Climate Blog Sashaying into Fashion’s Slow Lane

Rhys Twist at his sewing machine
Taylor Rhys Twist at work. | © Gina Robilliard

Walking into the atelier of my tailor, Rhys, is something reminiscent of some gorgeous, bygone era. Vintage sewing machines, dark, polished wooden floors and Rhys himself, adorned in suiting of his own creation. Immediately I feel comparatively quite scruffy and unsophisticated.

My puppy-sitting friend du jour, darts around the sprawling open rooms past the other equally glamorous tailoring staff with jubilation as I quickly usher him back inside where he abruptly settles himself into a pile of old shirts. He is offered a bowl of water and I, a glass of champagne from the in house bar. Immediately we both feel at home.

I’m here to have a pair of tuxedo pants commissioned, so naturally I am almost as excited as puppy friend who is now casually sniffing around, searching for expensive things to chew on. It is my thinking that if we revert our mindset towards having a closer relationship to clothing production, spending a little extra on having at lease some of our clothes made by local, quality craftsman to our personal specifications and measurements; we will in turn come to appreciate these items more and the skill involved in their creation. Not only that, they will last longer, thus reducing the need to purchase replacement items and hopefully we could adopt a rational purchasing mentality in regards to quantity as a function of necessity.

Tailor Rhys Twist © Gina Robilliard I myself have grown frustrated with the way women’s clothing is made today. A pair of midpriced work pants for example will retail for around $150-$250. They will look nice enough when worn in the fitting room- a climactically isolated environment that tends not to lend itself to particularly high levels of physical activity. You would however, be hard pressed to find such pants made from natural fibers in Sydney, despite our reasonably humid summers. Once taken out of the fitting room, past the checkouts and thrust into the sun shine and day to day life, they will imprison you in a sweaty, itchy and statically clingy cocoon day in, day out before finally falling apart at the seams at the ripe old age of 6 months. That is if they have not already faded away or fostered a community of lint balls that must be shaved off with a razor or thrown away completely in a fit of rage-filled disdain.

From a more objective standpoint, having clothing commissioned and made with natural fibers can significantly reduce our carbon footprint. According to Rhys, a pair of bespoke woolen pants will have a life span up to four times longer than its fast fashion equivalent. What’s more, by opting for natural fibers, you are choosing biodegradable options that produce significantly less energy (125MJ/KG for polyester compared with 63 MJ/KG for wool according to the ACMC of Plymouth University, 2006) and hence less carbon emissions in their production.

Puppy friend displaying the fruits of Rhys’ labour Puppy friend displaying the fruits of Rhys’ labour | © Gina Robilliard I am therefore suggesting this increased mindful awareness surrounding the clothes we add to our wardrobe as a realistic contribution to our everyday efforts in reducing carbon emissions and climate change. And what does it really matter if consequently we are do not adhering to this week’s micro-trend ordinance handed down to us by our fashion overlords? After all, ‘‘Fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear’’ (Oscar Wilde).