Drawinterview with Tammy Fenech, coordinator of Fashion Revolution Malta

In 2018, Tammy was studying Sustainable Fashion when she launched the Maltese branch of Fashion Revolution, a global movement for a more Ethical and Sustainable Fashion. Tammy has kindly answered my questions about her journey, her favorite outfit and Fashion Revolution Malta.

drawing of Tammy, coordinator of Fashion Revolution Malta

Who are you?

I am Tamara Fenech, but everyone calls me Tammy. In 2013 I graduated with a Fashion Design degree which is where I found my passion for sustainable fashion & communication. After that I did a few internships with sustainable fashion brands and also gained some work experience in the field, in a few places around the world. Two and a half years ago, I moved to Berlin to start a Masters degree in Sustainability in Fashion, which I graduated in last October. A year ago I became the country coordinator of Fashion Revolution Malta, a global movement calling for a fairer & cleaner fashion industry – a non-profit organisation with a presence in over 100 countries around the world. Our vision is a fashion industry that values people, the environment, profit and creativity in equal measure.

What gave you the idea to launch Fashion Revolution Malta?

Last year I was going to be in Malta during FR Week. A few opportunities came about and it felt like the right moment to bring the conversation home. So I thought, I may as well set it off.

Could you tell me the story of your outfit?

This is one of my favourite outfits, from a few of my favourite brands. My jeans are from a Dutch brand called MUD Jeans, a brand that has built a business model that allows customers to rent jeans on a subscription model, were you can return your jeans for a new pair, should you wish to exchange them. I love their concept. My dress, which I wear as a top too a lot of the times, is from my all time favourite brand Reformation. I love their style, their look, their message, their everything. I find this piece so versatile and adaptable to different occasions, depending on how it is styled.
What I love about this outfit, from the pair of jeans to the black slip dress down to the Doc Martins shoes, is the fact that it is timeless. These are all items that do not follow any particular trend and will always be wearable and adaptable to present times. They are pieces that will last in my wardrobe.

Do you know good places (shops or fashion designers) to shop ethically in Malta?

In Malta it is slightly challenging – but also Malta is going through a time of change – I would firstly recommend to get to know the local designers on the scene – supporting them is always a great way to start. With regards to other high street brands, there are a few that are making more changes than others towards a more sustainable fashion future – so supporting those brands over others that do less, would be another way to go. For example some brands have more sustainable collections or are beginning to offer more sustainable materials – so its great to look at labels for the material contents & at the swing tags for any additional information should they be sustainable.

What events are planned in Malta for Fashion Revolution Week this year?

We are super excited to say that we have a whole week of events lines up for our second year running. This year we have managed to partner and team up with a variety of other organisations likes Zibel Malta (a local NGO organising clean-ups in Malta), Friends of the Earth Malta, Salt & C Malta, Malta Creative Collective, Levis and many more. On the agenda are a couple of Screenings & panel discussions, a clothes swap, 3 workshops and a Repair Cafe, were together with Levis we are offering free repair services for up to 5 pieces each. We are every excited about the whole week and cannot wait to see their outcomes!

Thank you Tammy! For more information on Fashion Revolution Malta:
* Fashion Revolution Website
* Fashion Revolution Malta on facebook
* Fashion Revolution Malta on instagram
* Tammy’s instagram page

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Slow Fashion: my favorites (1)

This article is the first of my new favorites format. I’m changing my favorites posts in order to write thematic articles. I start today with my latest Sustainable Fashion favorites:

* The red gown worn by Danielle Macdonald at the Academy Awards

This glamourous gown was created by Christian Siriano with recycled tulle. The bright red color was made using vegetable dye. Danielle MacDonald wore this eco-responsible outfit to support Red Carpet Green Dress initiative.

Drawing inspired by the red gown worn by Danielle Macdonald at the Academy Awards by Christian Siriano

* The Stella McCartney Fall-Winter 2019-2020 Fashion Show upcycled multicoloured dress

This dress has been made from vintage T-shirts which have been stripped, knotted end to end and knitted.

The Stella McCartney Fall-Winter 2019-2020 Fashion Show upcycled multicoloured dress

Photo: Armando Grillo

* The vintage Dior dress that Emily Deschanel wore at the Academy Awards

This strappy midi dress could be worn on several occasions. I like its timeless style.

Drawing inspired by the vintage Dior dress worn by Emily Deschanel at the Academy Awards

That’s it for my latest slow fashion crushes. Feel free to leave me comments regarding this new format and see you soon.

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First review of my clothing purchases

This article is not a haul with my latest purchases. Instead I will talk about the clothes and shoes I bought 2 or 3 years ago. I had the time to wear, stain, wash and use them. So now I’m ready for a review: Were those good buys, regarding style, comfort, quality and also ethics?

drawing of pullovers

* Marks & Spencer cashmere pullovers

I bought Marks & Spencer cashmere pullovers that are soft and don’t bobble. However, the elbows are worn out.

I would say that the ethics of my pullovers is not very good. Marks & Spencer has a sustainability strategy called ‘plan A’ with precise social and environmental goals. On the other hand, cashmere has a negative impact on the environment: cashmere overproduction is responsible for a desertification in Mongolia.

Would I buy them again: Maybe. I would like to find more durable pullovers and also try alpaga that seems to be more ecological than cashmere but very soft too.

drawing of socks

* Bleu Forêt socks

Bleu Forêt is a French brand of socks and tights. I bought elegant socks that are quite solid. In France they are sold in some supermarkets and department stores.

I would say that the ethics of my socks is good. Bleu Forêt socks are all made in France, in the Jura region.

Would I buy them again: Yes

drawing of a T-shirt

* An Ethos Paris T-shirt

It’s a simple organic T-shirt that is comfortable and enduring.

I would say that the ethics of my T-shirt is very good. Ethos Paris values Fair Trade and the Environment thanks to organic materials.

Would I buy it again: Yes

drawing of shoes

* Nike sneakers

I’m intensively wearing my Nike sneakers. They are comfortable and resistant even if they are not as waterproof as they were at the beginning.

I would say that the ethics of my sneakers is average. Since the nineties, Nike made some progress regardings its working conditions.

Would I buy them again: Yes. Still I would like to try Veja leather sneakers to find out if they can be a more ethical alternative.

* Clarks sandals

I’ve already mentioned those ultra-comfy shoes in my July 2014 favorites. Well, they’re still there.

I would say that the ethics of my sandals is average.

Would I buy them again: Yes

* Crocs Cleo sandals

I bought those plastic sandals in 2010 and today they are still like new. I start wondering if those shoes are everlasting.

I would say that the ethics of my sandals is average. Made with petroleum products, they are not ecological but they are vegan.

Would I buy them again: Yes

After reading my article again, I give the impression of being a smart shopper. The truth is that I bought other clothes that I haven’t really tried out. Indeed I wear them rarely, probably because those are shopping mistakes. We’ll talk about them in my next clothing purchases review.

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What is the price of ethical clothes in France?

On the internet I often read stories of people telling they can’t afford to dress ethically, with fair trade, green and/or locally made clothes. Yet I know people who dress ethically on a budget. So I had the idea to write this article about the price of sustainable fashion.

Today I still have few ethical clothes but I’m intested in ethical fashion and I share here some information I have found on the internet and while shopping. This article will focus on brands you find in France because I know them more and tackle all budgets, from high to low.

What can I buy with several hundred euros ?

Ethical fashion brands are high end or middle end brands. Within high end brands, there are designers such as Suzie Winkle, Honest by or Valentine Gauthier who sell dresses under 200 €.

Middle end brands’ prices are cheaper than prices of low end brands. They are also higher than prices of low end (and not ethical) brands like Zara or H&M but the quality is not comparable.

What can I buy with less than 100 euros ?

With less than 100€ , you will find something that suits your taste among ethical fashion brands such as Ekyog or People Tree or brands that manufacture in France such as Mars Loves Her or Bleu de Paname (for men).

However, to optimise your purchases, it’s worth asking yourself a few questions before buying anything. For example: Is it of good quality? Is it my style? When will I wear this garment? Does it make you stand out? Is it comfortable?
And the most important question: Do I need it?
In short, it’s worth taking a few minutes to thing so that you won’t regret your purchase after.

In order to spend less, be on the lookout for sales (“soldes” in French) and special offers.

drawing of a woman wearing an organic made in France T-shirt and black leggings

an organic and made in France outfit by Post Diem, spotted under 100€ on special offer on le dressing du cocardier

Here are some exemples of prices of items on sale I have seen:
a pair of Veja fair trade sneakers for the price of a pair of Nike sneakers
organic cotton jeans at AlterMundi for the price of Levis jeans
an organic cotton Mr. Poulet T-shirt for 22€
an Artisans du monde silk scarf for the price of a Monoprix supermarket silk scarf
a pair of Bleu Forêt socks made in France for 7,5€

What can I buy with less than 10 euros ?

Let me be straightforward: you can’t have an ethical T-shirt for 5 euros.

With less than 10 euros, you still can find small ethical things: an Artisans du Monde fair trade hair slide or a Marron Rouge upcycled clutch bag for example.

But if you want more, the solution is the second-hand market. Buying second-hand clothes it’s recycling so it’s ecological.

You can find second-hand clothes on the internet, in second-hand clothes shops (“friperies” in French), in consignment shops (“dépots ventes”) or in “vide greniers” (which are a mix of garage sale and flea market). I’m always impressed by the treasures that shopping experts find for a few euros in second-hand clothes shops. It’s worth mentioning charity shops such as Emmaüs, Oxfam or Bis boutique solidaire.

And what if my budget is closer to zero ?

I you have no budget to allocate to clothes, keep in mind that not consuming is the most ecological thing to do.

drawing of two women in a café. One says: I did something for the environment: I bought an organic cotton skirt. The other one answers : I did something for the environment too: I bought nothing!

Nevertheless if you feel like renewing your wardrobe, you can take advantage of a resource you have: you already have some clothes! Those clothes, you can wear them, fix them, transform them. If you don’t like them any longer, you can also sell them, swap them or lend them. Showing imagination can help to make good use of what we have.

As a conclusion

Whatever your budget, there are solutions to dress more ethically.

And if you’re still worried about your wallet, follow environmental journalist Lucie Siegle savvy advice: only buy a piece you can commit to wearing 30 times.

Other articles about ethical fashion on this blog:
Ethical fashion shops in Paris
How to buy clothes without feeling guilty

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Keira Knightley in Chanel wedding dress

Actress Keira Knightley got married in early May in the south of France. She was wearing a strapless tutu dress, a discreet flower garland and ballet shoes.

Her ballerina style reminds me of the wedding gown of Natalie Portman who got married in summer 2012 wearing Rodarte.

drawing of Keira Knightley wearing a Chanel knee length ballerina wedding dress and a Chanel tweed jacket

Keira Knightley looks unconventional with her sunglasses, her hair blowing in the wind and a Chanel tweed jacket you wouldn’t imagine with a wedding dress.

drawing of Keira Knightley wedding hairstyle

Her outfit allows her to move comfortably. She reused a Chanel evening dress she already had. I like the idea of giving a new life to a garment rather than buying an expensive dress you’re going to wear only once. She later said about it: “I’d worn the dress lots. It was my something old. And I liked not making a big deal about it. I just wanted to be in something I had had a great time in, something I would have a great time in again.”

edit on 2014/03/17 : the dress is Chanel and not Rodarte

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How to buy clothes without feeling guilty

On 24 April 2013, Rana Plaza, a building that housed garment factories collapsed in Bangladesh killing more than 1,000 people. The workers were paid around $38 a month to make cheap clothes for North American and European brands. They were asked to return to work despite some cracks in the building that had been built illegally. I feel concerned with this drama because the Bangladesh workshops were working for brands I know and I buy.

drawing inspired by the Bangladesh drama

We feel incensed faced with such a tragic event but also helpless. Yet we can act at our level.

First we can contact directly clothing brands (via their website, their facebook page or by mail) to ask them to respect human rights in their factories. Why is it useful? Because brands listen to their clients.

We can also sign and spread Clean Clothes Campaign petition that asks brands to secure their factories.

Then we can try to buy more responsibly:
* Think twice before buying clothes that we may never wear
* Reuse clothes we already have. When going through our wardrobe, we sometimes find very nice clothes we had forgotten.
* Alter or repair clothes we already own, ourselves or by calling a dressmaker’s services.
* Buy second-hand clothes in shops or in garage sales
* Buy locally made clothes. Read labels to know where clothes have been made.
* Swap clothes with friends
* Buy fair trade clothes (that often are ecological too). Here are some examples of ethical fashion brands: People Tree, Veja, Ten Thousand Villages shops, the International Fairtrade Certification Mark that certifies fair trade cotton…
* Learn to sew or/and to knit in order to create our own clothes.
* Buy good quality clothes to keep them for some time

If you have other ideas to buy clothes while having a clear conscience, feel free to share them in the comments section.

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