Fashion is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing industries, with its influence expanding to all areas of the world. We decided to catch up with Jo Boon, founder of Label, to tell us about her company and their latest event, Grounded, which focused on showcasing designers with the environment at the heart of what they do. We are encouraged to see our students investing their time and efforts into these areas of sustainability and we look forward to hearing from and supporting Label in the coming years. Let’s make sustainability fashionable.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Label?
My name is Jo Boon and I am founder of Label, a performance arts company specialising in body positive fashion shows. I will soon be graduating with a degree in International Relations and Comparative Literature, and working as a journalist in Manchester/ London next year. The aim of Label is to create a platform for people to share their stories and showcase different ideas of beauty. I will be running Label shows across the country in the future, and it will be continuing in St Andrews next year too. Label is all about inclusivity and diversity; giving people the opportunity to both feel beauty and have their voice be heard.
Tell us about your recent event ‘Grounded’? What were your aims for the event?
Grounded was our big end of year fashion show, that took place in April in the Old Course conservatory. We showcased 18 environmental designers, with the aim of promoting slow fashion and a more ethical lifestyle. The fashion industry is huge, and a space of talent, creativity and opportunity. However, it also does a great deal of damage and is the second most polluting industry, closely behind oil. The fashion industry will not be disappearing any time soon, but we can shift the capital of that buying potential into ethical products, providing a good quality of life for those making our clothes and protecting our environment. Our aim was to raise awareness of these brands and encourage people to invest, both in their beautiful designs, and their ethical priorities.
What is environmental fashion?
Environmental fashion is clothing made from ethical materials, this could be anything from using organic cotton through to upcycling garments so nothing is wasted. Environmental fashion is ideally well made and designed to be worn repeatedly to help prevent our throw away culture. Another factor is travel costs, ideally environmental clothing should be locally sourced so that there isn’t the environmental damage of clothes being flown across the world to you. Environmental fashion should also provide a good quality of life for those making the clothes; it should be ethical at both ends of the consumer chain.
Do you think sustainability/environmental awareness should be a fundamental part of fashion? Why?
Yes, absolutely. I think the only reason we ignore this is because it’s been made so easy for us to do so. I’d like to think most people would be appalled if they were aware of the extent of the problem. If we’re going to talk about fashion as a platform of self-expression, then we need to be expressing ourselves in a way that doesn’t destroy the planet.
What more do you think can be done within the fashion industry in terms of sustainability and environmental awareness?
Awareness raising is a huge part of it, but ultimately there simply needs to be a reprioritisation of the issue, both from designers and consumers. It’s better to buy one pair of ethically made jeans than five pairs of unethical jeans. It often does cost more but the more we choose these products the more accessible they become. Buying patterns are hugely important, and where we place our money shows what we care about and will force big brands to listen also. If you’re within a wealth bracket that you can afford environmentally friendly products: don’t be lazy, buy them.
Do you have a favourite fashion label?
A personal favourite for clothes is Komodo, they have gorgeous designs that are all ethically made. One of my all-time favourites is TOMS though who make shoes, including vegan options and do a huge amount of charity work and awareness raising. One of the best is their ‘one for one’ project, which means for every pair of shoes you buy they give a pair to a child in need.
What’s next for Label?
Label will be continuing in St Andrews next year, and it’s very exciting to know I’ve established something long term here. We’re also expanding though and will be growing branches in both Manchester and London, thanks to friends who’ve worked on the project and new people joining the team. Body positive fashion shows will remain a huge part of what we do, but I’ll also be running more theatre pieces and arts events to keep on spreading the message of inclusivity and diversity. The magazine is very close to my heart and I look forward to developing that over the coming years. We will keep on trying to change industry standards and providing alternatives for all those interested in greater representation.