An off chance visit to the V&A combined with a last minute decision to see the Fashioned from Nature exhibition was such an exciting and above all informative experience.  An exhibition, which I encourage everyone to visit, especially when you consider the enormous amount of coverage we read on plastics in our oceans and the adverse effect on our environment/nature?

What is the history of nature and the textile industry?

When you have worked in retail and the textiles industry all your life it is easy to forget the origins of the clothing we wear today.  This spectacular exhibition came as a great reminder. The messages are plenty as the title suggests, how fashion has used nature for inspiration be it in the design: interpretation of flowers, animal and insects of exquisite embroideries and laces through to the natural raw materials of flax, wool and cotton used in centuries past to deliver garments for the rich, poor, the city dweller and country folk. 

All well documented in the exhibits is the amazing speed at which the industrial revolution took hold and how the landscape of Europe’s social economy changed.  James Hargreave’s invention and patent of the Spinning Jenny in 1770 sparked the change for the Textile Industry in Great Britain and this was the springboard for a series of new concepts propelling fashion into new realms.


How has sustainability evolved in the textiles industry?

Mistakes have undoubtedly been made along the way as with all industries, at the cost of earth’s health and it is now that we have to make amends and recognise the importance of sustainability in our industry. 

We have to be mindful of what “throw away” fashion creates.  In research it shows that the average garment is worn only 4 times!  How much carbon is created to make one item of clothing? How many trees are cut down?  How much oil is used?  How much fuel to fly your garments to the stores?  The list is extensive even before the clothes hit the High Street.  We need to care.

On the 5th October 2018, Radio 5, hosted by Rachel Burden, echoed the message that we all need to be more responsible in our environment of fast fashion where the market rushes to emulate the latest trends and celebrity’s lifestyle.

How are Fifty One helping?

Fifty One Apparel are looking into ways to minimise the harm done to our planet.  We use mills, which are efficient in their use of water and support local initiatives to enhance the environment. We are thoughtful about how much packaging we use and where it is used we want it to have a second use. We design our garments with multi use in mind nightwear, daywear, loungewear – take your pick the use is fluid. The classic styling means longevity with the end result of fewer clothes in the wardrobe less impact on the environment but not less impact on your style.

Help keep our environment clean. Recycle where possible and be mindful of what goes into you clothing before you buy and dispose.

October 05, 2018 — Barbara Warren


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