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Livia Firth Reflects on the Past and Envisions a Future of Ethical Fashion

Green Carpet Challenge, BAFTA, Livia Firth

Amanda Berry, Livia Firth, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Anna Wintour, James Righton, William Banks-Blaney, and Andrew Bolton at The Green Carpet Challenge 2016 BAFTA Night To Remember. Photo: Getty

The awards season always brings back strong memories for me, particularly this year, which marks the 10th anniversary of the Green Carpet Challenge. I’ll never forget the day back in January 2010 when I stepped on to the red carpet at the Golden Globes with Tom Ford and Colin wearing a repurposed wedding dress, to officially start talking about sustainability in fashion on the biggest communication platform of all.

It was scary and fun at the same time, and throughout the 10 years, I have loved experimenting with all sorts of materials and looks and working with the most incredible designers. I believe we have now proven, beyond reasonable doubt, that you can marry ethics with aesthetics and that glamour and sustainability are a perfect (and essential) match. Or maybe, we could say, one does not need to compromise the other. There is nothing to say that an outfit made ethically and sustainably has to be unappealing.

Livia Firth, Golden Globes

Livia Firth wearing a repurposed wedding dress to the 2010 Golden Globes. Photo: Getty

Also Read: At This Year’s Oscars, Stars Turned the Red Carpet Green

Two big events we devised – the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange and the Green Carpet Fashion Awards – have also helped showcase designs from all over the world that embrace social justice and environmental stewardship. I’m sure you also have plenty of stories to tell me as well – will you write to me and send me photos of your favorite glam sustainable dressing? One of the things I often wonder, though, is why don’t we all do it now? Why don’t we all use any event or opportunity where we engage with others – whether a wedding, a red carpet, or even an important meeting – to make a statement? Why don’t we challenge our favorite designer or local seamstress to work with traceable sustainable materials in an ethical way? Or why don’t we get our creativity going and upcycle or repurpose something that’s already in our wardrobes?

Eco-Age, Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, Livia Firth

The Eco-Age Commonwealth Fashion Exchange US debut 
in New York, 2018

This is why, this year at Eco-Age, we have launched the new Make Every Step Count campaign with our top 10 commandments for The Green Carpet Challenge and the ultimate guide to dressing with purpose:

1. Learn the story behind your look and wear it with pride
2. Buy for life and re-wear forever
3. Wear artisanal
4. Discover secondhand or vintage
5. Embrace clothes swapping and borrowing
6. Read the labels
7. Go natural with your fabric
8. Go upcycled or recycled with your fabric
9. Find a seamstress or make your own
10. Treasure the memory of each wear

Emma Watson, Met Gala, Calvin Klein

Emma Watson at the 2016 Met Gala in a Calvin Klein dress made from recycled plastic bottles. Photo: Getty

Read Also: Livia Firth’s Next Role in Eco-Activism? Joining Vogue Arabia as the Sustainability Editor-at-Large

And here are some ideas for you to have fun with:

The strangest materials make for the best dinner conversations. Your dress or shoes could practically be made from your meal: apple, mushroom, pineapple fibers, or orange peel. Or you could be wearing (and looking amazing in!) recycled discarded fishing nets (Econyl) or plastic bottles, or even sequins made from old CDs.

The upcycled seamstress. Have you ever considered using two old dresses to make a stunning new one? Or updating or styling your vintage find with your favorite pieces to make it look incredibly modern? You could use almost anything to create stunning pieces that you know are one-of-a-kind.

Wear the story of a formidable artisan. Rather than what you are wearing, you will be proud of talking about who you are wearing – sharing their stories is the ultimate luxury of today. What doesn’t work for you could be another person’s treasure Get together with your friends for the ultimate clothes swap with drinks and nibbles, and make sure those beautiful clothes are cherished for years to come. Just because they no longer work in your wardrobe doesn’t mean they can’t still be worn and loved by somebody else.

Use your wardrobe as your photo album. Remember the experiences you have in each garment – good or bad, your clothes are connected to you and play a huge role in how you experience life.

Naomi Campbell, Pierre Cardin, Commonwealth Fashion Exchange

Naomi Campbell in vintage Pierre Cardin at
 The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange Reception, 2018. Photo: Getty

Originally published in the February 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia

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