In The Spotlight: Caroline Harris

Caroline Harris finished her BA (Hons) Fashion at Southampton Solent University with a stunning final project: a luxurious upcycled collection. Caroline was happy to share her story with Pastel Wanders:

“I wanted to make a luxurious and wearable collection that would appeal to a wider audience. I did not want the main focus to be the fact it was recycled because I wanted this to be something that could be ‘normal’ rather than a focus point.”

Quality needs time

“The reason behind my upcycling was purely based upon using up old/ vintage garments, disused cloths and fabric lengths; I even managed to get my hands on old rolls of Ted Baker linings. Most importantly I wanted the collection to maintain its premium and luxurious feel. Although I was using ‘old’ remnants, I never wanted this to affect the quality of my collection. I spent many hours carefully unpicking original garments making sure I could utilise every last inch of the fabrics I had sourced.”

Future of fashion

“It was important to me to use remnant cloth or ‘old’ garments as I felt that it was something that could easily be done if you put thought behind it – so why not. My final project opened my eyes to what the fashion industry could be and where fashion could go if the right people were eager to pursue new possibilities. I see the future of fashion evolve in a way where sustainability, renewal and vintage can flourish.”

Caroline Harris

Do you know the true cost of fast fashion?

The True Cost (2015), a documentary by Andrew Morgan, is a must see for all ethical fashion lovers. The impact of the fashion industry on our planet and its people is thoroughly investigated by Andrew and his team. Using this documentary as a basis, I will summarise what fashion is doing to our world and what we can do to stop these practices, once and for all.

Worthless codes of conduct

After the Rana Plaza in Dhaka collapsed, killing 1129 people, a lot of consumers and big clothing companies carried on as they did before. Some companies signed voluntary codes of conduct but hardly any significant changes have occurred for the garment workers. “Voluntary codes of conduct aren’t worth the paper they’re written on”, according to Barbara Briggs, Director of the Institute for labour rights.

The second most polluting industry

Not only are the workers being exploited, our planet is too. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. Tons of waste water are spilt into lakes in developing countries and the amount of pesticides used for cotton keeps rising because of the re-engineered seed produced in the West. “Whole towns in the Punjab region in India are swallowed by epidemics of cancer, mental illness and physical handicaps because of pesticides”, says Dr Pritpal Singh.

Who is responsible?

We, as consumers, are also responsible. By giving in to the idea that more and cheaper clothing will make us happy we encourage big clothing companies to keep cutting corners. “The more people are focused on materialistic values, the more people say money, image, possession and status are important to them. But we need to remember possessing things isn’t going to make us happy”, explains Tim Kasser, PHD en psychology professor at Knox College.

The solution

So, what can we do about this? Shopping consciously is the first step. By supporting ethical brands you choose not to feed bottomless pockets of multinationals that couldn’t care less about the garment workers and our planet.

Secondly we should reconsider the amount of clothes we buy and cherish the pieces we purchase. Lucy Siegle hits the right notes when she says: ‘Fashion can never and should never be thought of as a disposable product’.

Watch the trailer of The True Cost here: