use for their housekeeping; the tailors work as part of a family owned factory also in the North of India. Their jackets are then packaged up and resold, through Jeanne’s company in Aalborg, Denmark.

They are 100 per cent recycled, 100 per cent ethical and 100 per cent beautiful.

Jeanne and her partner Christina’s company Sissel Edelbo is one of the brands I’m proud to work with at my company, We provide quality, stylish clothes from ethical, environmentally-friendly projects.

Plus, the life of our clothes doesn’t end when you buy them; if the seams come apart, or they tear, post them back for us to repair. The brands we work with send us extra buttons and yarn to help us fix your garments and make them look like new again.

This way, clothing will last for much longer.

I launched my company in summer 2018 after some concerns I’ve had about the fashion industry for as long as I can remember became more than just niggling thoughts.

Five years earlier, a crumbling textile factory outside Dhaka in Bangladesh collapsed and crushed 1,135 of its workers to death.

Thousands more people were injured; families were devastated; and, like many people, I clicked on videos of ashen-faced rescue workers pulling bodies from the building’s rubble, taking in the industry’s brutal reality.

I knew I had to change the way I bought clothes. Since then, I’ve hardly bought anything; blue Levi jeans; a pale pink winter coat from American Apparel; Veja trainers.

T-shirts I’ve salvaged from shared houses in London; a Japanese-style jacket I found in a flea market in my native Berlin.

I’ve also been very lucky; friends and family have given me things; a Burberry trench coat from a generous aunt; a pair of Christian Louboutin ballet shoes from my Brazilian friend Leti; a blue scarf I got from my sister.

This may be thrifty, but it isn’t really sustainable. My wardrobe is tired. I would like to buy more clothes where I’m confident of their origin, but the price tag seems to be upwards of $200, and that seems unreasonable for my everyday wardrobe. Also, the clothes often don’t even seem that stylish.

Which made me think: we don’t buy cheap clothes because we’re bad people, but because the industry makes it too difficult to buy affordable clothes that don’t damage the environment, and the people who make them.

If we are going to stop the endless cycle of buying a new wardrobe every season and discarding it just as quickly, we need better choices. Ethically-sourced clothes shouldn’t be seen as a luxury; they should be as easy as buying a one dollar t-shirt, or a bottle of Evian. makes it this easy.

Nothing will bring back the people who lost their lives in that horrible, preventable accident in 2013. But we can create new ways of consuming fashion that make sure it never happens again; we can slow the fashion industry’s stratospheric polluting; and we can be stylishly dressed. The future is yours.