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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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London Fashion Week: Out with the new, in with the old

Those who keep half an eye on the fashion world will know that today marks the start of London Fashion Week (LFW). So, cue the catwalk and some of the most ‘out-there’ garments you’ve ever seen…

It’s fair to say that the fashion industry has a questionable reputation. Vanity, consumerism, and exploitation – pretty bleak stuff.

I won’t tackle all these issues right now, but let’s consider the industry’s hefty environmental impact. Can you believe that the average item of clothing is only worn 10 times before it’s discarded? That’ll explain the 360,000 tonnes of clothes thrown away in the UK every year.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. If we look back at February’s LFW, there were steady strides towards sustainability with designers like Stella McCartney using recycled materials for her collection. It seems that we, too, are placing increasing value on sustainable clothing – thrift stores are now seen as trendy and the pre-loved fashion marketplace Vinted has recorded over 75 million users.

I’m reminded of the khaki trousers I inherited from a friend several years ago – an item she no longer wanted has since become a staple in my wardrobe.

Put simply, fashion fulfils the need for us to clothe ourselves – though thankfully we’ve come a long way since those fig leaves in Genesis 3:7! Not only that, but every garment exhibited by designers at LFW reflects God’s creative nature, just as fashion is inspired by the world he designed – full of colour, texture, and beauty.

Sadly, fashion was scuppered by the fall and became twisted with pride, waste, and the abuse of workers.

However, Jesus came to redeem all things – fashion included. Where can we see these redemptive strands in action? There’s the emergence of Sustainable Fashion Week, inspiring a greener, cleaner, and fairer fashion industry. Then there are brands like Yes Friends, inviting us to swap our high-street tees for alternatives that prioritise people and the planet.

Whilst few of us will be sporting a Stella McCartney blazer made from sustainably sourced wool any time soon, as whole-life disciples our fashion choices can be redemptive, too. For me, that means giving those khaki trousers a new lease of life and taking a minimalist approach to purchasing clothes. In a fast-fashion age, wouldn’t it be a countercultural witness to those on our frontlines if we bought less and opted for clothes that care for God’s creation and the person making them?

I hope you can find your khaki trousers, too.

Grace Fielding
Supporter Communications Manager, LICC

 

Comments

  1. High fashion does nothing for me personally so I won’t be rushing out to buy any new clothes soon. However the fashion industry is just one of many industries that a marketing campaign is designed to promote. By purchasing new things it creates or maintains employment and helps sustain the economy and so ultimately lives. If we all stop buying things including fashion then recession looms and people lose their jobs and livelihoods. So while avoiding greed we need to temper all things in moderation while consider responsible recycling or as your friend did pass on and share what we have

    By Richard W  -  15 Sep 2023
  2. This part of the creation and fall event always makes me think that God became the first fashion designer in Gen 3:21 – “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” I imagine that was animal skin. So that could mean they had leather jackets and trousers, pretty rock and roll! Just a passing thought!

    By Hugh Webber  -  15 Sep 2023
  3. Another angle on sustainable fashion: who is going to make warm indoor clothes fashionable again? Not those Christmas jumpers so garish you can only wear them once a year, or the tweeds and cardis your granny used to wear. Perhaps more like period dramas. Let’s put the beachwear and summer holiday clothes back in the wardrobe for the winter, layer up elegantly and turn down the thermostat.

    By David Stephens  -  15 Sep 2023
  4. The other issue with the fashion industry is the supply chain carbon footprint. Coal fired power stations provide the electricity for the factories in China. Most synthetic fabrics are from oil based sources and the ships and aircraft that transport the garments are also a major source of GHG .
    Fashion is seen as a female issue but Next don’t produce male fashion for the fun of it!
    Even bad choices are allowed in a free society but it is good to see LICC raising the issue.

    By David  -  15 Sep 2023
  5. Thanks for your thoughts, Grace.

    I too try to work on the basis of wearing my clothes out and not purchasing too many new, though I’m not very good at looking at the sources of what I buy.

    Unfortunately, I always seem to see 6 sides to each problem and worry about the abused workers who will be put out of work by this approach.

    By Nancy Powell Davies  -  15 Sep 2023
  6. Then there *are* brands such as…(a nudge from a proof-reader!)

    By Clare  -  15 Sep 2023
  7. Yes, creativity is good, but there are so many huge problems with the fashion industry.

    it also creates covetousness – getting people to buy things that they want, rather than what they need. often at hugely inflated prices (for the top end stuff) which redistributes wealth from the relatively poor to the very rich.

    The cultivation of so called celebrities – really idols – who people wish to emulate.

    The sexualisation of girls at very young age.

    The vast mountain of waste – and often the abuse of workers making a pittance for clothes that sell for huge sums.

    Yes, some of it can possibly be redeemed, but perhaps a lot has to go…….

    By David Cockburn  -  15 Sep 2023
  8. This was a great read. I love the idea of taking a minimalistic approach to purchasing clothes, something I’ve done in the past due to necessity but also empowering to do with sustainability in mind. I agree that God’s creativity is evident in those who design clothes. His unique giftings are visible in human beings in so many ways.

    By Deborah Jenkins  -  16 Sep 2023
  9. My fashion consists of jeans and tee-shirts that way my wardrobe is always up to date and remains similar for years as all are hardwearing, I may not win a prize in a fashion show but to me practicality and durability are more important.
    🧍‍♀️

    By Paula  -  16 Sep 2023
  10. I buy from Thisisunfolded which pays a fair wage to the garment makers and supports education in India. Order from a collection, prices are reasonable, and get the goods a few weeks later.

    By Margaret Tooth  -  18 Sep 2023

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