Connect with us


We all know the true cost of fast fashion, so why can’t we kick the habit?

Emily walpole



We all know the true cost of fast fashion, so why can’t we kick the habit?

In red capital letters, the website declared: ‘99% OFF’. Above, was a picture of a woman in a beige bandeau top. Below, was the price tag of just 6p.

If ever proof was needed that nearly a decade of crusades led by eco-conscious and human rights activists against fast fashion had made little impact, then the jaw-dropping prices of last November’s PrettyLittleThing’s Black Friday sale was it.

While some shoppers took to social media to show off their bargain buys – which also included dresses on sale for 8p and offered the chance to win £1,000 – others considered it as a materialistic two-finger salute to the fatal tragedy that forced consumers across the globe to confront the true cost of fast fashion eight years ago.

Back then, in 2013, as reams of brightly coloured fabrics churned together with bodies buried among the dusty rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, we were given an unwavering education into the real price of throwaway fashion. There was no longer any doubt to the answer of the back-of-the-mind question of how we were able to afford a pair of skinny jeans for just a few quid.

It was a lesson that cost 1,134 garment workers their lives and injured countless others.

The disaster saw people take to social media demanding to know #whomademyclothes, while documentaries examined our wear-it-once-and-throw-it-away mentality.

As well as the human impact, we learned the environmental one, too. Not only did we discover the fashion industry is the second largest industrial polluter after aviation, but research released just last year from the Finnish school Aalto University also revealed that over 92 million tonnes of waste was being produced by the fashion industry per year – that’s 11,000 items of clothing to landfill every week, just in the UK.

Yet, despite all this, it seems that somewhere along the way, these lessons still haven’t stuck.

PrettyLittleThing clothes on sale for as little as 15p
The PrettyLittleThing Black Friday sale saw clothing sold with huge discounts

a woman cries and she holds her child in one hand and a picture of her husband in the other
The Rana Plaza factory collapse cost 1134 garment workers their lives and injured countless others (Picture: AP)

Is it because the message isn’t clear, people don’t care or that, for many, being ethically fashionable just isn’t sustainable?

‘Simply put, people stick with what they know,’ explains fashion expert Kate Auguste. ‘They go with brands they trust, know their size and have the knowledge that if an outfit doesn’t work out they can send it back with zero friction.’

When it comes to sales, says Kate – who went from being a fast fashion buyer to running her own sustainable fashion business – throwaway clothes will continue to win as long as the price tag is far lower than the one on something made with sustainability in mind.

‘The cost per piece is so low, brands can mark them down as much as 80-90%,’ she explains. ‘We have built a society where people want to see their money go further and this is the case with fashion.

‘Why buy a pair of jeans for £100 when you can get four in different colours? This is regardless of race, gender of class – this is how we have been conditioned within our purchasing culture.

‘On top of that, we have also lost a skill set of not being educated on how to sew, therefore creating a generation who have no true understanding of how things are made. It means that considering what an item has to go through in order for it to be produced will never be in the forefront of their minds.

Kate Auguste in jeans and a dark t-shirt.
‘Why buy a pair of jeans for £100 when you can get four in different colours?’ says Kate Auguste (Picture: Kate Auguste)

‘It’s not the consumer’s fault how the product is being made,’ she adds. ‘Fast fashion businesses have zero moral compass and profit will always come before anything else, even if it’s made from other people’s misery.

‘People question how they can “get away” with what they are producing, but the answer is simple – there isn’t any legislation or regulation.

‘Even the modern slavery act 2015 isn’t worth the paper it’s written on because when it comes to the supply chain within the fashion Industry, information is voluntary. There is no regulation that says you have to declare where your fabric comes from and how it’s been produced, how your workers are treated when making the garment you are selling and there’s no  producer responsibility to what happens when the product is discarded.’

Workers sorting through garment waste
Over 92 million tonnes of waste was being produced by the fashion industry per year (PIcture: Getty Images )

Garments factory waste dumping sites
11,000 items of clothing go to landfill every week (Credits: Getty Images)

In 2019, a report by Clean Clothes Campaign showed that while 85% of brands had committed to ensuring wages that were enough to support workers’ basic needs, none were putting this into practice for any worker in countries where the vast majority of clothing is produced, such as Asia and Eastern Europe.

They were able to sidestep responsibility by claiming that wages which had been negotiated between unions and employers counted as a living wage, despite still being desperately low.

Here in the UK, even a pandemic – when most of the high street was shut down for over three months – hasn’t made a dent in our desire for cheap, throwaway clothes.

In fact, last April saw a 22% rise in online clothing sales compared to four years earlier. By August it was up by 97%.

‘We need to remember that everyone’s social status changed in lockdown,’ explains Kate. ‘Suddenly, the go to product was loungewear or nice tops for Zoom meetings. Of course, fast fashion houses were able to accommodate this quick change in events. They were able to deliver the needs and wants quicker than anyone else.’

Labour Behind The Label, is a group that campaigns for garment workers’ rights worldwide and has been tracking the response of brands during the Covid crisis. Their research revealed that high street brands including Arcadia, ASOS, Primark and M&S initially cancelled their orders with suppliers due to the drop in demand – many after they’d been made, and in some cases, shipped- adding further pressure onto the livelihoods of workers. Other suppliers were asked to give discounts on their orders, meaning they were forced to produce clothes for free.

After external pressure, the majority of brands decided to pay for the orders in full.

Meanwhile, although some employees were put on furlough in the UK, the scheme doesn’t exist in many producing countries.

At best, the government has put in minimum requirements for getting paid, but often it’s only up to 50% of their wages, and when someone is already earning a poverty wage, it’s near impossible to survive on so little money. At worst, employees lost their jobs altogether. webpage
Boohoo were putting their employees at risk of Covid-19 by working with factories in Leicester that continued to operate during the pandemic (Picture: Getty)

In a more horrifying twist, lockdown witnessed the discovery that online retailers Boohoo were putting their employees at risk of Covid-19 by working with factories in Leicester that continued to operate during the pandemic, with no social distancing measures in place, no provision of PPE and no sanitising stations available to employees.

The fashion group, which owns a total of nine brands, including Karen Millen, Nasty Gal, Oasis, Warehouse and PrettyLittleThing – home to the Black Friday controversy – were also accused of modern slavery when it was revealed that these garment workers were being paid as little as £3.50 an hour, despite the minimum wage being £8.72 for those over 25.

According to Dominique Muller, policy director for Labour Behind The Label, such practices are still happening because suppliers are being pressured to fulfil unrealistic orders.

‘They’re essentially told by the clothing companies, “You’ve got to make these goods quickly and if you don’t, we won’t order from you again,” so they agree,’ she explains.

‘The insecurity and price pressure means that they’re more likely to underpay or to take people on short-term contracts to finish an order without a contract, or alternatively pay cash-in-hand.

‘Workers are told, “If you don’t finish the order, then you might as well go home”.’

Muller adds that after the slave labour scandal during lockdown, Labour Behind The Labour did their own calculations into Boohoo’s costings. ‘The prices they pay suppliers to make garments in the UK isn’t enough for them to pay minimum wages, and in some cases, they’re not enough to pay the minimum wage if they were in Pakistan,’ she says.

Following the revelations, Boohoo launched an independent review and in September announced its Agenda for Change programme, which vowed to take steps to improve supplier audits and compliance procedures. The group also appointed new independent directors and launched of a Supply Chain Compliance Committee.

However, Kate adds, it seems that a little bit of bad press didn’t do too much damage to the brand. ‘Last year Boohoo was involved in one of the biggest modern slavery scandals in the UK. Yet their share price, though it took a dip, bounced right up again,’ she says.

For many consumers, even when our conscience tells us that we should be buying sustainable over fast fashion, the reality isn’t so simple.

Polly Harrison wearing a maxi dress
’I’d really love to buy something made-to-order, but unfortunately, not all of them offer larger sizes’ (Picture: Polly Harrison)

Polly Harrison, 24, is a journalist from North Wales and says she’s unable to find affordable and environmentally-friendly fashion that fits her.

‘I would love to shop sustainably, but it’s physically impossible for me,’ she explains. ‘I’m a size 24, so there are very limited options available.

‘I’ve only ever seen an item that would fit me in a charity shop once in my life and it was really ugly. There’s nothing stylish available, so I shop at ASOS and SimplyBe.’

Made-to-order brands such as By Megan Crosby and Mary Benson London are growing in popularity, but these are often expensive.

She adds, ’I’d really love to buy something made-to-order, but unfortunately, not all of them offer larger sizes. If they do, it often comes with a higher price tag and at the moment, it’s just not an option for me to pay £100 pounds for a pair of slow fashion trousers. I could save that money on a deposit for a house.’

Another option for those hoping to enjoy fashion sustainably is renting clothes. Apps such as By Rotation and Hurr lend shoppers designer items for a fraction of the price, which encourages circular fashion and reduces landfill and waste. But similarly to sustainable fashion brands and second-hand clothes, Polly struggles to find anything available in her size.

Polly Harrison
Polly says she would love to shop sustainably but it’s impossible (Picture: Polly Harrison)

‘I’m yet to find a rental company that offers plus sizes,’ she says. ‘The last time I looked, the clothes only went up to a size 16. It’s a shame, because it’s something I would be interested in trying.’

While the sustainable fashion market still has some work to do to cater for every body and budget, ThredUp’s 2019 Fashion Resale Market Report predicted that second-hand fashion will grow to nearly 1.5 times the size of fast fashion by 2028.

However, according to Labour Behind The Label’s Dominique Muller, to bring about authentic, lasting change, consumers need to keep holding brands accountable and demanding more.

‘Ask shop assistants where items are made,’ she suggests. ‘Often they have no idea, but they’ll tell their managers and the managers will feed it back to head office. If everyone was asking, then they would start making change quicker.’

Betsy Benn, who is also trying to swap her throwaway fashion habit for a more sustainable one, says she simply doesn’t believe that grilling shop floor staff will make a difference.

‘I can imagine it would take at least 30 customers a week saying something like that to the same sales assistant before they raise it with their line manager, and then 30 times of them raising it with their line manager before the regional manager hears about it, and then they would have to hear about it from several of their stores before sending it further up the line,’ she says. ‘That’s a painfully slow process.

Betsy Benn
Betsy Benn is also trying to swap her throwaway fashion habit for a more sustainable one (Picture: Betsy Benn)

‘Plus,’ Betsy adds, ‘aren’t you just pushing the responsibility of your shopping choices onto a shop worker, who has already had a sh*tty year and probably isn’t extremely well paid if they work for an unethical brand to begin with?

‘For the vast majority of the big brands, they could hear all this and still happily ignore it. The only thing that would change their minds is if being sustainable were more profitable than not being so and that becomes something that governments would have to start legislating on.’

This is something Kate Auguste has been working on for the past two years.

In the summer of 2019 she set up a petition to get the #FixingFashion report, which looks into the sustainability of the UK fashion industry, back on the Environmental Audit Committee agenda after it had been previously met with silence from the government.

‘Fortunately, the EAC listened and last December she was invited to be part of a roundtable event at Parliament, ‘Producer Responsibility’ was highlighted during an oral session,’ Kate explains. ‘We had Boohoo give evidence about their practice in moving their business forward to becoming more sustainable.’

Auhtor and influencer Eilidh Gallagher admits that she used to regularly spend £100 a pop in Primark.

‘It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when everything is so cheap, you end up with so much,’ she explains. ‘However, about two years ago, I started feeling uncomfortable encouraging others to buy more by posting pictures of me in an outfit knowing I was probably only going to wear it once.

‘Then I watched a documentary about the impact of fast-fashion. Not long after, I saw something on social media about using your influence to do good, and it all came to a head.’

Eilidh Gallaghe
‘I used to regularly spend £100 in Primark’ says Eilidh Gallagher

Talking about how she made the transition, 36-year-old Eilidh says: ‘Initially I planned to give up buying new for a month, but then I ended up doing it for the whole of 2019. I had to go cold turkey, or I knew it’d be just one thing this week, then another next week. I also told everybody to give me an incentive, to keep going.’

Eilidh bought absolutely nothing for just over a year, before her clothes fell apart and she had to replace them.

‘I’d been buying cheap, poor quality clothes and I discovered that, surprisingly, they don’t last,’ she admits.’There were beginning to be gaps in my wardrobe, so I researched what I needed and then spent time deciding whether I really needed the items in my basket.

‘It did come as a shock when I started to buy more sustainable clothes, because I was so used to paying cheap prices,’ she admits.

Now, Eilidh only allows herself to buy certain items new, such as underwear and swimwear – but for everything else she shops consciously.

‘If I want to buy something, I buy second-hand from eBay or Depop, or find independent brands on Instagram with good ethics,’ explains the mum-of -three and author of Green Christmas: Little Changes That Bring Joy And Help The Planet. ‘There’s no doubt it costs more, but they last so much longer. And you really end up loving the pieces , because you feel more invested in them, both finanically and emotionally.’

When Betsy, who runs a personalised gift business, made the decision to try and shop more ethically in 2019, she hadn’t expected the transition to be so hard.

‘I thought it would be easier to make the swap from fast to sustainable fashion, but the process is full of hurdles,’ she says.

‘Just finding information was hard enough. Some brands have a “we’re ethical” page on their website and some don’t, so it was easy to avoid the ones that don’t even make a sustainable claim. But then you have most brands that have a range that they make sustainable claims on. It’s really not easy to see where that range starts and stops.

‘After the Bangladesh factory collapse I’d hoped that most brands were making moves to become more sustainable and there seemed to be a rush of brands making t-shirts and leggings from old plastic bottles for example – but a lot of people seemed to stop there!

‘I don’t just want to know if the cotton is organic and sustainable, I want to know where the factories are, what they consider a living wage to be, whether their employees here or overseas are well treated, what the packaging is – but that level of information is hard to find.’

When Betsy did find brands that she liked, she says they tended to be niche. ‘I really liked Howies, who do great T-shirts and outdoor wear, but it meant I still needed to find dresses and skirts.’

Cost was also a factor, she says. ‘While I’m happy to spend more on clothes that last longer, it’s harder when you’re buying for kids as they outgrow their clothes so quickly. When I do buy the odd cheap T-shirt for my son, I have to remind myself that this is a temporary stop gap and won’t be forever.’

According to Kate Auguste there is an ‘amazing’ minority of people who do push back on brands. ‘But we need collective action when changing the fashion system, and this means we need the movement to be more inclusive. Not just in race and gender, but with class too,’ she says.

‘This starts with stopping placing blame on those who cannot afford the fairer fashion items. Instead, get them involved by focusing on calling out corporate impunity, whether that’s by writing to MPs or brands, or using social media to pull brands up on their ethics.

‘Anything we can do to make people feel more involved and engaged, will be more effective – and we have to be, because, at the end of the day, we’re changing the world not just changing our wardrobe.’

How to help in the fight against fast fashion

It’s clear that giving up fast fashion isn’t easy, whether that’s down to money, sizing or availability. But there are still things you can do to make a difference:

Host a clothes swap, making sure you invite people who are similar sizes so there will be something for everyone.

Continue asking #whomademyclothes on your social media platforms – remembering to tag the brand. You can also add the hashtag #whatsinmyclothes. Share who responds and who doesn’t.

Head to YouTube and find a sewing tutorial that works for you, whether you’re your just starting out or looking for advice on how to repair or upcycle a specific piece of clothing.

Set yourself no-buy goals. Start with one month, then see how far you can up it.

Government can have a huge impact on the lives of those who make our clothes as legislators decide things like minimum wage and working conditions, so contact your local policy maker and encourage others to do the same.

If you have children, educate them at home about how clothes are made and ask your school to consider addressing it, if they don’t already. Also encourage your kids to help you fix or sew outfits when they get a bit worn, rather than throw away.

Visit for further advice and ideas, as well as templates for letters and social media posts, and with brand email addresses.

Daisy Jordan is the founder of Wear Next

Do you have a story for In Focus? Get in touch by emailing

Share your views in the comments below.

MORE : Student turns shopping bags into incredible high-fashion outfits

MORE : Debbie Harry launches eco fashion line with sustainable designers Vin and Omi

MORE : How to donate clothes to charity during lockdown

Exploring the stories behind the headlines, In Focus is the brand new long read report series from


Brown University Fashion Week 2021 Kicks Off with Lineup of Fashion and Lifestyle Royalty Including Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow, Stella McCartney, and More

Emily walpole



Brown University Fashion Week 2021 Kicks Off with Lineup of Fashion and Lifestyle Royalty Including Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow, Stella McCartney, and More

PROVIDENCE, R.I., March 3, 2021 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Brown Fashion Week 2021 will take place from March 4 to March 26 and features some of the biggest names in the fashion and lifestyle industries. Re-imagined by student organization Fashion@Brown (F@B) as a virtual celebration this year, the impressive 22-day program of events is free and open to students and fashionistas around the globe and not limited to the Brown University community.

“We were astonished and humbled by the positive response we received to our invitations to speak at Brown Fashion Week this year,” states Sasha Pinto, president of the student organization, Fashion@Brown. “We wanted to make Brown Fashion Week bigger than ever to spread some much-needed inspiration to students given the extreme isolation everyone has been experiencing — and the fashion industry responded in overwhelming numbers. It is a tribute not only to the kindness and generosity of the individual speakers but to the industry in general.”

Joining Fashion@Brown will be such renowned leaders as Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Stella McCartney, Kenneth Cole, Steve Madden, Emma Chamberlain, and Olivier Rousteing, among others. A complete list of all speakers and events follows.

Events are free and registration details can be found at

Brown Fashion Week 2021 – Complete Speaker Lineup

Brown Fashion Week Distinguished Speaker Series kicks off on Thursday, March 4 at 7:30 pm ET with …

Sarah Jessica Parker: Actress, Entrepreneur, Civic Activist: SJP Does it All… and in High Heels” on Thursday, March 4 at 7:30 pm ET – Join F@B in conversation with the powerhouse whose latest bona fides include CEO of the SJP Collection, her booming shoe business; member of the Partnership for New York City, an economic council of NYC’s top CEOs; and vice chairman of the New York City Ballet… in addition to being a Golden Globe, Emmy, and Screen Actors Guild award-winning actress of the stage, silver screen, and television. Hear about SJP’s unique approach to retail, her myriad entrepreneurial initiatives, and her passionate dedication to the post-pandemic revival of New York City.

Next in the series is “Kenneth Cole: The Fashion Empire Visionary Shining a Light on Social Issues with Passion and Purpose,” on Monday, March 8 at 8:00 PM ET, featuring Kenneth Cole, who built a billion-dollar retail business while keeping in mind that “it’s great to be known for your shoes, but it’s better to be recognized for your soul.” Instead of being the company’s model, Kenneth Cole decided to be the company’s role model by lending his name to social issues like AIDS, homelessness, gun control, mental health and abortion. Cole will be interviewed by his daughter Amanda cole, Brown class of 2012.

On Monday, March 8 at 12:30 pm ET zoom in to “A Conversation with the World’s Foremost Fashion CEOs.” Isabelle Guichot, CEO of the chic Parisian fashion house Maje and former CEO of the renowned luxury maisons Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Balenciaga, joins Patrice Louvet, CEO of Ralph Lauren, for a dynamic industry leader fireside chat. As CEO of Ralph Lauren, which recently dressed Joseph R. Biden Jr. for the presidential inauguration, Mr. Louvet leads this hugely successful multi-billion-dollar company.

The series continues with “Steve Madden’s Wild Ride and Crazy Come Back” on Monday, March 9 at 8:00 PM ET. F@B is excited to host “the Maddman” himself who turned a fledgling startup launched in 1990 with $1,100 into a global, multibillion-dollar brand. But Steve Madden’s mistakes — from his battle with addiction to the financial shortcuts that landed him in prison — are as important to his narrative as his iconic shoes. Steve will share his uplifting story, the lessons he’s learned along the way, and how he hopes to use his hard-won platform to create positive change.

On March 10 at 2:00 pm ET: “Francesca Bellettini: The Powerhouse Behind the Billion-Dollar Brand” features the woman who has propelled the Yves Saint Laurent brand into the exclusive billion-Euro club, and in the process made herself one of the most powerful women in fashion where there are only a handful of female chief executives. Launching her career at Goldman Sachs before moving to prestigious fashion houses such as Prada, Gucci, Helmut Lang, and Bottega Veneta, Bellettini has shaped every form of luxury from the bags we carry to the clothes and shoes we wear.

On March 12 at 4:00 pm ET, F@B hosts internet phenomenon Emma Chamberlain: “The Most Interesting Girl on YouTube” according to the New York Times. Chamberlain, at just 19 years old, has created her own wildly successful brand as a Youtuber, social media influencer, Tik Tok star, podcaster, and owner of Chamberlain Coffee with a combined social media following of more than 30 million. Emma has also pivoted into the fashion industry, making her own merchandise and partnering with legendary Louis Vuitton. She has even recently entered the beauty world by becoming the global brand ambassador and creative director for Bad Habit Beauty Skincare. Emma has also had a huge impact on mental health, sharing her own struggles with anxiety and depression across all of her platforms.

The series continues on Sunday March 14 at 2 pm ET with “Olivier Rousteing: Transforming a Classic: Fashion’s Storyteller for a New Age.” Balmain’s wunderkind, Olivier Rousteing, will share what he envisions as fashion in the 21st century: a fresh, inclusive world of glamour and revolution. Bringing an innovative spirit of adventure and understanding of a digital generation, Olivier Rousteing’s creative vision has been integral to Balmain’s rapid growth as a brand and as a cultural staple on social media through his “Balmain Army.”

The next session, “Olivia Palermo: Style Authority, Tastemaker, and Instagram Case Study” on Thursday, March 18 at 7:30 pm ET is not to be missed. Palermo is a major force in the fashion industry; renowned designers invite her to collaborate, Valentino invites her to his yacht, Instagram uses her as a case study, and The New York Times published a feature story about her success. Olivia’s journey from an internship in the offices of Diane von Furstenberg in 2006 to an acclaimed international style authority and industry tastemaker today is a story that everyone with entrepreneurial ambitions will want to hear.

On Friday, March 19 at 12:30 pm ET, F@B presents “Stella McCartney: The Mindful Eco-Warrior of High Fashion.” Stella McCartney is one of the fashion industry’s most vocal champions of environmental issues and her company is a highly successful example of the commercial potential of sustainable, ethically minded businesses. Renowned not only for her successful designs, which included Meghan Markle’s wedding reception dress, Stella was also the first fashion designer ever to appear on the cover of American Vogue magazine in January 2020. A lifelong vegetarian, Stella has never used leather, feathers, skin or fur in any of her designs.

March 22, 7:30 pm ET, F@B presents – “Gwyneth Paltrow: The Oscar-winning Lightning-Rod, Trailblazing Lifestyle& Wellness CEO.” Join F@B for a chat with the actress-turned-powerhouse CEO who has taken the lifestyle and wellness market by storm. Providing a fresh—and at times controversial—perspective, Goop is one of the wellness industry’s most recognizable brands earning Paltrow millions of passionately loyal admirers (and, yes, a few trolls) through the simple premise that wellness is the new wealth. With Goop’s blend of aesthetic lifestyle digital media that touches on everything from beauty and wellness to fashion, food, home, and travel—along with its thriving e-commerce business, retail stores, events, and health summits, Goop is a worldwide phenomenon and Gwyneth Paltrow is just getting started.

Panel Discussions

In addition to the speaker series, Brown Fashion Week’s fascinating and thought-provoking panel discussions are not to be missed:

Changemaker Fashion Designers as Translators of Culture & Ethics

March 6 at 2:00 pm ET

Join this F@B conversation with Rome-based designer Stella Jean, Brooklyn-based Fe Noel, and Detroit-based Tracy Reese who are transforming the fashion landscape each in their own way, from using fashion as a bridge and translator of culture to using it as a way to uplift exploited communities. Hear about their journeys, efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the industry, as well as efforts to expand sustainable design initiatives and ethical production.

Award-Winning Costume Designers Shaping Fashion in Film

March 13, 2:00 pm ET

We’ll hear from Oscar-winner Ruth Carter, six-time Emmy-winner Michele Clapton, and Emmy-nominated Heidi Bivens on their experiences within the fashion and film industries, as well as their processes, inspirations, and ambitions. Their work spans across all different genres, be it Clapton’s Game of Thrones and The Crown, Carter’s Black Panther and Malcolm X, or Heidi Bivens Mid 90s and Euphoria.

The Future of Fashion Journalism from America’s Foremost Editors

March 16, 7:30 pm ET

Join F@B for a live-streamed conversation with three of fashion journalism’s most celebrated editors and influential voices in fashion: Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic at The New York Times; Chioma Nnadi, editor of; and Samantha Barry, editor-in-chief of Glamour. Editorial is how we discover the latest trends, unearth new icons, and define style as we know it. The future of fashion journalism today is in flux, however, between the dilemma of reporting on fashion during a pandemic, the rise of influencer-generated content, the shift to digital platforms, and disappearance of print magazines. Friedman, Nnadi, and Barry will join us to discuss and dissect the future of fashion journalism.

Disrupting Beauty: Supermodels on Representation & Empowerment

March 17, 3:00 pm ET

This fascinating conversation will explore how modeling can influence greater societal change, how media representation can center marginalized identities in the public consciousness and how their careers have inspired them to help empower others; while their faces dominate our magazines and feeds, few are aware of their social and philanthropic work. We will hear from Jasmine Tookes, Cindy Bruna, Jasmine Sanders and Tami Williams about their inspirational journeys.

Screening & Discussion of “The Remix: Hip Hop x Fashion”

March 21, 6:00 pm ET

Join F@B and the Brown Arts Initiative for a discussion with Lisa Cortés, the Academy Award-Nominated director, writer, and producer of the film, in conversation with award-winning filmmaker Yoruba Richen, Brown Professor of the Practice. The Remix is a story of hip hop’s influence on the fashion industry, which has led to the stratospheric and global rise of street wear. It is a story of African American creativity and limitless possibilities of this shift in culture, focusing on the journeys of fashion architect Misa Hylton, streetwear designer April Walker, as well as Dapper Dan and Kerby Jean-Raymond.

And finally, Brown Fashion Week 2021 culminates with their 11th Annual Runway Show…

The 11th Annual Runway Show on Friday, March 26 at 7:00 pm ET, presented virtually for the first time, will showcase the collections of the F@B team of twenty-six student designers from both Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. The collections will be released in a high-fashion campaign film, accompanied by a virtual and print Lookbook.

To register for any and all of the aforementioned complimentary events, please click for more information and registration.

Media Contact

Sasha Pinto, Fashion@Brown, +1 (609) 865-7399,

SOURCE Fashion@Brown

Continue Reading


Meet the Institut Français de la Mode’s first-ever MA Fashion graduates

Emily walpole



Meet the Institut Français de la Mode’s first-ever MA Fashion graduates

Johanna Imbach MA Collection. Image courtesy of Institut Français de la Mode.

We won’t lie; flipping the calendar page to March was a sobering moment, an unwelcome reminder that we’ve spent a whole year of our lives living through these unprecedented times. Our minds, naturally, drifted back 12 months to those pre-pandemic ‘last days of Rome’ — well, Paris, actually, where the city’s AW20 fashion week was in full swing. Meanwhile, in a neon green lightning bolt of a building on the Left Bank of the Seine, the inaugural cohort of the Institut Français de la Mode (IFM)’s spanking new MA programme had reached the halfway mark in the two-year course, cutting, draping and dreaming of their debut on the fashion world’s most prestigious stage just twelve months down the line.

You know how the story goes — a goddamn lot has happened since, and any plans that were in place then were swiftly put paid to. Still, despite the trials and turmoils that the past year has posed, the dreams of the 48 members of the IFM’ first graduating were yesterday realised, with their collections opening the AW21 Paris Fashion Week schedule. “This presentation […] is the first concrete expression of our project and our ambition,” says Xavier Romatet, the school’s dean. “It’s an opportunity to appreciate the creative level of this first graduating class of our new Master’s programme, to identify emerging talent for tomorrow and to contribute to rethinking fashion in light of the current disruptions.”


As you’ll see below, this fresh crop of young talent below has done a pretty good job of doing just that, presenting accomplished, thought-provoking collections even in (and in some cases as a reaction to) today’s hostile climate for fashion’s new faces. Here, seven of the graduates discuss their final collections, how they navigated the challenges of creating during the pandemic, and how the past year has shaped their perspectives on fashion.

Adam Kost

How would you introduce your graduate collection? My collection is a meditation on purity and smoothness; meadow and sky; moonlight during the night, sunshine during the day: things that make me feel I am part of everything and everything is part of me. What are its central themes? It’s about the eternal qualities of fashion, and how it interacts with the human body. I was trying to find a universal language, one that everybody can relate to, discussing basic topics and archetypes that are more or less the same for all of us. How did you find developing and creating your graduate collection during the pandemic? Creating during the pandemic meant creating a collection with limited resources. But this fact didn’t affect my creativity; it even forced me to dream more, be more generous, and more grateful that I still had the privilege to create garments. How has the past year shaped your understanding of fashion’s purpose? It’s taught me to question my designs much more; to ask myself if they should be made and if they are aesthetically sustainable.

Clément Picot

How would you introduce your graduate collection? My collection, titled “Dream Until the End”, is inspired by two of my favourite movies: American Psycho and The Shining by Stanley Kubrick. I always found that there was a kind of similarity between the two main characters. I wanted to pay tribute to these two films through a series of winks in the looks of the collection, but above all, I wanted to create my own narrative. What are its central themes? The idea was to show the evolution of a person, a transformation and descent to a hell that lies somewhere between the imaginary and the real. I tried to translate this idea through the different looks in my collection, starting with ‘the dream’, with powerful but disturbing silhouettes inspired by Patrick Bateman’s wardrobe, and the last looks ending at the border of the nightmare thanks to hybrid silhouettes inspired by Matthew Barney’s movies. How has the past year shaped your understanding of fashion’s purpose? I remember dreaming in front of Alexander McQueen’s shows more than 10 years ago — I was amazed by the beauty and the almost infinite creativity of his work, and I think this is part of a kind of magic that fashion has and must continue to have in the future. Especially in these difficult times, it is always important to keep dreaming. Fashion is an art like any other, an art that was disappearing more and more under the increasing numbers of collections, and in a world where fast fashion takes up an increasing amount of space. Nowadays, fashion exists more and more as a form of entertainment and inspiration for people who can’t leave their homes anymore, to visit an exhibition in a museum, for example. In the space of a year, fashion has really managed to carve out an important space in people’s daily lives, giving us hope for the future.

Jimin Kim


How would you introduce your graduate collection? My collection maps my symbolic journey towards finding a balance between reality and daydreaming in the process of achieving my personal goals, mixing the traditional craft of crochet with 3D technology to create silhouettes which question the real and the imagined. My real-world experience is represented by the knitted fabrics made from mohair and monofilament, while my tendency to daydream is represented through transparent 3D structures sculpted in PLA, biodegradable plastic made of corn starch. How did you find developing and creating your graduate collection during the pandemic? I’ve had a hard time during the pandemic, but, on the other hand, it has enabled me to develop new approaches that aren’t typical knit. I found the first lockdown period very hard mentally, and couldn’t do any work. Afterwards, though, I completed a 4-month innovation project called ‘Sound of Shape’. In Korea, we were able to go out relatively freely, but, as in Paris, there was limited access to knitting machines, so I had to find a new method. The project’s theme was to discover my own innovation, so I decided to make clothes through a creative new method. I researched how knitting and crochet were practised in the past, when people couldn’t use machines. Furthermore, when I searched for a new material, I came up with the idea of working with a 3D pen, and weaving the PLA plastic like a knit structure. You’re graduating at a time when conversations around race, gender, sexuality and wider issues of identity have never been more prominent in fashion. How do you position your work with respect to these conversations? I wanted to reflect on the current situation in my collection. Previously, in my Parsons MFA collection, I tried to symbolically express my experiences as a woman in Korean society and my attitude against prejudice and discrimination. Although this collection is more concentrated on my inner side, it still expresses a desire to counteract negative stereotypes about me. As a Korean, I grew up in a society that was not part of the fashion mainstream, and I’ve worked very hard to overcome the skeptical gazes of people around me — it’s an effort that continues even to this day. I hope that diversity will become more common in the fashion world, and that young designers who make new attempts to cross barriers of race and nationality will receive greater support in the mainstream.

Jisoo Baik

How would you introduce your graduate collection? My collection, titled ‘Personal Space’, mostly involves incorporating everyday objects that anybody can relate to in order to convey the idea of a safe space where you can be yourself. It was inspired by how individuals carry their possessions with them, each in their own way, when they walk on the street. How did you find developing and creating your graduate collection during the pandemic? The first time Paris went into lockdown, I was so panicked, I couldn’t imagine how I would develop my final collection without any fabrics and materials. The city was like a ghost town. But then I realised that I couldn’t just stop everything and worry. I just kept saying to myself, ‘I’m doing my best that I can.’ The new trials this brought were actually really freeing. Ironically, they’ve given the fashion world even greater freedom, allowing it to escape from the reliance on fashion shows, for example, something that seemed like it would never changed. How has the past year shaped your understanding of fashion’s purpose? Before I started my MA course, I was focused on finding my own voice and identity in my designs. I tried to challenge myself by using unfamiliar materials to making garments, digging deep inside myself to answer questions ‘Who am I?” and, “What do I like?”  Now, though, I’m more focused on responding to a customer’s needs, and thinking about how  I communicate with them. I’ve become much more careful about not getting stuck in my own world.

Johanna Imbach


How would you introduce your graduate collection? My graduate collection is a technical and creative exploration of knitwear. It is above all a collection that questions the perception of the spectator, proposing new experiences between garments and bodies. What are its central themes? I wanted to create an almost virtual vision, one of garments without any mass. My three-dimensional approach is above all a sculptural process. This allows me to create graphic and kinetic looks where the body and the garment become one, proposing a new anatomy. I wanted to present a womenswear collection that questions anatomy, perception and proportion; to question the female body and its relationship to clothing through allure and curves. Ultimately, I seek to redefine knitwear, to push it beyond the ideas that we have of knitting and its construction. How did you find developing and creating your graduate collection during the pandemic? The most difficult part of the past year has been living in uncertainty. Being a knitter, and being away from our materials and workspace, was a huge disadvantage, even though we all have domestic machines. We had to leave the workshops for 5 months, putting our minds, and our creativity, to a tough test. We also had to be understanding and responsive to government restrictions. It was a year that seemed insurmountable, but, now our collections have launched, it now feels like it passed quickly.”

Mathieu Goosse

How would you introduce your graduate collection? My collection, titled “I’d like to see you”, is like an image plane, a series of objects in suspension above reality. Short of breath, out of strength, stripped back to the bare essential. It revolves around the ideas of reducing, exhaustion, love, and fragility. I don’t work with mood boards of images, but with emotions, sensations, and objects that I craft and which act as starting points. What are its central themes? It’s about obsession: what fuels it, what brings it alive, and how it triggers our impulses to build and to destroy. I often work with materials I have right next to me, and I like to make them feel new and different. They are sanded, washed-out, and worn-down. There is a frailness in the razor-sharp precision of the handwork, and a roughness in the sensation of sanded silk, peeling python skin, the worn feeling of recycled denim. You’re graduating at a time when conversations around race, gender, sexuality and wider issues of identity have never been more prominent in fashion. How do you position your work with respect to these conversations? Through my choice to not work with ‘images’ and focus on the essence of elements from my personal point of view, I’m trying to build my garments as objects. Pure, detached and independent, they can speak to or touch everyone; they’re essential forms that can belong to anyone. As a menswear student, my collection was presented on boys in the show, but the garments are completely non-gendered. For me, the best way to discuss issues of diversity in my work is to reduce things to the point where they lose any socialised associations, while maintaining a strong presence. How has the past year shaped your understanding of fashion’s purpose? This year of isolation has shown me how fashion is necessary and how much it connects people. It always seems so far from everything — extreme, intense, arrogant, or from another world — but it’s so close to us all, and at all times. Garments are the first things we receive when we’re born, and we keep them with us until the end. They’re what hold us.”

Soyul Kim

How would you introduce your graduate collection? It’s about fierceness layered with softness; being playful in a cut-throat world. I was very much influenced by the inspiring women mentors I had when I started my career in NYC. When we think of ‘strong women’, we only think of their boldness. But you soon realise that they are who they are today because they were willing to fall, accept and learn from their experiences — just like a kid who’s willing to fall because they’ve learned how to pick themselves up again. And everybody has that inner kid, they’re just usually too busy ‘adulting’ through the world. What are its central themes? A central theme throughout my collection is the undeterred presence of a child living in an adult body. Using hard silhouettes like armour-shaped shoulders and hard materials like leather against soft fabrics and lace, or by crocheting structured metal thread into seemingly-fragile fabric, I wanted to express the coexistence of strength and vulnerability. There are also elements that blur the line of being a kid and being an adult, like Furby bags hanging from power suits, or a print with abstract shapes taken from Disney films. I see my collection as a balance of something rough and delicate, masculine and feminine, serious and playful – something adult-y, and youthful at the same time. You’re graduating at a time when conversations around race, gender, sexuality and wider issues of identity have never been more prominent in fashion. How do you position your work with respect to these conversations? I tend not to say it out loud, but I create to put feminine power on equal grounds with masculine power. It’s not about a competition between the genders, but rather about acknowledging underlying historical discrepancies, appreciating each other, and working towards the same goal of closing the gap. I hope to inspire other women and girls through my work – just as I have been inspired by the female mentors in life – that we should never settle for less, and that we should also not be intimidated by competition; rather, we should be inspired by it. It’s about embracing the authentic power of your inner female identity, and being true to what makes you feel comfortable.

Continue Reading


Adult Minnesotans rediscovered the comfort of snow pants, fashion be damned

Emily walpole



Adult Minnesotans rediscovered the comfort of snow pants, fashion be damned

Brandt Williams of Minneapolis has spent 53 years in the Upper Midwest, but hadn’t worn snow pants since being zipped into a one-piece suit he described as “the iron maiden of clothing for children.”

Then one day last December, while shopping at Costco, Williams spotted a snow pants display. He bought a pair on a whim, thinking they’d be less hassle than adding and removing long underwear.

During the February cold snap, Williams wore his snow pants for daily walks, outdoor reporting assignments for his job with Minnesota Public Radio, or just sitting around a fire pit.

“Having this layer of protection makes you feel like you’ve somehow mastered the elements,” he said. “You have this feeling of invulnerability.”

While snowsuits and coveralls are a staple of ice fishing, snowmobiling and other outdoorsy pursuits, the pandemic has spurred more Minnesotans to join the cozy club of adults who wear the padded pants. They’re remembering childhoods spent sitting in snowbanks, undeterred by dampness or cold, and wondering why their adult selves hadn’t reembraced snow pants sooner.

For some, donning snow pants has been an act of self-care in a time when so many of the usual ways we treat ourselves — from happy hours to hitting the mall — have been curtailed.

And once they’ve crossed over to the warmer side of winter life, snow pants converts can’t stop talking about how great they are — fashion stigma be damned.

“Being warm is cool,” Williams said. “It doesn’t matter how you look. And plus, they’re not bad-looking pants.”

The snow pants gospel

For Luke LeBlanc, adopting snow pants improved his outdoor experience dramatically. The 25-year-old Minneapolis singer/songwriter admits that prior apathy about winter gear meant he was constantly underdressed; his heaviest coat was a windbreaker.

This year, anticipating he’d be spending more time outdoors, Le-Blanc invested in a big, puffy jacket and a pair of waterproof snow pants.

“I don’t mean to blow it out of proportion and say it’s life-changing, but you can go and do stuff outside and not be in pain the whole entire time,” he said.

He’s hesitated to wear his snow pants when he’d like to project some semblance of style, such as at a brewery patio. And while he showed up at the outdoor photo shoot for his new album wearing snow pants, he removed them before the camera started clicking. “But the grocery store — I don’t care who sees me in snow pants,” he said.

LeBlanc has also worn his new gear on walks, to an outdoor concert, deer hunting with his dad, and tinkering on his car.

“As naive as it sounds, I didn’t realize I could be outside when it’s 10 degrees and feel like I’m walking around inside,” he said.

Now, LeBlanc regularly extols the virtues of a warm lower half.

“I’ve been preaching the snow pants gospel, and we’ll see how many converts I get,” he said.

Fueling a ‘pantsdemic’

Among Minneapolis’ biggest snow pants evangelists is Charlie McCarron, organizer of an outdoor activity club he calls “Snowpantsdemic.”

This winter, McCarron busted out a pair of snow pants he hadn’t worn since high school (“a lot of my clothes are from high school, even though I’m in my 30s,” he admitted) and invited his friends to bimonthly outings, including snow kickball, sledding, and a game he invented that’s a sort of cross between boot hockey and golf. (McCarron dabbles in board-game design alongside his work as a composer.)

While McCarron has been using snow pants to inspire his friends to embrace their inner child, Hannah Aderinkomi bought her new snow pants simply to stay as warm as her kids.

In the past, when Aderinkomi took her young children sledding, she’d add a base layer beneath her pants. The last time she wore snow pants was grade school. “It’s almost like it didn’t occur to me to buy them for myself, even though I was buying them every year for my kids,” she said.

This season was different: If she was going to fully appreciate Minnesota winter, Aderinkomi wanted to be comfortable. So she ordered a pair of snow pants online and wore them on the family’s next trip to the sledding hill. Her husband, Thompson Aderinkomi, then decided to upgrade from double-layering pants to his own pair of snow pants. Since then, the couple have been as cozy as their kids every time the family has played outside or gone snowshoeing.

“I’m always cold, so the fact it took me so long is sort of fascinating — I’ve lived here my entire adult life,” Hannah Aderinkomi admitted.

In some ways, she said, buying snow pants was an unlikely form of pandemic self-care, not so different from the services that clients of her Minneapolis laser hair removal/skin-care business use to treat themselves. “Maybe adult snow pants were just something that I did for myself,” she said.

In any case, Aderinkomi is happy to have embraced a new era of outdoor warmth. “We built a snowman the other day and I think old Hannah would have done that, too, but this Hannah was a bit more comfortable,” she said.

Continue Reading