Recently I found a beautiful pure silk blouse in my local Oxfam store on Bold Street in Liverpool. I instantly knew how I would wear it – my incredibly comfortable cropped straight jeans and loafers. The simplicity of this outfit is perfect for a casual day at home. The first time I wore this I was at home studying…cat by my side and fire warming my feet (thinking about aesthetics here). The pure silk falls beautifully and is so soft. I would say I felt pretty smart – the buttoned-up style and collar with
the elegant material creates the illusion of being dressed up (even when you replace the jeans for flared black trousers and you’re giving off a classic casual ’70s look which is always a yes from me).
Another look you could go for is pairing the blouse and cropped jeans with skinny ankle boots and some tights – I am constantly considering layers with this sharp winter weather. I love layering in winter as it not only looks great but it means it is easier to reuse your favourite pieces throughout the year.
Whilst writing this article I was planning social media for a Clothes Swap event run by Just Love Liverpool, a branch of the NGO Just Love UK. This organisation aims to spread awareness about social injustices such as slavery, sex trafficking and homelessness as well as raising awareness of how to be more ethical and sustainable, including when it comes to thinking about what we wear. I was reflecting on the incredible way in which reusing clothes is not only helping our environment – did you know that ‘UK households binned 300,000 tonnes of clothing in 2016‘? but it is also causing us the evaluate questions such as how are our clothes being made? Where are they coming from? These questions I have found are being asked more and more as we have seen an increase in the number of social media pages now devoted to ending fast fashion and believing in
alternative ethical and sustainable ways.
If someone asks me where I bought this blouse and I say a charity shop, immediately I’ve got a conversation starter in which to spread awareness of the injustice of slavery. Simply buying a blouse from a charity shop is making a statement that fast fashion is out of hand and there are alternative ways to shop. Charity shopping is fun (how many times have you found the oddest and most random things that probably haven’t seen the light in decades?). But at the same time, we can be activists for so many issues!
A devastating issue that I am passionate about is tackling the gender inequality and utter lack of women rights when we look at the unethical practices of factories focused on producing the cheap t-shirts for example we can purchase on the high streets. “A recent report by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) revealed that recruiters in southern India convince parents in impoverished rural areas to send their daughters to spinning mills with promises of a well-paid job, comfortable accommodation, three nutritious meals a day and opportunities for training and schooling, as well as a lump sum payment at the end of three years. Their field research shows that “in reality, they are working under appalling conditions that amount to modern day slavery and the worst forms of child labour“.
Isn’t it unfathomable that we are still living in a world where slavery is still a major issue? Over 40 million people are trapped in slavery right now.
Furthermore, with their 12 partners across the world Oxfam interviewed ‘hundreds of women workers and many farm and factory managers, supply chain agents, retail and brand company staff, unions and government officials’. They discovered that ‘Fewer than half of the women employed in Bangladesh’s textile and garment export sector have a contract, and the vast majority get no maternity or health coverage – but 80 per cent fear dismissal if they complain.’
The clothing industry is clearly intertwined with issues of gender inequality. Women are severely devalued and frankly it would seem dehumanised. By charity/vintage shopping and raising awareness at the same time, we can create a huge impact on the clothing industry.
So, this silk blouse from an Oxfam store on a small corner of the world sure can do a lot of loud talking…
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