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Is Ethical Fashion Expensive? | A Discussion

By November 8, 2017 Ethical

For the past week or so I’ve been trying my hardest to put this piece together and have it make actual, logical sense. I wanted to start straight off the bat by saying that ethical fashion isn’t expensive and explain from that point onwards. However, upon writing and re-writing (three times!) and discussing it with others, I’ve come to the conclusion that this topic just isn’t that simple, even if I can see it that way myself.

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

At first, I believed that my own experience of consuming ethical and sustainable fashion was a prime example of debunking the myth of a fair wardrobe being completely inaccessible but even I have to admit that I have certain privileges which make it a whole easier to fathom. I’m all about honesty around here; there’s no such thing as being overly transparent.

If I were to say that I don’t add new items to my wardrobe regularly, that wouldn’t be the whole truth. From time to time, I do fill up the gaps in my wardrobe but often I don’t have to pay the expense because I write this blog and am trusted to receive samples and gifted items in order to promote brands which are doing good work.

This isn’t often, which makes the ‘regularly’ part of the statement correct but it still happens; I can’t deny that and nor would I want to – I love fashion. I would expect you do too if you’re reading this.

If I were to also say that the prices of the brands I promote are realistic for people my age or even just the average person who might come across my blog, that wouldn’t be the whole truth either because without the privileges I receive from writing and working my socks off around here, I can hands down say I wouldn’t be wearing a People Tree jumpsuit or a recycled denim choker that costs almost £30 (although, that People Tree jumpsuit has definitely made me realise how worthy their clothes are of an investment).

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

It goes back to the good work they’re doing – I want to show that it’s being done instead of clinging on to the brand names I no longer appreciate. (Bear in mind, I recently turned down an ethical directory feature request because I deemed the brand to be too expensive for my readers. I’m happy with the balance I’ve found.)

If I were to say that second-hand shopping is the best way around any price-based or moral dilemma, that once again wouldn’t be the whole truth because I’m a slim 17-year-old and I’m fortunate most charity shops are filled with viable options for me.

I can’t confirm nor deny whether people of different sizes do genuinely struggle when on the hunt in these scenarios (I often find many more larger sizes, especially in UK stores) but I’m happy to admit I’ve probably been lucky on more than one occasion.

I’m excluding looking for workwear, children’s wear or necessary purchases within this and the rest of my discussion – I’m not about to start saying we should be buying bras and underwear from our local Oxfam (although, good on you if you do) or that a young family of four should all of a sudden stop buying new clothes for their fast-growing kids (my nephews wear mostly second-hand clothes but there’s no way they could go without new shoes or re-purchases here and there).

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

So, what can I say that for the most part, strips away privilege, anything to do about the way we look at ethical options as an ‘investment’ and the idea of conscious consumerism and changing our shopping habits?

Well, it goes back to what a lot of my past blog posts used to revolve around – the facts and figures that show what we’re paying, isn’t what we should be paying if we want to acknowledge that the industry of fashion and the clothes we wear need to change.

The concept of fast-fashion (aka. the opposite of ethical, sustainable or slow fashion) originated in the 90s when the industry in the west discovered the opportunity to manufacturer clothing at a cheaper price and at a faster rate, allowing customers the chance to update and add to their wardrobe with fresh and new styles whilst saving money at the same time, and in-turn, producing more profit (it makes business sense, right?).

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

The majority of fashion manufacturing moved overseas, allowing brands to find cheap labour in developing countries. Quite simply, the demand grew, being supported by catwalks, the advertising industry and the new consumer expectation that we could have it all, whenever we wanted and for an amount, our purses would be happy with. This lead to more and more pressure being put upon the factories by the brands we grew to know and love. It’s why we saw the Rana Plaza disaster and the Tazreen factory fire.

Factories in developing countries aren’t built for the consumption of fast-fashion and nor is the supply chain. The cost of production means underpaid workers, poor working conditions, human rights violations and even child or forced labour that nobody would allow elsewhere.

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

All of these are consequences of the cheap, low prices that can be found on high-streets or online, and that’s not even including the affects this type of production puts on the planet and earth itself. It’s unsustainable and it’s unethical and there’s a reason why it’s cheap and why I don’t use the term very fondly around here.

Even if we’re not used to it and even if it will take years to change – we should be paying more which means ethical fashion, quite frankly, isn’t expensive in theory. It’s expensive in terms of price tag comparison (an ethical t-shirt could cost you £20-30 versus a fast-fashion alternative at £10) but the reason behind it is just and fair. It ensures that workers are paid fairly and that they work in safe environments, as well as often ensuring the use of sustainable and organic materials.

“But in the meantime, Tolly, how can I afford to buy new clothes at the same time as caring about where they come from? It seems impossible.”

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

This is where my favourite friend, Mindset, comes into play. Over-consumption goes hand-in-hand with the actual manufacturing of clothes and it isn’t helped by how we now see it being portrayed in front of our very own eyes. I know one YouTuber who has done eight different ‘haul’ videos in the past month.

I’m by no means accusing any of you of over-consuming but I think a lot of us can almost experience a sense of ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) by not owning a beret or a pair of heeled boots right now. I know I have!

We live in a society that thrives off of a culture of consuming the latest new “thing” (due to how #capitalism and the world of advertising works, as already mentioned) which is especially the case with fashion, with trends dipping in and out that not only affect our clothes but go on to change everything else around us.

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

The more we understand that this behaviour and way of consuming isn’t necessary, the less money we’ll end up spending in shorter periods of time, allowing more room for those so-say more pricey purchases which will end up being more of an investment anyway. Cost-effectiveness is sustainable and beneficial especially if you’re on a tighter budget (again – parents or anyone with strict workwear policies, I’m not pointing at you).

For example, if you know a pair of unethically produced shoes which are currently in the fashionable charts, won’t last you as long as a more investable and ethically produced pair would; think about which is more worthwhile, not only for your wallet that may have to repurchase once the cheaper option has worn down but also for the planet and the people who are making them. For me, I don’t even question it anymore.

And if you can and you’re willing to try? Look in Oxfam or Goodwill or on Depop or eBay. Even if it takes you three times as long as looking on ASOS or scrolling through what Topshop has to offer – I promise you it will feel so much more satisfying when you’ve prolonged a perfectly wearable item’s lifespan. I recently welcomed in an old pair of cherry red Dr Martens and a suede coat most definitely not in my size but there’s nothing a new pair of innersoles and wearing something oversized can’t do!


As this title suggests, I want this to be a discussion so go forth and leave your thoughts in the comments!

Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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What Do Logos and Labels Say About You?

By August 20, 2017 Ethical

A seed of a thought was planted in my mind a while ago when I read To Die For by Lucy Siegle (click the link for my review). One part of wearing ethical and sustainable clothes, is sending out a message about what you stand for, and Lucy touches on this in her book. But mixing this idea with logos makes it all the more important to pay attention to. Why? Let’s discuss…

ethical fashion advice - should we wear fast-fashion logos?

I might seem a little drastic to jump to the idea of thinking of our subconscious but with the idea of sustainability slowly trickling down to the everyday shopper (even if it’s through the rather controversial and possibly green-washed campaigns by the likes of H&M), what messages people are fed, even when they’re not purposefully thinking about it, all play a role in what happens next.

The idea in Lucy’s book that really stood out to me, was the idea of wearing faux-fur. Any kind of vegan material is suspicious to me (can we really say plastic alternatives to leathers are sustainable? I think not) but there are obviously many reasons why people avoid buying real fur.

The question was – by wearing any kind of fur, fake or vintage, aren’t we still showing the world that we appreciate and see fur as something wearable? That got the ball rolling for me, and it’s brought me back around to logos and labels, as the title of this post suggests.

ethical fashion advice - should we wear fast-fashion logos?

If we’re wearing a visible logo, how does this affect how people view our ethical views? Again, admittedly that sounds drastic to think about but as somebody who owns a pair of Nike trainers, yet stands by going against sweatshops, what does that say about me, when someone looks at my feet?

You might be thinking – does anybody really pay that much attention? Probably not. In fact, people are more likely to pay more attention to what you’re wearing on Instagram to what you’re wearing in real life (the same question still applies though), so perhaps the idea is more of a moral one.

Is it right to wear a Prada logo even when the shirt was bought second-hand? That’s my most recent query, after picking one up from a charity shop. Luxury doesn’t automatically mean ethical, after all, and nobody in passing will necessarily know I re-used an item which would have otherwise had been wasted.

Taking the question about faux-fur and adapting it a little; by wearing a label attached to an unethical brand, new or vintage, aren’t we still showing the world that we in some way appreciate and see fast-fashion as something to be worn and supported?

Visibility to me, is what I think is important. Bold, glaring logos which are immediately recognisable will say something to people in passing (or on social media), no matter how subconscious the connection is.

This doesn’t mean to say I think we should all be throwing out anything we own which is branded (never throw out clothes just because what you own isn’t ethical – keep them for longer), but it is to say I think we should shop more consciously with what message we’re putting out there in mind, especially when the message is easy to recognise and judge. Yeah, I’m saying – avoid that Gucci style Topshop-logo splashed t-shirt that’s apparently currently on sale (or you know, Topshop in general.)

“What about non-visible logos?” I hear you cry – well, as I just said, do not fear if your wardrobe is packed with them already (and by that I mean, Primark or other fast-fashion labels, like I myself still own), as it’s better to prolong their life in your wardrobe than rid of them completely. Also, as I’ve been asked this in the past and also rather recently, yes, it’s okay to shop second-hand even if what you’re buying was originally made or sourced unethically. Your money isn’t going directly into the hands of the industry, so you’re safe to shop fast-fashion in the second-hand world.

Have you ever thought about what logos you’re wearing say about you? Let me know in the comments!

ethical fashion blog - lost shapes x tolly dolly posh


SPEAKING OF LOGOS…

…you’ll soon be able to wear mine on the back of your t-shirt! And yes, it will be ethical. I’ve finally announced my upcoming collection with Lost Shapes which will be available to buy on September 7th, 2017. YAY!


Do you feel inspired? If so, perhaps you might be interested in nominating Tolly Dolly Posh for an Observer Ethical Award. If you believe my commitment to ethical fashion is award-winning, click this link and leave my name, link and a few words in the Young Green Leaders category. 

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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How We Can Make Everyone Understand Fast-Fashion

By June 29, 2017 Ethical

I’ve had this thought in my mind for a while now but I’ve never really known how to make the little seed in my mind into something helpful and useful for the rest of you but after a recent conversation with the wonderful and talented Lauren McCrostie, I finally realised my thought’s potential and it all starts with four very simple words – we all wear clothes.

Ethical Fashion Advice - How to Understand Fast-Fashion


FEATURED: Floral Trousers (ASOS Africa) // All others (Second-hand/Vintage) 


The reason for highlighting this simple phrase and statement is because I believe it is one idea that we can all understand and learn from especially when it comes to ethical education and conscious consumerism. There are a lot of terminologies thrown around when it comes to the issue of fast-fashion and ethics, so much so that the ethical platform, Project JUST, has a full page dedicated to slang terms you might not know the definition of.

In fact, it starts just there, with the phrase ‘fast-fashion’. It’s the most commonly used term when it comes to trying to explain why the shops we find on the high-street aren’t all as pretty as they seem and why the earth is being damaged by an industry which is supposed to be full of glamour and beauty. Although the term is relatively easy to understand – it’s the system in which provides fast and cheap fashion, producing large amounts of stock and creating large amounts of profit – if you were to use the phrase in everyday conversation, understandably, not everyone will understand you straight off the bat.

As someone who is expanding their knowledge of ethics and sustainability daily, I can admit that life was a lot easier to take for granted before it all started to click for me. Although I was aware of certain issues like waste and global warming, I now take it into consideration in my daily life, even if it’s in a context which isn’t remotely related to fashion or my clothes. It’s just within me now, to try and do better.

Ethical Fashion Advice - How to Understand Fast-Fashion

But with these phrases and words and all of the nitty gritty information, can we get just about anybody to understand the negative impacts of what we wear, by only focusing on ‘fast-fashion’ and ‘the industry’? And no, I’m not going back on what I said in my piece about second-hand shopping – the industry is important to understand but perhaps it’s not vital when trying to get people to start questioning their choices.

A great way to explain this more simply is looking at our food. Just like the statement ‘we all wear clothes’, the majority of us fortunate to be even having this discussion, are all able to say ‘we all eat food’. The food industry is often used as a way to explain what we mean by ‘transparency’, as, in recent years, it has become a lot more open to sharing where produce comes from, leading consumers to become more aware of what they’re actually consuming. It’s all essential to our lives and we all care in some respect or another because every day we aim to eat three healthy meals.

So, why don’t we all care about where our clothes come from if we’re putting them on our bodies just as frequently? Even beauty and make-up can inspire us – we care about what we put on our skin with what chemicals are being used or whether an animal has been used to test a product prior to being sold.

Ethical Fashion Advice - How to Understand Fast-Fashion

This is a reason why Fashion Revolution’s #WhoMadeMyClothes campaign should be so easy to get people behind. The term ‘clothes’ strips things down to the basics of what we all wear. Asking where our clothes come from is a lot easier to do than asking why H&M is producing 52 micro-collections a year; that’s fashion (fast-fashion, specfically). If we start to separate the two terms, clothes and fashion into two separate entities, then we’re more likely to get just about anybody on board in some shape or form.

Returning to food, there are a lot of questions we can adapt to our clothes. Questions like – What are you eating? How do you store your food? What do you do with old food? – can all be changed to revolve around clothing and get people thinking in that same way about something which is essentially, affecting us all in the same way. As a whole, we try to eat healthy food and we store it in the fridge or in a cool dry place. We recycle food and put scraps on the compost. If the fashion industry is supposedly the 2nd most polluting industry on the planet, why are we not all taking on this same mindset? It’s seems simple, really.

Ethical Fashion Advice - How to Understand Fast-Fashion

For those of you who are already starting to become more conscious consumers or are wondering how to go about spreading the message, here are some questions which can get people thinking in very simple terms:


~ QUESTIONS ~

What are you wearing?
What do you wear on a day-to-day basis?
Where did you buy them?
What do the labels say? Do you know what they mean?

Where were your clothes made?
➯ Would you like to know where?
Do you know who made them?
How do you look after your clothes?
What do you do with old clothes?


Don’t stop there though, if you’re interested in learning even more or want to start asking some more in-depth questions, then make sure to take a look at my educational resources from the past year. They should be helpful for you, your friends and family and anyone else you want to pass on knowledge too. Oh and don’t forget, ethical fashion shouldn’t make you feel bad, either.

How do you think we can get people on board with ethical fashion? Let me know in the comments!

Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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Why Ethical Fashion Shouldn’t Make You Feel Bad & How to Spread Awareness

By January 4, 2017 Ethical

Hello, hello, welcome to 2017! I hope you all had a good New Year and enjoy the holidays. I’m back and have ideas flowing out of my fingertips so I hope you’re ready for the next twelve months ahead. I thought I would start off with something that’s fresh in my mind and that will hopefully put all of those confused and concerned about ethical fashion, at ease.

learning about ethical fashion - raising awareness - clothing poverty by andrew brooks


FEATURED IN THIS POST: People Tree x Zandra Rhodes Top // Lost Shapes Sweatshirt* // Clothing Poverty by Andrew Brooks


I can quite clearly remember multiple conversations with family members over the past couple of years that have all come around to one or several people feeling a little guilty or downtrodden by what I’ve attempted to teach them. Perhaps you’ve felt this way; maybe you’ve come away feeling as if everything you’ve ever purchased has been doing damage and you immediately want to burn it all and start fresh?

Perhaps you’ve watched a video about the horrendous working conditions at the factories of some of your favourite brands and you’ve wanted to boycott them immediately? Perhaps you’ve even read one of my blog posts and wanted to never come back to my site because you just know you’ll feel that sense of dread again?

All of those feelings are totally valid, and I want to apologise if I’ve ever made you feel that way, because that obviously wasn’t my intent. After reading and listening and learning, I’ve opened my eyes to the fact that throwing all of this information out into the world doesn’t always have the desired effect. I’m glad that so far I’ve opened up my eyes to so many of you and that I’ve received such wonderful feedback in doing so, but I know there is a better way of doing it, and I know there are reasons why even if you do read all of these facts and terrifying stories about the fashion industry, it shouldn’t make you feel bad.

Ethical fashion isn’t about trying to single out the people who shop a certain way, because trust me, I know it isn’t easy. I can’t count how many times I’ve been told that ethical or sustainable options aren’t always accessible to everyone; I know they aren’t.

learning about ethical fashion - raising awareness - people tree organic textiles

I know that buying clothes for work example, isn’t exactly easy to do when buying second-hand or from more “expensive” (I put that in quotes due to the fact that cheap prices come with far bigger costs, as we already know) ethically focused brands, when you need to be putting your money somewhere else in your monthly budget. I know that shopping for a certain body size isn’t always easy either, when the industry is so focused on a specific, smaller one… so, you shouldn’t feel bad about it.

If you can only shop a certain way at the moment, then that’s okay. The fact that you’re even thinking about the way you shop, is a good start. The reason you shouldn’t feel bad about it, though, is because ethical fashion is all about the opposite – it’s about feeling good in what you wear and what you purchase. It’s about feeling good about what you’re doing for the world.

When we start shopping consciously and we start to just think about what we’re doing with our clothes, we should start feeling better about ourselves, not the opposite. We should start feeling better about the fact we’re not just helping our bodies and what we put on it – we’re also helping the people who made the clothes we wear, and the earth that helped produce even the fabric that it’s made up of. It’s actually a really positive thing, even if the hard facts and truths can bog us down.

learning about ethical fashion - raising awareness - lost shapes sweatshirt

Shopping ethically doesn’t make you a better person, in the end. I’m not perfect, and I’ll admit it. I eat meat, I’m not so much of a conscious shopper when it comes to lifestyle and beauty products… but every small contribution I do make (and let me make a point of this again – even just thinking about what you’re doing, means something) makes the world better, which seems a bit sappy and a bit hippy, doesn’t it? But it’s true.

So, next time you shop with a brand that isn’t necessarily ethical or sustainable, think about what good you’re doing in making different choices all of the other times. Feel proud of yourself, not sad and guilty for when you do buy or support the brands that could be doing better. Feel proud of yourself when you recycle or give away your clothes to a friend. It’s not about singling out the bad stuff – it’s about looking to the future and envisioning the good stuff.

That leads me on to the second part of this post, for those of you trying to spread awareness. How do we do it? How do we make people feel good? How do we make people who haven’t yet learnt, know what’s really going on?

learning about ethical fashion - raising awareness - clothing poverty by andrew brooks

Remind people that small steps add up to big things…

As I have mentioned continuously throughout this post, I believe that even thinking and shopping consciously, can do a whole lot more good than nothing. Even if right now, someone can’t shop with your brand or can’t follow in your exact footsteps, they need to know that even supporting the idea of equality and human rights and all of the issues we’re trying to change is doing something. Make them feel good about the little things, and even better about the big things.

Be relatable…

Sharing your journey and sharing what struggles you’ve been through can really put things into perspective. If you’re still learning yourself, admit that. Bring people along with you so that they feel inspired to start making changes. Talk about how you’re not perfect and that it’s okay to take your time. Making someone feel as if they are on the right path and that they’re not alone, can mean a whole lot.

Seeing is believing…

One of the main reasons I first became interested in ethical fashion, was because I watched the documentary, The True Cost. It was one of the first times I really saw the effects of the fast-fashion industry, visually. It changed my whole mindset because I could truly see how things worked. Reading is all well and good, but how are people supposed to know what is actually going on if they don’t have some sort of photographic or visual evidence?

If you’re a blogger, sharing documentaries and videos can always help because it gives people something to interact with, rather than to just click off and have information stored away in their minds.

Integrate your influence…

Influencing people can often feel overwhelming when it’s a long, static blog post, so keeping the conversation flowing into social media and into platforms that people use regularly keeps it in their minds. Also using social media to connect with other like-minded people in order to work out even better ways of getting the message across, can be helpful too. I highly recommend joining in with the #EthicalHour Twitter chat, every Monday, and joining the group on Facebook.


Do the affects of fast-fashion make you feel bad? How do you spread awareness of them? Let me know in the comments!

Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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You Can’t Call Yourself a Feminist If You’re Supporting Fast Fashion

By October 21, 2016 Ethical

It seems a little bit over the top to point this out right at the start of this post but I honestly believe it’s true; you can’t call yourself a feminist if you believe in fast fashion.

threadbare by anne elizabeth moore review - feminist fast fashion

This belief hit me whilst reading “Threadbare: Clothes, Sex & Trafficking” by Anne Elizabeth Moore. It’s an illustrated non-fiction comic all about the fashion industry and how it links in with sex work and trafficking. It sounds like a pretty heavy topic, but it was possibly one of the easiest ethical/anti-fast fashion reads I’ve finished so far, and for those of you who prefer something a little more attractive to the eyes, then I’d definitely recommend it (however I will point out – it does have fairly small text to read).

The statistic that struck me with this realisation was this – 1 in 7 women worldwide, work in the fashion industry. The tricky thing about feminism is how it is deemed to be only related to women and feminine issues, when as we should all know by now, it’s about equality, and the only way we can reach gender equality and an equal balance between men and women, is by working on the imbalance of which is mainly weighing down on, well, women.

So seeing as a seventh of the female population in the world are somewhat responsible for the fashion industry, it would seem a bit absurd to not think about how it affects those people, wouldn’t it?

threadbare by anne elizabeth moore review - feminist fast fashion

One of the main issues surrounding fast fashion and the industry as a whole is the problem surrounding working conditions. 80% of garment workers are women. According to the book “To Die For” by Lucy Siegle, if we break down the price of a £4 (ASDA) t-shirt, £1.18.5p goes to the supplier; £2.80 goes straight to ASDA as profit and the garment worker (most probably a woman) receives just 1.5p.

That’s 1.5p per what could possibly be 200 garments per day (roughly £4 a day), in a factory with poor safety regulations. In fact, 60% of factories in Bangladesh are structurally unsound according to a 2013 study, which makes the Rana Plaza disaster even more tragic, because it would be so easy for it to happen again.

Upon reading more about feminism and fast-fashion, I read fellow blogger Jen’s post about her thoughts, and her point about clothes plastered with feministic slogans and messages of empowerment really raised a great question; how can we be buying these clothes that promote female empowerment that cost as much as a coffee at Starbucks, when the people making them can barely afford to live and make these clothes for us?

How can we say we’re feminists when we’re supporting companies that don’t have any interest in the women (some of which are in their teens) that they employ and the situations that they are in?

threadbare by anne elizabeth moore review - feminist fast fashion

The answer is, we simply can’t. If feminism is about bringing equality to women, then we can’t call ourselves feminists if we’re still supporting a cycle and an industry that still promotes inequality. It doesn’t matter what a brand is doing on the surface. It doesn’t matter what natural beauty campaigns they’re running, or what slogans are on those t-shirts.

At the end of the day, if they didn’t have the garment workers in the first place, then they wouldn’t have their company – we wouldn’t have our clothes and our wardrobes full of outfits. We as women, as men, and as humans who need to prolong the earth we stand on – cannot call ourselves feminists if we live with the mindset that this is okay.

In line with that, one of my favourite parts of “Threadbare” and actually the page that featured that slap-in-the-face statistic, was this –

‘So if you want to support job opportunities for women in developing nations, don’t shop at the mall.’

threadbare by anne elizabeth moore review - feminist fast fashion

If you want to call yourself a feminist and support one of the biggest industries in the world, and a seventh of the female  population (cisgender/transgender – unfortunately there isn’t a clear statistic for that number, which would bring me onto a whole other topic of discrimination), then don’t support what is causing the most damage. Or like I’ve said many times before; be conscious. Hold retailers responsible.

So yes, I am a feminist, because I’m doing my part to avoid supporting companies who don’t value their workers and aren’t doing their part to create a fairer industry. Are you?

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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