Who made my clothes?

I recently blogged about my big-deal-but-not-really-a-big-deal decision not to buy any clothes for a year.

If I were the kind of person who didn’t like clothes or was not easily swept up in the whispers of commoditized fast fashion that would not be worth telling you about. But I am, or was, that kind of person.

As I have previously said, I think expressing yourself through the clothes you wear is a wonderful thing. It just becomes a tad more complex of an issue when you discover that it takes 2,700 litres of water to produce one cotton t-shirt.

For the English among us, that’s 4,751 pint glasses of water.

If like in the 1800s we all wore one shirt per year*, perhaps that would be a sensible ratio of resources to output and no one would be getting so hot under the collar (I’m here all week) about the impact the fashion industry is having on climate change.

And that is the essence of fast fashion; more. More of the same, but in 5 different colours. More tops like last year but this time with more ruffles around the collar. More heels because the last pair broke and you might as well buy two pairs since you’re here anyway.

And so the cycle continues; more becomes more water, more cotton, more oil and more trees.

Which is why in my quest to buy better quality and far fewer clothes in the future, I’ve been exploring some of the amazing initiatives that are taking place to make fashion a much cooler, more sustainable industry.

My old uni, The University of Exeter and Fashion Revolution, an organisation set up to do exactly what it sounds like, have created a (free) short course designed to take the user on a journey of discovery about where their clothes really come from. It doesn’t start until 26th June and takes only 4 hours a week.

I’m really interested to find out more about the people, methods both good and bad, and the material that creates some of the clothes in my wardrobe. It means that when I shop in the future I will start to understand the places to go, the materials to look for and the true cost of what I’m wearing. You can sign up here if the idea excites you, too.

And to end with a piece of highly relevant trivia, did you know that H&M has created a ballgown entirely out of waste marine plastic for their 2017 Conscious collection? Well you do now, and apparently the material  is ‘unlike other plastic-based fabrics, it’s supersoft and can adapt to almost anything you want to make, from jeans to cocktail dresses.’

Which gives me hope, because if being good can also mean looking good, H&M may just be on the cusp of unlocking a new, and rather large customerbase.


*Completely uncited but in some cases probably quite accurate statement, merely used to make a point about modern shopping habits.

Canon: What is the next step?

Just a few, quick lunchtime thoughts on Canon’s recent advertising campaign ‘Power to your next step’ in the UK with Mcgarrybowen.

The ad shows off the new features in Canon’s camera range, including facebook compatibility and superior zoom functions. It also demonstrates that Canon can make cameras for everybody, some with much better portability than others. The implication I imagine is that people used to smartphones don’t have to get a great hulking SLR camera if they want to take better photos. I think this needs to be made implicit however.

There are certain things that cameras are never going to beat smartphones at, ease of use, portability, etc but a strong focus (I’m sorry, I no longer consider a post worthwhile if there isn’t even one pun in it) on the intrinsic advantages of cameras is necessary. It’s also important to show that camera use in conjunction with social media can be the norm, not an exception. Compatibility with instagram, facebook and twitter should be a given for new models not a bonus.

In terms of brand strategy, Canon could consider partnership with a smartphone brand to produce a particular model with superior camera specs to that of the iPhone 5 or Samsung S4. The reality is that many people have become more enthusiastic  about taking photos since they bought a smartphone and  have become prolific photo snappers. Of course, this is what has proved so damaging to the camera market in the first place, but I don’t think it has to end there. What Canon has to gain from such a partnership is obvious, but it isn’t only to their benefit.

Canon has long been established as a quality camera brand and although some consumers may be choosing not to buy a Canon camera over the use of their smartphone, the strong brand identity Canon has could well encourage them to choose a Canon integrated smartphone over another brand. In this way, it could help create a sense of professionalism and validity to their photo taking habits.

If smartphones have made us realise how much we love taking photos, then Canon needs to show us how we can take better photos. Firstly, by showing what Canon can add to our use and enjoyment of smartphones and secondly to communicate with those consumers who have a new-found love of photography to explain what a decent SLR camera can do, that a smartphone camera can’t.

Not every smartphone camera will want to take their camera usage further, but a brand partnership such as this could help to create a new class of users who want to learn how much further they can take their photography.