How to follow trends and be ethical

At first glance, fast fashion and slow fashion don’t appear to be friends. Fast fashion is about keeping up with the latest trends and ensuring you fit in. Whereas slow fashion seems to be more about standing out. When it comes to fashion, most people reckon you’re either someone who chooses a look designers, editors and buyers have marked out as ‘bang on trend’, or you’re someone who selects your own style based on cut, appearance or where a garment came from. If you believe this, I have some breaking news for you… it is possible to do both! Yes, you can follow fashion and be ethical. You can dress to the latest trends while wearing vintage. You can even keep your wardrobe current whilst wearing what flatters your shape. Why? Because, more things are ‘so hot right now’ than you can possibly imagine.

For example, a couple of popular themes that came out of the catwalk shows for AW11 included 1940s and polkadots. Not only do spots and stripes come round again more often than a Disney World roller coaster, but the 1940s trend was also big in the 80s. This means that it was possible to look fashionable, without resorting to a quick trip to Topshop. Stripes were big on the SS13 catwalks, as was a 60s monochrome look – both are easily replicated using vintage clothing. In addition, some trends are workable no matter what your body shape or where you choose to buy your clothing. Clever use of colour is always a good way to update your look without betraying your ethics. Acid brights, colour blocking, or even just this season’s favourite shade can be introduced into your wardrobe using your favourite sources.

Trends for specific fabrics or prints are also things which can work on many different garment silhouettes. Don’t assume that you have to interpret a trend exactly the same was as it appeared on the catwalk. After all, if you have a small waist and big hips, a boxy 60s style shift dress is perhaps not the most flattering way to introduce lace into your look. To make trends work for you, think of them as inspiration. They are merely a starting point to help revitalise your wardrobe, rather than a signpost pointing towards the high street. SS12 brought us candy coloured pastel shades, 1920s inspired embellishments and, inspired by the Olympics, a sporty look. SS13 gave us stripes, ruffles, metallics and bold prints. Each of these can be adopted and tweaked by a fan of slow fashion. Organic cotton comes in pastel shades, handmade 20s style accessories could be bought from Etsy, ethical brands produce sportswear, and you always knew there was a reason you bought those metallic shoes from that vintage shop!

Even if you only wear clothing which suits your body type, and never buy anything that doesn’t make you feel really special, you can still be inspired by high fashion. Trends are like a big mood board that chain store buyers work from when selecting items to suit their target market, so there’s nothing to say you can’t do that for yourself. Just because we favour slow fashion, doesn’t mean we can’t update our look every season. It just pays to be a little bit more thoughtful about it.

Adapted from a piece written for Ms Wanda’s Wardrobe in March 2012. Images of on-trend ethical fashion via Round London and Etrala.