• Georgie McGrath

No plan b

Updated: Apr 4, 2019

Towards the end of 2nd year I stepped out of my comfort zone and focussed my work on fashion and portraits. For me, it is something I have loved since A-Levels, but lost confidence when beginning University. My tutor pushed me to do what I loved and gave me confidence which I am forever thankful for, day by day I can see my progress develop. Here's a little insight into what I am currently working on.

Recently exposed to the damaging effects the garment Industry has on our World, I instantly took interest in how we can make a change. Fashion brands aren't concerned about the issues raised when making clothes, their only care is the cost. It’s true one person can’t mend the World alone, it takes us as individuals to stop and rethink our actions. We can begin with cautious and considered changes in our fashion choices. There are many sustainable brands available, as well as charity, vintage and second hand shops. Wider known brands such as Levis and Stella McCartney are beginning to change the way in which they produce their clothing to make it more sustainable, eco and ethically friendly and overall better for the environment. Nin Castle, tutor at UAL, Central Saint Martins believes;

“An intelligent approach to design should not only satisfy a hunger for new and constantly evolving concepts in style, but should also address the environmental impact of the fashion industry. Specialising in ‘up-cycling’; innovatively combining new sustainable fabrics with reclaimed textiles” (UAL, 2019).

I am currently working on a project bringing awareness to Sustainable Fashion and it’s importance. Researching designers such as Stella McCartney, predominantly known as one of the few labels making a genuine effort to produce garments ethically; 53% of their materials are from sustainable sources (Fig 1). Stella McCartney uses a visual approach to showing her AW17 collection, undermining our disposable consumer culture by shooting in a Landfill site in Scotland. To strengthen my investigation I created a Q&A which I sent to ten consumers, five fashion course leaders at universities and three clothing brands. It was interesting to receive a range of answers and opinions on sustainable, eco-fashion. An example sent to a student consumer of mainstream clothing, ‘Why do you think people are still buying from mainstream and online shops that sell unethical clothing?’ the response;

“... often cheaper and trustworthy, the brand names recognisable to everyone rather than smaller names. Personally, I don’t know enough about the issue at hand to want to shop elsewhere unfortunately.” Beth Taylor.

The underlying reason in many cases, consumers lack education and understanding of it’s impact to our World. After talking with design and fabric developer of Finisterre, Chris Vandrill says that the reason people are still buying from mainstream shops selling unethical clothing is due to, “LAZINESS, it's really up to the brand owners to be more responsible, but they are greedy I am afraid. It's smaller brands like Finisterre that will carve out change within our industry, IT HAS TO HAPPEN”. Finisterre, founded in 2003, began providing British cold water surfers with products for purpose, sustainably sourced and built to last, currently working on a seven year project making wetsuits out of old wetsuits involving local universities, scientists and the team itself.

Photographer Leonor Von Salish’, a content creator in fashion focuses on sustainable brands. Salish’s work has been a major influence with my own work, both visually and the mythology behind how I want to present this important message through my images. Leonor’s interest lies with vintage clothing, the originality aspect of finding a ‘one of a kind piece’, a treasured heirloom. Leonor feels responsible for the sustainable/ethical brands she captures and how she represents them (Fig 2), “Luxury fashion labels are hiding their dirty actions behind well-built brand names and images, but the fact remains that almost none of them have implemented neither sustainable measures nor transparency in their supply chains…” Leonor von Salisch.

My body of work advertises and supports sustainable fashion, demonstrating there are other ways we can find trendy, one of a kind clothing. I collaborated with a group of fashion students who have been investigating eco-friendly ways in making garments as part of they're university degree. I collaborated with a small, vintage clothing store, Amy’s Vintage. Photographing treasured items of clothing still in immaculate condition, some dating back as far as 1910. Finally, interviewing and collaborating with students who solely buy sustainable/vintage clothing. My aim, to capture an expression or ambience creating visual stories highlighting sustainable, eco fashion can be trendy and upcoming; Mainstream brands are not the only source of clothing.

My confidence has grown from starting the project, collaboration’s gave me opportunities, growing my experience directing models but also working with clothing brands and designers. I felt pressure when shooting, wanting to get successful photos not only for myself but for the people I worked with. For example; Amy’s Vintage has used my images as a way of promoting her clothing to customers (Fig 3). I prefer location shooting, I feel more flexible with what I can do. However, in terms of this project it has allowed me to be more experimental with where I shoot. I tried to find backgrounds cluttered with litter to reflect our disposable culture.

Fashion can be recycled, old trends always return, Fashion ‘should’ be sustainable.

Used as marketing material by Amy's Vintage

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