Fashion For Good: Beyond Street Style.
Is it just me, or is street style (or more accurately, Instagram style), getting more and more unachievable?
Experiencing London and New York fashion weeks first hand has on several occasions made me struggle to contain my laughter, even as someone working within the industry, at the ridiculousness of some influencer ‘looks’. Neon yellow cycling shorts paired with a crochet bra, floor-length Balenciaga puffer coat, minuscule Matrix style sunnies and blister-inducing YSL stilettos? Is that really what you want to wear, are are you doing it #forthegram?
Apart from anything, beyond the filtered photograph, these outfits just don’t really work in real life. Super oversized shirts and flares = sleeves in your spaghetti and muddy puddles all over your ankles. A jacket oh-so-carefully draped over the shoulders (insider tip - these are often safety-pinned on at events) = losing your precious Burberry trench when a gust of wind strikes.
No shade intended here, but I wanted to make the case for the trusty old jeans and tee combo, with a little help from new ethical fashion brand and social enterprise Origin Africa. Casual, comfy, everyday fashion, with enough personality to make it fashion-worthy, and most importantly, because this is a sustainable blog, with elements of the outfit that are ethically made so that you don’t just look good and feel good, you do good too. Now that’s my kind of street style.
First things first, this doesn’t mean that street style should move to the other extreme either. Everyday, wearable fashion doesn’t have to be boring - yet so many ethical fashion bloggers dress in neutral colours, mumsy, floaty shapes, and essentially wear minimalist things straight off the mannequin with no personal touches or efforts to style. I could tag dozens of mega fashion influencers here that have very little sense or knowledge of fashion, but I won’t because I don’t want #drama.
My point though, is that you can dress is a totally laid back and comfortable way that feels authentic to you and your lifestyle while still showing a little flair of personality and pizazz. Even small styling tricks, like a turn-up of the hem of jeans or rolled up sleeves, layering different textures and colours, or adding accessories that may not ‘go’ with the outfit or be ‘on-trend’ but make you smile, can make a big difference.
Your style doesn’t have to be radical, trendsetting and traffic-stopping (although if that makes you happy, by all means go for it- fashion should be about what feels good, and I admire your confidence!), but it also doesn’t have to be drab and dull and basic - let’s face it, life’s too short for boring clothes (but too long for tight, uncomfortable, fiddly ones).
Since starting a full time office-based job back in September, the importance of having a variety of comfortable, wearable, but still smarty and cool outfits in my arsenal is key; I no longer have time to try on different outfits and experiment a lot with my clothes in the morning like I did as a freelancer, so the classic ‘jeans and a nice top’ (with something warm and cosy thrown on top and some flat shoes) is a reliable pick.
I never used to be a t-shirt person, but with super soft and sustainable tees from illustration-led labels like Studio Five and minimalist brands like Organic Basics, I’ve been able to incorporate them into my style with layering under camps or dungarees, tucking in to snazzy trousers with a belt, or wearing oversized over a high next long-sleeved top for a ‘90s look.
It’s important here to emphasise the point I’ve made before that simply selling an organic cotton t-shirts does not an ethical brand make. What I’m interested in is brands that are going beyond, making human rights and environmental sustainability their entire philosophy, part of everything they do, not a gimmicky add-on to jump on the eco bandwagon.
This is where ORIGIN comes in, a 100% not-for-profit sustainable fashion business, based in the UK and inspired to drive humanitarian projects in the communities from which its fabrics originate; Mali, Ethiopia and Gambia.
Tom and Alice, the husband and wife duo who launched ORIGIN in 2018, believe that fashion can be a force for good, and that through sustainable and fair trade we can all make a difference.
Projects that the sales of ORIGIN’s tees and sweaters have helped fund include:
- Providing remote sanitation in the Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
- Launching a seamstress school to provide training opportunities for women in Bamako, Mali
- Building an HIV specialist clinic in Gambia
Importantly, all projects are co-created and run by local partners, passionate about helping their communities. This is isn’t just charity, it’s change.
The brand has launched a crowdfunding campaign aiming to raise £40,000 to scale up their ethical fashion range with new artisanal fabrics and increase awareness, leading to higher turnover, increased profits and, therefore, a sustainable platform for the community projects to thrive.
There are only 2 days left of the fundraiser, so please donate what you can (even £1 can help!) >> www.crowdfunder.co.uk/fashion-for-good
T-shirt | Origin (gifted)
Jeans | Levi’s (second hand, given by a friend)
Belt | Charity shop
Trainers | Comme des Garcons for Converse
Pink earrings | Bohemia (gifted)
Gold earrings | Topshop (borrowed from a friend)
Black shirt | M&S (second hand - charity shop)
Denim jacket | Armstrong’s Vintage
Photos by Ellie Morag