Why ‘You work in fashion?’ is a question I dislike

by Ieva Zu

Fashion Agency London
Ieva, photo by © Noisyhome.eu

It has been a while since I dedicated my mind and time to contemplate. I always read about ethical, positive and sustainable fashion, I discuss and meet with people who are passionate about the positive impact of the fashion industry and I write, occasionally, about the fashion at large vs ‘You work in fashion’ concept. Some of you may know that fashion at large is my biggest motivation for everything I do on a day-to-day basis.

To be completely honest, I get slightly insulted by the stereotypical understanding of ‘you work in fashion’ concept.

‘Oh, you work in fashion? I love fashion! What do you think about my Mulberry bag? I love Mulberry! I wish I worked in fashion’.

Well, this is exactly what I don’t do, talk or think about ‘in fashion’. The obsession with a fashion item is not my cup of tea. I genuinely dislike shopping as a thing to do (I’m sorry mum but I will not go to Oxford Circus with you when you’re in town), and I believe that shopping less (or for different reasons) is actually getting more (of what you actually like).

First of all, professionally, fashion is a means for me to support talent, hence our DIY agency mission for emerging designers at Fashion Bloc. Personally, fashion is a tool to speak out loud about the wrongdoings as well as positive examples of what fashion is and can be and try to make a positive social impact. I just read a piece on BoF (The Business of Fashion) about the Russian supermodel and philanthropist Natalia Vodianova and her award for the achievements in fashion and life at the upcoming VOICES conference. Vodianova is a great example and inspiration of how one can use ‘you work in fashion’ as a tool to make a much broader impact in the world.

We need more people like Natalia in the fashion world, who use their money, influence and experiences in order to make a change in the world where it needs to be changed. We need more projects like Kerring’s #IcouldHaveBeen campaign where designers & artists, including a vocal sustainability activist Stella McCartney, talk about gender inequality and raise awareness about the underrepresented girls in the developing countries. When fashion is a language with a purpose, not just a dress or a bag, it leaves a much bigger impression than a label.

How can you be the change you want to see? For me, it’s starting from your personal choices. I started to shop less around three years ago. Why? For the respect of our planet, human beings and eventually a creative energy of the designers. I also choose to talk about the meaning of fashion and how the system works with my friends, family and general public – whether they agree or not, we can at least have a discussion about fast fashion and pollution from the garment industry, workforce who makes our clothes, animals who suffer…

On a larger scale, I can talk about the political issues such as Brexit impacting all industries, including fashion. We can talk about Social projects that use fashion as a tool to educate the society about disability and integration. We can talk about many things, the important thing is to talk and raise awareness. And inspire. I’m constantly inspired, I hope you too.

I invite you to read more about the Positive Fashion projects, designers and issues in our dedicated column.