From rising sea levels to this abnormally hot summer we’re having, there’s no denying our climate and planet are changing dramatically. Some may say this is all part of the natural progression of Earth’s pattern, but there’s no denying the damaging effect man kind has had on our environment and the species we share it with. From vast landfills to discarded plastic, we all share in the responsibility and one of the biggest contributors is the fashion industry, as the V&A investigates in its latest exhibition ‘Fashioned from Nature’.
The exhibition delves into the archives of fashion history, taking us as far back as the 1700 when the only source of material was naturally derived. From cotton and silk to wool, leather and fur, the upper class’ garments were intricately designed, custom made and using the most expensive, quality materials available. One dress on display is even encrusted with beetle shells.
From raw materials to chemical formulas, these early days of fashion and design were not without their damages. The 1800’s brought with it a number of protests and rallies against animal cruelty, urging tailors and dress makers to refrain from using fur and feathers. This movement eventually lead to the first national animal protection legislation being passed by the British Government. The art of millinery even came with its own health risks to mankind due to traces of mercury nitrate in the felt. Ever wondered where the saying ‘mad as a hatter’ comes from?
These natural fibres also had their limitations; from expense to availability it became clear they were no longer sustainable. Towards the end of the 19th Century and in to the 20th Century and spurred on by the demand for sustainable fibres, chemist across the world began developing the world’s first ever man-made fibres. Enter Rayon – designed to mimic the characteristics of silk and cotton; soon followed Nylon and then Acrylic and Polyester. So, with the ability to produce these materials in bulk and for cheap, came with it the boom of the fashion industry and the evolution of mass market disposable consumerism.
In todays market, due to mass exports and transportation; manufacturing and the throw away mentality we have all adopted; the fashion and textile industry is the world’s second biggest polluter, behind oil. We’ve all seen the statistics; it takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce a single pair of jeans, 15% of fabric ends up on the cutting room floor and an estimated 235 million items of clothing in the UK alone ended up on landfills last year. With these facts burning in our mind the closing note of the V&A’s exhibition is one of looking to the future. How we can all do more to protect our planet; whether it’s the notion of ‘mend and make do’ or the simple act of recycling, we all have a part to play.
Here at Parka London, we try to do what we can for the cause but there is always more to be done and we want to help our customs to make small changes too. Whether it’s a missing button or a tatty faux fur trim, we can help you restore your loved and well-worn Parka London coats to their former glory, helping you get the most out of your coat. Let us know your query
and we’ll do what we can to help.
Fashioned from Nature runs until 27th January 2019 at the V&A Museum.