How to buy responsibly

I'm not sure if it has to do with getting older and becoming more aware of the world around me, or these times we're living in but for a while now I really don't enjoy shopping for clothes as much as I used to. When I was younger I couldn't wait to go to central Amsterdam with my friends and 'shop till we dropped'. Preferably stopping by Starbucks first to get one of these awfully sugary Caramel macchiato's. But a lot has changed since then.

I think one defining moment for me was watching the documentary The True Cost, which is about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the clothing industry is having on our world. The documentary wasn't a complete revelation for me, because I knew before watching it that the working conditions in the clothing industry are really bad for many people, but I never completely grasped the massive impact this industry has on the environment.

Not long after that I found myself standing in a huge Zara in Rome, some items in hand to try on, looking at the masses of shoppers going through the latest collection, and I thought: "What on earth am I doing here??". It just didn't feel right, all these people buying clothes they probably didn't need, possibly made by people under unacceptable working conditions and made of materials that are not sustainable in the quantities they are made now.

We are currently living in an age of consumerism where people are just buying things for the sake of buying. It shouldn't be like that. The whole idea of fast fashion, where items should be available as soon as they're shown on the catwalk so you can always buy clothes that are 'on trend', is a bit ridiculous if you think about it. I'm not saying we should only buy new clothes when we really need them, but buying a new t-shirt shouldn't be as normal as doing groceries either. People should be aware of the work and resources that go into making a garment and understand what impact the clothing industry has on the environment.

I think one step in the right direction is buying less, but whenever I do buy something new, it should be a responsible and sustainable buy. So the question is: how do I do that? If you were hoping to find an answer to this question in this post, I must disappoint you, I'll give some suggestions, but what I really want, is to hear how you go about buying responsibly.

I think a good option is to buy second hand clothes. It's one of the easiest ways to improve your fashion sustainability, and it can be quite cheap as well. In some second hand shops, they even customise items to make them more fashionable. Some of my favourite places in London are Blitz and Ragyard, close to Brick Lane. But admittedly thrift shopping can be quite difficult, especially if you need something specific.

When buying 'new' new clothes, the most difficult thing I find is to determine what brands are 'good' and which are not. How do I know if a brand is sustainable and treats its employees right? Should I focus on where a garment was made, what it's made of or something completely different? When buying new clothes I usually check what they're made of, because I prefer to wear clothes made of natural fibres rather than synthetic fibres. But to be honest, I don't really look at whether a cotton shirt has been made in a sustainable way or not, because that information is usually not provided on the garment itself.

Not too long ago I came across Project Just, which aims to inform consumers about fashion brands. It's a website that provides a catalogue of research on fashion brands’ manufacturing and their environmental and social impacts. Reading through some of the information, I already found out quite a lot about some of the brands I like. I'll definitely try to keep the things I read in mind the next time I go shopping, and keep my fingers crossed they'll keep on adding brands to the catalogue so I'll be able to make good decisions when buying clothes. And in the meantime, I will continue doing research into making my clothing purchases responsible and sustainable.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic and how you go about shopping responsibly, so please comment below! :)


Audrey Hepburn: icon & inspiration

London has lots to offer when it comes to art and culture. Last week I went to see "Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon" in the National Portrait Gallery.

Audrey Hepburn is by far my favourite style icon. She was always dressed very elegantly and classy. In every day life she often wore pants paired with a simple black or breton striped tee, or a crisp white button down shirt. In a lot of her films she   was dressed in colourful and glamorous outfits designed by Hubert de Givenchy with whom she had a very special relationship. In fact, Audrey's style wasn't just fashionable when she lived, she really made her mark on fashion by creating wardrobe classics that are still stylish today. Some timeless classic pieces that will fit in any woman's wardrobe are the following:

The trenchcoat



The Little Black Dress

Annex - Hepburn, Audrey (Breakfast at Tiffany's)_02

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, Audrey Hepburn, 1961

Ballerina flats


But of course, Audrey wasn't only a fashion icon, but a film icon as well. She starred in lots of different films from comedies to literary dramas. My top 3 favourite Audrey Hepburn films are:

  1. Breakfast at Tiffany's

  2. My Fair Lady

  3. Funny Face

Later in her life Audrey became an active humanitarian. She served as Goodwill Ambassador for United Nations International Chidren's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), from 1988 until her death in January 1993. Audrey used her fame to raise awareness for UNICEF and the needs of children. She travelled to amongst others Ethiopia, the Sudan, El Salvador, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Somalia.

I think Audrey Hepburn isn't just inspiring when it comes to fashion, but also when it comes to the way she lived her life. She was very elegant and cared a lot about other people. She was also a positive person, as can be seen in the quotes below, and I think aspiring to be a bit like Audrey wouldn't hurt anyone.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!

The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

You can visit "Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon" at the National Portrait Gallery until the 18th of October.

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Savage Beauty
One of the most inspiring and impressive fashion exhibitions I have been to is The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier. I didn't think I'd see an equally or even better exhibition any time soon, but then I went to Alexander McQueen's Savage Beauty in the Victoria & Albert museum. Wow. Just wow. I literally walked around with my mouth open, staring in awe at all the amazing designs. This wasn't just an exhibition it was more of an 4D experience where you find yourself going through different worlds that arose from McQueen's wondrous imagination.

Each room was decorated in a different way and music was played which fitted the atmosphere and theme of every room. The exhibition starts off rather calmly with the focus on the designs and McQueen's early life.


Then you find yourself in a magnificent and at the same time eerie room where the collection "Romantic Gothic" is displayed. The pieces are dark and romantic, and very expressive which in a way made it seem like they were inhabited by a presence. I must say, quite a lot of McQueen's pieces gave me the feeling they were alive in some way, which in some ways made this exhibition similar to a haunted house.

The next room, a cave made out of bones, featured a collection of "Romantic Primitivism" with pieces inspired by tribes and animals. This forms a sharp contrast with "Romantic Nationalism". A collection inspired by Scotland and royalty. The pieces seem to be set in a way to simulate a gathering at court. With Scottish royals dressed in the MacQueen tartan on the one side and another royal family (maybe the English?) on the other side.

One of my favourite displays was the "Cabinet of Curiosities". A gigantic room consisting of cabinets filled with accessories in various of the designer's shows. In this room it becomes apparent that McQueen was inspired by different cultures and species and he used all sorts of material for his designs, from wood to diamonds to feathers to shells. Many of his creations are so ingenious and incredibly beautiful, but a lot of them are disturbing and frightening as well. The designer himself once said: "I want to empower women. I want people to be afraid of the women I dress." Well, he definitely succeeded. Even without anyone wearing his clothes, they take up a presence in the room.

It's fascinating to see that in all of these completely different collections McQueen incorporated elements of nature. In some of them, "Romantic Primitivism" and "Romantic Naturalism", this is quite obvious because the designer used animal hair and flowers. In others natural elements are blended in in a very subtle way. "Plato's Atlantis" for example, at first sight seems to be a futuristic space collection based on extraterrestrial life, but is in fact inspired by Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

All in all, this exhibition is a must see! Not just for the fashion lover, but for anyone who would like to be baffled and have a look inside the mind of a creative genius.

You can see the exhibition in the Victoria & Albert museum until the 2nd of August.


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