Podcast Episode 5 Are Killer Heels Killing the Planet?

Today we have a guest with us, and her name is Kay Davidson. Kay’s a style guru, a business wear designer, and the creator of an online fashion magazine.

Is it fashion, or is it style?

Kay: It’s more style.

Michelle: Right, so welcome, Kay.

Kay: Hi. Thanks for having me.

Michelle: Lovely to have you here. Now, we’ve got lots to talk about today, because the other thing that I didn’t mention in the brief introduction is that it’s not just style you’re about, it’s also sustainable fashion.

Kay: Absolutely. Sustainability is my passion when it comes to clothes and fashion, and that’s why I always say that I work with style rather than fashion, because

“Fashion fades, Style is eternal.” That’s a quote by Yves Saint Laurent.

I’ve always believed that we should make clothes in a sustainable and ethical manner, and my business wear collections have always been produced in that way because I was selling to businesses who actually cared about their staff and needed to avoid any sort of scandal of child labour or slave labour or poor environmental policies when you’re dressing high profile clients. But when it comes to the world of fashion, they turn a blind eye in the name of saving money, in the name of producing fast fashion, and I am predominantly talking about the fast fashion that has really, it is destroying the planet each day that we sit here.

Michelle: Wow. That’s a lot of information already.

Kay: Sorry. My soapbox.

Michelle: Yes, I know. We’re all the same if we get onto our real topic of passion. So I met Kay, what was it, a couple of years ago, now?

Kay: Yes, I think it could be three years this summer, actually.

Michelle: Oh, really? Really? Oh my god, already. We ran an event down in Jersey together, and that was really … We were looking at style

Kay: It was Why Image Matters.

Michelle: Why Image Matters, and about having confidence through what you wear. One of the things Kay does is helps to make small tweaks in the way you look, in what you’re wearing. So over the last couple of years, we’ve been meeting on and off, and then quite recently, you started talking to me about this sustainable fashion thing, and there was a film trailer that you sent out, River … River Blue, was it?

Kay: River Blue, yes. I did a TEDx Talk in March, which was all about sustainability. I finally got my little platform where I could have an audience hopefully to listen to me in my whole encompassing why clothes are important to us, why we should put more significance into what we wear, and not just from an image point of view, from the point of view that if we don’t start waking up to being conscious about what we consume clothing-wise, we will strip this planet of its resources.

Michelle: Yes, absolutely, and we’ll put a link to the TEDx Talk on the show notes and will add trailer for River Blue, but it really got to me when you sent that trailer, because it’s such a disconnect between going to a shop buying … well, Primark or whatever, and you go there and you see all these things and you go, “Yes, I’ll have one of those, one of those, one of those, one of those,” and then actually seeing what is going on-

Kay: Behind the scenes, Yes. It is fashion’s dirty secret. It really is. They just don’t want you to know the reality of how your clothes are produced. I mean, I suppose you can … You take it back to some animal welfare campaigns, we were all appalled when we saw battery chickens in cages and the atrocious treatment we did to animals 10, 15 years ago, and fashion is finally being called out on its processes.

Kay: The problem is that the fast fashion trend when it came along, I think everybody got involved making a quick buck, but nobody really understood just quite how the growth of fast fashion would go. It was just massive. I mean,

there’s a hundred billion garments produced a year in fashion currently.

That’s a heck of a lot of … and fashion is the second largest pollutant of clean water on the planet,

so the toxic chemicals that are used in the production of fabrics and garments, they’re heavy metals. They can’t get filtered. The water’s not processed. They can’t afford to process the water out of these factories. They just chuck it back into the water streams, which is going on the crops, it’s getting into the food chain. It’s a huge, huge problem.

They can’t produce it cheaply enough and then they disregard the environment in the process.

Michelle: So we’re all now aware of plastic and it’s gone plastic crazy now in terms of single use plastics, which has everyone’s attention, because of

Blue Planet, has been focused on this, but actually is plastic the biggest issue, or is all of these toxic chemicals actually the bigger issue?

Kay: It’s both.

The good thing is, the plastic … If you look at the Greenpeace sites or the people that work on environmental issues, they’ve been screaming about this for at least five years, probably more. I’m aware of it for five years, with it being said,

We’ve got to wake up and take action.

Finally, Blue Planet, David Attenborough, has actually pricked the public conscience and we’re all now much more conscious of picking up plastic and disposing of it properly. The supermarkets now, of course, have this massive job of catching up, of producing less packaging, because the customers are starting to say, “No, we don’t want it,” and that’s kind of how I would like to see fashion going.

I’m very much trying to raise the awareness in the customer’s eye to say, “Come on, if we all get together and we all say no to our supermarkets,” so we stop consuming the damaging products and we actually look for sustainable or ethical products within a brand and support that line within a brand, we will slowly but surely start to see some change and some shift come.

Michelle: But surely we need something like a David Attenborough to do a documentary on …

Kay: I’ll have to write him a letter. “Dear Sir David, please.” And the other really … When we were on the Blue Planet and we’re on the oceans, so now I have read this twice now but I haven’t done the scientific backed research to actually qualify it, but twice I have now read that the micro-bead cosmetic problem that again was a headline news from cosmetics washing into the … was ending up down the sinks, down into water supplies and then in our food sources. Well,

the microfibers that shed from polyester clothing, synthetic clothing, there’s actually eight times more microfibers in our food, in our fish and in our shellfish, than there is from micro-beads!

Michelle: Oh, my God. That’s startling.

Kay: The only thing we can do currently to fix this, until they develop better fabrics that don’t shed, is there is a product called a Guppy bag, so if you do have a lot of polar fleece or … My biggest thing, I confess, I now have to use is my dog’s pet bedding, I have to use a Guppy Friend wash bag to wash my dog’s pet bed, because it’s polyester. And I know it sheds, I just shake it outside, and it’s not his hair that’s fluffing, it’s the little tiny pieces of microfiber off his bed.

We all have these pet beds that are soft and fluffy, and I know a lot of people have got polar fleece throws as well as clothing. When you’re washing those, straight down the plughole, millions of tiny fibres are being shed every time you wash them.

Michelle: So every single time we wash our clothes, we are polluting the planet?

Kay: Yes. Exactly.

Michelle: Oh, my God.

Kay: I know.

Michelle: That really is shocking.

Kay: It is shocking, and we’re only really discovering this.

We’re discovering, when they’re analysing the food sources, they were looking for traces of plastic, they were looking for traces of microbeads, and they’re going, “Hold on a minute.

This is polyester origin. This is actually clothing, fabric,” traced back to the fabrics, rather than …

So that’s the end user can do something significant now by washing less, is a good start, but

if you do have a lot of polyester-based fabrics, please do buy yourself a Guppy bag.

I think it was the Germans that invented it a couple of years ago. So again, people have been aware of it, but it’s just starting to come up to the surface now as a public awareness.

Michelle: What actually is a Guppy bag?

Kay: Just like a big wash bag, just a big wash bag, nylon zip bag. I actually wash a lot of my clothing in a protective bag anyway because my clothes are precious and I don’t want them to be agitated too much by the washing machine, so literally you just zip things into it and then you put the whole bag in the washing machine.

Michelle: And then is there some residue that’s inside the Guppy bag?

Kay: Yes, so like you clean your filter in your tumble dryer.

Michelle: Right, and then what do you do with that?

Kay: In the bin.

Michelle: In the bin.

Kay: Not down the plughole.

Michelle: Right, Ok, so that’s going to go to landfill or to …

Kay: Yes, and that’s going to take two to three hundred years to break down in landfill.

Michelle: Wow.

Kay: So all synthetic fibres … Let’s start with the problem. So synthetic fibres are from petrochemicals, made from oil, so that’s not sustainable. There is only an infinite amount of oil left on the planet, and current predictions,

we’re going to need two Earths’ worth of resources by 2030 to support the demand, if we stay consuming at the rate we’re consuming.

So you’ve got your synthetics that you’re making them from and then they take huge amounts of energy to create the yarns, to knit the fabrics or weave the fabrics, which is mostly coal fire in big industrial plants, so you’re using more natural resources there to make these synthetics.

Then we wear them; sadly, so often, not very often. They sit in our wardrobes and we don’t wear them enough, and then if we do get rid of them to landfill, it takes two to three hundred years for nylon, polyester, polyamides, et cetera, to break down.

Michelle: Are those chemicals or fabrics in most of the things we wear? Obviously, if we’re wearing 100% linen or cotton-

Kay: Yes, so cotton is still the largest fabric that we wear globally. In Britain, I would say that might be slightly different. I would think that viscose has got to be pretty high, pretty close. Cotton and viscose would be pretty similar.

Michelle: Is viscose as bad-


Viscose is better, because viscose is actually regenerated wood pulp.

Believe it or not, viscose, rayon, are from trees, and provided we’re doing sustainable reforestation of the trees that we’re chopping down, it’s actually not as bad.

It’s not as bad, and they do break down a lot quicker. You’re looking at about eight to nine weeks, depending on the weight of the viscose or the rayon garment.

Michelle: Oh, my God. That’s incredible, because-

Kay: It’s paper. We’re wearing paper.

Michelle: … I had no idea. I mean, viscose, polyester, to me would have been just the same, I wouldn’t have known any different.

Kay: Yes, no.

Michelle: So should I be looking at my labels, when I go into a shop, and making sure that I don’t buy polyester?

Kay: Ideally, Yes.

Now, there are certain garments where it’s better to buy polyester because it’s going to last so much longer.

So somebody somewhere, please do a graph in the long-term life of a polyester garment versus a viscose garment, because the viscose garment will not last. It depends on the durability so please don’t start buying viscose workout leggings, because you’re going to wear them out.

They’re not physically strong enough, so then you’ll have to start again, cutting down a tree, using oil to make the fabric and then shipping it round the world to get to its endpoint.

Whereas your polyester leggings, polyester spandex, they are going to last you years, three or four years, so somebody somewhere needs to do this graph to work out what is the best for each garment type and type of use that it goes through.

Michelle: Right. Well, all my workout gear is made of bamboo.

Kay: Great.

Michelle: Because that’s-

Kay: That’s fantastic.

Michelle: …

I just love the bamboo fabric. It’s soft, it stays soft after you wash it, and it’s got an antibacterial property to it.

Kay: Antimicrobial, antibacterial. That’s right.

Michelle: Yes, so this is going to sound gross, but honestly, a pair of bamboo socks that you’ve worn, I can sometimes pick up the socks and go, “Did I wear those?” When you sniff your socks …

Oh come on, everybody must sniff their socks? You sniff the bamboo ones and you go, “I don’t know which ones I’ve worn.”

It’s incredible. I really love the bamboo stuff. So we’re moving more towards bamboo, but-

Kay: Perfect.

Michelle: … but, having said that, there must be an awful lot of stuff that we are still consuming which has got polyester in.

Kay: There’s some clever brands doing things like for swimwear and such, where they are using regenerated polyester fibres and fabrics, and they’re reprocessing them, so using existing yarns, rather than using new source.

So brands are starting to catch on, but it’s very micro. It’s very, very small. It’s not mainstream. But anything that you … When you are shopping and you’re looking, don’t just look at the label inside the garment. Brands are getting quite good now at swing tagging them and marking them as sustainable cotton or sustainable origins, so there’s vegetable dye stuff, they’re using a much more … They are starting to push it forward because consumers are looking for it.

Michelle: Right. So, if you’re going to the High Street, is paying more going to be better for the planet than paying less?

Kay: Not in every case. I would love to say that you would be guaranteed that you were doing something better for the planet by spending that little bit more, but unfortunately, brands and marketing will delight in just charging you way over the odds of what the actual product is worth simply for the brand name, so it’s not the best rule of thumb.

You really do just have to check the labelling.

Michelle: So are you telling me that the expensive brands make their stuff in the same way that the cheap brands do?

Kay: Yes. Sorry.

Michelle: Oh, my goodness.

Kay: It’s just … there isn’t … Unless they’re actually making under their ethical, sustainable side, which some of the brands, they are now starting to release collections which are targeted that way, but you can pretty much bet that the rest of them are not following the best practices. They’re just following what is currently accepted as the norm.

Michelle: So tell me, what’s a good brand?

Kay: A good brand for sustainability?

Michelle: Yes.

Kay: Well, right here in Guernsey, your best place to start looking is Little Green Ginger, because all of their products have got an ethical or sustainable story, so that’s a really good place to go to educate yourself here.

As I say,

Marks & Spencer’s have got quite a few initiatives going throughout different products, both on ethical production of cotton using solely non-bonded farmers in India.

They’ve got a very good program going there, and you’ll see their little tree logo. It looks like a tree more than it looks like a piece of cotton, on quite a lot of their jeans now and their trousers.

Kay: It is, unfortunately, at the moment, the consumer still has to do the legwork to actually find this.

It’s not commonly … It’s not like you can just walk into the supermarket and find the organic produce right there in front of you yet, but I really do hope that that’s going to come in shops where you can confidently go into an ethical, sustainable section of each brand and know that you should be paying more, because these things do cost more to make, but they were not separated out yet.

Michelle: So what about footwear?

Kay: So Matt & Nat, again, very good, and it’s vegan, vegetarian, everything, Matt & Nat. The other people who are doing it in menswear is Church’s, who do a few things in ladies, as well, but the Matt & Nat is at an acceptable price point.

Adidas Parley have a range, Adidas Parley trainers and footwear, are made from plastic taken from the ocean.

Michelle: Oh, wow.

Kay: Yes, from that piece of plastic that’s floating in the middle of the Pacific, which is the size of France, now. Did you know that?

Michelle: Yes, I did. Yes.

Kay: It’s just shocking, you know. So yes, so … Adidas are taking dead plastic out of that little island, spinning it into new fibres, and making shoes from it. And Timberland, actually, as a brand are also doing very similar work.

Michelle: What about FitFlops? Because I live in FitFlops.

Kay: They don’t have a sustainable environmental process currently.

Michelle: Oh, that’s a shame.

Kay: They have a transparency document, but … yes. Most brands are now, like we’ve all had this GDPR and we’ve all had to change our privacy policy, but most brands are now, if you dig and search, they will have something about their traceability of where and how their products are made, because they recognize, as well, that it’s coming. It is coming.

Michelle: Yes, and I think this awareness is beginning to come up in my mind, and I’m thinking, “Oh, shit, I really,” excuse my French, I haven’t really spent any time thinking about this subject until you showed me that …

What was the name of that other video that you sent?

Kay: True Cost.

Michelle: Yes.

Kay: The True Cost movie came out first, which really does hit home, it was a very harrowing watch on the High Street fast fashion and the damage that the fast fashion is doing, and then River Blue is a little bit more recent and it’s one that I would love to host a screening of here in Guernsey.

Michelle: I think that would be really good, because we need to raise the awareness on this in the same way as we’ve raised the awareness on plastics. I mean, I never go to the beach now without picking up my minimum three pieces of plastic, and to be honest, I was struggling the other day to find three.

Kay: Oh, I have sad news. The past two days, I’ve been filling a whole dog bag of plastic on one beach.

Michelle: Oh, dear.

Kay: I know, and I was like, “Oh,” and I don’t know why, but suddenly one of my favourite little beaches here is just strewn in it again. Small pieces, I have to say, but strewn in it, like … but anyway, every little helps.

Michelle: Yes, I’m digressing onto that subject. If you see a plastic bottle on the beach, pick it up at that point, because once it gets smashed, there are so many, on the days I find one of those and it’s all in pieces and you’re picking all up those pieces.

Kay: And it doesn’t take much imagination, when you see the little pieces there, how that little piece is then going to shatter and break and then that’s how it’s ending up in our seafood, in our fish, and then it’s in the system and it’s worse, so absolutely, pick it up when it’s whole, before it starts to break down.

Michelle: Yes. Absolutely. So we buy a lot of clothes and then we wear them a few times and then we send them to the charity shops.

Kay: Yes, another problem.

Michelle: I feel really good about myself because I’ve donated all of this stuff to charity. So you’re going to tell me that that’s not a great idea, either, aren’t you?

Kay: Ok, well, sending them to charity is better than putting them into the bin currently, because we don’t have any policy here in Guernsey for separation of clothing, textiles, at end of use.

Somehow, somewhere, we do need to think about this, because what I also see is that people of our age and a little bit younger, so everybody who’s 40 and older age group, their wardrobes are full of clothes, so people who are clearing out their mum’s wardrobes have got only a small portion that is going, as compared to what we have collected ourselves, because we are that generation that were encouraged to buy, buy, buy before we knew any different.

Kay: Our young millennials, fantastic, they’re already behind sustainability.

They’re already conscious. Sorry, the younger than the millennials, they’re very aware or much more aware than we ever were in our 20s and 30s about overconsumption, so they’re the ones who are seeking and pushing out this demand for the sustainable brands, but I really think we’re going to hit a big problem when 20 years’ time when somebody comes to clear out, or 30, 40 years’ time, hope I’m alive that much longer, when someone comes to clear out wardrobes of my generation, because they are full of clothes, and this is what I find working with clients, as well, is that there is just way more clothes than they could live in for a lifetime.

We’ve already got enough in our wardrobes.

Kay: So, to answer your question, so going to charity shops, yes, that’s great, it’s fantastic. It’s better than landfill until we find a better way of processing waste garments here in Guernsey.

The charity shops here have a better statistic than the UK. They are managing to resell between 70% and 75% of the clothes that they take in,

which is great. Then I also think, “Oh no, they’re just going to the back of a cupboard somewhere. They’re just going to have to be dealt with at another point in time,” and then what they don’t sell is getting upsold to the UK for … and then they’ve lost traceability of it, but I can bet my bottom dollar that it is ending up in some Eastern Bloc country or some African village, and in the Eastern Bloc countries,

there’s now such an abundance of clothing from charity shops that they just can’t cope with it, they’re just baling it and shipping it to deserted fields in China.

You know that, there’s a place in America where they put all the airplanes?

Kay: Yes, and it’s just like a whole area of airplanes that are no longer flying.

Well, there’s now vast areas covered in bales of clothing and plastic that they just don’t know what to do with it.

There’s just too much of it. It’s just … and then if it goes to the African villages, which actually, it’s pulled back massively now, because what it’s done is destroyed the local trade there, so there is no longer craft.

They’re all running around in H&M or football tops or whatever has been donated from the Western world in these African countries, which has destroyed the local clothing manufacturing business and the local textile production, and we’re losing all that art and craft and years of history from making things locally.

Michelle: Yes, so all those wonderful African fabrics …

Kay: Yes, become just your special occasion wear as opposed to everyday wear. It just breaks my heart. It just breaks my heart to see these people running around in … What was the … There was a wonderful, the girl in the forest. Who did, the photographer, he went back to find the girl in Indonesia.

Michelle: Oh, Yes. Yes.

Kay: Yes, and so he had the photograph of the girl and he went back to see if she still was living in the forest with nature and there’s this lovely image of this young girl with her Indonesian little bright sari dress on with her bright coloured beads, and then when he went back and found her 20 years later, there she was in her H&M little ragged dress and her husband and his sports whatever top, but I just like, “Oh, no,” it’s just such a different … What you used to look to for inspiration is now just a downtrodden version of what we wear here in the Western world.

Michelle: And there are specialist shops. We came across one in Glastonbury this week at the weekend, and they had a conservation initiative and my sister actually bought one of their shawls that they make in a very traditional way.

Each woman has her own loom, and they strap one end to a tree and they dye their own fabrics and it’s just done in this glorious way, and it made this zigzag pattern. Beautiful, beautiful fabric. But it costs money. It was expensive.

Kay: Yes, it will.

Michelle: But there is at least some initiatives going on, but really, they are so minor compared to big, High Street chains and the whole buy everything. Primark just encourages you to buy two of everything, or three.

Kay: Yes, of course it does, as does Asda George, it seems so cheap. It seems like such a bargain, but is it …

Well, it’s not a bargain, because of the damage that it’s doing to the planet, as River Blue will show.

But the long life costing of that garment, if you spent that little bit more, let’s just take an example of a T-shirt. If you bought a £15 T-shirt, the correct £15 T-shirt that is well made from good quality fabrics and not just got a logo across the front of it that makes it £15, that should potentially last so much longer than something that you’ve bought two of for £5. So it’s getting your quality versus quantity.

Michelle: Yes. Now, something else that’s coming into my mind as we’re talking about this and the whole thing of fabrics is, and my mother doesn’t listen to my podcast, so I think we’re safe. She runs a knitting group over here where they are making knitted jumpers for orphans in an African country, blankets and jumpers. It creates a huge community project for all the ladies over here, and they’re doing such great work in keeping that community alive, but suddenly, as you’re talking, I’m thinking, they use cheap wool.

Kay: Oh, no. How is that dyed?

Michelle: Well, how is it dyed-

Kay: And then how is it going to last?

Michelle: … and is it full of these little microfibers that are going to pollute … So are we actually exporting stuff from here to Africa that is going to pollute?

Kay: Sorry, but it does sound like it may well do.

The best wools to use obviously, you want to use wool or cotton yarns, rather than acrylic.

I hope they’re not knitting in acrylic. So cotton or wool yarns, and vegetable dyes is actually the kindest thing that you can do. Interestingly, the nice part of knitting clothing, and we do wear a lot of jersey fabrics, but we wear a lot of jersey fabrics, this is going to get a little bit technical, we wear a lot of jersey fabrics that are cut and sewn, so rather than knitted. If you think of in womens’ wear, we wear hosiery, tights, stockings, etc. They are knitted rather than a pair of leggings, which is cut and sewn together, but they still fit around your leg very tightly. But if we could produce clothing,

if robots could design clothing, they would be knitted, because there is no waste.

Kay: The very first time you put a knife into cutting, because fabric comes flat, and when you put your little pieces of the jigsaw together when you’re cutting out a piece of clothing, anybody who does dressmaking always knows that the scraps go in the bin straightaway.

The minute you cut the dress out or you cut the trousers out, there’s waste straightaway. Whereas if we were knitting things, we would only be using what we were making. So knitting is actually a really good way to think about the future of how we could solve one of the waste issues of clothing, and then it’s using the right yarns and the right … Yes, the right yarns to knit with. But if we could print clothes or knit clothes at exactly the right size, it would cut down on a tremendous amount of waste.

Michelle: And surely that’s coming.

Kay: We’re … I mean, yes. I’ve seen them, I’ve seen the Kickstarter projects, etc, but I personally wouldn’t wear any of them, so of course, there’s this whole thing of it’s great, but at the end of the day, we need it to make us feel good when we wear it, as opposed to just, I’m wearing it because it’s completely ethical, sustainable, and … Yes.

Michelle: Yes, I mean, you’re right there, because I mean, Glastonbury’s Glastonbury, but I went into this wonderful shop. It’s all vegetable dyes, it’s all sustainable, it’s all wonderful, and would I be seen walking around the streets of Guernsey wearing this kind of … It’s like that Gudrun brand, with the multicolour leggings and tops and … Yes, I’d be away with the fairies completely if I was walking around the streets wearing that, so we’ve got this thing-

Kay: We’ve got … Yes, at the minute we don’t have the choice, we don’t have the balance. It’s really hard. I do put a look book,

I put out a spring look book of my best pick of sustainable, ethical products in the online magazine that I do,

so I’m starting to curate good brands, or doing pieces that are much more workable and much more adaptable into … I say normal life, each person’s normal is different, but when clothes are too out there or too hard to wear or hard to carry off, well, you’re just not going to wear them. You’re only going to wear them once.

You might feel good because you’ve bought something sustainable and ethical, but you’re actually not going to wear it, so what’s the point? You’re just again, that’s not actually the answer to the problem, is it?

Michelle: So how do we cut down the amount of clothes we buy?

Kay: I think one of the simplest ways to cut down is to buy less, I was talking about this earlier, don’t go shiny object syndrome.

Don’t go, “Oh, look at all that,” fancy beading or spangles or print, and actually

start picking solid colour great basics, because as a solid colour, you can reinvent it more, you can wear it in different combinations with other colours,

but when you have a wardrobe that’s full of crazy bright prints, they’re much, much harder to pair up with other things, and because they’re so busy, you can often tire of wearing them, as well. So try and pick a palette, a colour palette to work within, and stick to that, rather than just grabbing each and every little magpie thing that shines and sparkles and speaks to you. Work around a core rather than just everything that appeals.

Michelle: So what you’re actually saying is think about it before you go shopping?

Kay: Oh, yes.

Think about it, well, the shopping is actually the last thing you should do.

The first thing you should do is work out what suits you.

Actually spend a little bit of time in your own wardrobe trying on some clothes and thinking, “Well, this works. That doesn’t work,” and then actually, when you separate them into piles of “I think this works,” you should see some sort of theme and some sort of trend, whether it’s the colour, the neckline, the waistline, but you should start to identify what it is that really does work for you rather than well, all of those are actually … That’s the same as that, and that’s the same as that.

Kay: When you know what suits you, then you can actually work out what’s missing. So you’ve maybe got three great tops but only one trouser, and it’s a bit boring, because you’ve only got one, let’s say, navy trouser in there, so well, if I added a white in there or a colour in there, I could wear that, I could wear that, I could … So then, shop for what’s missing. So actually, the shopping bit should be the last thing you do, not the first thing you do.

Michelle: I’m sitting here making faces. Yes, I’m from the generation where shopping is kind of like, “Oh, I’ll go shopping and just see what takes my eye.”

Kay: Yes, as most people do, but when you eliminate, so when you know what neckline works, it’s actually, it makes shopping more fun because you’re like, “Well, I know that neckline doesn’t work. I know that sleeve length doesn’t work.” Obviously, we can shorten hem skirts, so sometimes you go, “Oh, I love that. I love that, but that dress is too long,” but once you know, well, it’s easy. I don’t dismiss it now, I just take up the hem length, you’re like, “I’ve got it.” So you can buy confidently, so actually, it puts more … Yes, you can still shop for ideas, but it actually makes what you do buy much more valuable.

Michelle: And what I’m thinking of is again, my generation is you’ve got a big event coming up or you’ve got something happening. We were always kind of instilled in us, “I’ve got to have a new outfit. I can’t be seen in something I’ve been seen before.” Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but did Kate wear something to …

Kay: Yes, she did. Absolutely.

Michelle: … Not Charles, Harry and Meghan’s wedding?

Kay: That was its fourth outing, apparently.

Michelle: That’s amazing.

Kay: It’s fantastic. I champion her. She’s just wonderful. Oh, I need to write her a letter, too.

Michelle: Yes.

Kay: But the only umbrage I have with this is that the press title it recycling,

“Kate recycles an outfit.” It is not recycling. It is clever restyling and reinventing, and that’s what we all need to do more of instead of thinking we have to keep buying more.

We need to restyle and reinvent how we wear things. It’s certainly not recycling. Recycling is when you chop it up and sew new bits on. That’s recycling. It’s like, “Oh, come on guys.”

Michelle: But we do need role models.

Kay: Yes, we do.

Michelle: We need the role models to go out there and go, “Yes, I’m wearing something that I’ve worn plenty of times before,” and for that to become the new norm,

and that we’re not looking at someone and going … It should not be newsworthy because she’s worn her outfit before.

Kay: Correct, and Princess Anne is actually very good at it, as well. When you see … I hope she does it again this summer at some of the race meetings at Ascot, etc. She quite often is in something that’s 20+ years old, which is just fabulous. Just brilliant.

And it also echoes to the fact that if you’re buying right first time, quality fabrics, quality tailoring, something that’s well cut, well-shaped, well fitted to your own style, then you can roll it out time and time again, and just a little tweak. Maybe just shorten the hem for another season or … It’s more about the combination of how you wear it than the whole piece itself.

Michelle: Yes, now you’re giving me lots of ideas. Kay and I ran an event last week with Creaseys, where we had a networking event and we invited people to come along and join us, and Kay gave style advice and it was really, really valuable style advice and as we left Creaseys, we’re saying, “Yes, let’s do this again,” and I’ve just got an idea in my head, I’ve always got ideas. I think maybe the next one we do is we invite people to come along wearing their oldest thing in their wardrobe.

Kay: Oh, please.

Michelle: Their most loved outfit, or something.

Kay: Yes, that would be great.

Michelle: And do something like that, because really,

we’ve got to get that shift in Guernsey, as well, to “I’ve been wearing this for 20 years and I still love it.”

Kay: Yes, please do keep wearing it. I mean, it’s … I really want fashion to thrive. I am not,

I adore fashion. It’s my career, it’s my passion. I love clothes, it’s just like I’m a kid in a sweetie shop when I’m surrounded by great clothes, so I want to see the industry continue to boom, but we just need to buy less, buy better.

That’s the thing, we need to buy better. The stores could probably, it’s the old 80/20 rule. They probably sell 20 … Well, it’s actually, it’s the flip way around, they probably sell 20% at full price and 80% at discount. Well, why don’t they just have 20% that’s brilliant and not the rest, you know? Less really can be more in retail, as well in our wardrobes.

So buy less, buy better, and that’s the way that we can help save our planet.

Kay: Absolutely.

Michelle: Thank you ever so much, Kay.

Kay: You’re welcome. Thank you.

Michelle: Thank you.

Michelle: So please do check out the links on the show notes. Until next time, bye-bye.

Kay Davidson’s Sustainable Fashion Blog

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