Cambridge Sustainable Fashion Festival: Styling Workshops

I am a great believer that knowing your style can save the planet.  My goal has always been to empower women to be the best version of themselves from the inside out – and do it in a socially and environmentally responsible way.  Fashion is amazing, personal styling is so empowering, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of the planet, should it? 

Do you know your personal style?

It’s not something any of us are taught how to do, but why are so many of us afraid to put our hands up and say so?  

I stumbled through life not really knowing my style and just buying what I ‘liked’ without connecting it to the bigger picture (or the rest of my wardrobe). That’s how I amassed too many clothes and then ironically never felt good enough or like I had anything good enough to wear.

I didn’t have a signature style until I sat down and invested some time and resources into consciously creating it.

Roberta Lee showcasing her signature sustainable style – over #100wears per item 

Things changed when I realised I wanted to dress in a way that was aligned with my beliefs – it was time for me to wear my values.  And that’s why I created my signature style course because I knew many busy women like me were ready to make their impact, but just needed an easy way to get started.

When Nicole Burton the organiser of Cambridge’s first Sustainable Fashion Festival reached out and asked me if I’d like to get involved and run workshops at the festival, of course I said yes!  Sustainability and fashion are both so important to me. And here’s why:

Fashion faux pas are expensive in the long run 

We’re all guilty of buying things that we don’t really need from time to time, but when it comes to clothes – we somehow rationalise that we need that 22nd pair of shoes… or that 16th top for our wardrobe…

“The value of unused clothing in wardrobes has been estimated at around £30 billion. It is also estimated £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfill each year” – WRAP

It’s probably not an over exaggeration when I say we’ve got comfortable and conditioned with owning more than we need. Not only is this bad for our health, our homes, our wallet – but the good old place we call home (planet earth) is paying a much bigger price….

We’ve become so good at buying bad… it’s become normal. Ill fitting clothes and poor quality shouldn’t be the norm, yet somehow it is. 

Brits buy too much 

In the UK we buy more clothes than any other European country. 

“The British Fashion Council says the British fashion industry contributes some £26bn to the UK economy each year, but France still has a reputation as the more stylish nation.” – The Telegraph

Leah Bourne from StyleCaster pointed out that “when it comes to style, the French do it better”. Whilst French women are perceived as being more stylish, they tend to spend less on clothes than us brits. Bourne believes this is because french women  “say no to most trends and develop a signature look.”

Perhaps us Brits need to get to know ourselves a little better, so that we can create our own signature look before we enter our late thirties…

It’s shocking to believe but that the number of items we buy has gone up 60% more on average per person since 2000… and where do all the clothes go you may wonder?  We’ve also seen a depreciation in the skills needed to make, mend and repair clothes too.  The past 20-years has seen a rapid decline in an individuals sewing abilities – and the quality and price of  clothing has cheapened too.  And neither are a good thing. 

A disposable fashion culture 

Unfortunately a disposable fashion culture started to emerge when the cost of clothing hit an all time low.  Why did we accept and not question things when it became cheaper to throw items away rather than repair them?

We’ve all seen those images on social media which say a T-shirt shouldn’t cost than a latte… and we all know that clothing shouldn’t be used like toilet paper, used once then discarded. But it happens day in and day out, again and again.

But now we know, so what are we to do?  Most of us (and I am no saint) have been unconsciously consuming for many years – and now that we’ve woken up to the fact that we cannot simply continue to purge on fashion, because when we are done with it – it has to go somewhere right? 

And where is that somewhere? 

Away is just another word for ‘another location’ 

Sadly the majority of things we chuck ‘away’ or send to the charity shop, ends up in landfill.  Not landfill in our country either, most gets shipped away to other countries to deal with (out of sight out of mind hey?).

But what’s worse, is that the fashion industry accounts for a lot of the environmental devastation that we are seeing. The fashion industry is considered 2nd – 4th most polluting industry in the world depending on which research you believe. Until the industry and supply chains are more heavily regulated on a global scale – it’s down to us, the consumer to show we care by doing our bit.  We need to buy clothes that will last… and we can only be sure of that if we know our personal style. 

Tonnes of wasted potential 

Its is estimated that around 80bn garments are produced each year. These are created from virgin resources, rather than recycled or reclaimed items.  The impact this has on the environment is rather shocking – if you want to know more about the true cost of fashion, check out this white paper by Fashion Revolution

Various sources estimate that EU consumers contribute to around 5.8m tonnes of textiles into landfills every year.

Knowing your style can save the planet 

Creating your signature style or even a style tweak could be the start of a sustainable new you….discovering clothes that work best for you is key to dressing more sustainably.   In fact, turning your attention to your clothes is a great way to make a positive impact, not only for your own confidence and wellbeing,  but for the environment too. 

Less stuff = less stress.

Less stuff = more outfits.

Less stuff = lower cost per wear.

Less stuff = lower environmental impact.

Check out the workshops I am running at the festival:

Here’s a quick view of what style workshops are on offer at
Cambridge Sustainable Fashion Festival 

Discover your inner fashion activist by popping over to Cambridge to the Sustainable Fashion Festival on November 17th, where I will be taking over the ‘Style Zone’ and running workshops:

Each session will last 45-minutes and offer a basic overview on how to get started. These can be booked via EventBrite and cost just £5 per ticket. 

Come to Cambridge and find out more 

It’s clear we need to change our habits – otherwise ‘where’ will everything we don’t want in our homes go? Away.  Our ‘away’ is someone else’s home. 

Shouldn’t we be doing more with what we have? 

There will be clothes mending workshops, panel talk, a sustainable clothes swap, and many of Ethical Brand Directory’s brands will be there alongside other  sustainable and ethical fashion brands too.

I look forward to seeing you there.