Interview with Lucy Shea, ethical fashionista
Lucy Shea is the Strategy Director at Futerra Sustainability Communications. She is also the founder of Swishing.org, a party concept where 'groups of friends get together to swap gorgeous clothes and party at the same time'.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Lucy Shea. I am the Strategy Director at Futerra Sustainability Communications and the founder of Swishing.org clothes swapping concept.
What do you think are the most important issue when considering ethical fashion?
There are a number of important issues when considering ethical fashion. These range from whether fashion garments have been designed, sourced and manufactured in a socially and environmentally sustainable way to whether fashion garments and any bi-products have been disposed of responsibly.
Why is ethical fashion important?
With so many people employed in the fashion or related industry worldwide clothing manufacture has a significant impact on developing countries. It is estimated for example that 20,000 farmers die every year due to pesticide poisoning, and a further 3 million suffer chronic health problems. Many of these are cotton farmers. Fashion industry workers in developing countries also work in unfair and unsafe conditions, with low wages and long hours. Ethically sourced fashion guarantees producers and workers a fair wage and safe working conditions, and means that the environment is protected.
Sustainable disposal of fashion garments is also important. Over 900,000 tons of shoes and clothes are thrown away in the UK each year many of which could easily be recycled and given to a new loving home. This is where Swishing comes in – the eco-fabulous clothes swapping initiative.
Do you think it is ever OK to buy clothes from high street stores?
Yes. I think it is fine to buy from high street stores and we do all indulge in this but I suggest that where you can, it is best to buy ethically produced fashion. Many of the high street stores are now branching out into ethical fashion so there is plenty to choose from and it is affordable.
Who do you admire in the world of ethical fashion?
There are so many great designers, organisations and retailers working in ethical fashion so it is difficult to just draw out one name. I would say Katherine Hamnett would definitely be on the list. She is doing so many great things and has really raised the profile of ethical fashion in the media.
There seem so many issues around ethical fashion, what can I do to make a difference?
Making a difference is a lot simpler than you think and you can start at home. First look at your wardrobe and establish what is in there that you don’t use. Then, either donate it to a trusted charity shop or clothes bank or use it for when you attend or throw a Swishing Party.
The Swishing Party concept came from a desire to give women who love both shopping and the environment the thrill of retail therapy without contributing to increased consumption. In effect it allows women to commit to a cause that helps the environment and that allows them to dress well while doing it.
Where can I go to find out more?
Please have a look at the Swishing website which gives tips and information on how to throw your very own Swishing Party. There is even a downloadable invite you can send out to your friends as well as the rules we recommend to help your Swishing Party run more smoothly.