Fashion Revolution Day: The Importance of Ethical Accessories

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Happy Fashion Revolution day! The 24th of April marks the sixth anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, where 1,138 garment workers were senselessly killed by a fast fashion factory collapse. This day is hugely important not only to commemorate them and tell their stories, but also to create positive change and engage local communities in the sustainable fashion movement with worldwide events and online campaigns.

This year, I wanted to talk about the importance of not just investing in ethical clothing, but also considering the social and environmental impact of our accessories like jewellery, handbags, shoes, scarves, hats and watches.

Speaking of watches, I am delighted to be collaborating with Nordgreen, a chic, minimalist Copenhagen-based watchmaker wwith social responsibility at it’s heart. Read on to find out more about how Nordgreen are making a difference for social and environmental causes around the world, and check out some of my top tips for accessorising ethically!

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The Nordgreen ‘Giving Back Program’ is what really impressed me about this brand. Essentially, every watch people buy on their website, they get to choose a cause that means something to them, and a proportion of that watch’s price is donated to that charity or project, all of which focus on creating lasting positive impact on people and the planet. Here are some of their current NGO options, which you can support by simply entering the serial number from your watch into the website after purchase to enable Nordgreen to donate part of their profits straight away:

Goal: Provide clean water

Water for Good: Each watch purchase gives two months of clean water to one person in the The Central African Republic.

Goal: Educate the future

Pratham UK: Each watch purchase gives two months of education to one child in India.

Goal: Protect the rainforest

Cool Earth: Each watch purchase preserves 200 sqft of rainforest in Latin America.

“We believe the right to good health, a clean environment, and a full education are rights for all. The harsh reality, however, is that much of the world does not experience them. Motivated by our Danish values, when we founded Nordgreen, we knew we had to do our part to help to change this in whatever way we could. There was no excuse not to give back.”

— PAS & VAS, Nordgreen Founders

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With so many brands and designers to choose from when it comes to accessories, there is just as much, if not more, to think about as with clothing when making purchase decisions, so it can be a bit of a minefield. Let’s keep it simple - here are some of my top tips for making small changes to your eco footprint by accessorising more ethically:

  • Choose products that are made to last | Scandinavian design like the Nordgreen watches ace in this category. Look for hand crafted goods, high quality materials and hard-wearing hardware to ensure you next accessory doesn’t fall to pieces - you want to get at least 30 wears out of something to really make a difference.

  • Help those products last even longer by taking good care of them | Most of us simply ignore care instructions on things like jewellery and textiles - but a huge proportion of the environmental impact of fashion products comes from the way we wash and dry them, and you can eke out years more from a piece by cleaning and storing it correctly too.

  • Look for interchangeable or multipurpose accessories to tick off more boxes with one purchase | The sunglasses I’m wearing in these snaps are really old SUM company pair - you can switch out the frames and the arms for different colours and patterns, plus they are made to be taken apart so they can’t be broken as easily as other plastic sunglasses. You could also look for scarves with reversible patterns, bracelets that double as necklaces, wearing scarves as headbands, bag ties or belts - the more uses you can get from an accessory the better!

  • Try vintage or second hand | Vintage stores and charity shops are absolute goldmines for accessories - think cool cat eye sunglasses, rare designer handbags, colourful costume jewellery - all without using any precious resources to add more stuff into the world. You could try special events like flea markets, vintage fairs, sample sales and clothes swaps too for even more unique finds!

  • Don’t be tempted by fleeting trends - go for classics | Trends in the accessories world moves even faster than with clothing - think about all the mini fads at fashion week like matrix sunnies, tiny belt bags, 90’s chokers, perspex heels and more. Stay focussed on products that will last you several seasons and go with multiple different outfits.

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Fashion Revolution Week is the perfect time for us, as consumers, to consider our consumerism. Why do we shop, and why do we shop so often? What do we wan our clothing to say about us and our values? What do we want from the brands and products we invest our hard earned cash on? How do we expect the decision makers in the fashion industry to treat their employees and suppliers?

It’s not necessarily about buying nothing, or even exclusively buying from ethical brands if that’s not achievable for you, but it’s about asking questions and reading between the lines. There is a huge amount of power in consumer demand - you have the right to demand better from the fashion industry, and the responsibility to buy less, choose well and make it last.

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Use my discount code RUTH for 15% off your first order at Nordgreen (prices range from £134-£164 before discount)

Outfit details

Watch: Nordgreen (gifted)
T-shirt: Organic Basics (gifted - use my code RUTHOBC2 for €15/$15 off your first order)
Jacket: H&M (second hand)
Trousers: Cos (2 years old)
Handbag: Matt & Nat
Sunglasses: Sum Company (gifted from 2015)

These photos were taken on the Easter weekend heatwave by the lovely Glasgow photographer Aglaé Zebrowski | aglae.co.uk